STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN – POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN

FROM HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR MATTEO BRUNI:
In addition to the six reported cases, the positivity of an additional Holy See employee, already in isolation since mid-March because of his wife who had tested positive at Covid-19 after serving in the Italian hospital where she works, was added. On this occasion it is useful to clarify that, like all institutional realities, the various entities and departments of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State continue only in essential, mandatory and non-deferrable activities, clearly adopting, to the maximum extent possible, the appropriate measures that have already been communicated, which include remote work and criteria regarding duty shifts, in order to safeguard staff health.

FROM CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PIETRO PAROLIN:
The Holy Father Francis, in the audience granted to His Excellency Msgr. Edgar Peña Parra, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State on March 31, 2020, agreed to extend the term and the legal effects referred to in the previous Rescriptum ex audientia SS.mi dated March 18, 2020 containing extraordinary and urgent measures to counter the epidemiological emergency from Covid-19 and to contain the negative effects on the conduct of the judicial activity. This term, initially set for April 3, 2020, is extended to May 4, 2020. The Holy Father has ordered that this rescript be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, coming into force immediately, and then published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

During morning Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to those who are living this time of sorrow and fear, hidden in the cracks of society. (playback included – see link below)
By Vatican News

In his opening words at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said, “these days of sorrow and sadness highlight so many hidden problems.”

He mentioned a photograph featured in a daily paper that, he said, touches the heart: “So many homeless people in a city, huddling in a parking lot… there are so many homeless people today.” (photo: Las Vegas Review)

He invited the faithful to ask St. Teresa of Calcutta to awaken in us a sense of closeness to those who live, hidden, in the cracks of society, like the homeless whose plight is particularly evident in this moment of crisis.

We have been chosen by God
In his homily, the Pope explained that Christians must be conscious of having been chosen by God, joyful as they tread the path of salvation, and faithful to the Covenant.

Commenting on the readings of the Day, from the Book of Genesis and from the Gospel according to John, the Pope noted they both focus on the figure of Abraham, on the Covenant with God and on how Jesus comes to “remake” creation by forgiving our sins.

(TO CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-04/pope-mass-casa-santa-marta-homeless-homily.html)

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS: THE REAL JOY OF GIVING

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS: THE REAL JOY OF GIVING

I became aware of the possibility of having a very different Christmas in the U.S when I spotted a blog just days after Thanksgiving that featured five individuals, wearing white aprons and broad smiles, who had just served Thanksgiving dinner to some of Chicago’s homeless through Catholic Charities Chicago.

I wrote the blog author, congratulating him and saying that was something I would love to do. He wrote back and, with a lot of exclamation marks, said they would be doing it again on Christmas Day, that I was most welcome to join the volunteers and he then told me how and where to participate!

And so my Christmas Day 2017 began.

Well, Christmas Day really began, of course with Mass at one of my favorite churches in America, Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. The presider at the 9:30 Mass – though I did not know this when I decided on that Mass – was Msgr. Michael Boland, head of Catholic Charities in Chicago and a long time friend. Here are a few photos I took before and after Mass.

The “Resurrection Cross”

I returned briefly to my hotel after Mass to pick up some special items I had brought for the occasion, including several hundred holy cards that featured a picture of Pope Francis and some of his words that I wanted to leave with the homeless.

When I arrived at the CC office on LaSalle street shortly after 11, I was surprised and delighted to note the large number of volunteers, especially because it was Christmas and also because there seemed to be quite a number of families. You somehow picture families at home, sharing breakfast, opening gifts, kids playing with new toys, etc.

The volunteers all lined up to receive a white plastic apron and pair of plastic gloves. We were ushered into the dining room where, on one side round tables of ten were set for over 100 people and, on the other side, were long tables with abundant servings of many, many kinds of foods.

 

 

Each volunteer had a specific assignment. Those with more experience were table captains and they directed each of us carrying a tray to those tables where people had yet to be served. Each volunteer who was to serve food received a tray with two plates on it, and each plate was filled to overflowing by the volunteers serving behind the food stations.

Smaller tables were set up with desserts and beverages – it was almost exclusively the turf of the younger  family members!

