POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY – FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Keep your eyes and ears open in coming days as we might have an important announcement or two regarding some papal appointments, including the name of the new archbishop of Washington, D.C. Some red hats who are members of the Congregation for Bishops are in town and if I recall correctly, the congregation meets on the third Thursday of each month (which would be tomorrow) for some nominations.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY

At the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Our Father, focusing on the third invocation, “Thy will be done”.

By Christopher Wells

“God is not ambiguous, He is not hidden behind riddles, He has not planned the future of the world in an indecipherable manner.” In his catechesis on the third petition of the “Our Father,” Pope Francis said that we can see the will of the Father expressed in the words of Jesus: God wills “to seek and to save that which was lost.” This, the Pope said, “without any shadow of doubt, is the will of God: the salvation of all human beings,” of each one of us individually.

Because of His love for us, God “knocks on the door of our heart” in order “to draw us to Himself, to lead us forward along the path of salvation.” The Pope said, “God is close to each one of us with His love, in order to lead us by the hand to salvation.”

“And we, in prayer, ask that God’s seeking might come to a good end, that His universal plan of salvation should be accomplished,” Pope Francis continued, “first, in each one of us, and then in the whole world.”

God’s desire for the salvation of human beings, and of the whole world, means that our prayer that His will be done does not mean “bowing our heads,” like slaves, to an unalterable fate. On the contrary, “God wants us to be free,” the Pope said. “It is His love that frees us.”

“Thy will be done,” he said, is “a courageous, even combative prayer” precisely because there is so much evil in the world, which is not according to God’s [antecedent] will.

The Our Father, Francis continued, “is a prayer that kindles in us the same love [that] Jesus has for the will of the Father, a flame that impels one to transform the world with love.” There is nothing of random chance in the faith of Christians, the Pope explained: “Rather, there is a salvation that waits to manifest itself in the life of each man and woman, and to be fully accomplished in eternity.” If we prayer, he said, “it is because we believe that God is able and desires to transform reality, overcoming evil with good.”

Pope Francis pointed to the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Lord prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; but not my will, but yours, be done!” Although He is “crushed” by the weight of evil in the world, Jesus “confidently abandons Himself to the ocean of love of the will of the Father.”

In His love, God will never abandon us, the Pope insisted: “He will always be with us, beside us, within us. For a believer, more than a hope, this is a certainty.”

Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis invited all those present in the Square to pray together the Our Father, each in their own language.

FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Pope Francis is urging prayers and support for the many victims of Cyclone Idai, which has caused widespread destruction and flooding in the southeast African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
By Devin Watkins

“In recent days, great floods have sowed mourning and devastation in various areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. I express my pain and closeness to those dear people.”

With these heartfelt words, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the families of the more than 350 people killed by Cyclone Idai, as well as his solidarity with the millions of people affected. The powerful storm made landfall on the coast of Mozambique last Thursday before spreading death and destruction halfway across southeast Africa.

Pope Francis made the appeal at the Wednesday general audience held in St. Peter’s Square.

“I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God, and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said.

Hundreds dead in Mozambique
Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique’s port city of Beira with winds of up to 170 kph on Thursday last week. Drone footage taken by the Red Cross showed the devastation wreaked upon one area, with empty plots seen where winds had blown entire buildings from their foundations.

Mozambique started three days of national mourning on Wednesday for the victims, who currently number in excess of 200. President Filipe Nyusi says the death toll may reach 1,000 as rescuers continue to recover bodies and hundreds remain missing.

Officials say the full extent of the damage will only emerge when floodwaters recede, and forecasters predict persistent rains through Thursday.

Zimbabwe mourns
In neighboring Zimbabwe, the remnants of Cyclone Idai also caused massive flooding, killing at least 98 people. The number of victims may rise to around 300, say officials.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited the hard-hit mountain community of Chimanimani. The bodies of some flood victims may have been swept down the mountainside into nearby Mozambique.

A local resident took a video at Chimanimani’s Catholic Church, where funeral services were held and women wailed in mourning. “Lots of people suffering. People didn’t stand a chance here,” he said.

