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Pope concelebrates Mass with Council of Cardinals
2013-10-01 (Vatican Radio)
Pope Francis concelebrated Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta with members of the Council of Cardinals. The Holy Father is meeting with the group of Cardinals from Tuesday through Thursday of this week.
In his homily, the Pope expressed his hope that the meeting would help everyone become more humble and more trusting in God, so that the Church might be able to give a beautiful witness to the people.
In the day’s readings, Jesus rebuked the two Apostles that wanted to call down fire from heaven upon those who would not accept them. Pope Francis pointed out that the way of the Christian is not a “path of vengeance.” The way of the Christian is the way of humility, of meekness. He added that today, on the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, it would be good for us to think about “this spirit of humility, of tenderness, of bounty.” It is a spirit, the Pope said, that the Lord “wants from all of us.” Where, then, is the power “that brings us to this spirit?” It is found “in love, in charity, in the awareness that we are in the hands of the Father.” When we sense this, the Pope observed, we will not want “to call down fire from Heaven”:
“Another spirit comes, that of that charity that suffers all, pardons all, that does not boast, that is humble, that doesn’t seek itself. Someone could say — and there are some philosophers that thing this way — that this is a humiliation of the majesty of man, of the greatness of man. This is sterile! The Church has wisely made this saint, humble, small, trusting in God, meek: she has made her the Patron of Missions.”
The strength of the Gospel, he continued, is there, “because the Gospel reaches its highest point in the humiliation of Jesus: humility that becomes humiliation. And the force of the Gospel, he said, is properly in humility, in the humility of the child that is guided by the love and the tenderness of the father.”:
“The Church, Benedict XVI told us, does not grow through proselytism, it grows through attraction, through witness. And when the people see this witness of humility, of meekness, of mildness, they feel the need that the Prophet Zachariah spoke of: ‘We want to come with you.’ The people feel that need in the face of the witness of charity, of this humble charity, without bullying, not sufficient, humble. Worship and serve!”
“Charity is simple: worship God and serve others! And this witness,” the Pope said, makes the Church grown.” That’s why a nun, “so humble, but so trusting in God,” a nun like St. Therese of the Child Jesus “was named Patron of the Mission, because of her example” which makes “the people say ‘we want to come with you!’”
Pope Francis concluded his homily with a special mention of the meeting with the “Council of Cardinals”:
“Today, here in the Vatican, begins the meeting with the Cardinal consulters, who are concelebrating the Mass. Let us ask the Lord that our work today will make us all more humble, more meek, more patient, more trusting in God, so that the Church can give a beautiful witness to the people, and seeing the People of God, seeing the Church, they might feel the desire to come with us.”
Pope Francis: Thursday Mass in Santa Marta
2013-10-03 - (Vatican Radio) “When God comes near to us, there is feasting.” This was a central focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings at Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence on Thursday morning, together with the Council of 8 Cardinals meeting this week at the Vatican. Pope Francis spoke of the need to resist transforming our memory of salvation into a mere recollection or an “habitual event”. Listen
Ezra’s reading from the Book of the Law – which was believed lost, as recoded in the first Reading of the day from the Book of Nehemiah – occasioned the Holy Father’s reflections. The People of God, he said, “had the memory of the Law, but it was a distant memory.” The recovery of the Law brought them, “because they had the experience of closeness of salvation”:
“This is important not only in the great moments in history, but also in the moments of our life: we all have the memory of salvation, everyone. I wonder, though: is this memory close to us, or is it a memory a bit far away, spread a little thin, a bit archaic, a little like a museum [piece]… it can get far away [from us]… and when the memory is not close, when we do not experience the closeness of memory, it enters into a process of transformation, and the memory becomes a mere recollection.”
When memory is distant, he added, “it is transformed into recollection, but when it comes near, it turns into joy, and this is the joy of the people.” This, he continued, constitutes “a principle of our Christian life.” When memory is already close, said Pope Francis, “it warms the heart and gives us joy.”:
“This joy is our strength. The joy of the nearness of memory. Domesticated memory, on the other hand, which moves away and becomes a mere recollection, does not warm the heart. It gives us neither joy nor strength. This encounter with memory is an event of salvation, it is an encounter with the love of God that has made history with us and saved us. It is a meeting of salvation - and it is so wonderful to be saved, that we need to make feast.”
The Church, said Pope Francis, has “[Christ’s] memory”: the “memory of the Passion of the Lord.” We too, he said, run the risk of “pushing this memory away, turning it into a mere recollection, in a rote exercise.”:
“Every week we go to church, or rather when someone dies, we go to the funeral … and this memory often times bores us, because it is not near. It is sad, but the Mass is often turned into a social event and we are not close to the memory of the Church, which is the presence of the Lord before us. Imagine this beautiful scene in the Book of Nehemiah: Ezra who carries the Book of Israel’s memory and the people once again grow near to their memory and weep, the heart is warmed, is joyful, it feels that the joy of the Lord is its strength – and the people makes a feast, without fear, simply.”
“Let us ask the Lord,” concluded Pope Francis, “ for the grace to always have His memory close to us, a memory close and not domesticated by habit, by so many things, and pushed away into mere recollection.”
Pope's Homily for solemn mass in Assisi:
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday is celebrating a
2013-10-04- Vatican Radio
Pope Francis on Friday is celebrating an outdoor solemn mass in the St. Francis Square of the central Italian town of Assisi where he says he is a pilgrim “like countless other pilgrims” who has come to give thanks for the gift of St. Francis to the Church. Today, October 4th, is the Saint’s feast day. As the Pope recalled in his homily in this morning’s liturgy, his namesake and Patron of Italy was the son of a wealthy merchant of Assisi whose “encounter with Jesus led him to strip himself of an easy and carefree life in order to espouse ‘Lady Poverty’ and to live as a true son of our heavenly Father.”
Below we publish the Pope's prepared English text of his Homily:
I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25).
Peace and all good to each and every one of you! With this Franciscan greeting I thank you for being here, in this Square so full of history and faith, to pray together.
Today, I too have come, like countless other pilgrims, to give thanks to the Father for all that he wished to reveal to one of the “little ones” mentioned in today’s Gospel: Francis, the son of a wealthy merchant of Assisi. His encounter with Jesus led him to strip himself of an easy and carefree life in order to espouse “Lady Poverty” and to live as a true son of our heavenly Father. This decision of Saint Francis was a radical way of imitating Christ: he clothed himself anew, putting on Christ, who, though he was rich, became poor in order to make us rich by his poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). In all of Francis’ life, love for the poor and the imitation of Christ in his poverty were inseparably united, like the two sides of a coin.
What does Saint Francis’s witness tell us today? What does he have to say to us, not merely with words – that is easy enough – but by his life?