 

 

 

I joined what I called “the dessert brigade” where each of us was given a plate with several desserts and one soft drink. We followed those with the dinner plates to the tables, and returned to our stations to repeat the same process. Yet others were assigned to fill water glasses and coffee cups.

Msgr. Boland was present to the very end, even when the first group of homeless had finished dinner and those waiting to eat were ushered into the dining room – a festively decorated room, I might add.

We served several hundred people by the end of the lunchtime, and I have to say it was such a heartening experience for so many reasons. I especially loved the idea that we were serving people at tables, not making them stand in a long buffet line. That certainly preserves an iota of human dignity for people who may not feel very dignified for the greater part of each day.

There was not very much time, as you could imagine, to speak individually with each homeless person but everyone with whom I spoke was cordial and polite and full of smiles – especially if you asked their name! I learned that there were some who were not homeless but rather people who do not have much and who live simply, perhaps in a one-room apartment, but have trouble connecting with others. The people they know best and are most comfortable with are those they break bread with at the food kitchens for the homeless.

The homeless also have networks. They know where to get lunch and dinner every day, be it in the city or the suburbs, be it in a church or a school or the hall of some fraternal organization, and they share that info among themselves. They know where bathrooms are available and also know where the warming shelters are, such as those needed right after Christmas when temperatures plummeted so far that anyone sleeping outside would have surely died of the cold.

All of the food served through Catholic Charities five days a week is donated by Chicago restaurants! It is cooked and ready to be served when it arrives at the food kitchens. The diversity of the menu and the quantities offered were staggering – at least to me, a first time volunteer.

When the Christmas guests left the CC center, each one received a pair of gloves and one of the holy cards I had brought from Rome. Who knows…..

Individual parishes or organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or the Knights of Malta serve the meals Monday through Wednesday and volunteers come from the specific parish or organization. Holy Name Cathedral staff and parishioners volunteer on Thursdays and Fridays.

What most surprised and delighted me were the number of families who volunteered! And not just on Christmas Day – they come during the year as well. To see a family of 5 or 6 – Mom and Dad and the kids, even as young as 5! – was so very heart-warming!

To see the very young ones, and especially teenagers, have a good time, serve with joy and truly want to be volunteering was one of the biggest rewards of the day for me. My favorite was a little boy, about 5 or 6, whose name was Charlie. Charlie was the fastest member of the dessert brigade and probably had the biggest smile, I might add.

It was gratifying to think that these young people are learning at a tender age that there are people in the world who do not have what they have, a warm home, a family, an education and a much better chance in life to grow up and have their own family and home. These young people learn early about sacrifice, about helping others, about being altruistic, about the real meaning of charity.

There were no groans of “Mom, do I really have to be here!” or complaints about not being home Christmas morning. No pleading, “Are we through? Can we go home now?”

I saw – and experienced – the real joy of giving!

POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS – LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Lent starts tomorrow, need I remind you, and I know there might be some uncertainty or confusion regarding the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence – fasting and abstinence during Lent as well as the rest of the year.

Below, in a nutshell, are the fasting, etc. rules for Lent. I follow that paragraph with what the Code of Canon Law says about this, and then what the USCCB says.

In the meantime I hope you are having a splendid Mardi Gras as we prepare for leaner days to come!

POPE GRANTS INTERVIEW TO MAGAZINE RUN BY HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to an Italian magazine run by homeless persons. The interview was published on 28 February in the online magazine called “Scarp de’ tenis” (“Sneakers”).

The magazine also functions as a social project, as most of the staff is homeless, suffers difficult personal situations or forms of social exclusion. For most contributors, the magazine is an important source of income. “Scarp de’ tenis” entered into partnership with the Italian arm of the Vatican’s charity organization, Caritas, in 2008.

In the interview, Pope Francis was asked to explain his recent initiatives for refugees, such as providing accommodation in the Vatican. In his reply, the Pope explained how the initiative to welcome the homeless had inspired parishes throughout Rome to join the effort.

