POPE, MEMBERS OF ROMAN CURIA END ANNUAL RETREAT – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR NEW ZEALAND MOSQUE ATTACK – NEW ZEALAND: “ABSOLUTELY DEVASTED” AFTER UNPRECEDENTED ATTACKS ON MOSQUES

POPE, MEMBERS OF ROMAN CURIA END ANNUAL RETREAT

Friday, at the end of the spiritual exercises and just before returning to Rome from Ariccia, Pope Francis thanked retreat master, Italian Benedictine Abbot Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni, saying, “I was struck by your work to make us enter, as the Word did, into humanity; and understand that God always makes himself present in the human. He did it the first time in the Incarnation of the Word, but He is also present in the traces He leaves in the human. Equal to the incarnation of the Word – undivided and inconfused – He is there. And our job is maybe to go on …

Francis continued, “Thank you so much for this job. I thank you for having spoken to us of memory: this ‘deuteronomic’ dimension that we forget; of having spoken to us of hope, of work, of patience, as if pointing out the way to have that ‘memory of the future’ that always brings us forward. Thank you! And it made me laugh when you said that someone, reading the titles of the meditations, maybe didn’t understand what the Curia did: maybe they rented a tourist guide that would lead them to know Florence and its poets … !

The Holy Father admitted, “in the first meditation I was a bit disoriented, then I understood the message. Thank you. I thought a lot about a conciliar document – Gaudium et spes – perhaps it is the document that has found more resistance, even today. And at some point I saw you in this way: with the courage of the Council Fathers when they signed that document. I thank you so much. Pray for us that we are all sinners, all of us, but we want to go on like this, serving the Lord. Thank you very much and greet the monks from me and from us. Thank you!”

PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR NEW ZEALAND MOSQUE ATTACK

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent the following telegram in Pope Francis’ name for the victims of the attack in New Zealand on Friday, March 15.

The recipient of the telegram was not named but telegrams are normally sent to the bishop/archbishop of the local diocese and, when necessary or opportune, are addressed to leaders of other faith or religious communities.

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks. Mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation, His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy. Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation. Pietro Parolin Secretary of State”

Following the attack, the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand addressed a message to members of the Muslim community in New Zealand:

“We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims in mosques in Christchurch. We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer. We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence.”

The message concludes, “Peace, Salaam,” and is signed by all five Catholic Bishops of New Zealand.

NEW ZEALAND: “ABSOLUTELY DEVASTED” AFTER UNPRECEDENTED ATTACKS ON MOSQUES

At least 40 people have died in separate attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the wake of the attacks, the nation’s Catholic Bishops have expressed their solidarity with the Muslim community.
By Vatican News

Reporting from New Zealand, Nicky Webber says, “Our entire country is absolutely devastated by the 49 confirmed deaths in New Zealand’s first terrorist attack”. She described “the massacre of innocent people, at prayer, in their place of worship” as “shocking and heartbreaking”.

The attacks began in the early afternoon on Friday, when at least one person entered the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and began firing on worshippers. Early reports suggested that there may have been multiple attackers. The attack on the second mosque began a short time later. “Many Muslims attending the lunchtime service at the two Mosques in Christchurch were immigrants and refugees, from war torn countries, seeking peace, safety and solace, for their families,” Webber said. “They are Kiwis too, part of our community and we mourn with them too”.

Police also found IEDs (improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs), attached to cars near the site of the attacks. UPDATE: Authorities later clarified that two bombs had been found in a single car.

“It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement following the attacks. Although she was unable to confirm the number of casualties, local media reported that at least 40 people were killed, and at least 50 people wounded. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”, the Prime Minister said.

Authorities said that four people – three men and one woman – were in custody in connection with the shooting. One person, a 28-year-old man, has already been charged with murder; while police are continuing to investigate whether the other people arrested were in fact involved. The Australian man, whose name has not been released, had posted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto on social media prior to the shootings, and afterwards apparently posted video footage of the attack. Police have urged people not to share the violent and disturbing footage, and Facebook and other social media companies have been working to remove the videos, as well as any comments in support of the attacks.

“New Zealand is an ethnically diverse country”, Webber said, “which has always practised tolerance for all races, cultures and religions. We are a welcoming, peaceful and compassionate nation who today have been shocked to our very core that such hatred has come to our shores”. She said, “Every Kiwi is offering their compassion, support and love to those suffering from this horrific crime”.

POPE PIUS XI INITIATED RETREATS FOR ROMAN CURIA

The Pontifical Swiss Guards today inaugurated a new website in four languages. Here’s the English: https://www.guardiasvizzera.ch/paepstliche-schweizergarde/en/about-us/

And here is the Guards’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506/

Enjoy both! By the way, if you are a Swiss male who has done his military service, you may apply to be a Pontifical Swiss Guard on the website.

