POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER” – POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER”

In a (finally) sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “Today we conclude our catechesis on the ‘Our Father’.”

He said, “Jesus has revealed to us that Christian prayer begins with the audacity to call God ‘Father’. Indeed, each of the expressions that our Lord himself uses in prayer brings to mind the text of the ‘Our Father’.

“Throughout the New Testament,” continued Francis, “it is clear that the first principle of every prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes into the hearts of the disciples. Herein lies the mystery of Christian prayer: that by grace we are drawn into the Holy Trinity’s dialogue of love. On the cross Jesus cries out: ‘My God, my God’, and we see here the fulcrum of his relationship with the Father. This also reflects the heart of our own trust and prayer.

The Holy Father said in conclusion, “At the end of this catechesis, let us repeat this prayer of Jesus: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children’.”

In the multi-lingual greetings that follow the audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, Francis, through an English-speaking monsignor from the Secretariat of State, greeted the “English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!”

In greetings to French pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of a murdered missionary sister, whose body was found in the Central African Republic on the same day a missionary priest was killed in Mozambique. He called the Spanish missionary “a woman who has given her life for Jesus in the service of the poor.”

Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, 77, was found murdered near her home in the Central African Republic on Monday morning. Her body was found horribly mutilated at her workshop in the village of Nola, which is part of the Diocese of Berberati, according to the Osservatore Romano. At some point during the night between Sunday and Monday, unknown assailants entered Sister Inés’ home and forcibly took her to the workshop where she regularly held sewing lessons for local girls to help improve their lives. There her attackers decapitated her and mutilated her body.

There was a new language in the papal greetings today. Added to French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish and Italian, Francis greeted pilgrims in Ukrainian: “I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!”

After the general audience was over and Catholic prelates and several others lined up to meet the Pope, the Holy Father greeted Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. (source: vaticannews)

POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, in a reference to the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, expressed his “special closeness and affection to all the Catholics in China who, among daily labors and trials, continue to believe, to hope, and to love.”

Speaking directly to the faithful in China, the Holy Father said, “May our Mother of Heaven help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, always remaining united in the communion of the universal Church.”

Francis then assured the Chinese faithful of his own prayers and his blessing, before leading the pilgrims at the audience in praying the Hail Mary for Chinese Catholics.

An image of Our Lady, Help of Christians, is found in the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai, and is an object of special devotion to the faithful in China.

In May of 2007, in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI asked that the May 24 feast of Mary, Help of Christians be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The following prayer, published in 2008, was composed by Pope Benedict for the occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
(source: vaticannews)

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN, was recently in town for a number of events and he announced to the staff in our meeting with members of EWTN’s board, that an EWTN news agency had been formed for and in Africa – ACI Africa. The story was carried by FIDES, the news arm of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, It featured the words of Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in his homily during Mass for EWTN: http://www.fides.org/en/news/66009-AFRICA_ACI_Africa_agency_is_born_Archbishop_Dal_Toso_A_sign_of_hope_for_the_continent

On another topic: As you will see in the photo below, the weather in Rome did no favors to those attending the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. It is quite chilly here (48 degrees as I write at 3 pm) and coats and heavy jackets, perhaps even layered clothing, are the order of the day! We have been averaging only one entirely sunny day every week – days that verge on being warm but generally offer cloud cover, light showers or torrential downpours. Feels a lot more like October, especially since heat has been turned off in most buildings for over a month, and there are no warm temps to compensate for the chill and humidity in the air.

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE

The Holy Father, making his way to the podium in front of St. Peter’s Basilica before the general audience this morning, asked the popemobile driver to stop to allow eight children to jump aboard for a ride. The 8 children had come from Libya on a boat several different nationalities, including Syria, Nigeria and Congo, and are currently hosted with families in the “Mondo Migliore” (Better World) Center of Rocca di Papa and followed by the “Auxilium” Cooperative. They were all wearing T-shirts that said, “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate” the appeal coined by Pope Francis in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The self-funded “Humanitarian Corridors” project, which Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld, is carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. It aims to avoid migrant journeys on boats in the Mediterranean in which so many – usually trafficked people – have died, and at the same time fight human trafficking. (photo by Daniel Ibanez EWTN-ACI)

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Following is the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis on the “Our Father.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the final petition: “Deliver us from evil”. This recognizes that life is fraught with difficulties, that evil is present in all of our lives, and so this final cry of the “Our Father” powerfully confronts the complete range of evil. Jesus himself, moreover, has experienced the full impact of evil in his passion: not only death but death on a cross; not just loneliness but scorn; nor merely bad-will but cruelty.

The Holy Father reflected at length on the presence of evil in the world. He said the word used in the original Greek (πονηρός) evokes “the presence of evil that seeks to grab hold and bite at us, and from which we ask God for delivery. … History books are a bleak catalogue of how our existence in this world has often been a failed adventure.”

