From the Vatican

Pope Francis Marks 25 Years as a Bishop

Pope 0627172017-06-27 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, together with the members of the College of Cardinals present in the city, in order to mark the 25th jubilee of his ordination to the episcopacy.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals offered greetings and best wishes to Pope Francis on the occasion, recalling the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Make room for us in your hearts,” Cardinal Sodano said. “Holy Father, you need not tell us to make room for you in our hearts,” he continued, pledging him all the love and reverence due the Successor to Peter.

In remarks following the Readings of the Day, the first of which was taken from the Book of Genesis, recounting the episode in which Abraham and Lot part ways, Pope Francis focused on the three imperatives that God gives the Father of Faith: “Arise!” “Look out!” “Be hopeful!”

“When Abraham was called, he was more or less our age,” Pope Francis said to the elder statesmen of the Church. “He was going to retire, to go into retirement for some rest – he started out at that age.”

“An old man,” the Pope continued, “with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness – but [God said to him], as if he were a young man, ‘Get up, go, go! As if he were a scout: go! Look and hope!’”

The Holy Father went on to say that the message God gave to Abraham in that day, He also gives to each of those present in this day: to be on the way, about the journey; to look toward the ever-retreating horizon, and to hope without stint, despite it all.

“There are those, who do not love us, who say that we are the ‘Gerontocracy’ of the Church. This is mere mockery. Whoever says so knows not what he says. We are not tired old fools [It. geronti]: we are grandfathers. And if we do not feel this, we must ask the grace to feel that it is so. We are grandfathers, to whom our grandchildren look – grandparents who, with our experience, must share with those grandchildren a sense of what life is really about - grandparents not closed off in melancholy over our salad days, but open to give this [gift] of meaning, of sense. For us, then, this threefold imperative: ‘Arise! Look outward! Hope!” is called ‘dreaming’. We are grandfathers called to dream and to pass on our dream to today’s youth: they need it, that they might take from our dreams the power to prophesy and carry on their work.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father greeted the Cardinal-concelebrants one-by-one.

He also greeted members of the household staff and the professional staff of the Secretariat for Communications, who had done the live Vatican Radio commentary for the liturgy in several languages, including English.

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Pope Francis: Taking Care of the Sick, a Reminder of Christian Grace

Pope 0626172017-06-26 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received the Italian League for the Fight against Tumors, stressing the importance of accompanying families and those on the margins on the path of prevention and cure.

Thanking those gathered for their commitment, Pope Francis told them that their work was a very useful tool of awareness and training, adding that there was a real need to promote a culture of life, based on attitudes and behaviors.

The League’s commitment to the fight against cancerous tumors is based mainly on three fronts: primary prevention in the form of lifestyle, promotion of a culture of early diagnosis and rehabilitation and social reintegration with attention to the family unit.

In particular the Pope noted, that families need to be accompanied on a path of prevention; a path he said, that involves the various generations.

But he also said, that equally valuable was the collaboration of volunteers from the league who provide assistance to families, so that they can continue their everyday lives.

Another aspect the Holy Father touched on was the pastoral help of the ecclesial community who are called by vocation and mission, he observed to be at the service of those who suffer.

During his discourse the Pope stressed the importance of helping those on the peripheries of society who have to deal with a disease like cancer, saying that every Christian filled with a desire to do good, “is a conscious instrument of grace.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said that "Taking care", of the sick was an invaluable wealth for society and was a reminder to the entire civil and ecclesial community of the importance of offering support, comfort and tenderness.

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Pope: Prays for Victims of Landslide

Pope 0625172017-06-25 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his closeness and grief for the victims of a landslide that engulfed a village in Sichuan province in south-western China.

Speaking on Sunday after the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peters’ Square, the Pope said “I am close to the population of the Chinese village of Xinmo that was struck yesterday morning by a landslide caused by heavy rains”.

“I pray for the dead and for the injured, he said, and for those who have lost their homes. May God comfort affected families and sustain rescuers.”

Meanwhile almost 100 people remain missing after the huge landslide buried homes in Xinmo and hopes of finding survivors are fading.

The Pope also Saluted Lithuania’s First Soviet-era Martyr

Pope Francis sent special greetings to Lithuanian Catholics on Sunday as he recalled the Beatification, in Vilnius, of the nation’s first Soviet-era martyr.

“Today in Vilnius, Bishop Teofilius Matulionis, who was murdered because of hatred towards the faith in 1962 when he was almost 90-years-old, will be Beatified” the  Pope said to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus.

“Let us give thanks to the Lord for the witness of this courageous defender of the faith and of human dignity. Let us pay our respects to him and to the entire Lithuanian people with applause” he said.

Bishop Matulionis was a priest and bishop who continually defied communist rule and spent much of his ministry in prison. He was declared a martyr by Pope Francis on December 16, clearing the way for his beatification.