POPE PIUS XI INITIATED RETREATS FOR ROMAN CURIA

Some years ago, when I was working for the Holy See at the Vatican Information Service, I wrote a piece on the history of papal retreats. Because there was generally little if any news during such a retreat, given that the Pope does not hold audiences in this period and the heads of Roman Curia offices are also involved in the retreat, we had to find something for our readers so I researched the history of papal retreats.

Annual retreats for the Pope and Roman Curia trace their origins to Pope Pius XI who, on December 20, 1929 marked the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination by publishing the Encyclical “’Mens nostra’,” On The Promotion of Spiritual Exercises” which was addressed to “Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.”

In that encyclical, the Pope informed the faithful that he had arranged to hold spiritual exercises every year in the Vatican, a custom still practiced by the Holy Father and ranking members of the Roman Curia. In the early years this retreat was held during the first week in Advent but now takes place in the first full week of Lent.

Cardinal Achille Ratti, archbishop of Milan, was elected to the papacy on February 6, 1922, and took the name of Pius XI. He died on February 10, 1939.

On January 6, 1929 feast of the Epiphany, Pius XI declared a Jubilee Year to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of his ordination and asked the faithful to “share in the joy of their common father and to join with us in rendering thanks to the Supreme Giver of all good.” At the end of that year, in the Encyclical “Mens nostra,” he looked back at the “many and rich fruits” of the Jubilee and wrote that, as a way to “express our heartfelt gratitude, … we have deemed it fitting … to establish something most excellent which will, we trust, prove a source of many advantages to the Christian people. We are speaking of the practice of Spiritual Exercises, which we earnestly desire to see daily extended more widely, not only among the clergy, both secular and regular, but also among the multitudes of the Catholic laity.”

Pius XI then wrote at length on the history of “Sacred Retreats,” citing the words on this subject of his predecessors, of Doctors of the Church and founders of religious orders such as Don Bosco of the Salesians and, most especially of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, “whom we are pleased to call the chief and peculiar Master of Spiritual Exercises.”

The Pope in fact, on July 22, 1922 had “declared and constituted St. Ignatius of Loyola the heavenly Patron of all Spiritual Exercises and, therefore, of institutes, sodalities and bodies of every kind assisting those who are making the Spiritual Exercises.”

He underscored the “joy and consolation” he found in Spiritual Exercises and he announced: “And in order that we may secure this joy and consolation, both for ourselves and for others who are near us, We have already made arrangements for holding the Spiritual Exercises every year in the Vatican.” While highlighting the value of retreats, he admonished: “Nor should the priests of the Clergy, secular and regular, think that the time spent on the Spiritual Exercises tends to the detriment of the apostolic ministry.”

In 2014, the spiritual exercises for Pope Francis and members of the Curia marked the first time that they were held outside Vatican City, specifically in Ariccia, not far from Rome, in a religious house.

POPE AT ANGELUS: JESUS SHOWS US THE REMEDIES FOR TEMPTATIONS – POPE, ROMAN CURIA ON LENTEN RETREAT – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH

POPE AT ANGELUS: JESUS SHOWS US THE REMEDIES FOR TEMPTATIONS

On the First Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis reflects on the day’s Gospel, which tells how Jesus was led into the desert where He was tempted by the devil.

By Christopher Wells (Vaticannews)

In his Angelus address, Pope Francis said the three temptations Jesus faced “indicate three paths that the world always proposes, promising great success”.

The greed of possession
After Jesus had fasted for forty days, the devil tempted Him to turn stones to bread. This, the Pope said, is “the path of the greed of possession”. The devil always begins with our natural and legitimate needs, he explained, “in order to push us to believe” that we can find fulfillment “without God, and even contrary to Him”. Jesus, however, responds by quoting Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone”.

The second temptation is “the prospect of becoming a powerful and glorious Messiah”, which Pope Francis describes as “the path of human glory”. Bowing down before “idols of money, of success, of power” can corrupt us. This leads to “the intoxication of an empty joy that soon fades away” – and this, the Pope says, is why Jesus responds, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”.

Instrumentalizing God
Finally, the devil leads Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and “invites Him to cast Himself down” in order to demonstrate His divine power. Pope Francis calls this the path of “instrumentalizing God for one’s own advantage”. Jesus rejects the devil’s temptation, “with the firm decision to remain humble and confident before the Father”. Once again, the Lord quotes Scripture: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God”. In this way, the Pope said, Jesus “rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: wanting ‘to bring God over to our own side’, by asking Him for graces that only serve to satisfy our own pride”.

All these temptations, the Pope said, are really “illusions” that promise “success and happiness”, but in reality “are all completely foreign to God’s way of acting”. In fact, he said, “they actually separate us from God, because they are the work of Satan”.

Remedies for temptation
Jesus overcomes these three temptations by personally facing them, “in order fully to adhere to the Father’s plan”. In doing so, Pope Francis said, Jesus shows us the remedies for temptations – namely, “the interior life, faith in God, the certainty of His love.” With the certainty that God is Father, and that He loves us, “we will overcome every temptation”.

So, Pope Francis said in conclusion, “let us take advantage of Lent, as a privileged time to purify ourselves, in order to experience the consoling presence of God in our life”.

