FROM ‘FALLING IN LOVE’ TO MATURE LOVE: POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE FOR ENGAGED COUPLES – FRANCIS SPEAKS OF WORLD AIDS DAY, HIS TRIP TO CYPRUS AND GREECE

What a great catechesis today on St. Joseph in this series that Pope Francis is dedicating to the father of Our Savior at this end of the Year of St. Joseph! I have been touched by every weekly audience catechesis on St. Joseph but perhaps this is my favorite so far. I’m sure you know that this year dedicated to Joseph ends on December 8 but for many, I am also sure, like myself, St. Joseph will continue to be a focus of our prayers and petitions.

In this last year, I read what I could and learned a lot about St. Joseph that I had not known. I feel closer to him than ever before and have turned to him very frequently this past year, as I will continue to do, especially every time I look at my Sleeping St. Joseph figurine, just inches from my laptop!

FROM ‘FALLING IN LOVE’ TO MATURE LOVE: POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE FOR ENGAGED COUPLES

Continuing his catechesis on St Joseph, Pope Francis offered engaged couples a reflection on moving beyond the ‘enchantment’ that comes with falling in love, toward a mature love that can stand the test of time.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis offered his catechesis at Wednesday’s General Audience as a message for all engaged couples, as he reflected on St Joseph as a “just man” and “Mary’s betrothed spouse.”

St Joseph, a just man

Turning to the Gospel of St Matthew, the Pope noted that in ancient Israel, the official betrothal, or engagement, was an integral part of the marriage customs. The woman, although continuing to live in her parents’ home, was considered the “wife” of the betrothed spouse.

So “when Mary was found with child,” she was exposed to the accusation of adultery; Joseph was “just” precisely because, while following the letter of the law, he chose – out of love for Mary – not to expose her to the rigour of the law, but to send her away quietly.

The voice of God in discernment

At that moment, however, an angel appeared to Joseph; as Pope Francis explained, “God’s voice intervenes in Joseph’s discernment.” The Pope emphasized the importance for each of us, too, to cultivate a just life, and at the same time to recognise the need for God’s help “to consider the circumstances of life” from a broader perspective.

Being engaged, Mary and Joseph “probably cultivated dreams and expectations for their future,” the Pope said. When God intervened “unexpectedly” in their lives, He also opened their hearts.

Where true love begins

Pope Francis recognised that life is often not what we imagine it to be, that it can be difficult to move from “falling in love” to “the logic of mature love.” The former is often marked by a kind of “enchantment,” that fades with time. But it is precisely when that first excitement of love ends, that “true love begins.”

Love, he said, does not mean that the other person, or our life, should correspond to our imagination, but that we choose “in complete freedom to take responsibility for one’s life as it comes,” as Joseph did when he chose, at God’s command, to take Mary as his wife.

From falling in love to mature love

Pope Francis continued, “Christian engaged couples are called to bear witness to a love like this that has the courage to move from the logic of falling in love to that of mature love.” A couple’s love, he said, “advances in life and matures every day.”

And he repeated to engaged couples the advice he had given before: Never let the day end without making peace with your spouse.

A prayer to St Joseph

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis once again with a prayer to St Joseph:

Saint Joseph,
you who loved Mary with freedom,
and chose to renounce your fantasies to give way to reality,
help each of us to allow ourselves to be surprised by God
and to accept life not as something unforeseen from which to defend ourselves,
but as a mystery that hides the secret of true joy.

Obtain joy and radicality for all engaged Christians,
while always being aware

that only mercy and forgiveness make love possible. Amen.

FRANCIS SPEAKS OF WORLD AIDS DAY, HIS TRIP TO CYPRUS AND GREECE

At the end of the general audience catechesis on St. Joseph, Pope Francis highlighted World AIDS Day and also spoke of his trip, starting tomorrow, to Cyprus and Greece, He asked people to accompany him with and through prayer. He said he will make this journey “to visit the beloved peoples of those countries, rich in history, spirituality and civilization,” where there are sources of apostolic faith and fraternity among Christians of diverse denominations.

