POPE FRANCIS TO NEW CARDINALS: THE GREATEST PROMOTION THAT CAN BE AWARDED US: TO SERVE CHRIST IN GOD’S FAITHFUL PEOPLE

POPE FRANCIS TO NEW CARDINALS: THE GREATEST PROMOTION THAT CAN BE AWARDED US: TO SERVE CHRIST IN GOD’S FAITHFUL PEOPLE

“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them” (Mk 10:32). [1]

The beginning of this typical passage in Mark always helps us realize how the Lord cares for his people with a pedagogy all his own. Journeying to Jerusalem, Jesus is careful to walk ahead of his disciples.

Jerusalem represents the defining and decisive moment of his life. All of us know that at important and crucial times in life, the heart can speak and reveal the intentions and tensions within us. These turning points in life challenge us; they bring out questions and desires not always evident to our human hearts. This is what is presented, with great simplicity and realism, in the Gospel passage we have just heard. At the third and most troubling announcement of the Lord’s passion, the Evangelist does not shrink from disclosing secrets present in the hearts of the disciples: their quest of honours, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise. This kind of thinking not only wears and eats away at their relationship, but also imprisons them in useless and petty discussions. Yet Jesus is not concerned with this: he walks ahead of them and he keeps going. And he tells them forcefully: “But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mk 10:43). In this way, the Lord tries to refocus the eyes and hearts of his disciples, so that there will be no fruitless and self-referential discussions in the community. What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are corroded within? What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission? Here, as someone has observed, we might think of all those palace intrigues that take place, even in curial offices.

“But it shall not be so among you”. The Lord’s response is above all an encouragement and a challenge to his disciples to recoup their better part, lest their hearts be spoiled and imprisoned by a worldly mentality blind to what is really important. “But it shall not be so among you”. The voice of the Lord saves the community from undue introspection and directs its vision, resources, aspirations and heart to the only thing that counts: the mission.

Jesus teaches us that conversion, change of heart and Church reform is and ever shall be in a missionary key, which demands an end to looking out for and protecting our own interests, in order to look out for and protect those of the Father. Conversion from our sins and from selfishness will never be an end in itself, but is always a means of growing in fidelity and willingness to embrace the mission. At the moment of truth, especially when we see the distress of our brothers and sisters, we will be completely prepared to accompany and embrace them, one and all. In this way, we avoid becoming effective “roadblocks”, whether because of our short-sightedness[2] or our useless wrangling about who is most important. When we forget the mission, when we lose sight of the real faces of our brothers and sisters, our life gets locked up in the pursuit of our own interests and securities. Resentment then begins to grow, together with sadness and revulsion. Gradually we have less and less room for others, for the Church community, for the poor, for hearing the Lord’s voice. Joy fades and the heart withers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 2).

“But it shall not be so among you”. Jesus goes on to say. “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mk 10:43.44). This is the Beatitude and the Magnificat that we are called to sing daily. It is the Lord’s invitation not to forget that the Church’s authority grows with this ability to defend the dignity of others, to anoint them and to heal their wounds and their frequently dashed hopes. It means remembering that we are here because we have been asked “to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

Dear brother Cardinals and new Cardinals! In our journey towards Jerusalem, the Lord walks ahead of us, to keep reminding us that the only credible form of authority is born of sitting at the feet of others in order to serve Christ. It is the authority that comes from never forgetting that Jesus, before bowing his head on the cross, did not hesitate to bow down and wash the feet of the disciples. This is the highest honour that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God’s faithful people. In those who are hungry, neglected, imprisoned, sick, suffering, addicted to drugs, cast aside. In real people, each with his or her own life story and experiences, hopes and disappointments, hurts and wounds. Only in this way, can the authority of the Shepherd have the flavour of Gospel and not appear as “a noisy gong or a clanging symbol” (1 Cor 13:1). None of us must feel “superior” to anyone. None of us should look down at others from above. The only time we can look at a person in this way is when we are helping them to stand up.

