POPE TO CONSECRATED RELIGIOUS: “BE WITH JESUS IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE” – PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR FEBRUARY: COMFORT THE AFFLICTED – VATICAN SUPERMARKET TO HELP EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and the day on which the Church traditionally celebrates the World Day of Consecrated Life. His homily for Mass appears below.

To mark this day, Pope Francis tweeted: Consecrated life is a great gift of God: a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to His People.

POPE TO CONSECRATED RELIGIOUS: “BE WITH JESUS IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Thursday afternoon celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the feast of the Presentation of the Child jesus in the Temple and the World Day for Consecrated Life in the presence of members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life.

The World Day for Consecrated Life, now in its 21st edition, was established in 1997 by Pope Saint John Paul II. This day is also known as “Candlemas” due to the blessing of candles and the procession that takes place at the beginning of the Mass. The candles symbolize both Christ, the Light of the World, and the lives of consecrated women and men who are called to reflect the light of Christ for all peoples.

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In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the “hymn of hope” pronounced by Simeon and Anna when they saw the Savior appearing in the Temple. We, too, the Pope said, “have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders… We would do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day, and once more encounter what originally set our hearts on fire.”

But he also warned of a “temptation” that can make the consecrated life barren: the temptation of “survival,” which urges us to protect ourselves at the expense of our dreams. “The temptation of survival makes us forget grace.”

The Holy Father reminded consecrated women and men, that they are called to put themselves “with Jesus in the midst of His people.”

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Pope Francis concluded his homily with the exhortation: “Let us accompany Jesus as He goes forth to meet His people, to be in the midst of His people.”

This year’s celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life has a particular significance, being devoted to thanksgiving and prayer for the give of vocations, especially in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the theme: “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” The Synod is expected to meet in October 2018.

For the complete papal homily, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/homily-for-feast-of-the-presentation-of-the-lord-f

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR FEBRUARY: COMFORT THE AFFLICTED

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for February is COMFORT FOR THE AFFLICTED: That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.

The Apostleship of Prayer produced the Pope’s video on this prayer intention. The text of his remarks follows:

Welcome the Needy

We live in cities that throw up skyscrapers and shopping centers and strike big real estate deals … but they abandon a part of themselves to marginal settlements on the periphery.

The result of this situation is that great sections of the population are excluded and marginalized: without a job, without options, without a way out.

Don’t abandon them. Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.

VATICAN SUPERMARKET TO HELP EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

The Vatican has anounced that its supermarket, known by shoppers as l’annona, is supporting those affected by the earthquakes in central Italy by offering goods for sale made by local farmers in the region, especially the small town of Amatrice, which was hit hardest by the quake on August 24, 2016.

Special ID passes with the individual’s name and photo are given to Vatican and Roman Curia employees, retirees, and others associated with the Vatican to shop here.

The brief anouncement noted that immediately after the earthquake, in which nearly 300 people died, Pope Francis sent members of the Vatican fire department to aid in rescue efforts. Medical personnel working at the Vatican also volunteered to help.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’ – POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES – PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

I arrived in Birmingham yesterday afternoon, got settled in at the Sheraton hotel, just across from the city’s convention center where this weekend’s EWTN Family Celebration will be held, and thern had dinner with Fr. Frank Pavone, Janet Morana, Fr. Steve Imbarrato, Elena Rodriguez and Kathy Ranelli, all of EWTN’s “Defending Life” program. Fun evening, great food and very interesting conversation.

I did a bit of work this morning before going to the network to appear live on “At Home with Jim and Joy.” It was a barrel of fun and the time passed so quickly it was unbelievable. But don’t we always say, “how quickly time passes when you’re having fun!”

I also met a number of “Joan’s Rome” fans in studio and we had some time to speak and will see each other again at the Family Celebration. Met more fans in the hotel as people start to arrive from around the state and country for this annual celebration.

I’m now in the hotel to work on a new edition of “Vatican Insider” that will air this weekend – more on that tomorrow.

I have just one comment to make about visiting the U.S. in summer time or any time the weather is really hot. Why do hotels, stores, restaurants, cafes, convention centers, etc., etc. all have to have the air conditioning at such low levels you could be excused for thinking you just got off a plane in Antarctica!

You cannot visit America when it is summer unless you have packed a shawl, a long-sleeved sweater, a suitcoat or some jacket to put over your summer clothing just to stay reasonably warm inside a building. When the temps and humidity are really high – as they are now in Birmingham, AC is the way to go, but not the excessive low temps – just give us enough to make us feel comfortable.

