GOD’S MERCY IS “DRIVING FORCE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE” – POPE “DEEPLY SADDENED” BY CHURCH KILLINGS, VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS – THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY HAS AN OWL

GOD’S MERCY IS “DRIVING FORCE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE”

In the coolness of the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall, on yet another day of scorching temps in Rome, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “in our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.”

He said, “when Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, ‘untouchable’.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God. This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.”

Francis explained that, “we who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world.”

POPE “DEEPLY SADDENED” BY CHURCH KILLINGS, VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS

At the end of the general audience on Wednesday; pope Francis once again pleaded for an end to “every form of hatred and violence,” most especially “in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

The Holy Father said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.” At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope then added, “unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community,” and said such attacks on places of worship should cease. “I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He asked the faithful at today’s audience to remember their brothers and sisters in these countries in prayer, and then led the faithful in reciting the Hail Mary.

THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY HAS AN OWL

What do the Vatican Apostolic Library and an OWL have in common?

The answer comes in the latest email missive from Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL is just wonderful, and ever so instructive, if you are fan of libraries in general and the Vatican Apostolic Library in particular:

Dear Friends,

I am sending you the link to the second edition of OWL, the Official Newsletter of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL means Online Window into the Library

In this edition: – The Real “Hidden” Treasures of the Vatican Library: Palimpsests – The Dialogue of the Vatican Apostolic Library with Artists – Ninety Years since the Beginning of the Library’s “American Experience” – “Terra mariana”: the President of Latvia’s Visit to the Vatican Library – The Royal Family of the Netherlands Visit the Apostolic Library – An Encounter with Russian Librarians

Enjoy your summer reading!

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OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE… – POPE FRANCIS MEETS “SILENCE” DIRECTOR SCORSESE – HOLY FATHER CONCLUDES CATECHESES ON WORKS OF MERCY – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR CRASH KILLING 71, INCLUDING BRAZILIAN SOCCER PLAYERS

OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE…

As I walked through St. Peter’s Square this morning to go to some Vatican offices, I took a few photos with my phone of the Nativity scene that is under construction near in the square near the obelisk.

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The tree has been up about a week but the building of the Nativity scene started only Monday. The tree will be lit and the nativity scene unveiled on Friday, December 9.

It was St. John Paul who started this tradition in the Christmas season of 1982 when he noticed that, with all the great Nativity scenes or presepe in the papal palace and apartments, in Roman Curia offices and in St. Peter’s Basilica, there was no such scene in the square. He asked that henceforth both a tree and presepe be placed in the square.

Trees in the past have come from countries like Austria, Switzerland and Germany and from various regions in Italy. This year features as a 25-meter (82 feet) tall red spruce from Trento, northern Italy. In its place, local schoolchildren have planted some 40 new spruce and larch seedlings to replace trees suffering from a parasite that had killed many of them. After the Christmas season, the wood from the Vatican tree will be used for charity.

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The ornaments for this year’s spruce are ceramic and were made by children in hospitals across Italy who are receiving treatment for cancer and other illnesses. The beautiful tree will be lit by 18,000 LED Christmas lights that were chosen to respect the environment. The LED technology allows for very low energy consumption.

Boxes of ornaments –

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The Nativity scene this year will pay tribute to the people who are forced to flee their countries and undertake dangerous journeys across the sea. In 2016 alone, says the International Organization of Migration, over 3000 people died in the Mediterranean, although many believe that number is higher as many vessels and sinkings go unrecorded.

As I studied the Christmas scene this morning, it seemed to be that the area enclosed by canvas where workers from Malta are building the presepe, was much larger than in the past, wider for sure. An earlier Vatican communique noted that the Nativity scene will measure 19 meters in width – just over 62 feet – and will feature 17 statues dressed in traditional Maltese costumes as well as a replica of a traditional “Luzzu” Maltese boat.

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That communique explained that the boat not only represents tradition – fish and life – but also, unfortunately the realities of migrants who in these same waters cross the sea on makeshift boats to Italy.

And these – if you remember my post on Monday – are the 8 men from the Maltese island of Gozo who are building the Nativity scene.:

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Both the Nativity and the Christmas tree will be lit on December 9, and will remain illuminated until Sunday, January 8.