I would like now to share with you a part of the spiritual testament of Saint John XXIII. Progressing in his own journey, he could say: “Born poor, but of humble and respectable folk, I am particularly happy to die poor, having distributed, in accordance with the various needs and circumstances of my simple and modest life in the service of the poor and of Holy Church which has nurtured me, whatever came into my hands – and it was very little – during the years of my priesthood and episcopate. Appearances of wealth have frequently disguised thorns of frustrating poverty, which prevented me from giving to others as generously as I would have wished. I thank God for this grace of poverty to which I vowed fidelity in my youth; poverty of spirit, as a priest of the Sacred Heart, and material poverty, which has strengthened me in my resolve never to ask for anything – money, positions or favours – never, either for myself, or for my relations and friends” (29 June 1954). _________________________

Advertisements

TODAY, FOR FIRST TIME, WE CELEBRATE MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH – POPE FRANCIS: THE CHURCH, LIKE MARY, IS WOMAN AND MOTHER

I wrote yesterday about the 14 prelates that Pope Francis announced would be elevated to the College of Cardinals next month. I said that on June 29, those under 80 and eligible to vote would be 6 over the ceiling of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. However, Cardinal Angelo Amato turns 80 before that date so there will be 125 electors, only five over the limit.

Here’s an article with more details and analysis by Register correspondent, and a good friend and talented observer of the Church scene, Matthew Bunson, on the new cardinals that Pope Francis will raise to the red hat on June 29 (the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, is also the same day the Pope traditionally hands the palliums to the new metropolitan archbishops):

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mbunson/francis-new-cardinals1

I’ve been asked quite often about the mosaic of Mary that is located fairly high up on the exterior of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square – about 1 o’clock if the basilica is noon. Many have noted it did not seem to fit in with the architecture of the building. In fact the apostolic palace is a complex of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and halls that date from various historical periods, many of which are, however, from the Renaissance.

The mosaic is indeed more modern and has quite a lovely story. For the story, we enter St. Peter’s Basilica and walk down the left aisle to the very end where we will find the Chapel of the Column. It is just beyond the Prayer Door entrance to the basilica and, most unfortunately, is not available to visitors as this area has been roped off.

Over the altar in the Chapel of the Column is an image of the Blessed Virgin painted on a column from the old basilica. In 1607 the image was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta and is framed by stunning marble and priceless alabaster columns. On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI bestowed on this image the title of “Mater Ecclesiae” – Mother of the Church.

John Paul II had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the palazzo facing St. Peter’s Square. St. John Paul’s motto – Totus tuus – all yours – is on this mosaic. He had always wondered how on earth Mary – whom he dearly loved – was not among the 140 statues atop the basilica facade and the monumental colonnades that were designed by Bernini.

When he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Pope credited the hand of the Virgin – his mosaic Mary – with deflecting the bullet that would have killed him.

TODAY, FOR FIRST TIME, WE CELEBRATE MEMORIAL OF MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH

The Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on February 11, 2018, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, promulgated a decree stating that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar. The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

Images of Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, mother of the Church, by EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez:


Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation, said shortly afterwards that the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church, adding that Francis wants to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

That decree outlined the history of Marian devotion, especially Mary seen as Mother of the Church:

“As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). In this sense, in the course of the centuries, Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent, such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.

“Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul VI, on 21 November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles”.

“Therefore the Apostolic See on the occasion of the Holy Year of Reconciliation (1975), proposed a votive Mass in honour of Beata Maria Ecclesiæ Matre, which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. The Holy See also granted the faculty to add the invocation of this title in the Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986). Some countries, dioceses and religious families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to their particular calendars.”

POPE FRANCIS: THE CHURCH, LIKE MARY, IS WOMAN AND MOTHER

By Vatican News

“The Church is feminine,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Monday, “she is a mother.” When this trait is lacking, the Pope continued, the Church resembles merely “a charitable organization, or a football team”; when it is “a masculine Church,” it sadly becomes “a church of old bachelors,” “incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness.”

That was the reflection offered by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The feast is being celebrated this year for the first time, after the publication in March of the decree Ecclesia Mater (“Mother Church”) by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis himself decided the feast should be celebrated on the Monday immediately following Pentecost, in order “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

The “motherliness” of Mary

In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the Gospel, Mary is always described as “the Mother of Jesus,” instead of “the Lady” or “the widow of Joseph”: her motherliness is emphasized throughout the Gospels, beginning with the Annunciation. This is a quality that was noted immediately by the Fathers of the Church, a quality that applies also to the Church.

The Church is feminine, because it is “church” and “bride” [both grammatically feminine]: it is feminine. And she is mother; she gives life. Bride and Mother. And the Fathers go further and say that even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.” And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.

No to a Church of old bachelors

Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

The important thing is that the Church be a woman whot has this attitude of a bride and of a mother. When we forget this, it is a masculine Church. Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance—because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.