“Here in the Vatican there are two parishes, and both are housing Syrian families. Many parishes in Rome have also opened their doors and others, which don’t have a house for priests, have offered to pay rent for families in need, for a full year” he said.

Throughout the interview the Pope often referred to the idea of walking in each others shoes. According to the Pope, to walk in the other’s shoes is a way to escape our own egoism: “In the shoes of the other, we learn to have a great capacity for understanding, for getting to know difficult situations.”

The Pope maintains that words alone are not enough, what is needed, he said, is the “Greatness” to walk in the shoes of the other: “How often I have met a person who, after having searched for Christian comfort, be they a layman, a priest, a sister or a bishop, they tell me ‘they listened to me, but didn’t understand me.’”

During the interview, the Pope also joked about people’s attitudes concerning giving money to those who live on the streets. “There are many arguments which justify why we should not give these alms: ‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’ A glass of wine is his only happiness in life!” joked Pope Francis.

There was also a lesson in generosity within the interview. The Pope told a story from his time in Buenos Aires, of a mother with five children. While the father was at work and the rest of the family ate lunch, a homeless man called in to ask for food. Rather than letting the children give away their father’s dinner for that evening, the mother taught the children to give away some of their own food: “If we wish to give, we must give what is ours!” insisted the Pope.

Regarding the question of limiting numbers of refugee and migrants who arrive in a particular place, the Pope first reminded his readers that many of those arriving are fleeing from war or hunger. All of us in this world, says the Pope, are part of this situation and need to find ways to help and benefit those around us. According to him, this responsibility is especially true of governments and the Pope used the example of the work of the Saint Egidio community (that has established humanitarian corridors for groups of vulnerable migrants) in order to make his point. Regarding the 13 refugees who arrived from Lesbos, the Pope pointed out that the families have integrated well into society, with the children being enrolled in schools and their parents having found work. This, according to Pope Francis, is an example of immigrants wanting to fit into and contribute to a new country, and achieving that desire.

To further underline his point, the Pope highlighted the case of Sweden, where almost 10% of the population, including the Minister for Culture, are immigrants. During his own life, in the difficult years of the military dictatorship in Argentina, the Pope often looked to the Swedish as a positive example of integration.

LENTEN FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

The basic rules: Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. Every person between the age of 18 and 59 (beginning of 60th year) must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (image St Michael Catholic Church, Bedford TX)

lent-image

Here is what the 1983 Code of Canon Law says about fasting and abstinence: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM

Days of Penance

Can.  1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can.  1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

cacon-1250

Can.  1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can.  1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can.  1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

(JFL: Note that Canon law in 1251 says: “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday.” It is my experience that the majority of Catholics do not know this, i.e. abstinence from meat or another food or an act of penance on all Fridays of the year.) Canon 1253, however, gives leeway on this via the Episcopal Conference of a country (see below).

USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):  PASTORAL STATEMENT ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966

Here is part of that statement:

21.  For these and related reasons, the Catholic bishops of the United States, far from downgrading the traditional penitential observance of Friday, and motivated precisely by the desire to give the spirit of penance greater vitality, especially on Fridays, the day that Jesus died, urge our Catholic people henceforth to be guided by the following norms.

22.  Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified.

23. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.

24. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations:

  1. We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became,especially in times of persecution and of great poverty, no mean evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Church.
  2. We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.
  1. Every Catholic Christian understands that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that “no” scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience, confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/us-bishops-pastoral-statement-on-penance-and-abstinence.cfm

 

MCDONALD’S TO GIVE MEALS TO HOMELESS ON MONDAYS – THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING…..IN THE VATICAN

Two heartwarming stories from the Vatican and a papal tweet…

01/12/2017: Young migrants, especially when unaccompanied, are especially defenceless. Let everyone offer them a helping hand.

MCDONALD’S TO GIVE MEALS TO HOMELESS ON MONDAYS

(Vatican Radio) The controversial McDonald’s fast-food restaurant that has just opened only steps away from St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City State is to provide thousands of free meals to homeless people in the area.

mcdonalds

The restaurant was opened at the beginning of the year after months of protest from locals and prelates who deemed it inappropriate for the unique historical setting of the building it is housed in, with a prime view on the Vatican’s Saint Anne Gate.