Unknown destruction in Malawi
Malawi has yet to release details of any casualties from the storm. But the UN’s World Food Programme said Tuesday that projections from satellite images indicate that Cyclone Idai affected some 920,000 people in Malawi. More than 1.7 million were in its direct path in Mozambique.

The United Nations has directed $20 million from its emergency response fund to help people suffering in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

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A LANDMARK EWTN TRANSMISSION – POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS – POPE AT AUDIENCE URGES CHRISTIANS TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS

As I write Pope Francis is at Santa Sabina Church to preside at Ash Wednesday Mass and to receive ashes from Cardinal Josef Tomko. The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples is 94 and has imposed ashes on three popes.

It is very interesting to receive ashes here in Italy as they are generally imposed on one’s head, not the forehead. This could be related to the day’s Gospel: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

In the case of Mass today with the North American College, as you will see in the video below, ashes are quite in evidence on the forehead!

A LANDMARK EWTN TRANSMISSION

EWTN transmitted via Facebook and social media the Mass that was celebrated at 6:45 this morning at the first Lenten Station in Rome, Santa Sabina, with the Pontifical North American College. Here’s the link:

It is also on the Facebook page of the seminary: https://www.facebook.com/PontificalNorthAmericanCollege/

At the end of Mass there were up to 4000 views. It was broadcast by EWTN live on twitter and YouTube as well.

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent a telegram of condolences in Pope Francis’ name to Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, Alabama for the victims of the devastating tornades in recent days:

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi Archbishop of Mobile

Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and the injuries caused by the tornado which struck Alabama in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster. He prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children, and healing and consolation to the injured and those who grieve. Upon all who are suffering the effects of this calamity, the Holy Father invokes the Lord’s blessings of peace and strength.

POPE AT AUDIENCE URGES CHRISTIANS TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS

During the weekly general audience Pope Francis continued his catechesis dedicated to the “Our Father”.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to open their hearts pointing out that Christ’s victory has not yet been fully achieved.

To the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience, the Pope said Jesus has come, and there are multiple signs of the kingdom, yet the world is still marked by sin and the hearts of many remain closed, which compels us to implore the Lord: “Your kingdom come!”

The world, he said, continues to be populated by so many people who suffer, by people who do not reconcile and do not forgive, by wars and by many forms of exploitation: “Let’s think, for example of the trafficking of children.” All of these facts are proof that many men and women still live with their hearts closed.

“Father: we need you!”
It is above all in these situations, said Francis, that we turn to the second invocation of Our Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come!” with which we say, ‘Father, we need you, Jesus, we need you everywhere” and “forever Lord, be among us!”

Recalling Christ’s words when he began his preaching in Galilee and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The Pope explained that these words do not contain a threat; to the contrary, they are an announcement and a message of joy.

Jesus, he said, does not want to push people to conversion by sowing the fear of God’s impending judgment, nor, he said, does he proselytize.

He announces, the Pope continued, that the signs of the coming of His Kingdom are manifest and they are all positive. In fact, he said, Jesus begins his ministry by taking care of the sick – both in body and in spirit – of those who lived a life of social exclusion, such as lepers, of sinners.

God is patient and gentle
Sometimes we may ask, he said, why does our petition, “your kingdom come” emerge so slowly?

It’s because God is not like us, he explained: “God is patient!” And he wants to establish his kingdom not with violence but with gentleness, “like a grain of mustard seed, which, though tiny, grows into a mighty tree.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis urging Christians to pray the Our Father and to sow the words that implore the coming of His Kingdom in the midst of our sins and failures.

Let’s give these words, he said, “to those who are defeated and bent by life, to those who have tasted more hatred than love, to those who have lived useless days without ever understanding why. Let’s give them to those who have fought for justice, to all the martyrs of history.”

Let’s give these words, he appealed, “to those who have come to the conclusion they have fought in vain and that evil dominates this world.”

THE OUR FATHER, THE PRAYER OF 7 PETITIONS – POPE ON DEATH PENALTY: OFFER THE CONDEMNED THE POSSIBILITY TO CHANGE LIFE – PAPAL LITURGICAL CALENDAR FOR MARCH AND APRIL

THE OUR FATHER, THE PRAYER OF 7 PETITIONS

Pope Francis continued his weekly general audience catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the words, “hallowed be thy name.”