1. His first and most essential witness is this: that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him.
Where did Francis’s journey to Christ begin? It began with the gaze of the crucified Jesus. With letting Jesus look at us at the very moment that he gives his life for us and draws us to himself. Francis experienced this in a special way in the Church of San Damiano, as he prayed before the cross which I too will have an opportunity to venerate. On that cross, Jesus is depicted not as dead, but alive! Blood is flowing from his wounded hands, feet and side, but that blood speaks of life. Jesus’ eyes are not closed but open, wide open: he looks at us in a way that touches our hearts. The cross does not speak to us about defeat and failure; paradoxically, it speaks to us about a death which is life, a death which gives life, for it speaks to us of love, the love of God incarnate, a love which does not die, but triumphs over evil and death. When we let the crucified Jesus gaze upon us, we are re-created, we become “a new creation”. Everything else starts with this: the experience of transforming grace, the experience of being loved for no merits of our own, in spite of our being sinners. That is why Saint Francis could say with Saint Paul: “Far be it for me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14).
We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Teach us to remain before the cross, to let the crucified Christ gaze upon us, to let ourselves be forgiven, and recreated by his love.
2. In today’s Gospel we heard these words: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:28-29).
This is the second witness that Francis gives us: that everyone who follows Christ receives true peace, the peace that Christ alone can give, a peace which the world cannot give. Many people, when they think of Saint Francis, think of peace; very few people however go deeper. What is the peace which Francis received, experienced and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross. It is the peace which the Risen Jesus gave to his disciples when he stood in their midst and said: “Peace be with you!”, and in saying this, he showed them his wounded hands and his pierced side (cf. Jn 20:19-20).
Franciscan peace is not something saccharine. Hardly! That is not the real Saint Francis! Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos… That is not Franciscan either; it is a notion some people have invented! The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ, and it is found by those who “take up” their “yoke”, namely, Christ’s commandment: Love one another as I have loved you (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12). This yoke cannot be borne with arrogance, presumption or pride, but only with meekness and humbleness of heart.
We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Teach us to be “instruments of peace”, of that peace which has its source in God, the peace which Jesus has brought us.
3. “Praised may you be, Most High, All-powerful God, good Lord… by all your creatures (FF, 1820). This is the beginning of Saint Francis’s Canticle. Love for all creation, for its harmony. Saint Francis of Assisi bears witness to the need to respect all that God has created, and that men and women are called to safeguard and protect, but above all he bears witness to respect and love for every human being. God created the world to be a place where harmony and peace can flourish. Harmony and peace! Francis was a man of harmony and peace. From this City of Peace, I repeat with all the strength and the meekness of love: Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction! Let us respect each human being. May there be an end to armed conflicts which cover the earth with blood; may the clash of arms be silenced; and everywhere may hatred yield to love, injury to pardon, and discord to unity. Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering and who are dying because of violence, terrorism or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world.
We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Obtain for us God’s gift of harmony and peace in this our world!
Finally, I cannot forget the fact that today Italy celebrates Saint Francis as her patron saint. The traditional offering of oil for the votive lamp, which this year is given by the Region of Umbria, is an expression of this. Let us pray for Italy, that everyone will always work for the common good, and look more to what unites us, rather than what divides us.
I make my own the prayer of Saint Francis for Assisi, for Italy and for the world: “I pray to you, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies: Do not look upon our ingratitude, but always keep in mind the surpassing goodness which you have shown to this City. Grant that it may always be the home of men and women who know you in truth and who glorify your most holy and glorious name, now and for all ages. Amen.” (The Mirror of Perfection, 124: FF, 1824).
Pope Francis: “Listen to what God is telling you”
2013-10-07 (Vatican Radio)
“Open up your heart and listen to what God is saying to you. Allow your life to “written” by God”. Just as the Good Samaritan did when he stopped to help the stranger, we must all listen to God’s voice and sometimes put our own projects on hold to do his will.
Speaking to those present for morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Monday, Pope Francis pointed out that it can happen that Christians, Catholics, priests. Bishops and even the Pope sometimes turn away from God!
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni...
ThNot to listen to his voice, not to take heed in our hearts of his proposal and his invitation– the Pope said – is a daily temptation. And he said there are many ways in which one can turn away from God, polite, sophisticated ways… And to better illustrate his message, Pope Francis recalled the parable recounted in the Gospel in which there is a half-dead man lying in the road. A priest walks by – a zealous priest wearing a cassock and on his way to say Mass. The priest looks at the man and says to himself “I will be late for Mass” and goes on his way. “He didn’t hear the voice of God” – Pope Francis pointed out.
Then a Levite passes by – the Pope continued – and perhaps he thinks “If I get involved and the man dies, then tomorrow I will have to go before the judge and give testimony…” so, the Pope continued “he too goes on his way. He too – Francis points out - “turns away from the voice of God”…
Only the Samaritan, a sinner, someone who habitually turns away from God had the capacity “to hear God and to understand his request”. Someone – the Pope observes – “who wasn’t used to participating in religious rites, who didn’t lead a “moral” life, who was theologically “wrong”, because – Pope Francis explained – Samaritans believed that God should be adored elsewhere, not where the Lord had said”. But “the Samaritan understood that God was calling him and he did not turn away. He went to the man, bound up his wounds, poured on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and took care of him”. He gave up his whole evening for him.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis said, the priest was on time for Mass and the faithful were happy; the Levite’s schedule was not upset…. And the Pope asked: “why did Jonah run away from God when the Lord asked him to go to Ninevah and he boarded a ship to Spain? Why did the priest turn away from God? Why did the Levite turn away from God? Because their hearts were closed, and when your heart is closed you cannot hear the voice of God. Instead the Samaritan - he said - “saw and was moved with compassion”: his heart was open, he was human, and humanity brought him close to God.
Those – Pope Francis said – who have a design for their lives, who want to map out their own stories – do not allow God to write their lives.
“I say to myself, and I say to you: do we let God write our lives? Or do we want to do the writing ourselves?” And he exhorted those listening “to be docile to the Word of God. To have the capacity to hear His voice and to listen to it.
Pope Francis: Prayer opens the door for God:
(2013-10-08 -- Vatican Radio)
In his homily at daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained that a Christian is a person who has a heart that knows how to pray and knows how to forgive. The Gospel of the day was dedicated to the story of Saint Martha, the titular saint of his residence. The Pope took the Gospel story as the starting point, reminding us that “prayer works miracles” as long as it is not a purely mechanical act.