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Pope: Become Small to Hear the Voice of the Lord

Pope 0623172017-06-23 (Vatican Radio) In order to hear the voice of the Lord, you need to make yourself small. That was the message of Pope Francis in his homily at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday morning, as the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Lord has chosen us, He has “mixed Himself up with us in the journey of life,” and has given “His Son, and the life of His Son, for our love.” In the first Reading, taken from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses says that God has chosen us “from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly His own.” Pope Francis explained how God is praised because “in the Heart of Jesus He gave us the grace to celebrate with joy the great mystery of our salvation, of His love for us”; that is, celebrating “our faith.” In particular, the Pope dwelt on two words contained in the reading: “to choose,” and “smallness.” With regard to choosing, the Holy Father said it is not we who have chosen God, but rather, God has made Himself a “our prisoner”:

“He has attached Himself to our life; He cannot detach Himself. He is strongly yoked! And He remains faithful in this attitude. We were chosen for love and this is our identity. ‘I have chosen this religion, I have chosen…’ [we might say]. No, you have not chosen. It is He Who has chosen you, has called you, and has joined Himself to you. And this is our faith. If we do not believe this, we don’t understand the message of Christ, we don’t understand the Gospel.”

For the second word, “smallness,” Pope Francis recalled how Moses said that the Lord had chosen the people of Israel because it was “the smallest of all nations”:

“He was enamored of our smallness, and for this reason He has chosen us. And He chooses the small: not the great, the small. And He is revealed to the small: ‘you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.’ He is revealed to the little ones: if you want to understand something of the mystery of Jesus, lower yourself: make yourself small. Be mindful of being nothing. And He not only chooses and reveals Himself to the little ones; He calls the little ones: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’ You that are the smallest – because of suffering, because of fatigue – He chooses the little ones, He is revealed to the little ones, and He calls the little ones. But the great, does He not call them? His heart is open, but the great do not recognize His voice because they are not able to hear it because they are full of themselves. To hear the voice of the Lord, you must make yourself little.”

And thus we come to the mystery of the Heart of Christ, which is not a “holy card” for the devout: the transfixed Heart of Christ is “the heart of revelation, the heart of our faith, because He made Himself small, He has chosen this way”: that of humbling Himself, of emptying Himself “even to death on the Cross.” It is, the Pope said, “a choice for smallness, so that the glory of God might be manifest.” From the Body of Christ transfixed by the soldier’s lance, “blood and water” flowed out, the Pope reminded us; and “this is the mystery of Christ” in today’s celebration of “a Heart that loves, that chooses, that is faithful,” and that “is joined to us, is revealed to the little ones, calls the little ones, makes itself little”:

“We believe in God, yes; yes in Jesus too, yes… ‘Is Jesus God?’ [someone asks.] ‘Yes,’ [we respond]. This is the manifestation, this is the glory of God. Fidelity in choosing, in joining Himself and making Himself little, even for Himself: to become small, to empty Himself. The problem of the faith is the core of our life: we can be so much, so virtuous, but with little or no faith; we must start from here, from the mystery of Jesus Christ, Who has saved us with His faithfulness.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the prayer that the Lord might grant us the grace to celebrate in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, “the great acts, the great works of salvation, the great works of redemption.”

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Pope Mass: Discern and Denounce Evil, Care For Others

Pope 0622172017-06-22 (Vatican Radio) A shepherd must be passionate, must know how to discern and how to denounce evil. Those were Pope Francis’ words during Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta, where he focused on the figure of the Apostle Paul and then turned his attention to the example offered by Don Milani. Like the parish priest of Barbiana, the Pope said, one should take care of one’s neighbor.

"The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep," said Pope Francis during his homily, drawing inspiration from the readings of the day and dwelling on the characteristics that a shepherd should have. The Pope noted in Saint Paul, the figure of the "true shepherd", who does not abandon his sheep unlike a "mercenary". The first quality, therefore, the Holy Father indicated, is that St Paul  is "passionate". Passionate, he added, "to the point of telling his people, 'I feel for you all a kind of divine jealousy'. He  is "divinely jealous," the Pope commented.

The true shepherd knows how to discern, on guard against at the seduction of evil

A passion therefore becomes almost "madness", "stupidity" for his people. "And this – the Pope added - is that which we call apostolic zeal: he cannot be a true shepherd without this fire." A second characteristic, he continued, the pastor must be "a man who knows how to discern":

"He knows what seduction in life is. The lying father is a seducer. The Shepherd, is not. The shepherd loves. Instead, the snake, the father of lies, is a seducer. He is a seducer trying to turn away from fidelity, because that divine jealousy of Paul was to bring the people to a single groom, to keep the people loyal to their bridegroom. In the history of salvation, in Scripture many times we turn away from God, disloyalty towards the Lord, idolatry as if it were a maternal infidelity. "

You must know how to report evil, not be naïve

The Shepherd’s first characteristic, then, "is to be passionate, zealous, zealous". The second feature is, "someone who knows how to discern: to discern where the dangers are, where the graces are... where the real road is". This, the Pope said, "means he always accompanies his sheep: in beautiful moments and even in bad moments, even in moments of seduction, with patience he brings them to the fold." And the third feature: is "the ability to denounce":

"An apostle cannot be naive: 'Ah, it's all right, let's go ahead, eh? It's all right ... Let's party, everyone ... everything is possible ...' because there is the fidelity to the only groom, to Jesus Christ, to be defended. And he knows how to condemn it: that concreteness, to say ' no,' like the  parents say to the baby when he starts to clap and goes to the electric socket to put his fingers in : 'No, no! It's dangerous!' But, I think so many times of that 'tuca nen' (do not touch anything ndr) that my parents and grandparents told me at those moments where there was a danger. "

Take care of others as Don Milani did

 "The Good Shepherd – Pope Francis said - can denounce, by name and surname" as St. Paul did.