The tenderness of a mom

The virtue that primarily distinguishes a woman, Pope Francis said, is tenderness, like the tenderness of Mary, when she “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.” She cared for Him, with meekness and humility, which are the great virtues of mothers.

A Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness. It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion, that knows silent. It is, too, a soul, a person who lives out this way of being a member of the Church, knowing that he or she is [like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.

POPE FRANCIS’ ADVICE FOR LENT: PAUSE, SEE, RETURN

POPE FRANCIS’ ADVICE FOR LENT: PAUSE, SEE, RETURN

The afternoon of February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Pope Francis processed from the church of San Anselmo to the basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, thus renewing a centuries-old Roman tradition of celebrating Mass at what are known in Rome as Lenten station churches.

There was a moment of prayer at San Anselmo, and then the penitential procession to the basilica of Santa Sabina, the first of the 40 Lenten station churhes. Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of San Anselmo, the Dominican Fathers of Santa Sabina and the lay faithful processed with the Holy Father.

Fortunately for all involved, the very cold rainy morning had dissipated and there was some sunshine for the start of the procession.

The Holy Father received ashes during Mass at Santa Sabina and delivered the following homily, which I offer in its entirety for its thought-provoking content. Francis offers us little jewels to think about – ways we must pause, ways and things we should see and suggestions for places to return to. Little nuggets we can think about every day of Lent: (photo vaticannews)

The season of Lent is a favourable time to remedy the dissonant chords of our Christian life and to receive the ever new, joyful and hope-filled proclamation of the Lord’s Passover.

The Church in her maternal wisdom invites us to pay special attention to anything that could dampen or even corrode our believing heart. We are subject to numerous temptations. Each of us knows the difficulties we have to face. And it is sad to note that, when faced with the ever-varying circumstances of our daily lives, there are voices raised that take advantage of pain and uncertainty; the only thing they aim to do is sow distrust.

If the fruit of faith is charity – as Mother Teresa often used to say – then the fruit of distrust is apathy and resignation. Distrust, apathy and resignation: these are demons that deaden and paralyze the soul of a believing people. Lent is the ideal time to unmask these and other temptations, to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Jesus. The whole of the Lenten season is imbued with this conviction, which we could say is echoed by three words offered to us in order to rekindle the heart of the believer: pause, see and return.

Pause a little, leave behind the unrest and commotion that fill the soul with bitter feelings which never get us anywhere.
Pause from this compulsion to a fast-paced life that scatters, divides and ultimately destroys time with family, with friends, with children, with grandparents, and time as a gift… time with God.
Pause for a little while, refrain from the need to show off and be seen by all, to continually appear on the “notice board” that makes us forget the value of intimacy and recollection.
Pause for a little while, refrain from haughty looks, from fleeting and pejorative comments that arise from forgetting tenderness, compassion and reverence for the encounter with others, particularly those who are vulnerable, hurt and even immersed in sin and error.
Pause for a little while, refrain from the urge to want to control everything, know everything, destroy everything; this comes from overlooking gratitude for the gift of life and all the good we receive.
Pause for a little while, refrain from the deafening noise that weakens and confuses our hearing, that makes us forget the fruitful and creative power of silence.
Pause for a little while, refrain from the attitude which promotes sterile and unproductive thoughts that arise from isolation and self-pity, and that cause us to forget going out to encounter others to share their burdens and suffering.
Pause for a little while, refrain from the emptiness of everything that is instantaneous, momentary and fleeting, that deprives us of our roots, our ties, of the value of continuity and the awareness of our ongoing journey.
Pause in order to look and contemplate!

See the gestures that prevent the extinguishing of charity, that keep the flame of faith and hope alive. Look at faces alive with God’s tenderness and goodness working in our midst.
See the face of our families who continue striving, day by day, with great effort, in order to move forward in life, and who, despite many concerns and much hardship, are committed to making their homes a school of love.
See the faces of our children and young people filled with yearning for the future and hope, filled with “tomorrows” and opportunities that demand dedication and protection. Living shoots of love and life that always open up a path in the midst of our selfish and meagre calculations.
See our elderly whose faces are marked by the passage of time, faces that reveal the living memory of our people. Faces that reflect God’s wisdom at work.
See the faces of our sick people and the many who take care of them; faces which in their vulnerability and service remind us that the value of each person can never be reduced to a question of calculation or utility.
See the remorseful faces of so many who try to repair their errors and mistakes, and who from their misfortune and suffering fight to transform their situations and move forward.
See and contemplate the face of Crucified Love, who today from the cross continues to bring us hope, his hand held out to those who feel crucified, who experience in their lives the burden of failure, disappointment and heartbreak.
See and contemplate the real face of Christ crucified out of love for everyone, without exception. For everyone? Yes, for everyone. To see his face is an invitation filled with hope for this Lenten time, in order to defeat the demons of distrust, apathy and resignation. The face that invites us to cry out: “The Kingdom of God is possible!”.