He also noted that meetings with migrants and refugees will be among the highlights of the trip, including another visit to the Greek island of Lesbos where many wait in camps for documentation allowing them to go to other countries. Of Lesbos, he said, “I will also have the opportunity to approach a humanity wounded in the flesh of so many migrants in search of hope. …I ask you, please, to accompany me with your prayers.”

 

ST. JOSEPH TEACHES US TO TRUST IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE

This was the day of two Josephs – St. Joseph as the focus of Pope Francis’ new series of catecheses and Servant of God Joseph Dutton whose cause for canonization today got a red light from the US bishops meeting in Baltimore.  I love the image of Sleeping St. Joseph and have this on my desk. Indeed, how much of what Joseph learned about his betrothed Mary and about their eventual flight into Egypt with little Jesus came in dreams while asleep!

Joseph Dutton will be the subject of my second post today.

ST. JOSEPH TEACHES US TO TRUST IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Pope Francis began his weekly general audience by stating, “in this year of Saint Joseph, today we begin a new series of catecheses on the humble carpenter of Nazareth, the foster-father of the child Jesus and the patron of the Universal Church. In Hebrew, the name Joseph evokes God’s power to bring about growth and new life. Joseph teaches us to trust in God’s providence quietly at work in our world.”

“The name Joseph,” the Pope explained, “is Hebrew for “may God increase, may God give growth”. It is a wish, a blessing based on trust in providence and referring especially to fertility and to raising children. Indeed, this very name reveals to us an essential aspect of Joseph of Nazareth’s personality. He is a man full of faith, in providence: he believes in God’s providence, he has faith in God’s providence. His every action, as recounted in the Gospel, is dictated by the certainty that God ‘gives growth’, that God ‘increases’, that God ‘adds’: that is, that God provides for the continuation of his plan of salvation.”

Francis noted that Joseph’s “life is principally associated with two small towns, Bethlehem and Nazareth, reminding us that God’s preferential love is for the poor and those on the margins of life. God chose Bethlehem, the city of David, as the place where his Son was to be born under the watchful care of Joseph, who was himself of the house of David.”

“By his life and example,” said the Holy Father, “Saint Joseph reminds us that, in our own day, the Church is called to proclaim the good news of Christ’s coming, beginning with the existential peripheries of our world. The poor and forgotten in our midst can look to him as a sure guide and protector in their lives. Let us ask Saint Joseph to intercede for the Church, that we may always set forth anew from Bethlehem, in order to see and appreciate what is essential in God’s eyes.”

He went on to say, “Today I would like to send a message to all the men and women who live in the most forgotten geographical peripheries of the world, or who experience situations of existential marginalization. May you find in Saint Joseph the witness and protector to look to. We can turn to him with this prayer, a “home-made” prayer, but one that comes from the heart:

Saint Joseph,
you who have always trusted God,
and have made your choices
guided by his providence
teach us not to count so much on our own plans
but on his plan of love.
You who come from the peripheries
help us to convert our gaze
and to prefer what the world discards and marginalizes.
Comfort those who feel alone
and support those who work silently
to defend life and human dignity. Amen.

 

HAPPY FEAST DAY, ST. JOSEPH! BUON ONOMASTICO, POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POPE FRANCIS! – A PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH – POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF TUNIS ATTACK, CONDEMNS “ACT AGAINST PEACE”

HAPPY FEAST DAY, ST. JOSEPH! BUON ONOMASTICO, POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POPE FRANCIS!

Today, Thursday March 19 is a big day at the Vatican with many reasons for celebrating, and it is also a holiday, a day off for staff!

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, declared patron of the Universal Church in 1870 by Pope Pius IX, it is the onomastico or “name day” of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, né Joseph Ratzinger, it is Father’s Day in Italy and today in particular marks the second anniversary of the official start, the inaugural Mass, of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

At that inaugural Mass, Pope Francis focused his homily on St. Joseph on his feast day: “How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? Pope Francis asked. “By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. nJoseph is a ‘protector’ because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by His will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.”