Greeting the faithful for the first general audience of the year in St. Peter’s Square, Francis began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on the Our Father, we now turn to the first of the seven petitions, ‘hallowed be thy name.’ Here we see the pattern of all prayer, which is always made, on the one hand, in contemplation of God, and on the other, in a sincere supplication for our needs.

“When we speak to God,” the Holy Father continued, “he already knows us better than we know ourselves, for even if God is a mystery to us, we are not an enigma in his eyes. He is like a mother for whom a simple glance enables her immediately to perceive the condition of her children. A first step in prayer, then, is to entrust ourselves to God and His providence.”

Pope Francis explained that “this leads us to pray: “Hallowed be thy name,” where we not only express our trust in God’s greatness, but also ask that his name be sanctified in us, in our families, our communities and the whole world. We can do this because it is God who sanctifies and transforms us by his love. Prayer casts out every fear, since the Father loves us, the Son lifts up his arms to support ours, and the Spirit works in a hidden way for the redemption of the world.

In greetings to Arabic-speaking pilgrims, Francis said: “I extend a cordial welcome to those present in the Arabic language, especially those from Egypt, Iraq and the Middle East. The invocation of the name of God has the sole objective of sanctifying it and not of exploiting it. ‘Hallowed be your name’ means to commit oneself so that one’s life may be a hymn of praise to the greatness of God; be a concrete manifestation of my faith in him; it means engaging in the way of holiness for others to glorify His holy name. May the Lord bless you and always protect you from the evil one!”

Monsignors who work in the Secretariat of State at the various language desks usually read a summary of the main papal catechesis and translate the Pope’s greetings to language groups as well, doing so in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic and Croatian. The Pope generally gives the main catechesis in Italian and delivers the Spanish summary in his other native language.

POPE ON DEATH PENALTY: OFFER THE CONDEMNED THE POSSIBILITY TO CHANGE LIFE

The Pope, in a video message, exhorts rulers and all those who have the responsibility in their countries to take the necessary steps towards the total abolition of the death penalty.

Pope Francis sent a video message to the “World Congress Against the Death Penalty” organized by the association “Together against the Death Penalty” ( ECPM) that is meeting in Brussels, Belgium, from February 26 to March 1.

ECPM acts to fight against the death penalty around the world. The association promotes the universal abolition through the creation and dissemination of publications and teaching tools, as part of public campaigns and lobbies governments at both national and international levels.

Click here for video with English translation: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-02/pope-death-penalty-abolition-brussels.html#play

PAPAL LITURGICAL CALENDAR FOR MARCH AND APRIL

MARCH

Wednesday 6 – Ash Wednesday Church of Sant’Anselmo, 4.30 pm Statio and penitential procession Basilica of Santa Sabina, 5 pm Holy Mass, blessing and imposition of Ashes

Sunday 10 – First Sunday of Lent – In Ariccia, beginning of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 15 – Conclusion of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 29 – Vatican Basilica, Celebration of Penance 5 pm

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31, Apostolic trip to Morocco

APRIL

Sunday 14 – Palm Sunday and the Lord’s Passion, Saint Peter’s Square 10 am Commemoration of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and Holy Mass

Thursday 18 – Holy Thursday of Holy Week, Vatican Basilica at 9.30 Chrism Mass

Friday 19 – Good Friday, Vatican Basilica at 5 pm – Celebration of the Passion of the Lord – Colosseum at 9:15 pm Via Crucis

Saturday 20 – Holy Saturday, Vatican Basilica at 8.30 pm Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Sunday 21 – Easter Sunday St. Peter’s Square, 10 am Holy Mass of the day – Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica at 12 noon “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION…. – POPE’S DECEMBER PRAYER INTENTION: IN THE SERVICE OF THE TRANSMISSION OF FAITH – POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES IN FEBRUARY

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION….

As you know, Pope Francis started a new catechesis at his weekly general audiences, focussing on the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, after discussing the Ten Commandments.

It will be interesting to follow these catecheses as I’m sure the Holy Father will parse each phrase of the prayer, also known as the Prayer of Seven Petitions, studying and explaining one phrase at a time. He did this with several of the Ten Commandments and on other, similar occasions.