The very human figures of Saint Martha, from the New Testament, and the Prophet Jonah of the Old, the central characters of the day’s readings, are united by a common incapacity: they did not know to pray. Pope Francis built his homily on this aspect, beginning with the famous scene in the Gospel where Martha asks Jesus, in an almost critical tone, to have her sister to help her do the serving, rather than sitting at His feet listening to Him. Jesus replied, “Mary has chosen the better part.” This part, Pope Francis said, is “that of prayer, that of the contemplation of Jesus”:
“To the eyes of the sister, this was time lost, it even seemed, perhaps, a bit of a fantasy: gazing upon the Lord as if she were a awestruck child. But who wants that? The Lord: ‘This is the better part,’ because Mary heard the Lord and prayed with her heart. And the Lord tells us: ‘the first task in life is this: prayer.’ But not the prayer of words, like a parrot; but the prayer, the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord. We know that prayer works miracles.”
And prayer produces a miracle even in the ancient city of Niniveh. Jonah, on God’s instructions, had preached the imminent destruction of the city; the city, though, was saved because the inhabitants, believing the prophet, were converted, and from the greatest to the least called upon the divine forgiveness with all their strength. However, even in this story of redemption, the Pope took note of the erroneous attitude of Jonah, who was more disposed to justice without mercy. His attitude was similar to Martha’s, inclining to service that excludes interiority:
“And Martha does this. Does what? But she didn’t pray! But there are others like this stubborn Jonah, who are the executioners. He went, he prophesied, but in his heart he said: ‘But if they deserve it. If they deserve it. If they were asking for it!’ He prophesied, but he didn’t pray! He didn’t ask the Lord to forgive him. Only to beat them. They are executioners, those that believe themselves to be just! And in the end, the book of Jonah continues, it is seen that he was a selfish man, when the Lord saved Nineveh through the prayer of the people, he was angry with the Lord: ‘You are always like that. You always forgive!’”
And so, the Pope concluded, prayer that is only a formula, without heart, as well as pessimism or the desire for justice without forgiveness, are the temptations a Christian must always guard against in order to be able to choose “the better part”:
“And we ourselves, when we don’t pray, what we’re doing is closing the door to the Lord. And not praying is this: closing the door to the Lord, so that He can do nothing. On the other hand, prayer, in the face of a problem, a difficult situation, a calamity, is opening the door to the Lord so that He will come. So that He builds things, He knows to arrange things, to reorganize things. This is what praying is: opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something. But if we close the door, God can do nothing! Let us think on this Mary who has chosen the better part, and makes us see the way, as the door is opened to the Lord.”
listen to Christopher Wells' report
2013-10-10. Pope Francis: we receive God Himself when we pray courageously :
In prayer we must be courageous and discover the true grace that is given us: God Himself. That was the Pope’s message at Thursday’s morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
At the heart of the homily was Jesus’ insistence, in the day’s Gospel, that we pray with trusting insistence. The parable of the importunate friend, the friend who obtains what he desires thanks to his insistence, gave Pope Francis the opportunity to reflect on the quality of our prayer:
“This makes us think, in our prayer: how do we pray? Do we pray like this, out of habit, piously but unbothered, or do we put ourselves forward with courage before the Lord to ask for the grace, to ask for what we’re praying for? Courage in prayer: a prayer that is not courageous is not a real prayer. The courage to trust that the Lord listens to us, the courage to knock on the door . . . The Lord says: ‘For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’ But you have to ask, seek, and knock.”
“Do we get ourselves involved in prayer,” the Pope asked. “Do we know to knock at the heart of God?” In the Gospel Jesus says, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” This, the Pope said, “is a great thing”:
“When we pray courageously, the Lord gives us the grace, but He also gives us Himself in the grace: the Holy Spirit, that is, Himself! The Lord never gives or sends a grace by mail: never! He brings it Himself! What we ask for is a little bit like [laughing] . . . it is the envelope that grace is wrapped in. But the true grace is Him, Who comes to bring it to me. It’s Him. Our prayer, if it is courageous, receives what it asks for, but also that which is more important: the Lord.”
In the Gospel, the Pope noted, “some people receive the grace and then go away”: of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only once returned to thank him. Even the blind man of Jericho found the Lord in the healing, and praised God. But we must pray “with the courage of faith” Pope Francis insisted, prompting us to ask even for those things that prayer does not dare hope for — that is, God Himself:
"We ask for a grace, but we don’t dare say, 'But come Yourself to bring it to me.' We know that a grace is always brought by Him: It is He Himself who comes and brings it to us. Let us not embarrass ourselves by taking the grace and not recognizing Him who brings it to us, Him who gives it to us: The Lord. That the Lord may give us the grace of giving us Himself, always, in every grace. And that we might recognize Him, and that we might praise Him as did the sick people in the Gospel who were healed. So that, in that grace, we might find the Lord."
listen to Christopher Wells' report:
Pope: Guard against deceit of the devil
(Vatican Radio) 2013-10-11
Christians must always guard against the deceit of the devil, said Pope Francis at Friday’s morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The Pope underlined that Christians cannot follow the victory of Jesus over evil “halfway”, nor confuse or relativize truth in the battle against the devil.
Jesus casts out demons, and then someone offers explanations “to diminish the power of the Lord,” he said. The Pope focused his homily on the day’s Gospel and immediately underlined that there is always the temptation to want to diminish the figure of Jesus, as if he were “a healer at most” and so as not to take him “so seriously”. It is an attitude, he observed, that has “reached our present day”.
“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness’. They do not read this, no? It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter, as if to say: ‘All of these (people) were not possessed; they were mentally ill’. No! The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”
For this reason, he warned, “we should not be naïve”. The Pope observed that the Lord gave us certain criteria to “discern” the presence of evil and to follow “the Christian way when there are temptations”. One of the criteria is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” only “halfway”.
“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me,” the Pope said. Jesus, he added, came to destroy the devil, “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us”. And, he cautioned, this is not “exaggerating”.
“On this point,” he said, “there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation” of us all.
There is criteria for watchfulness. “We must always be on guard,” exhorted the Pope, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil”.
“And we can ask ourselves the question: Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well? But if you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come. But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil. Vigilance! Three criteria! Do not confuse the truth. Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”
When the impure spirit leaves man, the Pope pointed out, “it wanders in deserted places, and seeking rest and finding none, says: ‘I will return to my house, from which I left’.”
And when he finds it “swept clean and adorned”, then he goes, “takes another seven spirits worse than he, who come and make their homes”. And, this way, “the last state of man becomes worse than the first”.
“Vigilance,” he said, “because his strategy is this: ‘You became Christian. Advance in your faith. I will leave you. I will leave you tranquil. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, I will come back’. The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! St. Peter would say: ‘It is like a fierce lion that circles us’. It is like that. ‘But, Father, you a little ancient. You are frightening us with these things…’ No, not me! It is the Gospel! And these are not lies: it is the Word of the Lord!
“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”
Listen to the report
2013-10-12 Pope Francis speaks about the Faith of Mary:
Video Message of the Holy Father Prayer Vigil at the Shrine of Divine Love Marian Day
(Vatican Radio )
Catechesis of the Holy Father “The Faith of Mary” Marian Vigil (Saturday, 12 October 2013)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are all gathered for this event of the Year of Faith devoted to Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, our Mother. The statue of Our Lady, which has come from Fatima, helps us to feel her presence in our midst. Mary always brings us to Jesus. She is a woman of faith, a true believer. What was Mary’s faith like?