Francis noted, “There is a mysterious evil which is surely not the work of God, but which silently penetrates the folds of history.”

But, the Pope noted, the person who prays is not blind and sees clearly that evil is in contradiction with the mystery of God.

“The last cry of the Our Father is hurled against this evil,” he said, “which encompasses the most diverse experiences, including mourning, the suffering of innocents, slavery, the exploitation of others, and the cries of innocent children.”

Francis stated that, “the ‘Our Father’ resembles a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each one of us, for however much we may be subjected to wickedness, Jesus will come to our aid.”

“Jesus’ prayer on the cross – ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ – bequeaths us the most precious patrimony: the presence of the Son of God who delivers us from evil. Indeed, from here flows the gift of his peace, which is stronger than every evil; and herein lies our hope!” (source: Vaticannnews)

EVEN IN TEMPTATION WE CAN COUNT ON OUR FATHER NOT TO ABANDON US

EVEN IN TEMPTATION WE CAN COUNT ON OUR FATHER NOT TO ABANDON US

Wednesday, May 1 marks International Labor Day in many parts of the world. It is also the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. At the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the Our Father, focusing on the petition, “Lead us not into temptation.”

He also noted the May 1 holiday and called that the low employment rates that mark the current situation across the world as a “global tragedy”. At the end of his catechesis, in fact, Francis asked the patron saint of workers, St. Joseph, to intercede for those who have lost their jobs or are unable to find work.

In his teaching on the “Our Father,” the Pope reflected on the invocation: “Lead us not into temptation,” and pointed to recent discussions on a possible change in the wording of that petition to read “abandon us not when in temptation.”

The Holy Father said, “It is with this penultimate invocation that our dialogue with our heavenly Father enters, so to speak, in the midst of the drama of the battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. ”

He then pointed to translation issues and said, “it is not easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek version of the (Our Father) prayer,” adding “all modern translations are a bit lame.”

However, said Francis, we know one thing for sure: God who loves His children “will not seek to put temptations in our way. …Let’s not forget, a father does not set traps for his children.”

He explained that even Jesus, in his earthly life, had trials and temptations, and said, “this experience of the Son of God makes him completely our brother.” One example would be the devil tempting Jesus during 40 days in the desert, and a second would be when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsamane and, knowing he was about to die for mankind’s salvation, nonetheless told His Father, “thy will be done.”

Such examples, said the Pope, show us that God never leaves His Son alone. A father does not abandon his children. And we can count on God, Our Father: “He is with us when he gives us life, during our lives, in moments of joy and of trouble, he is with us in sadness and in defeat, when we sin. He is always with us because a Father cannot abandon us. …He is a Father who always fights for us, and not against us.”

Thus, said Francis, “we pray to our Father ‘lead us from times of temptation’,
but when this time comes, ‘show us we are not alone, show us that Christ has already taken upon himself the weight of our cross, show us that Christ is calling on us to carry it with him, and help us to abandon ourselves to Your fatherly love.”

Here is the summary of the papal catechesis that was read to English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our
Father,” we now consider the penultimate invocation: “Lead us not into
temptation.” Here our dialogue with God enters into the drama of the
battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. It is not
easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek,
but we can certainly say that God does not seek to put temptations in
our way. Both tribulation and temptation, moreover, are mysteriously
present even in the life of Jesus, and this experience makes him
completely our brother. In the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane,
Jesus overcomes any temptation to abandon the Father’s will. When we
in turn are tempted, we know that we are not alone: for Christ has
already taken on himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry
it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father’s faithful love.

GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

You know the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the day!”

My day has been fairly upside down because of a number of unexpected events but I always try to find time to post a blog – I think the Lord knows that is always one of my plans for the day!

There is time for an update on my appearance on Newt Gingrich’s podcast, “Newt’s World”. I just learned we are over 21,000 downloads and counting. Heartfelt thanks for the enthusiastic emails I’ve received since the podcast aired Sunday! Two links:

Newt’s World Ep 11: Cookies With The Pope – Joan Lewis


To listen now: https://art19.com/shows/newts-world/episodes/c2005fcc-ced9-477e-885e-cba72c7ba1bb

GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

Pope Francis this morning in St. Peter’s Square continued his weekly catechesis on the “Our Father,” telling the faithful present, “we now consider the expression: ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’.”

He began by noting that, “Since everything we have, including our very existence, comes as a gift from God, we are always in his debt, for our life was not simply willed, it was also loved into being.

“We can be confident, then,” he added, “that the Lord will always forgive our trespasses when we ask him with contrite hearts. Yet this grace also calls us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us. We see this in the parable of the unmerciful servant, who though having his own enormous debt written off, in turn refuses to cancel a much smaller debt owed to him. The message is clear: if you refuse to forgive, then you will not be forgiven.”