And you know what? The food gets cold much faster when a restaurant has very cold AC. That is just logical.

And now to three news stories from yesterday and today that I wanted to bring to you – important words and events. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at some of the meetings mentioned in the third story about the Jubilee of Papal Diplomats.

PAPAL TWEETS: September 15: The Church is called to walk with Jesus on the roads of the world, in order to meet the humanity of today.

Yesterday: The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Fr. Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church. (photo news.va)

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Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July. Linda Bordoni reports:

To the congregation gathered at Santa Marta, which included Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen and 80 other pilgrims from the diocese, Pope Francis said that “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

Reflecting on the many martyrs that are part of the history of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said: “this is a story that repeats itself in the Church, and today there are more Christian martyrs than there were at beginning of Christianity.”

Today, he continued, there are Christians “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, have their throats slit because they do not deny Jesus Christ.”

This history, said Francis, continues with our Father Jacques: he is part of this chain of martyrs.

“Father Jacques Hamel was slain as he celebrated the sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion. A good man, a meek man, a man who always tried to build peace was murdered (…). This is the satanic thread of persecution,” he said.

Pope Francis continued: “What a pleasure it would be if all religious confessions would say: ‘to kill in the name of God is satanic’.”

The Holy Father concluded his homily by holding up Fr. Hamel and his example of courage and said we must pray to him to grant us meekness, brotherhood, peace and the courage to tell the truth: “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

On the altar, a simple photograph of Fr. Hamel who was slain by two Islamist fanatics while celebrating Mass in the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26, 2016.

The liturgy was broadcast live by the Vatican Television Station.

POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another in several different specific areas regarding the discipline of the sacraments, and ecclesial identity of the faithful.

The Holy Father has introduced material changes only to the Code of Canon Law that governs the Latin Church, in order to bring the Latin code into harmony with the Eastern code, especially as regards the valid celebration of marriages with spouses of mixed Rite, the circumstances under which a spouse may change Rite, how to determine the Rite to which a child belongs properly, and other questions in a similar vein.

A note issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts explains that the reason for the reforms is that of responding to the desire to facilitate the pastoral care of all the faithful, especially of those  very great and increasing numbers of Eastern Christians living in predominantly Latin environments.

Vatican Radio then presented the motu proprio in its original Latin.

PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

(Vatican Radio) Papal diplomats from around the world are in Rome this week for a special Jubilee event that includes both practical refresher seminars and moments of spiritual reflection with the Holy Father.

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Relations with Islam, gender culture and other challenges facing the Church today are on the program, as Philippa Hitchen reports.

The year of mercy may be drawing to a close but Pope Francis is maintaining a packed agenda of Jubilee events. From September 15th to 17th he’s meeting with over a hundred representatives of the Holy See working in locations right across the globe. Of the 108 diplomatic missions in existence today, 103 are headed by archbishops serving as papal nuncios, while the other five posts are permanent observers to international organisations.

The Jubilee event began on Thursday morning with Mass, presided over by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in St Peter’s Basilica, followed by two seminars held in the Synod Hall. The first of these was focused on the Pope, the Church and the world today, led by Professor Piero Coda, president of the Sofia University Institute founded by the Focolari movement just south of Florence. The second session, led by Rev. Robert Ghal from the Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome is entitled ‘Genesis and the case of gender culture’ and will be followed by dinner with Pope Francis at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens.

On Friday morning participants will have a working session with officials from the Secretariat of State and in the afternoon they’ll attend a third seminar, focused on interreligious dialogue and relations with Islam, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. In the evening, they’ll join heads of all the Curial offices and ambassadors accredited to the Holy See for a reception in the Vatican museums.

The final day, Saturday, will include many of the 40 retired apostolic nuncios and will be a time for spiritual communion, starting with Mass concelebrated with Pope Francis in the Santa Marta chapel. That’ll be followed by a reflection from Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life. The diplomats will then make their way through the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica before meeting together with Pope Francis in the Clementine hall of the apostolic palace.

The event concludes with a lunch in Santa Marta, but the Pope has invited all 163 staff members of the nunciatures and diplomatic missions for their own Jubilee here in the Vatican on November 18th.