But a collaboration between the Borgo Pio branch of McDonald’s and a local charity organization called Medicina Sociale has yielded a fruitful agreement that promises to hand out over 1000 McDonald’s meals to homeless persons every Monday at lunchtime starting from January 16th.

The special “McVatican” – as the outlet has immediately been nicknamed – lunch boxes will include a double cheeseburger, fresh apple slices and a bottle of mineral water.

Lucia Ercoli, director of the charity organization, said she was “very satisfied with this agreement with McDonald’s” and pointed out that the fast-food chain responded “promptly” to their request.

‘Medicina Solidale’ has been working with the papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski over the past year, providing health check-ups and medical care to the local homeless community. Volunteers and workers at the charity will be charged with distributing the McDonald’s meals.

THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING…..IN THE VATICAN

(Vatican Radio)  “He made boots for the Pope and was released from prison.” This is the story of Bobby Penny, the first inmate taken under the care of Deacon Thaddeus Horbowy, a retired chaplain for the US Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Deacon Horbowy told Devin Watkins the story of the pair of Texan boots during a recent trip to Rome.

boots

“Bobby Penny was my first inmate. He walked into my office and said, ‘Chaplain, I’ve been sent here by the warden to work as your helper.'”

The encounter took place in Abilene, Texas some 25 years ago at a prison facility which houses 3,000 inmates. Deacon Horbowy said he noticed that Mr. Penny was “somehow different; he didn’t have an attitude”.

Having worked well together for several years, Deacon Horbowy was promoted and moved to another prison in Texas but was allowed to have Bobby Penny transferred with him.

Despite being trained only in boot repair, Deacon Horbowy told Mr. Penny to make him a pair of boots, saying “You’ve got plenty of time. Learn it!” The result was impressive, he said.

After retiring, Deacon Horbowy was invited to come to Rome for Pope Francis’ Jubilee audience for Deacons. Not long before his pilgrimmage, Deacon Horbowy saw Mr. Penny in the Texas prison and asked him to make a pair of boots for the Pope.

Despite resistance from the prison’s warden, Mr. Penny was able to make the boots. Not long after their meeting, in a development which may or may not be related, Deacon Horbowy received a letter from Mr. Penny announcing he had made parole and was released from prison.

During his recent trip to Rome, Deacon Horbowy brought that pair of boots in hopes of presenting them to Pope Francis as a gift.

 

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER – “POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS – A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS – MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

This final Jubilee of Mercy events, prior to the closing in coming days and next Sunday of the Holy Doors of the papal basilicas, take place this weekend and they feature the poor and homeless, as you shall see.

Today, contrary to my usual lunch routine, I took a brief break outside the office and met some friends from the U.S. for lunch as that was the only free time they had in their Italian pilgrimage. As I walked the three blocks to “La Vittoria,” scores of people were walking towards me, each person carrying one or more sizeable square white boxes on top of which was a small aluminum container like the kind you’d put leftover food in. I am guessing the boxes contained either a meal or a gift for the homeless who had just spent time with the Pope. As I was running a few minutes late for lunch, I did not stop to ask what the boxes were so that is just an educated guess but, knowing Pope Francis’ many gestures of this kind in the last three years, that would not surprise me..

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider when the tables are turned and I am the guest in Part II of an interview by Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer, host of the very popular Sirius radio program, “Busted Halo.” Fr. Dave interviewed me when I was in New York for a book-signing event, and we talk about my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” my work, the Vatican, and so many topics. So tune in for a fun conversation, including a story about a unique day in my life.

I want to thank Fr. Dave as well as Sirius Radio for giving me the chance to air this fun program. I had a ball doing it and I think you’ll be able to tell when you listen – and you’ll probably laugh right along with us at several moments. Fr. Dave is really quite special and he touches the lives of many people through Busted Halo (http://bustedhalo.com/).