POPE FRANCIS MEETS “SILENCE” DIRECTOR SCORSESE

(Vatican Radio) Wednesday morning, before holding the general audience, Pope Francis met the Italo-American movie director Martin Scorsese whose latest film “Silence” recounts the persecution of a group of Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Scorsese was accompanied at the audience in the Vatican by his wife, his two daughters, the producer of the “Silence” film and the prefect of the Secretariat for Communications Monsignor Dario Viganò. A Vatican statement said the meeting was very cordial and lasted 15 minutes.

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Pope Francis told those present that he had read the novel on which the film “Silence” was based, written by the late Japanese author Shusaku Endo.

Scorsese gave the Pope two paintings on the theme of “hidden Christians,” one of them a much-venerated image of the Madonna painted by a 17th century Japanese artist. Pope Francis gave his guests rosaries.

The audience in the Vatican came after a special screening of “Silence” in Rome on Tuesday night for more than 300 Jesuit priests. The movie is due to premiere in the United States this December.

HOLY FATHER CONCLUDES CATECHESES ON WORKS OF MERCY

In his weekly general audience held in the Paul VI Hall this morning, Pope Francis concluded his cycle of catecheses dedicated to the works of mercy, having looked at all 14 spiritual and corporal works of mercy. This also ends his series of weekly catecheses on mercy that began at last year’s opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Holy Father told those present today that although the cycle has reached conclusion, we must continue to practice mercy in our lives. Many of his remarks during the general audience were off the cuff.

Speaking of the corporal work of mercy which invites us to bury the dead,  Pope Francis said it could appear a strange request. In fact, he said, it is sadly meaningful in the present day when we think of the many people who risk their lives in order to give decent burial to the victims of war who live in fear under constant fire and bombardment.  And for us Christians, he said, burial is an act of great faith because when we lower the bodies of our loved ones into the tomb, we do so in the hope of their resurrection.

He also underscored the importance of praying for the living and the dead which he said is part of the work of mercy of burying the dead, noting this is especially meaningful in this month of November when we commemorate all the faithful departed.

Even more, said Francis, praying for the living and the dead is an eloquent expression of the communion of saints and reminds us of how we are all united in God’s great family.

“This is why we pray for each other” he said.

In one of his off-the-cuff moments, Francis also recalled the story of a young business owner present at yesterday’s daily Mass in the Santa Marta residence. This man, he noted, had to close his company because they couldn’t sustain it anymore. This man, the Pope said, “cried, saying: ‘I don’t feel that I can leave more than 50 families without work. I could declare the company’s bankruptcy: I go home with my money, but my heart will cry my entire life for these 50 families’.”

“This is a good Christian who prays with the works: he came to Mass to pray so that the Lord would give him a way out, not only for him, but for the 50 families,” Francis said, pointing to him as a clear example of what it means to pray for one’s neighbor.

As he concluded, the Pope encouraged the faithful “to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, who knows our deepest desires and hopes, and embrace in our prayer all those in any kind of need:” He also admonished to not forget to thank God for the good things in our lives.”

The catechesis “ends here,” he said. “We made this path of the 14 works of mercy, but mercy must continue and we must practice it in these 14 ways.”

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR CRASH KILLING 71, INCLUDING BRAZILIAN SOCCER PLAYERS  

We all know that Pope Francis is a great soccer fan so we could easily imagine his grief when he learned that members of a Brazilian soccer team perished in a plane crash in Colombia minutes before the plane was due to land.

Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences to the cardinal archbishop of Brasilia in Brazil following a plane crash that killed 71 people including members of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense. They were on their way to a South American cup final in Colombia when the accident happened. In the message signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis said he was dismayed by the tragic news of the plane crash in Colombia that caused numerous victims, and he sent his condolences to all those who are mouning and commended the deceased to God the Father of Mercy.

FRANCIS URGES FAITHFUL, “BE ACTIVE INSTRUMENTS OF MERCY” – VATICAN: WE HOPE TRUMP GOVERNMENT MAY BEAR REAL FRUIT

Pope Francis tweeted today: May we make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world through dialogue, mutual acceptance and fraternal cooperation.

When I have more time to reflect on the gigantic impact of yesterday’s historical vote in the United States, I will sit back, take a breath and attempt to write a thoughtful piece about my reaction to the news of a Donald Trump victory in the most contested election campaign of our time marked by, among other things, bitter, divisive language on both sides. When the rhetoric tones down on Facebook, I will add my comments to that page as well.  Those who know me well and follow my writings, already know I greeted the news with prayerful gratitude.