 

VATICAN INSIDER AND A TULSA PASTOR – FRANCIS ASKS: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE WORD ‘LOVE’ MEANS? – EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT TO CHRISTIAN: WE WILL REBUILD YOUR TORCHED CHURCHES – AMBASSADOR LAYS WREATH AT TOMB OF STUARTS IN ST. PETER’S BASILICA

There were no public engagements on Pope Francis’ agenda today but there are a number of interesting stories to report: a beautiful papal homily on the true meaning of love, a good news story from Egypt about Christians and a special moment for the British Ambassador to the Holy See and invited guests at a special wreath-laying ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica.

VATICAN INSIDER AND A TULSA PASTOR

In this week’s interview segment, you will meet Msgr. Dan Mueggenborg, pastor since 2011 at Christ the King parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We became friends during the six years that he was in Rome at the North American College as vice rector and director of admissions. Over the years we broke bread together many times, at NAC and at my home and recently we met serendipitously at a favorite restaurant when he arrived in Rome for a visit. I asked Msgr. Dan about life in a parish and the conversation was riveting and I asked him to tell his story. So be sure to tune in this week for an inspiring conversation.

DAN MUEGGENBORG

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

FRANCIS ASKS: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE WORD ‘LOVE’ MEANS?

This morning, in his homily during morning Mass in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel reading from the letter of John the Apostle, and meditated on the different meanings of the word ‘love’ , emphasizing that the two most important commandments for a Christian are to love God and our neighbor.

Vatican Radio records the morning papal homilies and transcribves them for the news.va website. Today’s was the second daily Mass since the end of the Christmas break on the January 6 feast of the Epiphany.

“This word ‘love’,” said the Holy Father, “is a word that is used so many times and when we use it we don’t know exactly what it means. What is love? Sometimes we can think of the love in the soap operas but that doesn’t appear to be love. Or else love can seem like having a crush on a person but then it fades away. Where does true love come from? Whoever loves has been created by God because God is love. Don’t say: ‘Every love is God,’ No, God is love.”

The Pope said the Apostle John underlines how God loves us first and there are many examples of this in the Gospel, such as during the multiplication of the loaves of bread by Jesus or in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

“When we have something on our mind and we want to ask God to forgive us, it’s He who is waiting for us – to forgive us.  This Jubilee Year of Mercy, to some extent, is also this: that we may know that our Lord is waiting for us, each one of us.  Why? To embrace us.  Nothing more.  To say to us: son, daughter, I love you. I let my Son be crucified for you: this is the price of my love, this is the gift of my love.”

Pope Francis went on to stress how “the Lord is waiting for me, the Lord wants me to open the door of my heart” and we must have this certainty that He will wait for us just as we are and not as we are told to be.

“We must go to the Lord and say: ‘You know, Lord, how much I love you.’ Or, if you don’t feel able to say it in that way: ‘You know, Lord, that I would like to love you but I am such a bad sinner.’ And He will do the same as he did with the prodigal son who squandered all his money on vices: he won’t let you finish your speech and with an embrace will silence you. The embrace of God’s love.”

EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT TO CHRISTIAN: WE WILL REBUILD YOUR TORCHED CHURCHES

The following is a story I read in the daily bulletin I receive via email from AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency. If you are an avid follower of events in the Middle East, as I am, this is a fascinating news site. Many stories are written by local journalists while others are written by members of the international media and carried by AINA.

Finally, a good news story from Egypt:

We Will Rebuild Your Torched Churches, Egyptian President Tells Christians – By Ruth Gledhill (http://www.christiantoday.com)

EGYPT CHURCHES

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greets Christians during Egypt’s Coptic Christmas eve mass led by Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, at St Mark’s Cathedral, in Cairo, Egypt.The president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has pledged to rebuild every single one of the dozens of churches, Christian institutions and homes destroyed during the last two years of anti-Christian violence in his troubled nation.

President al-Sisi, a Muslim who has spoken in the past of the need to “revolutionise” Islam, was addressing Christians during a Coptic Christmas Eve mass yesterday at St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya. Mass was celebrated by the head of the church, Pope Tawadros II. Orthodox churches, which follow the traditional Julian calendar, mark Christmas two weeks later than the Western Christian churches which follow the Gregorian calendar.

Extremist Islamic groups are still influential in Egypt in spite of the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. Shortly after former President Morsi was ousted, there was an increase in violence against Coptic Christians and at least 65 churches, Christian bookshops, schools and convents were burned down, looted or destroyed, according to Open Doors.