1. The first aspect of her faith is this: Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56). What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith” (Adversus Haereses, III, 22, 4).
The “knot” of disobedience, the “knot” of unbelief. When children disobey their parents, we can say that a little “knot” is created. This happens if the child acts with an awareness of what he or she is doing, especially if there is a lie involved. At that moment, they break trust with their parents. How often does this happen! Then the relationship with their parents needs to be purified of this fault; the child has to ask forgiveness so that harmony and trust can be restored. Something of the same sort happens in our relationship with God. When we do not listen to him, when we do not follow his will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo.
But nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose “yes” opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. We might ask ourselves: What knots do I have in my life? Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, in order to change?
2. A second aspect is that Mary’s faith gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: “Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 63). This was a point on which the Fathers of the Church greatly insisted: Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said “yes” to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by ignoring our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, her “yes”.
But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his word.
Let us ask ourselves: Do we think about this? Or do we think that Jesus’ incarnation is simply a past event which has nothing to do with us personally? Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially our hearts, to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will. All this happens thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. Let us be led by him!
3. The third aspect is Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (Lumen Gentium, 58). In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us.
How was Mary’s faith a journey? In the sense that her entire life was to follow her Son: he is the way, he is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to him and be guided by his words; to see how he acts and to follow in his footsteps; to have his same sentiments of humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also his firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross. The journey of faith thus passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning, when Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus. But then this experience of the cross became deeper when Jesus was rejected and Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt, and when Jesus’ “hour” came, the hour of his passion, when Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was the culmination of Mary’s journey of faith, and that of the whole Church. What is our faith like? Like Mary, do we keep it burning even at times of difficulty and darkness? Do I have the joy of faith?
This evening, O Mary, we thank you for our faith, and we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith.
Video Message of the Holy Father Prayer Vigil at the Shrine of Divine Love Marian Day – Year of Faith (12 October 2013)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet all the pilgrims present in this Shrine of Divine Love, and all those who join us from the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Nazareth, Lujan, Vailankanni, Guadalupe, Akita, Nairobi, Benneux, Częstochowa and Marian Valley.
This evening I am united to all of you in praying the Holy Rosary and in Eucharistic adoration under the gaze of the Virgin Mary.
Mary’s gaze! How important this is! How many things can we say with a look! Affection, encouragement, compassion, love, but also disapproval, envy, pride and even hatred. Often a look says more than words; it says what words do not or dare not say.
At whom is the Virgin Mary looking? She is looking at each and every one of us. And how does she look at us? She looks at us as a Mother, with tenderness, mercy and love. That was how she gazed at her Son Jesus at all the moments of his life – joyful, luminous, sorrowful, glorious – as we contemplate in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, simply and lovingly.
When we are weary, downcast, beset with cares, let us look to Mary, let us feel her gaze, which speaks to our heart and says: “Courage, my child, I am here to help you!”. Our Lady knows us well, she is a Mother, she is familiar with our joys and difficulties, our hopes and disappointments. When we feel the burden of our failings and our sins, let us look to Mary, who speaks to our hearts, saying: “Arise, go to my Son Jesus; in him you will find acceptance, mercy and new strength for the journey”.
Mary’s gaze is not directed towards us alone. At the foot of the Cross, when Jesus entrusted to her the Apostle John, and with him all of us, in the words: “Woman, here is your son” (Jn 19:26), the gaze of Mary was fixed on Jesus. Mary says to us what she said at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary points to Jesus, she asks us to bear witness to Jesus, she constantly guides us to her Son Jesus, because in him alone do we find salvation. He alone can change the water of our loneliness, difficulties and sin into the wine of encounter, joy and forgiveness. He alone.
“Blessed is she who believed!” Mary is blessed for her faith in God, for her faith, because her heart’s gaze was always fixed on God, the Son of God whom she bore in her womb and whom she contemplated upon the Cross. In the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mary says to us: “Look at my son Jesus, keep your gaze fixed on him, listen to him, speak with him. He is gazing at you with love. Do not be afraid! He will teach you to follow him and to bear witness to him in all that you do, whether great and small, in your family life, at work, at times of celebration. He will teach you to go out of yourself and to look upon others with love, as he did. He loved you and loves you, not with words but with deeds”.
O Mary, let us feel your maternal gaze. Guide us to your Son. May we not be Christians “on display”, but Christians ready to “get our hands dirty” in building, with your Son Jesus, his Kingdom of love, joy and peace.
HOLY MASS FOR THE MARIAN DAY
ON THE OCCASION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
HOMILY OF HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 13 October 2013
In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1).
Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.
Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.
1. First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.
This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!
Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?
2. In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ; if we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.
Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.
And I ask myself: Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.
3. The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.
Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Sorry”, “excuse me”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.
As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.
ACT OF ENTRUSTMENT
COMPLETE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS' PRAYER:
Blessed Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, with renewed gratitude by your motherly presence we unite our voice to that of all generations that call you blessed.
We celebrate with you the mighty works of God, who never gets tired of bending over mankind, beset by evil and wounded by sin, with mercy to heal and to save it.
Mother embrace with benevolence this act of entrustment that we make today with confidence, before this your image which is so dear to us.
We are confident that each of us is precious in your sight and that nothing is alien to you of all that dwells in our hearts. We are touched by the gaze of your sweet eyes and welcome the comforting caress of your smile.
Safeguard our lives in your arms: bless and strengthen every desire for goodness, revitalize and nourish our faith, sustain and brighten the hope that stirs the soul and charity ; guide all of us on the path of holiness.
Teach us your same love and preference for the young and the poor, the marginalized and the suffering, for sinners and those whose hearts are lost: gather all under your protection and deliver us all to your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.
2013-10-14. Pope warns of perfect piety that neglects the poor:
The Pope on Monday warned of " an attitude of perfect piety ," which looks at the doctrine of salvation but do not care for the "poor people " . He was speaking during his Homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Martha. Lydia O’Kane reports.
The Pope recalling Monday’s Gospel reading from Luke centred his homily on the “Sign of Jonah” and how Jesus speaks of a “ wicked generation”. The Pope explained that Jesus with these words was not referring to the people who followed him with love but he was pin pointing the doctors of the Church that tried to test him and make him fall into a trap ."
Pope Francis went on the say that the Pharisees asked for signs but Jesus answered by saying that he alone will give the “Sign of Jonah” just like Jonah himself became a sign to the Ninevites.
The Holy Father said that these people suffer from, what he called “The Jonah Syndrome” and Jesus calls them hypocrites because they have " an attitude of perfect piety ," which looks at the doctrine of salvation but does not care for "poor people " .
