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

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

VATICAN INSIDER AND A TULSA PASTOR

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

DAN MUEGGENBORG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT TO CHRISTIAN: WE WILL REBUILD YOUR TORCHED CHURCHES

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

Finally, a good news story from Egypt:

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

EGYPT CHURCHES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STUART TOMB

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

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

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

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

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

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

“VATICAN INSIDER” TO FEATURE CATHOLIC EDUCATION CONGRESS

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

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPE - MASS nov 20

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

UNITED STATES EMBASSY ROME, ITALY

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

November 18, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD WEEPS

A world festively bedecked

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

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

War lines the pockets of the traffickers

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

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

The world weeps over its crimes

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS PRESIDES MASS FOR DECEASED CARDINALS

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

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

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

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

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

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF BUCHAREST DISCO FIRE

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

HOLY SEE PAVILION AT EXPO WINS PRIZE

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

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.