President al-Sisi, who last year became the first Egyptian President to attend a Christmas mass, greeted the Coptic Christian community and, while emphasising the diversity of Egyptians, said that the way to overcome hardships was to remain united as a nation.

“On this occasion, I want to exhort you all, let no one come between us. Nothing can harm us, not our economic conditions or political conditions. Unless we diverge, we can overcome anything.”

He continued: “God Has created us different, in religion, manner, colour, language, habit, tradition, and no one can make us the all same.”

He admitted the government should have acted sooner to help the Christians.

“We have taken too long to fix and renovate churches that were burned. This year everything will be fixed. Please accept our apologies for what happened. God willing, by next year there won’t be a single church or house that is not restored.

“We will never forget the stance you and the Pope took during this period…thank you all. Merry Christmas.”

AMBASSADOR LAYS WREATH AT TOMB OF STUARTS IN ST. PETER’S BASILICA

This afternoon, having received permission from Queen Elizabeth, the British Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker laid a wreath at the tomb of James Francis Edward Stuart at St. Peter’s Basilica, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his State funeral.

STUART TOMB

James Francis Edward Stuart was the son of King James II of England and Ireland, VII of Scotland and Queen Mary of Modena, explains a note from the British embassy. He was also known as “the Old Pretender” and claimed the throne as “James III of England and Ireland, VIII of Scotland.” He died in exile in Rome on January 1, 1766 and was given the unprecedented honor of a State funeral by the Pope on January 8 in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he lies. The Pope recognized him as King, but did not extend that title to his sons in tacit, and later explicit recognition of the Hanoverian succession.

James Francis Edward Stewart was the father of “Bonnie” Prince Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict, Cardinal York. Born at St James’s Palace, London, on June 10, 1688, he was taken into exile in December 1688 following the deposition of James II. He lived in the Palazzo Muti in Rome from 1719 until his death.

The commemoration ceremony consisted of a simple wreath-laying by Ambassador Baker and the reading of the Rite of Commendation (in Latin) by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica, and the singing of the Antiphon In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli.

The Stuart tomb at St. Peter’s was restored in the 1940’s, including with money donated by Queen Elizabeth (wife of George VI). In 2012, the Duke of Gloucester unveiled a restored coat of arms of Cardinal York at the Pontifical Scots College, and viewed the original Stuart gravestones which were transferred there in the 1940s.

(FYI: http://stpetersbasilica.info/Grottoes/Stuarts/Tomb%20of%20the%20Stuarts.htm)

“VATICAN INSIDER” TO FEATURE CATHOLIC EDUCATION CONGRESS – POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE – BE OBSESSED BY THE WORDS OF JESUS, NOT MONEY OR POWER

“VATICAN INSIDER” TO FEATURE CATHOLIC EDUCATION CONGRESS

Tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” when I welcome Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 programs at the Cardinal Newman Society. He is an educator who has worked at every level of Catholic education for 25 years from K-12 to university president.

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Dr. Guernsey is in Rome for the World Congress organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education to commemorate two Vatican Documents on Education, the 50th anniversary of “Gravissimum educationis” and the 25th of “Ex corde Ecclesiae (Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities). The congress theme is “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion.”

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In 2012, some fifty experts from around the globe met in Rome to identify problems regarding education in Church-run schools and universities all over the world, and to make some suggestions to relaunch important educational activities carried out by many Catholic institutions. The Rome Congress is four days long, and Pope Francis meets participnats on Saturday.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE

Pope Francis today welcomed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who later met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

The Vatican communqiue on the meeting said discussions were “cordial” and “were dedicated principally to matters connected with the situation of conflict in the country. In this respect the hope was shared that, with the commitment of all the interested Parties, political solutions may be favored, starting with the full implementation of the Minsk Accords.”

The Vatican noted that, “at the same time, concern was expressed regarding the difficulties of facing the humanitarian crisis, with particular reference to access for specialised organisations to areas affected by hostilities, to healthcare, to the exchange of prisoners, and the economic and social repercussions of the conflict, experienced throughout the territory.

Lastly, said the communique, “the meeting provided an opportunity to highlight the important role of the Church in society, as well as the contribution of the Greek Catholic and Latin rite communities to the life of the country.”