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=

“POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday welcomed to Rome more than 6000 people, men and women from various European nations, who have lived, or are even now, living on the street. The Jubilee for Socially Excluded Persons embraced not only the homeless, but also disadvantaged persons and people living in poverty. (photo news.va)

homeless-1

The event was made possible with the help of “Fratello”, an association which organizes and hosts events with and for people in situations of exclusion, in partnership with associations assisting such people.

Following testimonies from two of the participants, Pope Francis addressed the crowd, speaking off the cuff and thanking them for coming to Rome to meet with him and to pray for him. The Holy Father reflected on some of the ideas brought up by the two men who spoke before him.

The first was that average human beings do not differ from the “great” of the world. All men and women, the great and the small, have their own passions and dreams. “Don’t stop dreaming!” the Pope insisted. The poor, he continued, are at the heart of the Gospel; they came to Jesus precisely because they dreamed that the Lord would help and heal them.

Pope Francis then turned to another expression, “Life becomes beautiful.” This signifies dignity, he said. “The ability to encounter beauty, even in things that involve the most sadness and suffering, is something that only men and women who have dignity can have.” He emphasized the virtue of solidarity, when people – especially those whose lives are difficult – are able to have compassion for others who are suffering even more. And he thanked those present for their example of solidarity, asking them to teach solidarity to the world.

Finally, Pope Francis spoke on the theme of peace, calling on everyone to continue to work in favour of peace in the world. “The greatest poverty is war!” he said. “It is the poverty that destroys… We need peace in the world! We need peace in the Church!”

Following his address, a group of the poor and disadvantaged, who had joined Pope Francis on the stage, gathered round the Pope, placing their hands on him, and praying for him.

(AP) – Pope Francis asked homeless people during a moving ceremony Friday to pardon all the Christians who turn away from the poor instead of helping them.

Francis stood silently in a Vatican auditorium with his head bowed as he let several homeless individuals place their hands on his shoulders or clutch his cassock.

Some 4,000 people from 22 countries who either are now homeless or who spent years living on streets filled the auditorium in one of Francis’ final events during the Catholic Church’s Holy Year of Mercy.

“I ask pardon,” the Pope said, on behalf of Christians who, “faced with a poor person or a situation of poverty, look the other way.”

After some of the homeless recounted their difficult lives, Francis praised the poor for holding fast to their dignity.

He asked his homeless guests to stay seated while he stood to pray that God “teach us to be in solidarity because we are brothers.”

A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS

The Vatican will host a concert for the homeless of Rome tomorrow, November 12, in the Paul VI Hall at 6:30 pm, with the homeless and poor as the guests of honor. All proceeds will be sent to Pope Francis for his charities. Among the sponsors is the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the council that has been in charge of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Dubbed “With the Poor and for the Poor,” there will be the possibility at the end of the convert for attendees to give free-will donations for the papal charities, including the building of a new cathedral in Moroto, Uganda, and an agrarian school in Burkina Faso.

Following the concert, Jubilee Year volunteers and members of the choir of the Diocese of Rome will distribute a meal and a small gift to the invited guests as a reminder of the evening.

Performers include the Roman Symphonic Orchestra and the National Choir of Saint Cecilia, directed by Academy Award-winner Ennio Morricone. Some of his best works will be featured. Msgr. Marco Frisina will direct the choir of the Diocese of Rome.

Tomorrow morning at 10, in 8 Roman churches, there will be testimonies by homeless people from around Europe in as many languages. Those churches are: San Salvatore in Lauro (English) – Santa Monica (Dutch) – San Luigi dei Francesi (Portuguese) – Santi XII Apostoli (French) – San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (Polish) – Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) (German) – Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Italian) – Sant’Andrea della Valle (Spanish) and Santa Maria Maddalena in Campo Marzio (Slovakian).

At 5 tomorrow evening, there is a prayer Vigil of Mercy in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met a group of young men who have left the priesthood during the past years to show his closeness and affection towards them. His surprise visit to an apartment in the outskirts of Rome to meet with the group made up of five Italians, a Spaniard and a man from Latin America, came as part of his traditional gestures of Mercy on one Friday a month during this Jubilee Year.

priests-who-left

A Vatican statement said the young men in question took the difficult decision to leave the priesthood despite opposition in many cases from their fellow priests or their families after serving for several years in parishes where loneliness, misunderstanding, fatigue arising from their many responsibilities prompted them to rethink their choice. It said the men spent months and years wrestling with uncertainty and doubts before coming to the decision they had made a mistake by becoming priests and therefore decided to leave and form a family.