POPE, ROMAN CURIA ON LENTEN RETREAT

Pope Francis and ranking members of the Roman Curia departed the Vatican Sunday afternoon for Ariccia where they will spend the next five days on retreat. Ariccia a 20-mile drive south of Rome, is home to the Casa Divin Maestro (Divine Master House), run by the Pauline Fathers. The retreat began at 6 pm Sunday with Eucharistic adoration then vespers at 6:45 and dinner at 7:30.

Click here to see where the Holy Father and other guests are staying (be sure to click on ‘Places and Surroundings” for some lovely additional photos): http://www.casadivinmaestro.it/www/aaa_intestazioni/intestazione.asp?LANGUAGE=ENG

This tradition of having weeklong retreats or “spiritual exercises” began with Pope Pius XI in 1925 and for over three decades took place in Advent. Pope St. John XXIII changed that when, a month before the October 1962 start of Vatican Council II, he went on retreat to prepare for the Council. A year after Pope John’s death in 1963, Pope Paul VI moved the retreat dates to Lent. For years they were held in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, starting the first Sunday of Lent and concluding the following Saturday morning. (photo Vaticannews)

Pope Francis decided that the 2014 retreat – a year after his election – would take place outside the Vatican. This year, Pope Francis will be in Ariccia on March 13, the 6th anniversary of his election to the papacy.

The daily schedule looks like this:
· – 7.30 am, lauds and a brief reflection
· – 8.00 am, breakfast
· – 9.30 am, first meditation
· – 11.30 am, Eucharistic concelebration
· – 12.30 lunch
· – 4 pm, second meditation
· – 6 pm, Eucharistic adoration
· – 6.45 pm, vespers
· – 7.30 pm, dinner

Pope Francis mentioned the retreat at yesterday’s Angelus: “I hope that for everyone the Lenten journey, recently begun, will be rich in fruits; and I ask you a remembrance in prayer for me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia as this evening we will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises.”

And he tweeted an almost identical message: “I ask everyone to remember in prayer both myself and my collaborators in the Roman Curia as this evening we will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises.”

In this period, all papal audiences, including Wednesday’s general audience, are suspended.

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH

The following telegram was sent in Pope Francis’ name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for the plane crash yesterday of Ethiopian airlines about 50km from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. All aboard perished. The Vaticannews story did not say to whom the telegram was sent:

Having learned with sadness of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, His Holiness Pope Francis offers prayers for the deceased from various countries and commends their souls to the mercy of Almighty God. Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to their families, and upon all who mourn this tragic loss he invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE – POPE ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

Today, at the end of his retreat, Pope Francis tweeted:  Let us strive to fast during Lent with a smile, rather than a long face.

I wish I had a lot of time right now to tell the story of my amazing day but in a short while I will be going to Mass at St. Mary’s basilica, a celebration of the Eucharist I have come to love and look forward to every evening. I’ve not had too much time at the computer today but, if time allows after dinner, I’ll write something.

For now, just a brief bit of news on the return to the Vatican of Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia after their spiritual exercises in Ariccia. I saw some photos on news.va – the ones you see below – and I do have a comment (probably the same as you have) on the Pope and cardinals and bishops in the bus. They really do not look too happy. It made me re-read today’s papal tweet!

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE

Don’t forget to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend when I speak with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. You last heard Janet here when we spoke of the life and death of Norma McCorvey, famous for being Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Norma later dedicated her life to attempting to overturn that ruling.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has thanked Fr. Giulio Michelini for directing the Spiritual Exercises from which the Holy Father returned on Friday.

Before returning to the Vatican, the Pope expressed his and the Roman Curia’s appreciation for Fr. Michelini’s preparation and direction.

“I would like to thank you for the good you wanted to do for us and the good you have done us. Above all, thank you for having shown yourself as you are and for being natural without ‘putting on a face from a holy card’.”

Pope Francis also thanked him for the work put into his preparation: “This implies responsibility, taking things seriously.”

“There was a mountain of things upon which to meditate, but St. Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises something that gives consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go forward. I’m sure all of us found one or two among all of this material. The rest is not wasted; it remains and will serve for another time.”

The Holy Father went on to tell the story of a famous Spanish preacher to show that “sometimes a little word, a tiny thing” can serve as a point of reflection.

“After giving a grand, well-prepared sermon, a man – a great public sinner – came up to him in tears, asking for confession. He confessed in an outburst of sin and tears, sin and tears. The confessor – shocked because he knew the life of this man – asked him: ‘But, tell me, in what moment did you feel that God had touched your heart? With what word…?’ [He responded,] ‘When you said, Let’s move to another topic’. Sometimes it is the simplest words that help us, or sometimes those more complicated: To each the Lord gives the [right] word.”

Finally, Pope Francis told Fr. Michelini: “Above all, I wish you [the grace] to be a good friar.”

The Holy Father returned to the Vatican Friday morning and celebrated Mass for Syria.

He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner).

On Friday evening, Pope Francis is set to travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.