Pause, see and return.
Return to the house of your Father. Return without fear to those outstretched, eager arms of your Father, who is rich in mercy (cf. Eph 2:4), who awaits you.
Return without fear, for this is the favourable time to come home, to the home of my Father and your Father (cf. Jn 20:17). It is the time for allowing one’s heart to be touched… Persisting on the path of evil only gives rise to disappointment and sadness. True life is something quite distinct and our heart indeed knows this. God does not tire, nor will he tire, of holding out his hand (cf. Misericordiae Vultus, 19). Return without fear, to join in the celebration of those who are forgiven.
Return without fear, to experience the healing and reconciling tenderness of God. Let the Lord heal the wounds of sin and fulfil the prophecy made to our fathers: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put with in you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36: 26).
Pause, see and return!

CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY – PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

Pope Francis tweeted today: The statute of Our Lady of Aparecida was found by poor workers. May Mary bless all of us, but especially those seeking employment.

There are so many fascinating institutes, academies and other institutions in Rome that to cover them, even summarily, would require full time dedication to just this area. The same could be said for any (or all) of the Vatican’s nine congregations, some going back almost 500 years while one, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, now celebrates its centenary.

For a small idea of the nature, scope, work and jurisdiction of this congregation – From the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/profilo/rc_con_corient_pro_20030320_profile.html

CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY

Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving this morning at St. Mary Major Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He also visited the pontifical institute as it is a very short distance from the basilica.

The Congregation for Oriental Churches is responsible for the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, such as the Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean traditions, to name but three. There are about 16 million faithful in these Churches – about 1.5 % of the Catholic Church.

In his homily, Francis encouraged all Christians of the Oriental Churches to continue with their courageous witness, despite the dramatic persecutions that they suffer. Recalling the establishment of the PIO, the acronym for the pontifical institute, by Benedict XV in 1917, during the First World War, Pope Francis said that today we are living though another “piecemeal” world war. When we see the persecution and worrying exodus of Christians, he said, just like the people of the Old Testament, we cry out “Why?”

He answered by saying, if we pray and trust in the Lord, we know that “’everyone who asks, receives; those who seek, find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened’.. The Spirit is God’s great gift to us, so let’s learn how to knock courageously on the door of God’s heart. May courageous prayer inspire and sustain your service to the Church so that it may bear fruit that does not wither and die.”

Wednesday, at the general audience, Pope Francis had special greetings for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the congregation and grand chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The “Orientale” as it is known in Rome, became part of the “Gregorian Consortium” that includes the Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute, all under the direction and tutelage of the Jesuits.(source: Vatican Radio)

PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

(Vatican Radio) Church leaders from the different Eastern Catholic rites have been gathered in Rome this week to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Pope Francis visited the Institute on Thursday and issued a mesage praising its “high achievements” and reminding it to be always attentive to the “enormous challenges facing Christians in the East”.

In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV wstablished the Institute to be a bridge between East and West and to make the rich traditions of the Oriental Churches available to the entire Catholic world. A century on, the Institute maintains a world class reputation for its research, teaching and publishing on all issues of Eastern theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature, spirituality, archeology, as well as questions of ecumenical and geopolitical importance.

Jesuit Father David Nazar is the current rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Born in Canada to a family of Ukrainian origin, he’s a former superior of the Society of Jesus in Ukraine and  former Provincial of the Jesuits in the English Canada Province.

He spoke to Vatican Radio, and explained that the ‘Orientale’ as it’s known, is a papal institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, to focus on matters concerning all of the Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches.

Since many of the Eastern Churches are smaller and lacking the resources of Christians in the West, he says, the popes were concerned to make sure that the wealth of research on liturgy, ancient traditions, and original manuscripts could be made available to Christians across the globe.