Francis then explained that, “God’s abundant grace is always demanding. Those who have received so much must learn to give as much, without holding some back for themselves.”

The Holy Father illustrated with a story of a priest he knew who went to hear the confession of a lady who was on her deathbed.

The Pope said, “the priest asked her if she repented of all her sins. ‘Yes’ was her answer.”

“Then the priest asked: ‘Do you forgive others? And the lady, at the point of death, said: ‘No.’

“The priest was distressed. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you.”

If we have problems forgiving others, said Pope Francis, we need to ask the Lord to help us to forgive.

Forgiveness stops spread of evil
Pope Francis noted that Jesus inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships, saying it fills the gap left by justice in the world.

“Not everything in life is resolved by justice. Especially where it is necessary to put a stop to evil, someone must love beyond what is necessary, in order to restart a story of grace. Evil knows how to take revenge, and, if we do not interrupt it, [evil] risks spreading, suffocating the whole world.”

Thus, Pope Francis concluded, “this Easter week is an opportunity to offer others the most precious gift we have received: forgiveness.” (vaticannews)

“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST” – ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST”

Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Our Father during his weekly general audience, focusing on “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”.

The audience took place in St. Peter’s Square under gray and rainy skies, soaking the nearly 15,000 faithful present for the papal catechesis. (Photos: Lucia Ballester for CNA)

The monsignori from the Secretariat of State who provide the various language translations of the weekly catechesis and papal greetings, as well as the visiting bishops and cardinals, who are normally seated near the papal platform but not covered from the elements, today were all bunched today under the protective canopy of the platform, just behind Pope Francis.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began the Holy Father, “in our continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father’, we now consider how Jesus teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Just as we need bread, so we have need of forgiveness. Every day!”

Francis noted that, “in the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel, the word used for ‘trespasses’ carries the meaning of being in debt, and so Christians pray asking that God will forgive their debts. We are truly in debt to God because everything we have has come as a gift from Him: our life, parents, friends, creation itself. Likewise, we are only capable of loving because we have been loved first; we are able to forgive only because we ourselves have received forgiveness.”

But even if we were perfect, saint-like people who never strayed “we would always remain children who owe everything to the Father,” explained the Pope.

He then warned against pride, defining it “the most dangerous attitude for every Christian life.” Pride is the worst sin, and quite insidious because it can “infect even people who live an intense religious life”. He then cited the First Letter of St John, saying, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”

Francis asked, “How can we not recognize, in the bonds of love that precede us, the providential presence of God’s love? None of us can love God as He has loved us. We need only gaze at a crucifix to realize this. Let us pray, then, that even the holiest in our midst will never cease to be in debt to the Lord. O Father, have mercy on us all!”

ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

Personalized medicine represents a revolution in medical science and raises several ethical challenges, says Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosts a workshop in the Vatican this week on “The Revolution of Personalized Medicine.”

The event carries a provocative subtitle: “Are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?”

Personalized medicine is a therapeutic approach that separates people into different groups according to their genetic information in order to tailor decisions, interventions, and drug therapy to the individual patient.

Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan, an expert in Internal Medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, is the workshop’s Academic Director.

Professor Barilan told Vatican News’ Gabriela Ceraso that personalized medicine represents a dual revolution.

It promises a partial revolution in medicine, he said, because it aims at getting “more and more specific at the molecular level of every disease.” This means examining the genomic and molecular features of diabetes, for instance.

The bigger revolution, said Prof. Barilan, is “to try to abandon the concept of disease altogether and, on one hand, just collect lots of biological data (proteins, genes), have the computers calculate them, like Google does, and then come out with specific health instructions”.

Ethical challenges
Prof. Barilan admitted that personalized medicine poses several ethical challenges.

One general risk is conflict of interest and bias in the industry, though, he said, every industry runs this risk.

The doctor-patient relationship could also suffer as a result of personalized medicine, because computers could come between the two as they are relied upon in the place of doctors to analyze patient data.

“There is also a risk of having a new definition of what health is, and it’s not necessarily what we as persons and humans believe health is,” he said.

Risk of alienation
Personalized medicine, said Prof. Barilan, even runs the risk of alienating certain people from society, because they carry genetic traits or disease markers that could be classified as “high risk” or they might have a low response-rate to therapy.

It might even cause the “reorganization of human society along the lines of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are as a biological creature,” he said.

Ultimate human goals
Prof. Barilan said the issues surrounding personalized medicine – and science in general – is related to “ultimate human goals,” or the perceived purpose of human life.

“Doing science and doing medicine without thinking about ultimate human goals and values is, in a way, futile or shallow, and could be extremely harmful.”

Both the Vatican and the scientists present at the workshop share a commitment to ultimate human goals, said Prof. Barilan, even if there is disagreement over what those goals may be.

