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.

EXPO - HOLY SEE

“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)

POPE -MASS OCT 8

 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.)

“TEACH PRAYER BY PRAYING, ANNOUNCE THE FAITH BY BELIEVING; OFFER WITNESS BY LIVING!” – POPE FRANCIS CREATES SECRETARIAT FOR COMMUNICATIONS – PRAYERS AND SOLIDARITY WITH VICTIMS OF TERROR ATTACKS – PARENTS OF ST THERESE OF LISIEUX TO BE CANONIZED

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI today celebrates the 64th anniversary of his priestly ordination! What a beautiful milestone! I would like to express my congratulations as well as my affection, esteem and many prayers.  The same for his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger who was ordained the same day.

RATZINGER BROTHERS OPRDINATION

Lots of important news over the weekend and today, given the Pope’s beautiful homily at the Mass for the solemnity of St. Peter and Paul.

“TEACH PRAYER BY PRAYING, ANNOUNCE THE FAITH BY BELIEVING; OFFER WITNESS BY LIVING!”

Today, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles and patrons of Rome, Pope Francis blessed 46 palliums that he handed to 46 metropolitan archbishops as a sign of their union with the Successor of Peter, with their brother bishops  as well as a sign of their authority in the archdiocese where they are shepherds.

POPE - PALLIUM 2015

The Pope began his homily by commenting on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, that “speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison.”

“However,” said Francis, “I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all.  I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community.  This courage carried forward the work of evangelization, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.”

The Holy Father noted that, “the first community was a Church at prayer. …And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.”

He also noted how the first reading of the day tells us that, “Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side… And the chains fell off his hands,”

“Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel,” said Francis. “An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation?  Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, ‘You are not alone’.

“How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the “maid named Rhoda came to answer.  Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door” (12:13-14).

Highlighting the importance of prayer, the Pope said, “No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children.”

Speaking on the call to faith, the Holy Father said,God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail.  Only the one who believes can truly say: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want’.”

He asked, “How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: ‘To him be glory for ever and ever’.

“Everything passes, only God remains.  Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ.  Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.

Francis then highlighted his third point, a call to witness:”A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water!  The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children.  She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’.”

The Pope then addressed the archbishops who today receive the pallium; “It is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission.  …Today, by these palliums, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness.

“The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness.  For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!

“The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross.  No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!

“The Church wants you to be men of witness. Saint Francis used to tell his brothers: ‘Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!’ There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle!  Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world.”

“This is not so straightforward,” concluded Francis, “because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others!

Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!”

After Mass this morning, Pope Francis went to his study in the apostolic palace and , speaking from the window, he prayed the Angelus with the faithful inSt. Peter’s Square. He asked for prayers for his July 5 to 12 pilgrimage to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay: “I ask you all to accompany me with prayer, that the Lord will bless my journey on the continent of Latin America so dear to me, as you can imagine. I express to the dear peoples of Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay my joy at being in their homelands, and I ask you, in a particular way, to pray for me and for this trip, that the Virgin Mary might give us the gift of accompanying all of us with her maternal protection.”

POPE FRANCIS CREATES SECRETARIAT FOR COMMUNICATIONS

This entire story will be very interesting to follow. Having worked for many years at the Vatican Information Service (VIS), I am familiar with all the communications offices that the Pope refers to in this document. However, I did not see VIS mentioned by name in the Motu proprio which notes. “the following Organizations will be incorporated: Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Televisi… Radio, the Vatican Television Center (CTV), the Osservatore Romano, Vatican Typography, Photograph Service, and the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana). VIS was considered an office within the Holy See Press Office so perhaps that is the answer to my observation.

No mention was made of the future of the men who now lead CTV, the radio, the council for social communications, etc, though several are near retirement age.

,At the end of the Motu, Pope Francis notes: The new Department, in agreement with the Secretary of State, will assume the institutional website of the Holy See: www.vatican.va and the Twitter account of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex The Secretariat for Communications will begin its duties on June 29, 2015, having as a provisional headquarters Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia, 3, 00120 Vatican City.