The Pope continued by saying that the “Sign of Jonah” , is the sign of truth that gives us the confidence to be saved by the blood of Christ. How many Christians are there, stressed Pope Francis, that think they will be saved only for the works they perform. The works, added the Pope are necessary, but they are a consequence, a response to the merciful love that saves us. These works without merciful love mean nothing. The “Jonah Syndrome” underlined the Holy Father is work without this love.
The Pope concluded by saying that we should take advantage of Monday’s liturgy to ask ourselves and make a choice. What do I prefer? The Sign of Jonah or The Syndrome of Jonah?
Pope Francis: Beware of idolatry and hypocrisy :
(Vatican Radio) Vatican Radio) Idolatry and hypocrisy do not spare even the Christian life. Pope Francis put us on guard against both these vices in his homily at this morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. In order not to give in to the dangers of these sins, he said, it is necessary to put into practice the commandments of love of God and love of neighbour.
Once again, the liturgy of the Mass elicits from Pope Francis a reflection on the traps that punctuate the life of faith: To become an apostle of one’s own ideas, or a devotee of one’s own well-being, rather than that of God; speaking ill about someone because he does not conform to certain formalities, forgetting that the “new” commandment of Christianity is love of neighbour without ifs and buts. From the words of St. Paul, the Pope goes on to condemn the sin of idolatry, that of people who – as the Apostle says – “for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give Him thanks” preferring to worship “the creature rather than the creator.” It is an idolatry, the Pope said, that “stifles the truth of the Faith” in which “is revealed the righteousness of God”:
“But since we all have need to worship – because we have the imprint of God within us – when we do not worship God, we worship creatures. And this is the passage from faith to idolatry. These people, idolaters, have no excuse: because having known God, they have neither glorified nor worshipped Him as God. And what is the way of idolatry? He says clearly: ‘they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.’ The selfishness of their own thoughts, the omnipotent thought, that which I think is true: I think the truth, I make the truth with my thought.”
The critics of Saint Paul, two thousand years ago, went to the idolaters who prostrated themselves before reptiles, birds, and four-legged creatures. And here, Pope Francis immediately responds to the objection that this problem doesn’t arise, because no one goes around worshipping statues. It’s not so, the Pope replied: idolatry has found new forms and fashions:
“Even today, there are so many idols, and even today there are so many idolaters, so many who think they are wise. But even among us, among Christians, eh? I’m not speaking about them, I respect them, those who aren’t Christians. But among us – we’re speaking within the family – they think they’re wise, they know everything... They’ve become foolish and exchange the glory of the incorruptible God with an image: myself, my ideas, my comforts . . . Today, all of us – I go ahead, eh! It’s not only something historic – even today, along the way there are idols, even a step forward . . . We all have within ourselves some hidden idol. We can ask ourselves, in the sight of God: what is my hidden idol? What takes the place of God?”
If Saint Paul calls the idolaters foolish, in the day’s Gospel Jesus says the same thing about the hypocrites, in the person of the Pharisees who are scandalized because the Master hadn’t washed as was the norm before sitting down at table. “You Pharisees!” Jesus replied. “Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” And He adds, “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
“Jesus counsels: don’t look at appearances, go by the truth. The plate is the plate, but what is important is what’s on the plate: the meal. But if you are vain, if you are a careerist, if you are ambitious, if you are a person that always puts himself forward or likes to advance yourself, because you think you are perfect, give a little bit of alms and that will heal your hypocrisy. This is the way of the Lord: it is to worship God, to love God above all things and to love your neighbour. It’s so simple, but so difficult! This can only be done with grace. Let us ask for this grace”.
Pope Francis at Mass calls for greater openness :
If a Christian “becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith.”
This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily during his Thursday morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. During his homily, the Pope warned Christians against behaving as though the “key is in [their] pocket, and the door closed.” He reiterated that without prayer, one abandons the faith and descends into ideology and moralism. “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge!” (Luke 11: 52)
Pope Francis referred back to this passage from Thursday’s Gospel in his homily, moving from Jesus’ warning. He warned: “When we are on the street and find ourselves in front of a closed Church,” he said, “we feel that something is strange.” Sometimes, he said, “they give us reasons” as to why they are closed: They give “excuses, justifications, but the fact remains that the Church is closed and the people who pass by cannot enter.” And, even worse, the Lord cannot be close to the people. Today, the Pope said, Jesus speaks to us about the “image of the [lock]”; it is “the image of those Christians who have the key in their hand, but take it away, without opening the door.” Worse still, “they keep the door closed” and “don’t allow anyone to enter.” In so doing, they themselves do not enter. The “lack of Christian witness does this,” he said, and “when this Christian is a priest, a bishop or a Pope it is worse.” But, the Pope asks, how does it happen that a “Christian falls into this attitude” of keeping the key to the Church in his pocket, with the door closed?
“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”
The Pope continued, Jesus told us: “You burden the shoulders of people [with] many things; only one is necessary.” This, therefore, is the “spiritual, mental” thought process of one who wants to keep the key in his pocket and the door closed: “The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh? Already the Apostle John, in his first Letter, spoke of this. Christians who lose the faith and prefer the ideologies. His attitude is: be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”
“The key that opens the door to the faith,” the Pope added, “is prayer.” The Holy Father warned: “When a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.” He who does not pray is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement.” Instead, he said, “when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.” And, the Pope said, “I say to pray, I do not say to say prayers, because these teachers of the law said many prayers” in order to be seen. Jesus, instead, says: “when you pray, go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart.” The pope continued: “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”
“These do not pray, abandoning the faith and transforming it into moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus. And when a prophet or a good Christian reproaches them, they the same that they did with Jesus: ‘When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him’ – they are ideologically hostile – ‘and to interrogate him about many things,’ – they are insidious – ‘for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.’ They are not transparent. Ah, poor things, they are people dishonoured by their pride. We ask the Lord for Grace, first: never to stop praying to never lose the faith; to remain humble, and so not to become closed, which closes the way to the Lord.”
Remember the elderly priests and sisters in nursing homes, true shrines of holiness: (Vatican Radio)
At his morning mass on Friday Pope Francis reflected on the later life challenges of three biblical figures, Moses, St. John the Baptist and St Paul. He said none of the 3 were spared anguish at the end of their lives although the Lord never abandoned them. The Pope also urged the faithful to remember and visit the many elderly priests and sisters living in their nursing homes because they are true shrines of holiness.
Listen to the report by Susy Hodges:
In his homily, the Pope looked at the vigour and enthusiasm displayed by the young Moses, St. John the Baptist and St Paul at the beginning of their apostolate and compared it with the solitude and anguish they endured at the end of their lives.