Based on a number of rumors I’ve heard and articles I’ve seen, the most interesting phrase the Pope would explain may well be “lead us not into temptation.”

Vaticanista Sandro Magister, in a post today on his “Settimo Cielo” column, wrote that, in the November Italian Bishops’ plenary session, Francis “ordered them to replace the petition ‘and lead us not into temptation’ in the “Our Father” at Mass, because in his judgment it is “not a good” translation of the text of the Gospel.

He added: “The assembly was held behind closed doors, and at the end of the work only the result of the discussion was released, with the passing of the new formula: “and do not abandon us to temptation.”

It seems, writes Magister, “When the question was put to discussion in the hall, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 14, a few bishops spoke out in defense of the traditional version, asking that it be kept alive and if anything explained better to the faithful, instead of being changed.

“In effect, the words ‘e non ci indurre in tentazione’ – on a par with the English version in use in the United States: “and lead us not into temptation” – are an exact reproduction of the Latin translation still in effect in liturgical chant: “et ne nos inducas in tentationem,” which in turn is strictly faithful to the original Greek: “kai me eisenénkes hemás eis peirasmón.”

What most interested me were Magister’s words “Francis ordered them to replace the petition ‘and lead us not into temptation’ in the “Our Father” at Mass….”

Does this mean that as we pray the Our Father outside of Mass, for example in the rosary, we can keep the traditional words, “lead us not into temptation” but that in Mass the prayer will be changed?

Stay tuned to the weekly general audiences!

POPE’S DECEMBER PRAYER INTENTION: IN THE SERVICE OF THE TRANSMISSION OF FAITH

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for December: “In the service of the transmission of faith”.
In his prayer intention for the month of December 2018, Pope Francis calls us to pray that people who are involved in the service and transmission of faith may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time, in their dialogue with people’s hearts, and above all, by listening much.

The full text of his intention follows:

If you want to share your faith through the word, you have to listen much and carefully.
Let us imitate the style of Jesus, who adapted himself to the people He had in front of Him so as to bring God’s love to them.
Let us pray that people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time, in their dialogue with people’s hearts, and above all, by listening much.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.

POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES IN FEBRUARY

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to the United Arab Emirates in February to participate in an interfaith meeting.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates from 3 to 5 February 2019 to attend an interfaith meeting on “Human Fraternity”.

Greg Burke, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, said on Thursday that the visit highlights Pope Francis’ commitment to building a culture of encounter.

The theme of the visit, Burke explained, is “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”.

“That’s the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates. How all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip” he said.

Burke added that like the Pope’s 2017 apostolic journey to Egypt, this visit “shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue”.

Pope Francis visiting the Arab world, he concluded, “is a perfect example of the culture of encounter”.

A press release published by the Vatican Press Office specified that the Pope’s visit comes in response to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates.

THEME: “MAKE ME A CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE”
Pope Francis has taken his name from St. Francis of Assisi, a saint who has been a shining example of putting into practice the words of Jesus Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) The peace of God heals all forms of hostility within the human person and accompanies the Good News proclaimed by Jesus Christ of a God who reconciles the world to himself. The theme, taken from the opening words of the Prayer of Peace of St. Francis, expresses our own prayer that the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates may spread in a special way the peace of God within the hearts of all people of good will.

LOGO: The logo of the visit is a dove bearing an olive branch. The colours of the dove, white outlined in yellow, are taken from the colours of the Vatican Flag. The colours of the flag of the United Arab Emirates are incorporated into the body of the dove, symbolising the visit of the Pope to the country as a herald of peace

PAPAL CATECHESIS FOCUS ON “OUR FATHER”, “THE VERY WORDS JESUS PRAYED” – DON’T LET GENDER IDEOLOGY CONFUSE STUDENTS, ENGLISH CARDINAL URGES

We really have to pray for the people in the UK and for the citizens of any country who want their laws to reflect the gender theories we read about in the story about Cardinal Nichols of London!