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis promulgated on Saturday, 27 June 2015, a Motu Proprio instituting the Secretariat for Communications and nominating Rev. Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò as Prefect of the new Secretariat.

The Motu Proprio establishes that all communications offices will be incorporated under the direction of the new Secretariat for Communications, including the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center (CTV), the Osservatore Romano, Vatican Typography, Photograph Service, and the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

The new Dicastery will also work in union with the Secretariat of State for the direction of the institutional website of the Holy See, http://www.vatican.va and the Twitter account of the Holy Father:  @pontifex

Please find below a Vatican Radio translation of the Motu Proprio: “The current communicative context”

APOSTOLIC LETTER IN THE FORM OF ‘MOTU PROPRIO’ OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF FRANCIS

Establishment of the Secretariat for Communications

The current communication context, characterized by the presence and the development of digital media, by the factors of convergence and interactivity, requires a rethinking of the information system of the Holy See and dedication to a reorganization which, recognizing the history of internal development of the asset of communications of the Apostolic See, must proceed decisively towards integration and a unified management.

For these reasons, I desire that all organizations which, thus far have dealt with communications in different ways, be brought together in a new Dicastery of the Roman Curia, to be called the Secretariat for Communications. Thus, the communication system of the Holy See will respond in an ever more efficacious manner to the needs of the mission of the Church.

Therefore, after reviewing reports and studies, and recently having received the study on feasibility and having heard the unanimous opinion of the Council of Cardinals, I institute the Secretariat for Communications and establish the following:

Art. 1

Into the Dicastery, as presented by the Commission of Vatican Media, instituted on April 30, 2015, the following Organizations will be incorporated: Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center (CTV), the Osservatore Romano, Vatican Typography, Photograph Service, and the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

Art. 2

These organizations, from the date of publication of this Motu Proprio, must continue their own activities, in accordance, however, with the indications given by the Secretariat for Communications.

Art. 3

The new Department, in agreement with the Secretary of State, will assume the institutional website of the Holy See: http://www.vatican.va and the Twitter account of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex

Art. 4

The Secretariat for Communications will begin its duties on June 29, 2015, having as a provisional headquarters Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia, 3, 00120 Vatican City.

Everything which I have deliberated with this Apostolic Letter issued under the form of Motu Proprio, I prescribe it to be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by publication in the newspaper L ‘ Osservatore Romano and, subsequently, in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on June 27 of the year 2015, the third of my Pontificate.

Francesco P.P.

PRAYERS AND SOLIDARITY WITH VICTIMS OF TERROR ATtACKS

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on Saturday sent telegrams of condolences in the Holy Father’s name to France, Kuwait and Tunisia for the victims of the terror attacks in those countries on Friday. The Pope expressed solidarity, saying he was united in prayer with the relatives of the victims, and praying for the souls of those who perished in the attacks. Pope Francis offered his condolences to those who were wounded and to their families.

In each of the messages, Pope Francis condemned yet again “the violence that causes so much suffering” and prayed that God “might grant the gift of peace.”

PARENTS OF ST THERESE OF LISIEUX TO BE CANONIZED

Saturday, during an Ordinary Consistory in the apostolic palace, it was announced that the Holy Father has approved  the decrees allowing for the canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of Lisieux. They will be the first to be canonized together as husband and wife

 

PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK – PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE” – PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

If you want to visit a fascinating website in English about the Holy Land, go to  http://en.abouna.org/en/

Stories about the finding of Jesus’ home in Nazareth, an address to Arab women in the media by Jordanian Princess Basma, and religious tourism in Jordan are just of the few that will hold your interest.  Here are a few of the photos that are on the website today:

Religious tourism is image of Jordanian hospitality – Pope Francis at baptism site in the Jordan, with King Abdullah of Jordan and his wife, Queen Rania:

POPE FRANCIS AT BAPTISMAL SITE

Jordanian women in the Media:

WOMEN IN MEDIA - ME

Jesus’ Home in Nazareth:

JESUS HOME IN NAZARETH

Our Lady of Peace Center, Caritas welcome displaced Christian Iraqis:

OUR LADY OF PEACE . JORDAN

I have a ton of photos from the Peace Center as this was the very first place that Pope Benedict visited on his weeklong trip to the Holy Land in 2009 – and the first place I visited as well!  It was on that trip that I met Fr. Rifat Bader, director in Amman, Jordan, of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media and responsible for the en.abouna.org website. You have seen his photo and heard his voice several times on “Vatican Insider” when our paths have crossed over the years during my trips to the Holy Land.  We also met up in 2010 in Cyprus when Pope Benedict went there on a pilgrimage.