Fr Nazar says that over the past century, the Jesuits have worked hard to establish a world class library, which was funded for a number of years by friends of Pope Pius XI. It remains second to none in the world, he notes, in the study of the ancient traditions and languages of the Eastern world.

Much of this work has been significant for the West as well, he adds, such as the Second Vatican Council’s document on the importance of the Eastern Churches “which would have been unimaginable without the fifty years of research that had been done at the Orientale”.

THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH – CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

I hope all of you had wonderful Memorial Day yesterday, hopefully with family and friends and equally hopefully with good weather. I was able to see President Trump at Arlington Cemetery in the ever-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and his tribute to the fallen of past wars and his visit with families who lost members in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Several years ago I had a very personalized visit to this magnificent cemetery when a retired Navy Capitain friend of mine, a Vietnam war veteran, Ted Bronson, accompanied me for a very extensive visit, a true history lesson. I will never forget the day and one of the things on my bucket list is to some year at Christmas become a volunteer to lay Christmas wreaths at the tombs of our soldiers.

Most of my Memorial Day holiday was spent getting around Rome to electronic stores to look for a new laptop. I am waaaay overdue in replacing my current one which has served me well but is finally on its last legs. I had a list of specs from friends who are tech-savvy, and that helped enormously. I think I have narrowed it down and one of those friends will accompany me when he has some time off.

Now, re the news: I read this morning’s homily (see below) by Pope Francis twice. I was so intrigued by the first sentence, and then the rest of the homily, that I had to re-read it (and perhaps read in between the lines). Is there only one message here – or are there two? Is he talking about bishops who should ‘move on’? By the way, he is the Bishop of Rome. Or is this simply Francis’ reading of that Biblical account?

Pope Francis’ hoped-for trip to South Sudan is off – for now. Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke told journalists today, Tuesday, May 30, that, although the Pope still wishes to travel to South Sudan, hopefully alongside Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, such a trip is off for this year. The Vatican was tenatively looking at October.

THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH

(Vatican Radio) The true shepherd knows how to step down from his church, because he knows that he is not at the center of history, but is a free man who has served without compromises and without taking control of his flock. That was Pope Francis message during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

“A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner” said the Pope.

His words were drawn from the first reading at Mass, where St Paul addressed the church leaders in Ephesus.  The Pope said that this reading could easily be called “A bishop’s leave taking” because Paul has left the Church of Ephesus in order to go to Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit called him to go.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus” said Pope Francis.

According to the Pope, St Paul had held a council with all the priests of Ephesus and during this council he had demonstrated three “apostolic attitudes.”

The first of these is never turning back. The Pope said that this is the worst of all sins, to turn back. This is the thing which will bring much peace to the shepherd, when he remembers that he is not a shepherd who has led the church through compromising. Pope Francis admitted that this attitude requires much courage.

The second attitude is obedience to the Spirit, without knowing what will happen. A shepherd must know that he is on a journey.

The Pope said that Paul was a shepherd who serves his sheep.

“While guiding the Church he had an uncompromising attitude, at that moment it was the Spirit who asked him to go on his journey, without knowing what would happen to him. And he went because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them. Paul said ‘Now God wants me to leave. I leave without knowing what will happen to me. I know only this – the Spirit had told him this – that the Holy Spirit had testified to me that trials and tribulations are awaiting me from city to city.’ This was what he (St Paul) knew. That I am not retiring. I am going away to serve other churches. The heart is always open to the voice of God, I am leaving this place, I will see what the Lord is asking of me. This is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude is “I do not consider my own life to be precious in any way. I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant” said the Pope.

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops, the Pope, that their lives will be lives lived without compromise, lives on a journey and lives where they do not believe that they are the center of history and have learned how to step down. Let us pray for our shepherds.”

CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

Big celebrations are set for the coming days when an estimated 35,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement from around the world are set to converge on Rome for a huge series of events, workshops, Masses and a meeting with Pope Francis at the Circus Maximus on Saturday evening, June 3, the vigil of Pentecost. If guests wear the color of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit as firelike tongue – Rome will be awash in red.

Celebrations start Wednesday, May 31 and conclude Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square with Mass presided over by Pope Francis to celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the Church.

Following are organizational and events charts from the CCR website (http://www.ccrgoldenjubilee2017.org/pdetails.php?lang=en) (not sure if you can read these (or enlarge) – if not, go to the CCR website)

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.

presentation

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.”

presentation-2

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)

fr-hamel

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.

pope-diplomats

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.