What I do want to tell you now is that the first phone call I got this morning was from one of my favorite people, Francesco, a doorman at a nearby Vatican-owned apartment building. We see each other often and share local and Vatican news whenever we pass each other’s building.We spoke briefly last night as I was on my way home from Mass because he knew it was election day and he had a lot of questions about the candidates, as you can well imagine.

I tried to answer his questions and explain the candidates’ positions, their personalities, the pros and cons, etc. I explained the whys and wherefores of my preference for Trump and why I could never, especially as a Catholic, vote for Hillary Clinton. Francesco at a certain point said so much of what I was telling him was new to him. His “I had no idea” merely echoed what I’ve heard from Italians over the last months and weeks. They were not familiar with Trump’s positive points or Clinton’s negative ones. Why? Fascinating stuff!

Francesco called to tell me he had watched the news and heard Trump’s acceptance remarks and felt, especially after our conversation, that things might indeed be positive for America. At least he said he hoped so and would pray for that! That’s all I would ask of anyone.

And now, on to the other realities of life here in Rome and the Vatican…..

FRANCIS URGES FAITHFUL, “BE ACTIVE INSTRUMENTS OF MERCY”

Today’s general audience in a sun-kissed St. Peter’s Square on a cool November day, is the penultimate audience of the Holy Year of Mercy which ends on Sunday, November 20. The Pope has been reflecting on the corporal works of mercy in his series of catecheses and today spoke of those works that call us to visit the sick and the imprisoned.

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Francis issued an invitation to his guests to not become indifferent but rather to become active instruments of mercy.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Holy Father. “In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider two further corporal works of mercy: healing the sick and visiting the imprisoned.  Jesus himself is our model in both.  He shows us the importance of drawing near to those who so often feel alone and abandoned.  How much good is done when we visit the sick and those in prison, and how much we ourselves are enriched by these acts of charity!

Having presided at last weekend’s Jubilee for Prisoners, Francis went on to say, “visiting the imprisoned is a fruitful way of bringing the Lord’s healing presence to those who are paying for their mistakes.  Deprived of their freedom, they especially need to hear the message of God’s merciful love and forgiveness, and in this way to recognize their worth and dignity.  Jesus himself, though innocent, suffered in prison for our sake, and the apostles Peter and Paul used the time of their imprisonment to pray and proclaim the Gospel.”

“By visiting the sick and the imprisoned,” said the Pope, “may we bring God’s mercy and its redemptive power to our brothers and sisters in need.

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The Pope had greetings for some special groups and concluded, as is traditional at the weekly gatherings, with words to the young, the sick and newly-weds. In particular he noted that today, November 9, is the commemoration of the dedication of the basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome and of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. “Dear young people, pray for the Successor of Peter, so that he may always confirm brothers in faith; feel the Pope’s nearness in prayer, dear infirm, as you face the trials of ill health; teach the faith with simplicity to your children, dear newly-weds, nurturing it with love for the Church and for her pastors.”

VATICAN: WE HOPE TRUMP GOVERNMENT MAY BEAR REAL FRUIT

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday said he hoped the newly elected American president, Donald Trump, would be guided by God to serve his country but also to promote peace and well-being in the world.

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Talking to journalists on the sidelines of a conference at Rome’s Lateran University, the cardinal said he respected the will of the American people as expressed in this exercise of democracy. “We send our congratulations to the new president”, he continued, in the hope that “his government may bear real fruit”.

Cardinal Parolin said it would be premature to comment on specific issues such as immigration, noting that the views of presidential candidates often differ from their policies once they become president and adding that Trump had already spoken “in leadership style.”

He said Trump can be “assured of our prayers that the Lord may enlighten and support him” in the service of his country, but also in the service of peace and well-being in the world. Cardinal Parolin concluded by saying he believes there is a need for everyone to work to change the situation in the world today, which is one of “grave wounds, of serious conflicts.” (Vatican Radio)

 

SHOW OPENNESS AND SOLIDARITY TO MIGRANTS, REFUGEES

SHOW OPENNESS AND SOLIDARITY TO MIGRANTS, REFUGEES

At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, and highlighted “two particular corporal works of mercy: welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked,” noting that “Jesus mentions both of these in connection with the Last Judgement. Nowadays, the ‘stranger’ is often the immigrant in our midst.”

“In every age,” said the Pope, “the phenomenon of immigration calls for a response of openness and solidarity.  In our own day, the growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters.  Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs.