Here is Fr. Bader (R) with Fr. Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office at a briefing for the media in Amman during the 2009 papal trip.

Jordan-Jerusalem May 2009 017

PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK

(Vatican Radio) – In his homily Tuesday at Mass in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis invited all Christians to accept God’s love without being critical and making objections.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day that speaks of how the children of Israel complained against God during their journey through the desert when they objected to the “wretched food” provided, the Pope pointed out that God offers us salvation in a thousand different ways but too often we are incapable of accepting his “divine ways.”

He said that in that Gospel passage the Lord sent in punishment saraph serpents which bit the people and many of them died. Thus, Moses prayed for the people and, obeying the Lord’s command, he mounted a bronze serpent on a pole giving salvation to anyone who looked at it after being bitten.

Only Moses’s intercession, and the symbol of the cross on which Christ will die, said the Pope, provides salvation from the poison of the snakes.

Describing the attitude of many Christians today as “spiritually whimsical,” Francis said that we often commit the same kind of error, “becoming sullen and grumbly.”

“How many of us Christians find ourselves ‘poisoned’ by the dissatisfactions of life. Yes: God is good but… We are Christians but… This kind of Christian ends up not opening his heart to God’s salvation, but always posing conditions. ‘Yes, I want to be saved but in this way…’ This attitude poisons the heart.”

Pope Francis said that to not accept God’s gift in the way it is offered is a sin. It poisons our soul, deprives it of joy. But Jesus, he said, solved this problem by climbing Mount Calvary.

“Jesus takes that poison upon himself. This ‘tepidness’ of ‘half-way’ Christians who show enthusiasm at the start of Jesus’ journey only to become dissatisfied on the way. The only way to heal is to look at the Cross, to look at God who takes upon himself our sins: my sin is there.”

How many Christians, concluded Pope Francis, today “die in the desert of their sorrow, grumbling and not accepting God’s way.”

“Let’s look at the serpent, at the poison, … the poison of all the sins in the world, and let us ask for the grace to accept difficult moments. To accept the divine way of salvation, to accept this ‘wretched food’ that the children of Israel lamented… Let’s accept the paths that the Lord leads us on. May this Holy Week that begins on Sunday help us to turn away from the temptation to become ‘Christians yes, but…’.”

PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE”

As I write, a great international celebration is underway in Saint Mary Major Basilica to mark the 20th anniversary of St. John Paul’s great Encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.

The Pontifical Council for the Family, organizer of this event, announced in a communique that Salus Populi Romani, the icon of Mary so dear to Pope Francis and one that he visits prior to and after his international pilgrimages, will be the centerpiece of tonight’s vigil dedicated to life.

This vigil is intended particularly to give thanks for the abundant fruit produced by St. John Paul II during his life, priestly ministry and almost 27-year papacy, in addition to raising awareness of the benefits of prayer for life.

The vigil will have three successive parts: It begins at 5:00 pm with greetings by the principal celebrant, followed by a moment of reflection on some artistic features of the basilica connected with life. At 6:00 pm, an original Rosary will be recited, with focus on the contemplation of Gospel passages related to the theme of life and interspersed with short testimonies and reflections from invited guests. At 7:00 pm, Mass will be presided by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Archbishop Paglia has said that, “the anniversary of the Encyclical and this vigil commemorating it on the eve of the Annunciation are particularly significant, because they highlight the intimate connection between the mystery of life and the experience of the family, composed of suffering and sociability. Defending life means, then, participating in the alliance between God, man and woman.”

The evening will be marked by an international character because this anniversary will also be celebrated in other parts of the world. The Rosary will be recited and dedicated to life in the shrines of Fatima (6:30 pm), Lourdes and Guadalupe. There will also be celebrations in Nazareth.

PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reports from Ramallah that the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the May 17 Mass at the Vatican for the canonization of two Palestinians, Blessed Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified Bawardi.

Jordanian Fr. Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman and responsible for the abuna.org website, made the announcement on en.abouna.org. Patriarch Twal is Jordanian-born. “Abouna” means “father” in Arabic.

The invitation was addressed directly by the patriarch to President Abbas during the visit paid by a patriarchal delegation at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Sunday, March 22. During the talks, President Abbas thanked Patriarch Twal and praised the role carried out by the local Church at the service of society and the Palestinian people, especially in the field of education, welfare and health.

Blessed Mariam Bawardi was born in the village of Ibillin in Galilee, and founded the Carmel of Bethlehem. Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was born in Jerusalem and helped to start the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary. Patriarch Twal has just published a pastoral Letter dedicated to the two sisters who will soon be proclaimed saints by the Church.

 

SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER – POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP – POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY – VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

From Fr. Tom Rosica, English-language assistant to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office:  Prayers for Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM

After a nearly 30-year career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. and Rome, working with Catholic News Service, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and most recently AMERICA Magazine, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, who is 67, has returned to the Sisters of Mercy convent in Albany, New York, to live out her final days with metastatic breast cancer.  Kindly remember this wonderful woman and communicator in your prayers. Click here for a Sisters of Mercy profile of Mary Ann, friend to all of us accredited at the Holy See Press Office, and countless more in the U.S.: http://www.sistersofmercy.org/blog/2015/02/06/facing-terminal-illness-with-mercy-part-ii/?utm_source=t&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=cwm

This is a big week for “red hats” here in Rome, starting today with the eighth meeting of the Council of 9 Cardinals with the Pope at the Santa Marta residence. The meeting will  go to Wednesday, February 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick. The following two days – February 12 and 13 – the College of Cardinals will hold their consistory in the Synod Hall and will discuss the reform of the Roman Curia being studied by Francis and C9 Council.

This coming weekend, new members will be joining the College of Cardinals as the Holy Father creates 20 new cardinals on Saturday, February 14 (15 of whom are under age 80 and therefore cardinal electors). That afternoon, the new cardinals will greet friends and relatives in both the Paul VI Hall and rooms of the Apostolic Palace. Sunday, the Pope and new eminences will concelebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

And now, some of the stories from this weekend, especially Pope Francis’ unscripted stop Sunday at a migrant camp on his way to say Mass in a Roman parish!

SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Graf as the new commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Graf, who joined the guards in 1987, succeeds Colonel Daniel Anrig, who retired last month and had been commander since 2008. The Swiss Guards were formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II to protect the person of the Pope and the security of the Apostolic Palace.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, is in Rome for the events this week with the College of Cardinals. He presided at Mass Sunday morning for the new commander and fellow guards in the Swiss Guard Chapel. Click on the Swiss Guards Facebook page to see some photos: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506

POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP

Late afternoon Sunday, on his way to the Roman parish San Michele Arcangelo in the Roman Pietralata neighborhood to say Mass, Pope Francis – no surprise! – made an impromptu visit to a migrant shantytown. The papal car stopped and the Pope got out, accompanied by the papal photographer and head of security and just walke through a gate, unannounced. The camp is called Campo Arcobaleno or Camp Rainbow and is only about 300 yards from the parish.

POPE FRANCIS - SHANTYTOWN

According to a report by Vatican Radio, “he got out of the car and people were shocked when they saw him in front of their shacks,” said Father Aristide Sana, the pastor of the parish who quickly traveled to the camp when he got word of the visit. Pope Francis received a boisterous welcome.

“Viva il Papa!” the crowd shouted, engulfing the Pope, chanting and shaking his hand.  Pope Francis asked how many spoke Spanish, and the crowd shouted out “All of us!” Actually, though many of the residents are from Peru and Ecuador, many others were from Eritrea, Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the world. However. In what ever language, they joined the Pope in his request to pray the Our Father together in Spanish.