POPE FRANCIS’ CATECHESIS ON THE OUR FATHER – POPE HONORS ITALIAN MISSIONARY NUN AT GENERAL AUDIENCE – POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN IRAN – POPE TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURITIUS

I posted a separate story on my Facebook page about today’s commemorative Mass in Rome to mark the third anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN. (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420)

POPE FRANCIS’ CATECHESIS ON THE OUR FATHER

In Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Our Father, focussing on the petition: “Give us this day our daily bread,” and saying this is where we present our needs to God.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” said Francis, reminds us that we are not self-sufficient. Prayer, he said, “begins with our daily concerns, our most pressing, concrete necessities of life,” and he invited the faithful to consider this prayer from the point of view of those who are in real need: “How many mothers, and how many fathers, even today, go to sleep with the anguish of not having sufficient bread for their children for the next day?” Seen from this perspective, “the words of Jesus take on new force.”

The Pope explained that, “with the request for ‘our daily bread’, rather than my daily bread, the ‘Our Father’ includes in itself an ‘attitude of empathy, an attitude of solidarity.” In this way, Jesus teaches us to present the needs of everyone to the Father.

The Pope then told the Gospel story of the feeding of the five thousand. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes was a true miracle, he said; but the greater miracle was the sharing. The young boy who shared his bread and fish “had understood the lesson of the ‘Our Father’, namely “that food is not private property… but providence to be shared, with the grace of God.”

In this miracle, Francis concluded, Jesus anticipated the offering of Himself in the Holy Eucharist: “Only the Eucharist,” he said, “is able to satisfy the hunger for the infinite and the desire for God that animates every human person, even in the search for daily bread.”

POPE HONORS ITALIAN MISSIONARY NUN AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

Pope Francis on Wednesday honored Sr. Maria Concetta Esu for her tireless work as a midwife in Africa over the past 60 years.
By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

Sister Maria Concetta Esu is an Italian nun who for almost 60 years has devoted her life to missionary work in Africa. In her profession as a midwife, Sister Concetta has delivered thousands of babies and at 85 her commitment to children, mothers and families continues.

In recognition of her tireless efforts, Pope Francis at the end of his general audience on Wednesday, honored this Sister from the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph of Genoni, telling her this accolade was “a sign of our affection and our ‘thanks’ for all the work you have done in the midst of our African brothers and sisters, in the service of life…”

The Pope told the pilgrims present that he had met Sr Maria Concetta in Bangui in the Central African Republic during his visit to open the Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, adding, “that day, too, she came from Congo in a canoe, … to do her shopping in Bangui.”

While honoring this religious sister, the Pontiff also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all the missionaries, priests, religious and laity, who, he said, may not make the news, but “sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God in every part of the world.”

The Pope also spoke of Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, who he recounted “goes to the cemetery and visits the graves of missionaries; many young people who have died from diseases…” Pope Francis said that the Cardinal told him, ‘they all deserve to be canonized’, because their life has been ‘consumed’ in service.

Sister Maria Concetta, who is in Rome for a meeting with her Congregation, is due to return to Africa to continue her work. Bidding her farewell, Pope Francis said, “Let us accompany her with prayer. And may her example help us all to live the Gospel wherever we are.”

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN IRAN

Pope Francis conveyed his solidarity to the people of Iran after devastating floods that have caused many deaths and extensive damage.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the loss of life, injury and damage caused by flash floods in northern Iran that have killed at least 26 people.

In a telegram, signed on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis on Wednesday conveyed his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected and said he is praying for the deceased.

The floods are being described as an “unprecedented natural disaster”. Rescuers are still searching for survivors and hundreds have reportedly been injured in the country that is more accustomed to drought than to rain.

In his message, the Pope also said he is praying for the emergency personnel involved in rescue efforts and assured the people of Iran that he has invoked divine blessings of consolation and strength on those who grieve.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani, who is accused by critics of mishandling the crisis, travelled to flooded areas to inspect the damage and promised compensation to all those affected.

Tuesday’s torrential rain struck 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, and the scale of the disaster has reportedly overwhelmed emergency services in some areas.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands are being housed in emergency shelters.

POPE TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURITIUS

A Holy See Press Office statement reveals Pope Francis will undertake an apostolic journey to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius in September.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis will travel to the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius and to the Southeast African nation of Mozambique in September 2019.

In a statement on Wednesday, Holy See Press Office interim director Alessandro Gisotti, revealed that the journey is scheduled to take place from 4 to 10 September.

He said the Pope will visit the cities of Maputo in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Louis in Mauritius. The program for the visit will be published in due time.

Pope Francis travels to the three nations as a pilgrim of peace, hope and reconciliation, all themes that are reflected in the official logos of the journey.

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.