“So too,” he went on to explain, “’clothing the naked’ increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded.  As followers of Christ, may we never close our hearts to those in need.  For by openness to others, our lives are enriched, our societies enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their God-given dignity.”

Vatican Radio reported that Francis, setting aside his prepared text, told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up taking the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration.

On reaching destination, said the Pope, the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart.”

The Pope continued, saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people. “When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees”

This is on the front door of my home. For decades it was on a pillar just inside the front door of my Mom and Dad’s home in California.

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At the end of the weekly general audience, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that October, as we near its end, is always the month dedicated to the Rosary, and he invited believers to recite this Marian prayer.

Francis explained that the Rosary is “a synthesis of Divine Mercy,” saying, “With Mary, in the mysteries of the Rosary  we contemplate the life of Jesus which pours forth the mercy of the Father. Let us rejoice in His love and forgiveness, let us recognize it in foreigners and in those who are needy, let us live His Gospel every day.”

In the customary weekly greetings to young people, the sick and newlyweds, Pope Francis said: “May this simple Marian prayer show you, young people, the way to give life to God’s will in your lives; dear sick people, love this prayer because it brings consolation for the mind and the heart; and dear newly wedded spouses, may it represent a privileged moment of spiritual intimacy within your new family”

On October 7, feast of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, Francis tweeted: “The Rosary is the prayer that always accompanies my life: it is also the prayer of simple people and saints…it is the prayer of my heart.”

THE FIRST CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY: FEED THE HUNGRY

I got back from the States several hours ago and, as is my wont after a trip, I immediately immersed myself in work. This is the first of two columns I’ll post today, with the second one dedicated to the beautiful wedding and magical reception I attended in Maryland over the weekend. The newlyweds are honeymooning in Italy. They arrived yesterday on their first stop, Rome and we hope to share dinner before they leave Friday morning to explore other parts of this beautiful nation.

That column will also explain why I did not post while in D.C.

In my absence, the two big news items were the canonization Sunday of seven new saints and – in a totally different direction! – plans by the Vatican real estate rental office to rent space in a Vatican-owned building within meters of St. Peter’s Square to McDonald’s restaurant. You cannot imagine the furor, especially comments by a number of cardinals who live in the building on whose ground floor McDonald’s is planned. (Full disclosure: I am totally on their side and will get into that when I look at this story in length: In the meantime, here’s a great piece by the Register’s Edward Pentin: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/mcdonalds-dispute-highlights-sensitivities-over-use-of-vatican-real-estate

By the by, there is no link intended between the McDonald story and the title I gave to the story about the papal audience catechesis!

THE FIRST CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY: FEED THE HUNGRY

Continuing his new series of weekly audience catecheses on mercy that focus on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Pope Francis said at this morning’s audience, “in our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we have reflected on God’s mercy and our own responsibility, as followers of Jesus, to be ‘merciful like the Father’,” quoting the motto of this Jubilee Year. (photo news.va)

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The Holy Father then noted that, “among the corporal works of mercy, the first is that of feeding the hungry,” underscoring that, “access to food and water is a basic human right, yet so many members of our human family, especially children, continue to suffer from hunger and thirst. While grateful for the generosity and solidarity shown in the case of many tragic situations worldwide, we must never forget that this work of mercy calls us to respond personally to concrete situations of need in our own lives.

“Saint James,” said Francis, “warns against ignoring the practical needs of our brothers and sisters, for faith without works is dead. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus tells his disciples to provide food for the crowds, yet he shows them that, in sharing what they have, he will give it increase. Jesus himself is the bread of life, and he makes it clear that our relationship with the Father depends on the way we respond to the hunger and thirst of our brothers and sisters.

The Pope indicated that, to feed the hungry, we might donate time and/or money to charity but he said the real challenge to help the needy comes when we are asked to personally face poverty in the flesh. He said, ““poverty in the abstract doesn’t challenge us, it makes us think, lament, but when you see poverty in the flesh of a man, woman or child, yes, this challenges us.”

“To see our brothers and sisters in this state,” he said, questions “the attitude we have to run away, the attitude of running away from the needy and not drawing near to them.”

Expanding on St. James’ words “faith without works is dead,” he said when faith is dead, it is “incapable of doing works, of charity.” Francis observed that, “one of the consequences of so-called ‘well-being’ is to lead people to withdraw into themselves, making them insensitive to the needs of others.”