The Pope said the apostle St Paul “has a joyful and enthusiastic beginning” but is not spared a decline in his later years and it was a similar situation with Moses and St. John the Baptist. “Moses, when young, he continued, was “the courageous leader of the People of God who fought against his enemies” to save his people.” But at the end of his life, “he is alone on Mount Nebo, looking at the promised land” but unable to enter it.
Turning to the later life of St. John the Baptist, the Pope noted that the apostle had to struggle with an anguish that tormented him and “finished under the power of a weak, corrupt and drunken ruler who in turn was under the power of an adulteress’ jealousy and the capricious wishes of a dancer.”
St. Paul, the Pope said, also faced similar trials at the end of his life and in his letters spoke of all those who had abandoned him and who had denounced his preaching. But as he went on to stress, Paul wrote that “the Lord was close to him and gave him the strength to complete his mission of announcing the Gospel.”
Pope Francis said these later life challenges of these 3 figures reminded him of” the shrines of holiness which are the nursing homes of elderly priests and religious sisters.” “Bearing the burden of solitude, these priests and sisters are waiting for the Lord to knock at the door of their hearts” and he urged the faithful not to forget them and to visit them.
Pope Francis: Greed destroys people, families :
Greed, attachment to money, destroys people, destroys families and relationships with others: That was Pope Francis’ message this morning during Mass in Santa Marta. The invitation is not to choose poverty per se, but to use the wealth that God gives us to help those in need.
Commenting on the day’s Gospel, in which a man asks Jesus to intervene to resolve a problem of inheritance with his brother, the Pope spoke about the problem of our relationship with money:
“This is a day-to-day problem. How many families have we seen destroyed by the problem of money? Brother against brother, father against son. This is the first result that this attitude of being attached to money does: it destroys! When a person is attached to money, he destroys himself, he destroys the family. Money destroys! It does, doesn’t it? It binds you. Money serves to bring about many good things, so many works for human development, but when your heart is attached in this way, it destroys you.”
Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who lives to gather “treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” Jesus’ warning is to stay away from any kind of greed:
“That’s what does harm: greed in my relationship with money. Having more, having more, having more... It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not money, but the attitude, what we call greed. Then too this greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. It destroys you, it makes you sick. And in the end – this is the most important thing – greed is an instrument of idolatry because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us. Saint Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, who was rich, made Himself poor to enrich us. That is the path of God: humility, to lower oneself in order to serve. Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: You, who are a poor human, make yourself God for vanity’s sake. It is idolatry!”
This is the reason, the Pope continued, why Jesus says things “so hard, so strong against this attachment to money. He tells us that you can’t serve two masters: both God and money. He tells us not to worry, that God knows what we need” and He invites us “to trusting abandonment to the Father, who makes the lilies of the field flower, and feeds the birds.” The rich man of the parable continues to think only of his riches, but God says to him: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you!” “This path is contrary to the path of God,” the Pope concluded. “It is foolishness, it takes you far from life, it destroys all human fraternity”:
“The Lord teaches us the path: not the path of poverty for poverty’s sake. No! It is the way of poverty as an instrument, so that God may be God, so that He will be the only Lord! Not the golden idols! And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world, to advance humanity, to help, to help others. Today may the Word of the Lord remain in our hearts: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
Pope: God meddles with our lives and heals our wounds : (Vatican Radio)
Contemplation, proximity and abundance are the three words upon which Pope Francis centered his homily on Tuesday at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
Speaking to those present for the morning celebration, the Pope reiterated that one cannot understand God solely with the mind and pointed out that God challenges us by "meddling" in our lives to heal our wounds, just as Jesus did.
Intelligence – the Pope said – is not sufficient to enter into the mystery of God. You need contemplation, proximity and abundance.
Listen to Linda Bordoni's report..
Drawing his inspiration from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Pope Francis said there is only one way we can understand they the mystery of our salvation, and that is: on our knees, in contemplation.
Intelligence is not enough – he added: “ You need contemplation, intelligence, heart, knees praying… all together: this is how we enter into the mystery”.
And the Pope went on to speak about closeness – or proximity. “One man created sin, Francis explained, and one man saved us”. God is close, he is close to our history. From the very first moment when he chose our father, Abraham, he walked with His people. And Jesus himself – he said - had a craftsman’s job:a worker who uses his hands. The image that comes to mind – the Pope continued – is that of a nurse in a hospital who heals our wounds, one at a time. Just like God – he explained – who gets involved, who meddles in our miseries, He gets close to our wounds and heals them with his hands. And to actually have hands – he continued – He became man. So God saves us not only by decree: “He saves us with tenderness and with caresses. He saves us with His life for us.”
And then Pope Francis spoke of “abundance”. Where sins abound – he said – grace abounds. Each of us knows his miseries and knows how they abound. But God’s challenge is to defeat them and heal the wounds as Jesus did with His superabundance of grace and love. And Francis pointed out that although some do not like to admit it: those who are closest to the heart of Jesus are sinners, because He goes to look for them, calls them and heals them, while those who are in good health do not need a doctor: “ I have come to heal, to save."
The Pope concluded his homily reflecting on how some saints say that one of the ugliest sins is distrust: distrust in God. “But how can we be wary of a God who is so close, so good, who prefers the sinful heart ?" . This mystery – he said - is not easy to understand with intelligence, but with the help of these three words: "contemplation, proximity and abundance” because God "always wins with the superabundance of his grace, with His tenderness ", with His wealth of mercy."
Pope Francis at morning Mass: we are made new in Christs : (Vatican Radio)
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican. In his remarks following the readings, the Holy Father focused on the universal call to holiness. Listen:
“We have been re-made inChrist! What Christ has done in us is a re-creation: the blood of Christ has re-created. It is a second creation! If before the whole of our life: our body, our soul, our habits, were on the road of sin, iniquity; after this re-creation we must make the effort to walk on the path of righteousness , sanctification – use this word: holiness. All of us were baptized: at that mometn, our parents - we were just children - made the act of faith in our name: ‘I believe in Jesus Christ,’ who has forgiven us our sins’ I believe in Jesus Christ.”
The Pope went on to say that we must make this faith our own and let it be the lode star of our lives. “To live as Christians,” he said, “is to bring forth this faith in Christ, this re-creation,” and with faith carry on the works that arise from this faith - works of holiness. He said that we must carry forward, “the first sanctification that we all received in Baptism.”:
“Really we are weak and many times, many times , we commit sins, imperfections - and is this the way of sanctification? Yes and no! If you get used to it: 'My life is a bit so-so… I believe in Jesus Christ, but I live the way I want to’ Oh , no, that will not sanctify, that is wrong! It is a contradiction! If, however, you say, ‘I, even I am a sinner, I am weak,’ and if you go always to the Lord and say: ‘But, Lord, You have the strength, give me faith! You can make me clean,’ [and if] you let yourself be healed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – yes, even our imperfections are used along the way of sanctification. But it is always a question of ‘before’ and ‘after’.”