It was only a ten-minute visit, one the migrants will never forget, and Pope Francis seemed totally delighted at the occasion.

To enjoy that encounter with the Pope, here is a video I also posted on my Facebook page: http://www.romereports.com/pg160276-a-look-at-the-pope-s-powerful-visit-to-an-immigrant-shantytown-en

POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening visited the parish of San Michele Arcangelo in the eastern Roman district of Pietralata, on the periphery of Rome and home to 8,000 families. After arriving at the parish hall, Pope Francis’ first stop was to meet with a group of homeless people who are cared for by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“The fact that people do not know your name, and call you ‘homeless’ and you carry this: It is your cross, and your patience,” said Pope Francis. “But there is something in the heart of all of you – of this, please be assured – there is the Holy Spirit.”

He then held a meeting with parents whose children had been baptized in the previous year, and he asked them to teach the Faith well, lamenting that there are “Christian children who cannot make the sign of the cross.”

In his meeting with older children, many of whom were part of the Scouting movement, Pope Francis pointed out that wars are not only those – and he asked them to make a list – that kill children in Iraq, Ukraine, and Africa. Wars are come about much earlier in people who do not possess God.

“Who is the father of war?” Pope Francis asked. “The devil!” the children answered.

Pope Francis said the devil is the “father of hate,” “the father of lies,” who seeks disunity.

“But God wants unity,” Pope Francis said. “If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God.”

And this is the theme Pope Francis continued during his homily at Mass.

“It is sad when in a family, brothers do not speak because of something stupid,” Pope Francis said.

“Because the devil takes stupidity and makes a world,” he continued. “Then these enmities continue and multiply for years.  It destroys the family: Parents suffer because their children do not speak to each other, or with the wife of a son…And so this jealousy and envy, it is sowed by the devil. And the only one who can drive out demons is Jesus.  The only one who can heal these things is Jesus. So to each of you: Have yourself healed by Jesus.”

As he often does during parish visits, he urged the congregation to listen to Jesus in the Gospel, to read a passage and ask themselves, what does it say to me?

“Have this daily contact with the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.  “Pray with the Gospel.”

VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Work has now been completed on the building of three showers and a barber’s booth for the homeless under the colonnades of St Peter’s Square. The shower unit was commissioned by Pope Francis after learning from his Almoner that homeless people in Rome lacked places where to wash themselves or have their hair cut. (AP/L’Osservatore Romano pool photos)

HOMELESS SHOWERS - AP Photo(L'Osservatore Romano pool

The 3 showers and the barber’s booth have been installed in an existing lavatory block used by pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican area that was completely refurbished for this purpose. The showers will be available every day, except on Wednesday during the Pope’s general audience and when celebrations take place, either in St Peter’s Basilica or in the Square.

HOMELESS SHOWERS  -  2

The barber service will be available on Monday between 9am and 3pm.  A number of barbers in Rome have volunteered to offer their services as well as final-year students from a hairdressing school in Rome.  Sisters from Mother’s Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Order will be among those helping to welcome the homeless who come to use the showers.

Each of the homeless people using the shower units will receive two free kits, a complete change of underwear and a kit containing towel, soap, toothpaste and brush, deodorant plus razor and shaving cream for the men. Many of the articles have been offered free of charge by various firms and private individuals who have wanted to show their solidarity with this project. The Pope’s Almoner will be responsible for purchasing, as needed, future supplies using money raised from the selling of parchments with a Papal Blessing.

The Vatican has called for ten nearby parishes to install showers as well. The bill will be paid with money from the Pope’s charity fund.

FOCUS OF A PAPAL WEEKEND: CONSECRATED LIFE AND CHRISTIAN UNITY – BALLOONS, NOT DOVES, RELEASED BY CATHOLIC ACTION AT VATICAN – POPE ON INDISPENSABLE ROLE OF WOMEN IN TRANSMITTING THE FAITH

Pope Francis gave a beautiful homily this morning during his daily Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel and focussed on the indispensable role of women in the tranmission of the faith. The Vatican Radio translation into English (which they do daily for the papal Masses) is the third news story today.