BE OBSESSED BY THE WORDS OF JESUS, NOT MONEY OR POWER

Every morning that he says Mass in the Santa Marta chapel, Pope Francis’ homilies are recorded by Vatican Radio, which transcribes them into Italian and translates them into other languages. Those translations are then put on the News.va website. The Holy Father had a powerful homily yesterday that I placed here in its entirety, a talk about Jesus who weeps at man’s inhumanity to man, at his desire for war, at his seeming lack of desire for peace.

In his homily today, the Pope said the Church must not be obsessed by money or power, nor worship “holy bribes.” Instead her strength and joy should come from the words of Christ. Following are extracts from Vatican Radio’s report.

POPE - MASS nov 20

The Holy Father reflected on the reading from Maccabees, which tells of the people’s joy following the reconsecration of the Holy Temple that had been destroyed by pagans and those obsessed by worldliness. The people of God celebrated, they rejoiced because they had rekindled “their true identity.” Francis explained that “those who indulge in worldliness do not know how to celebrate – they can’t celebrate! At most, the worldly spirit can provide amusement, it can provoke excitement, but true joy can only come from faith in the Covenant.”  Pope Francis noted that at the time of the Maccabees, worldly desire “displaced the Living God,”adding that now, it is happening “in another way altogether.”

“The Gospel says the chief priests and scribes had changed things. They had dishonored and compromised the Temple. They had dishonored the Temple! The Temple was a symbol of the Church. The Church will always – always! – be subject to the temptation of worldliness and power. Jesus did not say ‘No, do not do this inside. Go outside instead.’ He said ‘You have made it a den of thieves!’ And when the Church enters into such a state of decline, the end is bad. Very bad indeed.”

“There is always a danger of corruption within the Church,” continued the Pope. “This happens when the Church, instead of being devoted to faith in Our Lord, in the Prince of Peace, in joy, in salvation, becomes dominated by money and power. This is exactly what happens here, in this Gospel reading.”

Pope Francis noted that “Jesus did not chase the priests and scribes away from the Temple; he chased away those who were doing business there, the businessmen of the Temple. The chief priests and scribes were involved in their dealings: this is ‘holy bribery’! The Gospel is very clear. It says: “The chief priests and scribes wanted to kill Jesus, along with the elders of the people’. …Jesus’ strength is to be found in his words, in his love. And where Jesus is, there is no room for worldliness. There is no room for corruption! This is a challenge for each and every one of us; this is the struggle the Church has to face every day.”

“We must pray for the Church,” said Francis. “We must hold in our hearts today’s martyrs, who suffer and die, so as not to be ensnared by worldly desires, by obsession, by apostasy. Today! Today, there are more martyrs of the Church than there ever were before. Let’s think about that. It does us good to think about them. And also to pray that we may never fall into the trap of worldliness, where we will be obsessed only by money and power.”

 

 

POPE FRANCIS: THE LORD WEEPS FOR THE SINS OF A WORLD AT WAR

The big news in Italy today concerned the potential for terrorist attacks and how the city, the country, is handling security in view of the announcements ISIS has made about future attacks, including targets in Italy. The FBI sent an alert to Italy overnight (and I believe similar alerts are sent to countries where threats were received) and I received the following email this morning:

UNITED STATES EMBASSY ROME, ITALY

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Potential for Terrorist Attacks

November 18, 2015

“U.S. Embassy Rome informs U.S. citizens that the following locations have been identified as potential targets in Rome and Milan for terrorist attacks:

  • St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome)
  • the Duomo and La Scala in Milan
  • General venues such as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theatres, and hotels in both cities are possible targets as well.

“Terrorist groups may possibly utilize similar methods used in the recent Paris attacks.  The Italian authorities are aware of these threats.

“U.S. citizens are advised to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.  We encourage U.S. citizens to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.”

What horrific times we live in!  How extraordinarily sad that emails like this must be sent out!

We may weep these days but, as we read Pope Francis’ homily at Mass, we see that God also weeps!

POPE FRANCIS: THE LORD WEEPS FOR THE SINS OF A WORLD AT WAR

(Vatican Radio) “The whole world is at war,” and the rejection of the “path of peace” means that God Himself, that Jesus Himself, weeps. This was the message of Pope Francis to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Thursday morning in the Casa Santa Marta.

“Jesus wept.” This is how the Holy Father began his remarks following the readings of the day in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, echoing the words of St. Luke the Evangelist, from whose Gospel the Gospel reading was taken.