“Before the Act of Faith, prior to acceptance of Jesus Christ, who has created us anew with His own blood,” explained Pope Francis, “we were on the road of injustice.” After Baptism and the Act of Faith, however, “we are on the path of sanctification, but we must take it seriously!” The Holy Father added that to take it seriously, we must do works of righteousness, “simple” works: “Worship God,” he said, “God is always first! And then do what Jesus advises us to help others.” The Pope said that these and similar works, “are the works that Jesus did in his life: the works of justice, works of re-creation.” “When we give food to a hungry person,” he said, “we re-create hope in him. So it is with others.” If, on the other hand, “we accept the faith and then do not live it, we are Christians only in memory.”:
“Without this awareness of the before and after of which Paul speaks to us, our Christianity does not help anyone! More to this: it takes us on the road of hypocrisy. ‘I call myself a Christian, but live like a pagan!’ Sometimes we say ‘Christians at half-speed’, who do not take this seriously. We are holy, justified, sanctified by the blood of Christ: Take this sanctification and carry it forward! Though people do not take it seriously! Lukewarm Christians: ‘But, yes, yes , but, no, no’. Neither here nor there - as our mothers said, ‘rosewater Christians’ - no! A little touch here and there, of Christian paint, a little ‘paint catechesis’ - but inside there is no true conversion, there is no such conviction as that of St.Paul: ‘Everything I gave up and I consider garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.’”
This, he said, “was Paul's passion and that is the passion of a Christian!” We must, he continued, “let go of everything that takes us away from Jesus Christ,” and make all things anew: everything is new in Christ!” “You can do it!” encouraged Pope Francis, “as did St. Paul and also many Christians,” not only the saints we know - even the anonymous saints: those who live Christianity seriously. The Pope said tha the question for us today is whether we want to live our Christianity seriously - if we want to pursue this re-creation. He invited all of us to ask St. Paul to intercede for us to obtain the gift of grace to live as Christians seriously, “to believe that we truly have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.”
2013-10-26 Pope to families: Live the Joy of Faith!
(Vatican Radio) Speaking on Saturday evening in St. Peter's Square to thousands of families gathered to celebrate a weekend Family Pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. Peter, Pope Francis invited all generations to come together and live the joy of Faith.
After having listened to the experiences and the stories those present had shared with him, the Pope said: “I have seen so many children, so many grandparents… I have felt the pain of families living in situations of poverty and war. I have listened to the young people who want to be married even though they face numerous difficulties. And so, let us ask ourselves: how is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today?”
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis's address.
Good evening and welcome to Rome!
You have come as pilgrims from many parts of the world to profess your faith before the tomb of Saint Peter. This Square welcomes you and embraces you: we are one people, with one heart and soul, gathered by the Lord who loves and sustains us. I also greet the families who have joined us through television and the internet: this Square has expanded in every direction!
You have given this meeting a title: “Family, Live the Joy of Faith!” I like that title. I have listened to your experiences and the stories you have shared. I have seen so many children, so many grandparents… I have felt the pain of families living in situations of poverty and war. I have listened to the young people who want to be married even though they face numerous difficulties. And so, let us ask ourselves: how is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today?
1. A saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew speaks to us: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Life is often wearisome. Work is tiring; looking for work is exhausting. But what is most burdensome in life is a lack of love. It weighs upon us never to receive a smile, not to be welcomed. Certain silences are oppressive, even at times within families, between husbands and wives, between parents and children, among siblings. Without love, the burden becomes even heavier. I think of elderly people living alone, and families who receive no help in caring for someone at home with special needs. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden”, Jesus says.
Dear families, the Lord knows our struggles and the burdens we have in our lives. But he also knows our great desire to find joy and rest! Do you remember? Jesus said, “… that your joy may be complete” (cf. Jn 15:11). He said this to the apostles and today he says it to us. Here, then, is the first thing I would like to share with you this evening, and it is a saying of Jesus: Come to me, families from around the world, and I will give you rest, so that your joy may be complete.
2. The second thing which I would share with you is an expression taken from the Rite of Marriage. Those who celebrate the sacrament say, “I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness, in sickness and in health; I will love you and honour you all the days of my life”. At that moment, the couple does not know what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together. That is what marriage is! Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands.
With trust in God’s faithfulness, everything can be faced responsibly and without fear. Christian spouses are not naïve; they know life’s problems and temptations. But they are not afraid to be responsible before God and before society. They do not run away, they do not hide, they do not shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world. But today, Father, it is difficult… Of course it is difficult! That is why we need the grace of the sacrament! The sacraments are not decorations in life; the sacrament of marriage is not a pretty ceremony! Christians celebrate the sacrament of marriage because they know they need it! They need it to stay together and to carry out their mission as parents. “In joy and in sadness, in sickness and in health”. And in their marriage they pray with one another and with the community. Why? Only because it is helpful to do so? No! They do so because they need to, for the long journey they are making together. They need Jesus’ help to walk beside one another in trust, to accept one another each day, and daily to forgive one another.
The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person… But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus gives always gives us that love: he is its endless source and he gives himself to us in the Eucharist. There he gives us his word and the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.
3. Here before us is the icon of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple. It is a beautiful and meaningful picture. Let us contemplate it and let it help us. Like all of you, the persons depicted in this scene have a journey to make: Mary and Joseph have travelled as pilgrims to Jerusalem in obedience to the Law of the Lord; the aged Simeon and the elderly prophetess Anna have come to the Temple led by the Holy Spirit. In this scene three generations come together: Simeon holds in his arms the child Jesus, in whom he recognizes the Messiah, while Anna is shown praising God and proclaiming salvation to those awaiting the redemption of Israel. These two elderly persons represent faith as memory. Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of Jesus who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it.
Dear families, you, too, are a part of God’s people. Walk joyfully in the midst of this people. Remain ever close to Jesus and carry him to everyone by your witness. I thank you for having come here. Together, let us make our own the words of Saint Peter, words which strengthen us and which will confirm us in times of trial: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life” (Jn 6:68). With the help of Christ’s grace, live the joy of faith! May the Lord bless you, and may Mary, our Mother, be ever at your side.
Pope Francis: the Christian family experiences joy in faith : (Vatican Radio)
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday, October 27th, 2013, to mark the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time and the World Family Day at the close of the 21st Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which met in Rome this past week to reflect on the theme of living the joy of the Faith. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the Christian family as an institution that prays, keeps faith, and experiences joy. Below, please find the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.
1. First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, and he judges others from his pedestal. The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words. His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs. Here is a man who realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness.
Homily of the Holy Father Family Day (Saint Peter’s Square, 27 October 2013)
The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.
The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God. It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.
In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family? Some of you do, I know. But so many people say to me: How can we? Prayer is something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace… Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector! And we need simplicity! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is something all of you can do. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And praying for one another!