FOCUS OF A PAPAL WEEKEND: CONSECRATED LIFE AND CHRISTIAN UNITY

It was a busy weekend for Pope Francis who met with a number of groups on Saturday, including participants in a three-day seminar on consecrated life and the search for Christian unity, and then on Sunday not only prayed the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square but later that afternoon presided at vespers in the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls to end the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Pope Saturday highlighted the vital role played by men and women religious of different Christian Churches in the ecumenical journey, saying “men and women religious who pray for unity are like ‘an invisible monastery’ bringing together Christians of different denominations from different countries around the world.” (photos from news.va)POPE FRANCIS - CONSECRATED PEOPLE

Participants in this three-day meeting concluded each day with Vespers in the Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic traditions, and participated Sunday in the liturgy presided over by Pope Francis in St Paul’s.

Quoing from the Vatican Council II document “Unitatis Redintegratio” that stressed that spiritual ecumenism is the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, Francis said, “consecrated people like yourselves therefore have a particular vocation in this work of promoting unity.”

He then named three conditions at the core of the search for Christian unity : 1. no unity without conversion of heart, which includes forgiving and asking for forgiveness; 2. no unity without prayer and 3. “no unity without holiness of daily life. so the more we put our search for unity into practise in our relations with others, the more we will be modelling our lives on the message of the Gospel.”

Sunday evening at St. Paul’s, the Pope presided at the second Vespers on the solemnity of the conversion of St. Paul, bringing to a close the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, whose theme this year was “Give me to drink” (John, 4.7). Present at the liturgy were representatives from other Churches and ecclesial communities in Rome.

The focus of the Holy Father’s homily was the Gospel pasage about the Samaritan woman. He explains that, “On his way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus passes through Samaria. He has no problem dealing with Samaritans, who were considered by the Jews to be heretics, schismatics, separate. His attitude tells us that encounter with those who are different from ourselves can make us grow.”

POPE FRANCIS - CHRISTIAN UNITY

“Jesus is patient, respectful of the person before him, and gradually reveals himself to her. His example encourages us to seek a serene encounter with others. To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another. In this way, we already begin to experience unity. Unity grows along the way; it never stands still. Unity happens when we walk together.

Francis said, “So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit. Christian unity, we are convinced, will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing! We need to realise that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences.”

“In the call to be evangelizers,” stated Pope Francis, “all the Churches and ecclesial communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation. For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations. Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms. All of us are at the service of the one Gospel.”

“In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today. They are witnesses to Jesus Christ, and they are persecuted and killed because they are Christians. Those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong. They are Christians and for that they are persecuted. This, brothers and sisters, is the ecumenism of blood’.”

He noted the presence at vespers of the group he met Saturday, “men and women religious from various Churches and ecclesial communities who have taken part in an ecumenical meeting organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to mark the Year for Consecrated Life.” He said, “the pursuit of Christian unity cannot be the sole prerogative of individuals or religious communities particularly concerned with this issue. A shared knowledge of the different traditions of consecrated life, and a fruitful exchange of experiences, can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life in the different Churches and ecclesial communities”.

BALLOONS, NOT DOVES, RELEASED BY CATHOLIC ACTION AT VATICAN 

At the end of Sunday’s Angelus prayer, the Pope was joined at his study window by a two young people from Italian Catholic Action of the diocese of Rome as the group concludes its traditional January journey of the “Caravan of Peace.” The youth were from two Roman parishes and the girl read a message of peace from ACI. In the past, each young person released a dove – the symbol of peace – after words by the Holy Father. However, last year two bigger birds – a crow and a seagull – attacked the smaller birds and, though captured on film, it was never known whether they survived the attack.

This year, the young people of Catholic Action in St. Peter’s Square released a mini hotair balloon containing messages of peace, as well as smaller balloons. (If you have visited the Vatican’s news.va website, you can be excused for thinking that doves were released this year. The photo of Pope Francis and the two ACI youngsters releasing doves is from last year, albeit the two young people this year look like twins to last year’s boy and girl!)