PAPAL CATECHESIS FOCUS ON “OUR FATHER”, “THE VERY WORDS JESUS PRAYED”

Pope Francis, at today’s general audience in a (finally!) sunshine-splashed St. Peter’s Square, continued his catechesis on the Mass, focusing on the liturgical rites that follow the Eucharistic Prayer, in particular the Our Father and the “breaking of the bread.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Pope Francis, “In our catechesis on the Mass, we now turn from the Eucharistic Prayer to the Communion Rites, which begin with our common recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately following the Great Amen, the assembly recites together the Our Father, which was taught us by Christ Himself. This, the Pope said, is not just one Christian prayer among many. Rather, it is “the prayer of the children of God,” in which, as Jesus teaches us, we call God Father.”

Putting aside, his prepared remarks, Francis spoke off the cuff and stressed the importance of this prayer, saying several times that “Jesus Himself prayed this way. We must pray like him. We do so when we recite the Our Father. This is Jesus talking to His Father, and this is how we must talk to our Father.” He said, “do you realize these are Jesus’ very words. We must pray like Him.”

“The Our Father,” said the Pope, “recited not only in the Mass, but also in the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church, gives a Christian character to the whole day, forming in us a filial attitude towards God, and a fraternal relationship with our neighbor. The prayer we offer to the Father as his adoptive children in Christ, disposes us to receive the Lord’s body and blood in Holy Communion.

“We ask the Father for “our daily bread,” Francis continued, “for the forgiveness of our sins and for deliverance from evil. These petitions are then expanded in the following prayers, which invoke God’s peace and unity upon the Church and our world.”

He noted that, “In the exchange of the sign of peace, we demonstrate our commitment to be reconciled with one another, so as to worthily approach the altar to receive the Lord’s gift of himself.

“The rite of the breaking of the bread, accompanied by our invocation of Christ as the Lamb of God, acknowledges the saving presence of the risen Lord among us and implores the peace he won for us on the Cross. May our conscious celebration of these rites help us to experience ever more fully the Eucharist as the sacrament of our communion with God and with all our brothers and sisters.”

In remarks to Polish pilgrims following the catechesis, the Pope emphasized that it is necessary, if anyone has committed a grave sin, to receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion – and he reminded the faithful that Lent is a good time to make a good Confession in order to encounter Christ in the Eucharist.

“The Lord’s Prayer also calls us to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters, when we pray for our sins to be forgiven, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ And so, while we open our hearts to God, the Our Father disposes us also to fraternal love.”

DON’T LET GENDER IDEOLOGY CONFUSE STUDENTS, ENGLISH CARDINAL URGES

London, England, Mar 13, 2018 (CNA/EWTN News).- Criticizing ideological trends regarding gender identity, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said that accepting that one’s biological sex is built-in to humanity helps escape destructive individualism through participation in the human family.

“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behavior, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance,” Cardinal Nichols told a February meeting of Catholic head teachers.

“In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations are so important,” the cardinal continued. These foundations “affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations.”

“They help up keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy,” he said.

Young people need help to develop a sense of justice grounded in an “innate understanding of human nature and its dignity,” not ideology, Cardinal Nichols said.

“The Christian faith is not an ideology,” he said. “An ideology proceeds by destroying what is in its way… An ideology seeks to remove all that is opposed to it and to impose its ‘ideals’, no matter the objective cost.”

According to Cardinal Nichols, the Christian faith looks upon the reality of which it is a part.

“The Christian faith, more than any other, takes the reality of sin seriously, not pretending that we live in a utopia, or on a pathway of endless progress, but rather in a world marked by limitations and distortions.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will consider its response to transgender issues in April.

Heather Ashton with the transgender advocacy group TG Pals said the cardinal’s remarks were “not helpful” and said “a religious bias should not have any impact on a transgender child’s needs,” the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports.

Scotland is considering changes to its Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which is likely to inspire similar changes in England and Wales, the British newspaper the Catholic Herald says.

The change would allow self-declaration to change gender recognized by law. Current law requires assessments for “gender dysphoria” over a two-year period before a person may legally change his or her gender. The proposals would allow 16-year-olds to self-declare a new gender, while those under 16 would be able to change gender without parental consent if they appeal to the courts.