2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith. The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). But how did he keep the faith? Not in a strong box! Nor did he hide it underground, like the lazy servant. Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race. He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands. He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine. That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly. Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.
Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families, in their everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!
3. There is one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy. In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2). The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace. What is the reason for this gladness? It is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil. As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).
Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well... True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society.
Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth! The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!
Preghiera di Papa Francesco alla Santa Famiglia 27/10/2013 14:09:36
Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe
a voi, Santa Famiglia di Nazareth,
oggi, volgiamo lo sguardo
con ammirazione e confidenza;
in voi contempliamo
la bellezza della comunione nell’amore vero;
a voi raccomandiamo tutte le nostre famiglie,
perché si rinnovino in esse le meraviglie della grazia.
Santa Famiglia di Nazareth,
scuola attraente del santo Vangelo:
insegnaci a imitare le tue virtù
con una saggia disciplina spirituale,
donaci lo sguardo limpido
che sa riconoscere l’opera della Provvidenza
nelle realtà quotidiane della vita.
Santa Famiglia di Nazareth,
custode fedele del mistero della salvezza:
fa’ rinascere in noi la stima del silenzio,
rendi le nostre famiglie cenacoli di preghiera
e trasformale in piccole Chiese domestiche,
rinnova il desiderio della santità,
sostieni la nobile fatica del lavoro, dell’educazione,
dell’ascolto, della reciproca comprensione e del perdono.
Santa Famiglia di Nazareth,
ridesta nella nostra società la consapevolezza
del carattere sacro e inviolabile della famiglia,
bene inestimabile e insostituibile.
Ogni famiglia sia dimora accogliente di bontà e di pace
per i bambini e per gli anziani,
per chi è malato e solo,
per chi è povero e bisognoso.
Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe
voi con fiducia preghiamo, a voi con gioia ci affidiamo.
Pope Francis at morning Mass: we are made new in Christs : (Vatican Radio)
At the centre of Pope Francis’ homily on Monday morning was the passage from the Gospel of Luke during which Jesus remained in prayer throughout the whole night before choosing the twelve apostles, and he pointed out that Jesus continues to pray and to intercede for us.
Listen to Linda Bordoni's report:
Speaking to those gathered at Casa Santa Marta for Mass, the Pope said that by praying to God to choose his apostles, Jesus was “putting together his team together” – and afterwards a great number of people came to be with Him and to be healed by Him, because “power was coming Him and healing them all”. And he referred to three different rapports Jesus has: “Jesus and the Father, Jesus and his Apostles, Jesus and the people”. And the Pope pointed out that “Jesus prayed to the Father for the Apostles and for the people”. And he said: he is still praying.
Jesus has saved us, he said, with his prayers, with his sacrifice, with his life. He is gone now and he continues to pray – the Pope said – but does that mean that Jesus is a spirit? Jesus – he underlined – is not a spirit! He is a person, a man with flesh like our flesh, but in the glory of God. He said Jesus has wounds on his hands, on his feet and on his side. And when he prays he shows the Father the price of our salvation. Pope Francis said: “it is as if he is saying: Father, may this not be lost!”
So prayer stems from Jesus who prays and intercede for us.
“We often say to each other: pray for me. I need prayers. I have so many problems”. And that is good – Francis pointed out – “because we are brothers and we must pray for each other”.
And the Pope says he prays to Jesus to pray for him and intercede for him.
He concluded saying that He prays for all of us, and he does so courageously, showing the Father the price of our redemption: his wounds.
We must think about this – concluded the Pope – and we must thank the Lord. We must thank him for giving us a brother who prays for us and intercedes for us. And speaking to Jesus we must say: “Lord, you have saved me. And now pray for me”. “It is to him we must entrust our problems, our life and many other things so that He may take them to the Father”.
Pope Francis: hope is a gift from the Holy Spirit : (Vatican Radio)
Pope Francis on Tuesday explained the true meaning of hope saying it’s much more than simple optimism for Christians, it is constant expectation, it’s a gift from the Holy Spirit, it’s a miracle of renewal that never lets us down.
Listen to Linda Bordoni's report...
Speaking at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the words of St. Paul in which he says: 'Never disappoint yourself'- Hope never lets you down. Why? Said the Pope: “Because it's a gift from the Holy Spirit”. And he continued: Paul tells us that hope has a name. Hope is Christ.
Elaborating on the meaning of hope the Pope said that it creates a tension directed towards the revelation of Jesus Christ, towards true joy that is eternal life.
And referring to the virtues of faith, hope and charity, the Pope said that often the virtue of hope is seen as the most humble of the three, because – he said – it is hidden in life. You can see faith – he added – you can feel it, you know what it is. And charity too – we know what that is. But what is hope? What is this attitude of hope? First of all - he said - we can say it is a risk, a risky virtue – as Saint Paul says: it is a virtue of ardent expectation for the Revelation. "It is not an illusion".
And he continued: “Jesus, the hope, renews everything. So hope is a constant miracle. "The miracle of what He’s doing in the Church. The miracle of making everything new: of what He does in my life, in your life, in our life. He builds and He rebuilds. And that is precisely the reason of our hope". "Christ is the one who renews every wonderful thing of the Creation; He's the reason of our hope. And this hope does not delude because He is faithful. He can't renounce Himself. This is the virtue of hope.”
And Pope Francis concluded reminding all Christians about the Virgin Mary's attitude after her son's death, up until His resurrection on Sunday.
Hope – he said – is what Mary, Mother of God, sheltered in her heart during the darkest time of her life: from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. That is hope: she had it. And that hope has renewed everything. May God grant us that grace.”
Pope Francis says Mass near tomb of Bl. Pope John Paul II (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Thursday in St Peter’s Basilica, inside the St Sebastian Chapel where Blessed Pope John Paul II is buried.
Listen to Giulia Cirillo's report:
Every Thursday morning, a group of Polish worshippers takes part in a Mass celebrated in the St Sebastian Chapel. This week, the Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis himself. In his homily, the Pope focused on the love of God, and on two powerful images illustrating the two different ways in which this love might be received.
On the one hand, he said, we have the certainty of the apostle Paul: “no one can separate me from the love of Christ”. Paul lived through persecution, through illness, through betrayal, but the love of Christ was always at the centre of his life. On the other hand, Pope Francis continued, we have the sadness of Jesus as he looks upon Jerusalem, the unfaithful. And the heart of Jesus wept for this city that didn’t understand the love of God, for this love that was not received.
Pope Francis contrasted the two images – Paul, who feels he is a sinner, but finds strength in the love of God, and Jerusalem, with its people who don’t accept the love of God, or worse, who half accept it, depending on their own convenience. So let us ask ourselves, Pope Francis concluded – do I have a strong love, like Paul, or do I have a tepid heart, like Jerusalem?
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