However, he explained, this way of thinking and acting makes us live as if our lives were “a fad to follow and change with every season.” Rather, we must deal with reality up close and personal and “meet urgent situations.”

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER” – URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington, D.C. to attend the wedding in nearby Maryland of one of the daughters of some very close and dear friends of mine. I rarely get to attend weddings, First Communions and other family events in the U.S. but was able to take advantage of this occasion for a few days.

In the meantime, I’ve been preparing segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy” in my absence and have also been putting together “Vatican Insider” for this coming weekend. In fact, I have prepared a special on the College of Cardinals that I hope you will enjoy.

If time allows I’ll put an update and/or photos on “Joan’s Rome” or on Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) while I am away. If not, “pazienza,” as the Italians say!

In the meantime, here are two links from announcements in Indianapolis and Chicago about two of the new U.S. cardinals announced Sunday by Pope Francis:

+Monday’s press conference from Indianapolis announcing Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR as Cardinal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw9wIiZMsCg

Link to statement of Archbishop Blase Cupich on being named a Cardinal: https://www.archchicago.org/news_releases/news_2016/stmnt_161009.html

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER”

Today is a glorious day in Rome, following an overcast Tuesday and some torrential rain in the afternoon. That rain seemed to have cleared the delft-blue sky of clouds and the air of pollution as thousands of pilgrims joined Pope Francis for the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Continuing his series of weekly catechesis on mercy, the Holy Father reflected on the reading from Saint Matthew’s Gospel in which the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the the mercy we show to others.

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“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Pope, to great applause. “During this Holy Year of Mercy, we have reflected on God’s mercy, revealed especially in the incarnation of his Son, and on our duty, as followers of Jesus, to be ‘merciful like the Father’.  In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the mercy we show to him, present in the least of our brothers and sisters.

“His words,” explained Francis, “have inspired the seven traditional ‘corporal’ works of mercy – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.”

He noted that “the Church’s tradition also adds seven ‘spiritual’ works of mercy – counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offences, bearing patiently those who do us ill, and praying for the living and the dead.

“As expressions of living faith,” said the Pope, “these works are often carried out quietly and with simple gestures.  Yet, as Saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta show us, they reveal the merciful face of Christ and can change the culture around us.  Let us keep them always in mind and strive to practice them daily.”

URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

After the Wednesday general audience catechesis on mercy, Pope Francis once again appealed for peace in Syria, Pope Francis said, “I want to emphasize and reiterate my solidarity with all victims of inhuman conflict in Syria. It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging, with all my strength, those responsible, to take steps toward an immediate ceasefire, one imposed and respected at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under cruel bombardment.”

News agencies report that, in the last 24 hours, Russian-led airstrikes have resumed, once again targeting the besieged city of Aleppo. At least 25 people are reported to have died, including children.

 

“BE MERCIFUL AS THE FATHER,” A CALL TO “BE SIGNS, CHANNELS AND WITNESSES TO HIS MERCY” – POPE CONDEMNS KILLING OF TWO PRIESTS IN MEXICO – AN ANGELIC ROMAN BRIDGE

I returned to Rome yesterday, safe and sound and with all my luggage and, after a great night’s sleep, I now face the ever-bustling, there’s-something-on-the-calendar-every-day fall season of visitors, special events, concerts and embassy receptions, houseguests, parish council meetings, the diaconate ordination at the North American College and the blessing of new EWTN offices for CNA.

Speaking of travel, I received the following advisory today from the U.S. Embassy and wanted to pass it on in the event you might have a reservation on Alitalia for tomorrow: “The U.S. Embassy in Italy informs U.S. citizens that a union representing Alitalia pilots and flight attendants has announced its intention to strike on Thursday, September 22 as part of ongoing negotiations.  Multiple Alitalia flights could be affected.  Please note that the strike may be cancelled depending on the status of these negotiations; travelers should check with Alitalia prior to their scheduled travel for the latest information.”

And now, the news, including a fun story about a Roman bridge, and this September 21 papal tweet: Dialogue is born when I am capable of recognizing others as a gift of God and accept they have something to tell me.

“BE MERCIFUL AS THE FATHER,” A CALL TO “BE SIGNS, CHANNELS AND WITNESSES TO HIS MERCY”

Before presiding the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square this morning, Pope Francis stopped in the Paul VI Hall to greet a number of faithful who were ill. Weather reports had predicted rain this morning and the Vatican felt it prudent to move some people indoors.