GOD WEEPS

A world festively bedecked

Jesus approaches Jerusalem and, seeing the city on a hill from a distance, weeps, and says, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Pope Francis repeated the words of Our Lord to the Holy City, and then added:

“Today Jesus weeps as well: because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of enmities. We are close to Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.”

War lines the pockets of the traffickers

Pope Francis went on to recall the recent commemorations of the Second World War, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his visit to Redipuglia last year on the anniversary of the Great War: “Useless slaughters,” he called them, repeating the words of Pope Benedict XV. “Everywhere there is war today, there is hatred,” he said. Then he asked, “What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?”

“What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims: and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers. Jesus once said: ‘You can not serve two masters: either God or riches.’ War is the right choice for the one who would serve wealth: ‘Let us build weapons, so that the economy will right itself somewhat, and let us go forward in pursuit of our interests. There is an ugly word the Lord spoke: ‘Cursed!’ Because He said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!.’ The men who make war, are cursed, they are criminals. A war can be justified – so to speak – with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war – piecemeal though that war may be – a little here, a little there, and everywhere – there is no justification – and God weeps. Jesus weeps.”

The world weeps over its crimes

The Holy Father went on to say that, while the arms dealers go about their business, there are the poor peacemakers who, perforce to help another person, and another and another, spend themselves utterly, and even give their lives – as did Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, against whom the powerful, worldy cynic might say, “But what did she ever accomplish? She wasted her life helping others on their way to death?” He repeated, “We do not understand the way of peace.”

“It will do us well to ask the grace of tears for ourselves, for this world that does not recognize the path of peace, this world that lives for war, and cynically says not to make it. Let us pray for conversion of heart. Here before the door of this Jubilee of Mercy, let us ask that our joy, our jubilation, be this grace: that the world discover the ability to weep for its crimes, for what the world does with war.”

POPE FRANCIS PRESIDES MASS FOR DECEASED CARDINALS – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF BUCHAREST DISCO FIRE – HOLY SEE PAVILION AT EXPO WINS PRIZE

POPE FRANCIS PRESIDES MASS FOR DECEASED CARDINALS

As is traditional every year in the first days of November that honor All Saints and All Souls, Pope Francis this morning presided at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during this last year. “In this earth they loved their bride the Church, and we pray that in God they may enjoy full joy in the communion of saints,” he said.

“As we ask that they be rewarded as ‘good and faithful servants’,” he added, “we are called up to renew our decision to serve the Church. … Those who serve and give may be seen to ‘lose’ in the eyes of the world, but in reality, losing life, they rediscover it. A life given away in love, imitates Christ: it defeats death and gives life to the world. He who serves, saves. On the contrary, he who does not live to serve, does not serve to live.”

Francis explained that, “this is how the Son of God lowered Himself to us, stooping like a servant to take on all that is ours, to the point of throwing open the doors to life. … This style of God – Who saves us by serving us and annihilating Himself – has much to teach us. We imagine a triumphal divine victory; instead Jesus shows us a very humble victory. Raised on the cross, He lets evil and death beset him, while He continues to love. For us it is difficult to accept this. It is a mystery, but the secret of this mystery, of this extraordinary humility, consists entirely in the strength of love.”

“In this way,” stated the Pope, “Jesus not only takes away evil, but also transforms it into good. He does not change things with words, but with actions; not in appearance, but in substance; not on the surface, but at the root. He transforms the cross into a bridge to life. We too can be victorious with Him, it we choose dutiful and humble love, that remains victorious for eternity. It is a love that does not shout and does not impose itself, but rather knows how to wait with trust and patience since, as the Book of Lamentations reminds us, “it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord”.

“As we offer this Mass for the our dear brother cardinals and bishops, let us ask for ourselves what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do: ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’. May the resurrection of the Lord be enough to let us be free of the worries of ephemeral things, that pass and vanish into nothing. May He be enough for us, He in whom there is life, salvation, resurrection and joy. Then we will be servants according to His heart, not functionaries who offer their services, but rather beloved children who give their life for the world.”

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF BUCHAREST DISCO FIRE

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of Pope Francis to Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis, following a fire in a discotheque in Bucharest last weekend in which 27 people died and over 180 were injured. The Holy Father expressed “his profound sadness for the tragic accident in which so many young people lost their lives, and assures his spiritual closeness to the families of the victims, the government authorities and the entire nation, entrusting the deceased to the mercy of the Lord.” (VIS)

HOLY SEE PAVILION AT EXPO WINS PRIZE

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See’s Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015 has won the first prize for pavilions under 2000 square metres that best represented the theme of the Expo: “Feeding the planet. Energy for Life.” Expo ended last Saturday after running in the northern Italian city for six months.