In earlier remarks, Francis had noted “with deep concern the escalation of the clashes in east Ukraine, which continue to claim many victims among the civilian population. While I assure my prayers to those who suffer, I renew my heartfelt appeal for the resumption of attempts at dialogue in order to bring an end to the hostilities.”

He also mentioned that Sunday marked World Leprosy Day, and expressed his closeness to “all those who suffer from this disease, as well as those who care for them and those who fight to eradicate the causes of contagion, that is, living conditions that are not worthy of mankind. Let us renew our commitment to solidarity with these brothers and sisters.”

Finally, the Pope addressed the large contingent in St. Peter’s Square fom the Filipino community in Rome. “The Filipino people are wonderful for their strong and joyful faith. May the Lord also support those of you who live far from your homeland. Many thanks for your witness, and thank you for all the good you do for us, as you sow faith among us and offer a beautiful witness of faith.”

POPE ON INDISPENSABLE ROLE OF WOMEN IN TRANSMITTING THE FAITH

(Vatican Radio) The primary and indispensable role of women in transmitting the faith to new generations: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. On the day when the Church celebrates the memory of Saints Timothy and Titus – bishops and disciples of St Paul the Apostle – Pope Francis commented in particular on the second letter of Paul to Timothy.

Mothers and Grandmothers transmit the faith

Paul reminds Timothy, said the Pope, that his “sincere faith” comes from the Holy Spirit,  “through his mother and grandmother.” Pope Francis went on to say, “Mothers and grandmothers are the ones who, in the first place [in primis]  transmit the faith.” The Holy Father went on to say:

It is one thing to pass on the faith, and another to teach the matters of faith. Faith is a gift: it is not possible to study Faith. We study the things of faith, yes, to understand it better, but with study [alone] one never comes to Faith. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which surpasses all [“academic”] formation.

POPE FRANCIS - WOMEN AND FAITH

Faith, moreover, is a gift that passes from generation to generation, through the “beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers, the fine work of the women who play those roles,” in a family, “whether they be maids or aunts,” who transmit the faith:

It occurs to me: why is it mainly women, who to pass on the faith? Simply because the one who brought us Jesus is a woman. It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: the gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary.

Cherish the gift of faith  – don’t let it become watered down

“We need,” said Pope Francis, “in our own day to consider whether women really are aware of the duty they have to transmit the faith.” Paul invites Timothy to guard the Faith, the deposit of Faith, avoiding “empty pagan chatter, empty chatter of the world.” He went on to say, “We have – all of us – received the gift of faith: we have to keep it, at least in order that it not become watered down, so that it remains strong, with the power of the Holy Spirit who gave it to us.” We keep the faith by cherishing and nurturing it every day:

If we do not have this care, every day, to revive this gift of God which is Faith, but rather let faith weaken, become diluted, Faith ends up being a culture: ‘Yes, but, yes, yes, I am a Christian, yes yes,’ – a mere culture – or a gnosis, [a specialized kind of] knowledge: ‘Yes, I know well all the matters of Faith, I know the catechism’. But how do you live your faith? This, then, is the importance of reviving every day this gift: to bring it to life.”

Timidity and shame do not increase the faith

Saint Paul says that there are two things in particular that contrast with a living Faith: “the spirits of timidity and of shame”:

God has not given us a spirit of timidity. The spirit of timidity goes against the gift of faith: it does not let faith grow, advance, be great. Shame, in turn, is the following sin, [which says]: ‘Yes, I have faith, but I cover it up, that it not be seen too much’. It’s a little bit here, a little bit there – it is, as our forebears called it, a “rosewater” faith – because I am ashamed to live it powerfully. No: this is not the faith: [Faith knows] neither timidity nor shame. What is it, then? It is a spirit of power and of love and of prudence: that is what faith is This is the faith.”

Faith is not negotiable

Pope Francis explained that the spirit of prudence is knowing that we cannot do everything we want: it means looking for the ways, the path, the manners by which to carry the faith forward, cautiously. “We ask the Lord’s grace,” he concluded, “that we might have a sincere faith, a faith that is not negotiable depending on the opportunities that come, a faith that every day I try to revive or at least ask the Holy Spirit to revive it, and make it bear much fruit.”