Actually, the audience went off without a hitch and Pope Francis enjoyed his usual ride in the popemobile, greeting the faithful, kissing babies and small ones and being serenaded by a group of musicians from Indonesia. (photo news.va)

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His weekly catechesis was focused on mercy, as it has been during this Holy Year of mercy, noting that, “merciful love is the only path, for by it we are able to make known the Father’s mercy that has no end.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said in the English summary, “In our Gospel passage this morning, we are reminded of our call to be merciful even as our heavenly Father is merciful.  When we look at salvation history, we see that God’s whole revelation is his untiring love for humanity which culminates in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  So great a love can be expressed only by God.”

Jesus’ call to humanity to be as merciful as the Father,” continued the Holy Father, “however, is not a question of quantity.  Instead it is a summons to be signs, channels and witnesses to his mercy.  This is the Church’s mission, to be God’s sacrament of mercy in every place and time.

Francis went on to explain that, “as Christians, therefore, God asks us to be his witnesses, first by opening our own hearts to his divine mercy, and then by sharing that mercy towards all people, especially those who suffer.  In this way, our works of mercy and charity will offer to the world a glimpse of the face of Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus explains that we especially show the Father’s mercy when we pardon one another, for we express the free gift of God’s love, and help one another on the way of conversion.  Jesus invites us also to give freely, for all we have has been freely given to us by God, and we will receive only in the measure that we freely give to others.  Merciful love is the only path, for by it we are able to make known the Father’s mercy that has no end.”

The Pope stressed throughout the catechesis how important it is to forgive in order to achieve a merciful heart. We all need to give, but also to forgive. “If God has forgiven us, why can we not forgive? Are we bigger than God?” And he said; “Mercy is to give, forgiving is to give.”

 POPE CONDEMNS KILLING OF TWO PRIESTS IN MEXICO

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the killing of two Mexican priests and has sent a telegram of condolences assuring their diocese and families of his prayers.

Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father José Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz were abducted from their Church in the State of Veracruz’s northern city of Poza Rica on Sunday.  Their bodies, with bullet wounds, were found the following day. (photo news.va)

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The telegram, sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father, expressed the Pope’s profound sadness for the killing of the priests who were respectively the parish priest and the vicar of the Our Lady of Fatima church in Poza Rica.

The Pope strongly condemned the brutal attacks on the lives and on the dignity of the people involved and urged the clergy and all members of the diocese to continue to pursue their mission despite the difficulties.

He said  he is praying for the eternal rest of the priests, for their families and for the entire parish community.

The telegram was addressed to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of Papantla.

Poza Rica and its surrounding territory has been the scene of drug-related gang violence and trafficking for many years. But it’s unclear why the Catholic priests were targeted.

Priests have been killed before in Mexico, but many of the killings have occurred in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. The two murders bring the total number of Catholic priests killed in Mexico since 2012 to 14.

AN ANGELIC ROMAN BRIDGE

(From ChurchPOP – September 21)  Rome is overflowing with beautiful art. On every corner, it seems, there’s some gorgeous church, or ancient fountain, or stunning masterpiece from a famous artist. For visitors who aren’t used to it, it can be a bit overwhelming!

The Ponte Sant’Angelo, or Bridge of Angels, is one of these incredible sights. But unless you look closely, you’ll miss its deeper meaning.

The Ponte Sant’Angelo goes all the way back to the first century. During the medieval period, it was sometimes called the “Bridge of St. Peter” since it was how most pilgrims crossed the Tiber River to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. But the bridge took on a new meaning in the 17th century when Pope Clement IX commissioned new statues.

Artistic genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini came up with the plan. There’d be 10 statues of angels, but each would be holding something special: the arma Christi, or instruments of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s really easy to miss if you’re not looking carefully; the average person probably just sees beautiful angels. But sure enough, all the angels are holding objects related to the suffering and death of Christ.

It’s a really beautiful way to remember and honor the sacrifice of our Lord, especially for pilgrims making their way to one of the most important churches of Christendom!

Below are pictures of all the statues look like and what each angel is holding.

PS FROM JOAN: Two of the original statues are in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte near the Spanish Steps! This is truly one of Rome’s must see churches!

Click here to see those photos! https://churchpop.com/2016/09/20/the-powerful-meaning-of-romes-bridge-of-angels-most-people-miss/