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“It is the recognition of the spirited work done during these six months,” said Msgr. Luca Bressan, who serves as an Episcopal Vicar for the archdiocese of Milan. “It also shows that the communicative power of Pope Francis has been able to make inroads in the large public square which was the world Expo.”

Monsignor Bressan accepted the award from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which promotes the Universal Expositions.

The Pavilion of the Holy See  expounded on the double meaning of food as nourishment for both the body and the soul, developing the two biblical quotes “Not by bread alone” and “Give us this day our daily bread,” which were translated into 13 languages on the outside of the Pavilion.

Inside the Pavilion, five scenes represented the following four themes: Ecology, the economy-fair trade, education and religion-theology. The exhibition also featured two classic works of art: Tintoretto’s Last Supper and Rubens’ Institution of the Eucharist.

During the Exhibition, 1.8 million people visited the Holy See’s Pavilion, and €150,000 were collected for women and children in Middle Eastern refugee camps. The Pavilion also distributed 1 million magnets bearing the picture of Pope Francis, as well as 10 thousand copies of the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’.

The next Universal Expo will take place in 2020 in Dubai.

A video tour of the Holy See Pavilion is available here: https://youtu.be/Io8xGF6_t_w

WHY DO GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD PEOPLE?

WHY DO GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD PEOPLE?

Most often the question is phrased the other way around: Why do bad things happen to good people? But there is another side to that coin. There is the question: Why do good things happen to bad people? And Pope Francis answered both questions at Mass this morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.  (photo: OSSROM – news.va)

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 Here is Vatican Radio’s report on the papal homily:

God does not abandon the righteous, while those who sow evil are like strangers, whose names heaven remembers not. This is the lesson Pope Francis drew from the readings of the day at Mass Thursday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

A courageous young mother with a husband and three children – and a tumor – “one of the ugly ones” – that keeps her nailed to her bed. “Why?” An elderly woman, prayerfully pious in her heart, whose son was murdered by the Mafia.

Pope Francis on Thursday used this perennial query of the heart – a heart that loves good and desires to know God’s plan – as the way into the mystery of iniquity and its relation to God’s providence, justice and mercy. He focused on the reading from the prophet Malachi in which the Lord rebukes the people, saying, “You have defied me in word, says the LORD, yet you ask, ‘What have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command, and going about in penitential dress in awe of the LORD of hosts? Rather must we call the proud blessed; for indeed evildoers prosper, and even tempt God with impunity’.”

Drawing on that reading, Pope Francis asked: “How many times do we see this reality in bad people, in people who do evil, and seem to do well in life: they are happy, they have everything they want, they want for nothing. Why, Lord? This is one of the many questions we have. Why does this brazen evildoer who cares nothing for God nor for neighbor, who is an unjust person – even mean – and things go well in his whole life, he has everything he wants, while we, who want to do good, have so many problems?”

The Lord watches over the righteous

The Pope discovered the answer in the responsorial Psalm – Psalm 1 – which proclaims, “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the Lord.”

The Holy Father went on to say: “Now we do not see the fruits of this suffering people, this people carrying the cross, as on that Good Friday and Holy Saturday the fruits of the crucified Son of God, the fruits of His sufferings, were yet to be seen. And whatever He does, turns out well. What does the Psalm say of the wicked, of those for whom we think everything is going fine? ‘Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.’”

This ruin, this scattering and oblivion, which is the end of the wicked, is what Pope Francis found dramatically and emphatically stressed in the Gospel parable of Lazarus – the symbol of misery with no escape, to whom the rich reveler refused even the scraps from his table:

“It is curious,” said the Pope, “that the [rich] man’s name is never spoken. He is just an adjective – rich: he is rich. Of the wicked, in God’s record book, there is no name: he is an evil one, a con man, one who exploits… They have no name. They only have adjectives. All those, who try to go on the way of the Lord, will rather be with His Son, who has the name: Jesus Saviour. It is a name that is difficult to understand, inexplicable for the trial of the Cross and for all that He suffered for us.”

(Thus, God does not abandon the just, and evildoers do not even have a name.)