THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS JOINS ALL MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH
Today, the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus, everyone who attended the weekly general papal audience received a holy card and a candle to signify that Jesus is the light of the world. The Pope focussed the weekly audience catechesis on the communion of saints, and called it “an expression of God’s love.”
“In recent weeks,” he began, “we have been able to deepen our understanding of the figure of Saint Joseph, guided by the few but important pieces of information given in the Gospels, and also by the aspects of his personality that the Church over the centuries has been able to highlight through prayer and devotion. Starting precisely from this sentire commune (“common feeling”) of the Church that has accompanied the figure of St Joseph, today I would like to focus on an important article of faith that can enrich our Christian life and also shape our relationship with the saints and with our deceased loved ones in the best possible way: I am talking about the communion of saints.”
Francis added a personal note: “We often say in the Creed, ‘I believe in the communion of saints’. But if you ask what the communion of saints is, I remember as a child I used to answer immediately, ‘Ah, the saints receive Communion.’ It’s something that… we don’t understand what we are saying. What is the communion of saints? It’s not the saints receiving Communion, it’s not that. It’s something else.” (photos by CNA/EWTN Daniel Ibanez)
Francis explained that “the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: ‘The communion of saints is the Church’. See what a beautiful definition this is! “The communion of saints is the Church.” What does this mean? That the Church is reserved for the perfect? No. It means that it is the community of saved sinners. The Church is the community of saved sinners. It’s beautiful, this definition. No one can exclude themselves from the Church, we are all saved sinners.”
“St. Paul,” the Pope continued, “says Jesus is the head and we are the members. This image of the Body of Christ and the image of the body immediately makes us understand what it means to be bound to one another in communion: Let us listen to what Saint Paul says: ‘If one member suffers’, writes St Paul, all the members suffer together; and if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with him. Now you are the body of Christ and, each according to his part, his members’.”
In off the cuff remarks, Pope Francis said: “Let us consider, dear brothers and sisters, that in Christ no one can ever truly separate us from those we love because the bond is an existential bond, a strong bond that is in our very nature; only the manner of being together with one another them changes, but nothing and no one can break this bond. “Father, let’s think about those who have denied the faith, who are apostates, who are the persecutors of the Church, who have denied their baptism: Are these also at home?” Yes, these too. All of them. The blasphemers, all of them. We are brothers. This is the communion of saints. The communion of saints holds together the community of believers on earth and in heaven, and on earth the saints, the sinners, all.”
Francis said, “I want to conclude this catechesis with a prayer to St Joseph to which I am particularly attached and which I have recited every day for more than 40 years. It is a prayer that I found in a prayer book of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, from the 1700s, the end of the eighteenth century. It is very beautiful, but more than a prayer it is a challenge, to this friend, to this father, to this our guardian, Saint Joseph. It would be wonderful if you could learn this prayer and repeat it. I will read it.
“Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. All my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.”
During today’s general audience a man rose from his seat, took off the mask he was wearing and started to shout. According to some of the media covering the papal audience, he said, “Enough with masks. This is not the church of Jesus Christ. The Church is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic….you are not the king.”
Described as speaking English and between the ages of 40 and 50, the man was later identified only by nationality, Irish.
Holding a mask in his left hand, he was escorted out of the Paul VI Hall by a Swiss Guard and two gendarmes.
At the end of the audience catechesis, Pope Francis referenced this, asking for prayers:
“A few minutes ago we heard a man who was screaming, shouting, who had some kind of problem, I don’t know if it is physical, psychological or spiritual – but he is a brother of ours who has a problem,” Francis said. I would like to end by praying for him, for our brother who is suffering, poor man, because if he was shouting, it is because he is suffering,. Let’s not be deaf to the needs of this brother.”
The Pope and those present at the audience prayed a Hail Mary.
MAY BEIJING OLYMPICS AND PARALYMPICS FOSTER FRATERNITY
In a message to participants in the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games set to open on Beijing respectively on February 4 and March 4, Pope Francis said he was delighted at the new Olympic motto that now includes the word “together.”
The Holy Father spoke during the general audience, noting that, “Sport, with its universal language, can build bridges of friendship and solidarity between people and peoples of every culture and religion.”
“I therefore appreciate that the International Olympic Committee has added the word ‘Communiter,’ meaning ‘Together’ to the historic Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, that is ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’: so that the Olympic Games may nurture a more fraternal world,” he said.
That change was made in a July 20, 2021 meeting of the International Olympic Committee.
He had special words for the Paralympic world: “We will win the most important medal together if the example of the athletes with disabilities helps everyone to overcome prejudices and fears and to make our communities more welcoming and inclusive. This is the real gold medal!”
Francis said he follows attentively the stories of athletes who are refugees: “May their testimonies help encourage civil societies to open up with ever greater confidence to all, leaving no one behind. May the great Olympic and Paralympic family be a unique experience of fraternity.”