As I write Pope Francis is at Santa Sabina Church to preside at Ash Wednesday Mass and to receive ashes from Cardinal Josef Tomko. The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples is 94 and has imposed ashes on three popes.
It is very interesting to receive ashes here in Italy as they are generally imposed on one’s head, not the forehead. This could be related to the day’s Gospel: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
In the case of Mass today with the North American College, as you will see in the video below, ashes are quite in evidence on the forehead!
A LANDMARK EWTN TRANSMISSION
EWTN transmitted via Facebook and social media the Mass that was celebrated at 6:45 this morning at the first Lenten Station in Rome, Santa Sabina, with the Pontifical North American College. Here’s the link:
It is also on the Facebook page of the seminary: https://www.facebook.com/PontificalNorthAmericanCollege/
At the end of Mass there were up to 4000 views. It was broadcast by EWTN live on twitter and YouTube as well.
POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent a telegram of condolences in Pope Francis’ name to Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, Alabama for the victims of the devastating tornades in recent days:
The Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi Archbishop of Mobile
Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and the injuries caused by the tornado which struck Alabama in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster. He prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children, and healing and consolation to the injured and those who grieve. Upon all who are suffering the effects of this calamity, the Holy Father invokes the Lord’s blessings of peace and strength.
POPE AT AUDIENCE URGES CHRISTIANS TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS
During the weekly general audience Pope Francis continued his catechesis dedicated to the “Our Father”.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)
Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to open their hearts pointing out that Christ’s victory has not yet been fully achieved.
To the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience, the Pope said Jesus has come, and there are multiple signs of the kingdom, yet the world is still marked by sin and the hearts of many remain closed, which compels us to implore the Lord: “Your kingdom come!”
The world, he said, continues to be populated by so many people who suffer, by people who do not reconcile and do not forgive, by wars and by many forms of exploitation: “Let’s think, for example of the trafficking of children.” All of these facts are proof that many men and women still live with their hearts closed.
“Father: we need you!”
It is above all in these situations, said Francis, that we turn to the second invocation of Our Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come!” with which we say, ‘Father, we need you, Jesus, we need you everywhere” and “forever Lord, be among us!”
Recalling Christ’s words when he began his preaching in Galilee and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The Pope explained that these words do not contain a threat; to the contrary, they are an announcement and a message of joy.
Jesus, he said, does not want to push people to conversion by sowing the fear of God’s impending judgment, nor, he said, does he proselytize.
He announces, the Pope continued, that the signs of the coming of His Kingdom are manifest and they are all positive. In fact, he said, Jesus begins his ministry by taking care of the sick – both in body and in spirit – of those who lived a life of social exclusion, such as lepers, of sinners.
God is patient and gentle
Sometimes we may ask, he said, why does our petition, “your kingdom come” emerge so slowly?
It’s because God is not like us, he explained: “God is patient!” And he wants to establish his kingdom not with violence but with gentleness, “like a grain of mustard seed, which, though tiny, grows into a mighty tree.”
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis urging Christians to pray the Our Father and to sow the words that implore the coming of His Kingdom in the midst of our sins and failures.
Let’s give these words, he said, “to those who are defeated and bent by life, to those who have tasted more hatred than love, to those who have lived useless days without ever understanding why. Let’s give them to those who have fought for justice, to all the martyrs of history.”
Let’s give these words, he appealed, “to those who have come to the conclusion they have fought in vain and that evil dominates this world.”