Pope Francis, as he has done in the past, called his predecessor to wish him a happy feast day. (Osservatore Romano)

Popes Francis and benedict

I have been blessed to have met both Francis and Benedict XVI on a number of occasions and even, on one special day 17 months ago, a day that perhaps only a handful of human beings have ever experienced, I met both of them within hours of each other – a story I shall tell some day!

This was in the early years of Benedict XVI’s papacy, in the library of the Apostolic Palace after the Pope received a head of State. I was in the pool of journalists covering the event. (Osservatore Romano photographger)

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And this was taken on September 5, 2014 when I joined 22 parishioners from Santa Susanna, our rector and vice rector at morning Mass with Pope Francis in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. (Osservatore Romano photographer)

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A PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

In the presence of Joseph, it is easy to engage in confident prayer. The following words, among the many that are possible, are those of a father about this righteous man, Mary’s spouse, who was able to hear the voice of angels and incline to God’s will.

FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH

Lord,

This time a father is speaking out in prayer to You, on the feast day of Joseph, the righteous father, the solid beam of the house in Nazareth, Mary’s husband, the virgin father of Jesus, Your Son. How difficult is the prayer of fathers! It is rare, poor and hardly visible. For fathers, just a glance up to heaven, a restrained sigh or an accentuated wrinkle are often enough. However, fathers also pray, asking and waiting; and my prayer is for others: for the children, first of all, for the loved ones at home, and for my own wife who is not only a mother.

Before saying what a father may ask, Lord, I place myself next to Joseph. Like him, I—as a father—would like to learn to recognize the faint traces of the angels; to believe the Word brought by the announcement; to keep it close, simply to obey. Like Joseph, marital love is enough to make me believe in the mystery of life entrusted to weak flesh and toilsome hands; it is enough to make me resist against Herod’s threats, to protect life, in active silence.

Lord, even the fathers experience desolation, like Joseph, when he thought of sending Mary away and yet supported her like a rock, because he trusted You and You came to comfort him as he slept. Lord, give me Joseph’s faith, and come to visit me too visit in my nights; give me the courage not to be afraid of life and to accept all that comes from You.

Saint Joseph, may you be blessed; stay close to me. And, with you, may the Virgin Mother and the Son of the Most High also be at my side. AMEN

This is from the website of the Pontifical Council for the Family: http://www.familiam.org/famiglia_eng/church/00010377_March_19th___Feast_of_St__Joseph__Mt_1_16_18–21_24a_.html

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF TUNIS ATTACK, CONDEMNS “ACT AGAINST PEACE”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a telegram offering prayers for the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack in Tunis, in which at least 23 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded, many among them foreign tourists. In the telegram, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and addressed to Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis, the Holy Father decries the attack as, “[An act] against peace and the sacredness of human life.” He goes on to assure the families of the victims, all those affected by the incident, and the whole Tunisian people, of his continued prayers.

The Pope’s condemnation and condolences came after remarks from Cardinal Parolin who told Vatican Radio, “[The attack was] something most cruel and inhuman, truly unthinkable: to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.” Cardinal Parolin went on to say, “We must hope that, in the name of God, no more violence is committed.”

Tunisia has suffered violence at the hands of Islamic militants in the past, and a disproportionately large number of Tunisians have joined the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. Tunisian security forces are currently battling Islamic militants belonging to several groups, including Ansar al Sharia, which the U.S. lists as a terrorist group, and an al Qaeda affiliate with fighters operating along the Algerian border.

Speaking on national television in the wake of the attack, Tunisia’s President, Beji Caid Essebsi, said his country would not be intimidated. “These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said.

Tour operators have already begun to react to the incident, with Italian cruise company Costa announcing it will be suspending calls to Tunisian ports. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the Tunisian economy, which is still struggling to steady itself along with the whole of Tunisian society, in the wake of a democratic reform movement that led to the ouster of the country’s long-time ruler at the start of what came to be known as the Arab Spring.