CNA added this: According to the Vatican, when the Pope entered the apartment he was met with “great enthusiasm” both on the part of the children, who gathered around his legs to give him a hug, as well as the parents.

The young men felt the Pope’s “closeness, and the affection of his presence.”

Francis listened attentively to each of their stories, paying particular attention to the development of the legal proceedings in each of the individual cases. When a man leaves the priesthood, he must undergo a process called “laicization,” in which his priestly faculties for administering the sacraments are removed.

The Pope conveyed to everyone his friendship and personal interest, the communique noted.

By visiting the young men and their families, Pope Francis “wanted to give a sign of mercy to those who live in a situation of spiritual and material hardship, highlighting the need that no one feel deprived of the love and solidarity of the pastors.”

 

HOLY FATHER TO VISIT ASSISI ON SEPTEMBER 20 – POPE FRANCIS INSPIRES CHEF TO SERVE 5 STAR MEALS TO RIO HOMELESS

I saw the great story by AP that you will read below and just had to share it with you. There have been a number of similar stories in recent years where we learn how Pope Francis has inspired others to perform some great works of charity and mercy.

HOLY FATHER TO VISIT ASSISI ON SEPTEMBER 20

(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See Press Office announced on Thursday that Pope Francis will return to the Italian town of Assisi on September 20th. His repeat visit to the birthplace of St. Francis takes place on the 30th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, an annual event promoted by the St. Egidio Community. The Holy Father made a private pilgrimage to Assisi on August 4 to visit the Porziuncola chapel, marking the 800th anniversary of the “Pardon of Assisi.”

POPE FRANCIS INSPIRES CHEF TO SERVE 5 STAR MEALS TO RIO HOMELESS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Twelve hours ago, Fagner Dos Santos ate his last meal: two hardened bread buns and coffee. For much of the past decade, the 33-year-old has been battling drug addiction while living on the streets of Rio. When he eats at all, it’s usually at a grungy soup kitchen or after picking through the trash.

Now he and some 70 other homeless men are feasting on a three-course meal courtesy of one of the world’s top chefs. On the menu: Ossobuco with buttery baroa potatoes topped off with a gelato dessert.

“Who would’ve thought food made for the cream of society would be served to a group of homeless men?” dos Santos said, gazing at the open, art-filled dining room and waiters in prim orange aprons that for a short while transported him away from his tough life.

The gastronomic destination is the brainchild of Italian master chef Massimo Bottura. Using leftover ingredients from Olympic caterers and other local partners, Bottura created a gourmet soup kitchen, RefettoRio Gastromotiva , that for a week now has been serving up meals to Rio’s homeless population. The name is a play on the Latin word reficere, meaning “to restore,” and a nod to the communal dining rooms known as refectories that are a mainstay of monasteries.

Chef Bottura – AP photo

CHEF MASSIMO BOTTURA

With questions swirling over the $12 billion price tag of South America’s first Olympics, Bottura wanted to make a statement about the games’ sustainability by taking on one symbol of Olympic waste: the more than 230 tons of food supplied daily to prepare 60,000 meals for athletes, coach and staff.

“This is a cultural project, not a charity,” said Bottura, who runs the Michelin three-star Osteria Francescana in Modena. “We want to rebuild the dignity of the people.”

Bottura said he was inspired by Pope Francis’ advocacy for the poor and modeled his project on a similar one he organized last year in an abandoned theater during the Milan world’s fair. His aim is to educate people about food waste in order to help feed the 800 million in the world who are hungry.

It’s a message that resonates in Rio.

Over the past year, as Brazil plunged into its deepest recession in decades, the city’s homeless population has struggled. In June, facing a financial calamity, Rio’s state government had to close or cutback service at 16 meal centers. The splurge on the Olympics has only heightened a sense of abandonment among the homeless, with many reporting being repeatedly removed by police from the city’s recently cleaned-up Lapa district, where Bottura’s restaurant is located.

In contrast to the government-run centers, where meals are served on prison-like food trays with throw-away cups, the Refettorio is an epicurean’s delight, complete with designer wood tables, oversized photos of the staff by French artist JR and a long mural of the Last Supper dripping in chocolate by Vik Muniz, one of Brazil’s top-selling artists.

At night the space, built of corrugated plastic on a run-down lot donated by the city, looks like a lit-up box.

For the Olympics launch, Bottura assembled a tour de force of local and international celebrity chefs. Once the games are over, the project will morph into a lunchtime restaurant, proceeds of which will fund evening meals for the homeless.

Beneficiaries are selected by groups like one that runs a shelter for transvestites who work as prostitutes on Lapa’s libertine streets. Working the kitchen are graduates of local partner Gastromotiva, a nonprofit cooking school that has turned hundreds of Brazilians from the country’s neglected favelas into cooks.

For many of the diners at RefettoRio, the food is unlike anything they’ve tasted before. But it’s the royal treatment they relish most.

“Just sitting here, treated with respect on an equal footing, makes me think I have a chance,” said Valdimir Faria, an educated man who found himself alone on Rio’s streets, in a downward alcoholic spiral, after his marriage and life in a city hours away fell apart.

As dinner service got underway Sunday, a disheveled man identifying himself only as Nilson removed a few radish slices from his eggplant panzanella salad and deposited them in a plastic bucket holding a squeegee kit.

“I thought it was paper,” he laughed, while trading a boisterous “grazie, grazie” with Bottura.

Sunday’s meal was prepared by chef Rafael Costa e Silva, who normally dishes up fixed-price meals for $150 a head at his swank Lasai bistro in Rio. While he makes a living catering to the rich, he said he’ll never forget the experience of serving the poor.

As dinner wound down, Costa e Silva emerged from the kitchen to thank his guests. It was Father’s Day in Brazil, and so for many of the men gathered who talked about life’s wrong turns and their estrangement from family, emotions ran high.

“What you’ve enjoyed is a simple meal but one made with lots of love and care,” Costa e Silva said before the dining hall broke into applause. He wiped a tear from his cheek and continued.

“We wanted you to feel spoiled — for at least one night

 

THE JESUIT “GIFT OF MERCY” DORMITORY FOR HOMELESS

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THE JESUIT “GIFT OF MERCY” DORMITORY FOR HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Just as winter begins to set in, Pope Francis and his Jesuit brothers have made sure there are extra beds in town for those who find themselves facing life out on the streets during the cold winter nights.

The new Rome dormitory for the homeless bears the name “Gift of Mercy,” because – as the Apostolic Almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski explains – it is a ‘gift’ from the Society of Jesus and ‘mercy’ is love’s second name. (Photo: ekai.pl)

ABP KONRAD KRAJEWSKI

The building, which previously hosted a travel agency, belongs to the Jesuit community.

Krajewsky says it’s the community’s way of responding to Pope Francis’ appeal to religious institutions to offer buildings to be placed in the service of the needy and those in difficulty.

Just round the corner from the Vatican, in Via dei Penitenzieri, the dormitory was restructured and furnished by the Papal Office of Charities through offerings collected by the faithful,  and  is run by nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

Last week’s inauguration took place with the blessing of the locals and Holy Mass, celebrated by Bishop Krajewski and attended by the dorm’s first guests and by volunteers.

Krajewski explains that it can host up to 34 men a night that there are specific regulations in place to make sure the dormitory runs smoothly.

First of all the nuns interview, admit and register those seeking shelter who can stay for a maximum of 30 days; guests can arrive each day  between 6 and 7pm; then lights-out, rest and wake-up at 6.15am in time for personal hygiene, bed-making and tidying up. The dorm shuts at 8am for cleaning.

Also run by the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and financed by the Papal Office of Charities,  the “Gift of Mary” dormitory which has been offering shelter to homeless women since 1988.

With the addition of the “Gift of Mercy”, the Vatican is now in a position to offer a bed to a total of 84 people without a fixed abode.