The Holy Father returned to his visit to Bozzolo and Barbiana, this week, referring, "to those two good shepherds of Italy." And speaking of Don Milani, he recalled his "motto" when he "taught his boys":

"I care. But what does it mean? They explained to me that he wanted to say 'I care'. He taught that things were to be taken seriously, against the fashion motto at that time that was 'I do not care,' but said in another language, which I dare not say here. And so he taught the kids to move on. Take care: take care of your life, and this no! '"

Paul's apostolic zeal, was passionate, zealous. Man, commented the Holy Father knows how to discern because he knows the power of seduction and knows the devil seduces.

The Pope then concluded with a prayer "for all the shepherds of the Church, for Saint Paul who intercede before the Lord, for all of us pastors in order to serve the Lord."

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Pope Francis: Saints, Witnesses and Companions of Hope

Pope 0621172017-06-21 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.

This is the official English-language summary:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses” who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.  The lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.  May the Lord enable all of us to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope.

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Pope Francis Pays Tribute to "Italy's Parish Priest"

Pope 0620172017-06-20 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday made a pilgrimage to northern Italy to honor two 20th-century parish priests whose commitment to the poor and powerless challenged many faithful - inside and outside the Vatican - to step outside their comfort zones.

The Pope flew by helicopter to Bozzolo, near Cremona in the region of Lombardy, to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari, parish priest of a small town, a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, he opposed the Mussolini regime and emphasized the importance of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Father Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI. He died in 1959.

The Pope then travelled to Barbiana, near Florence to pay tribute to Don Lorenzo Milani, a wealthy convert to Catholicism who founded a parish school to educate the poor and workers.

In Bozzolo, Francis stood in silent prayer before the simple tomb of Mazzolari, and then delivered a long tribute to the priest whom he described as “Italy's parish priest.”

The Pope quoted Mazzolari’s writings about the need for the Church to accompany its flock and recalled his exhortation that a priest's job isn't to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best.

Quoting Mazzolari’s own words he said: ``Let us have good sense! We don't to massacre the backs of these poor people.''

He said the legacy of priests like Don Mazzolari is a bright one that challenges us to leave our comfort zones.

“Don Mazzolari tried to change the world without regrets for the past; he was not one who hung on to the Church of the past, but tried to change the Church through love and unconditional dedication” he said.

Pope Francis warned against those men of the Church who “do not want to soil their hands” and who “observe the world through a window”; he warned against those who engage in what he called “separatist activism” where one runs Catholic institutions like banks or businesses; and he spoke out against the temptation for spiritualism which dehumanizes and is devoted only to the apostolate.

Don Mazzolari, the Pope said, conceived the Church going forth into world in the firm belief that that is the only way to reach out to those who do not come to Church any more.

“He was rightly described as ‘the parish priest of those who are far’ because he always loved those on the peripheries and to them dedicated his mission.

Pope Francis concluded his speech with an exhortation to all priests to “listen to the world”, to “step into the dark areas without fear because it is amongst the people that God’s mercy is incarnate.”

He urged them to live in poverty and said that the credibility of the Gospel message is in the simplicity and poverty of the Church and he reminded them always to treasure the lesson of Don Mazzolari.

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Pope Celebrates Mass for Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Pope 0619172017-06-18 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Mass at the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran which was to be followed by a procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis chose to reflect on one word, “Memory”. The Pope said that “remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.”

Memory, the Holy Father went on to say is important, “because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mindful, “never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.”

This Solemnity, Pope Francis underlined, reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist. 

This is the English language translation of the Pope's Homily:

On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the idea of memory comes up again and again.  Moses says to the people: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you….  Lest… you forget the Lord your God, who fed you in the wilderness with manna” (Dt 8:2, 14, 16).  Jesus will tell us: “Do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:24).  The “living bread, come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51) is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God’s love for us.

Today, to each of us, the word of God says, Remember!  Remembrance of the Lord’s deeds guided and strengthened his people’s journey through the desert; remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.  Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant.  A plant without water cannot stay alive and bear fruit.  Nor can faith, unless it drinks deeply of the memory of all that the Lord has done for us.

Remember.  Memory is important, because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mind-ful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.  Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened.  Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl.  We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories.  Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.  In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.

Yet today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.  There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  The Eucharist is flavored with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.

The Eucharist gives us a grateful memory, because it makes us see that we are the Father’s children, whom he loves and nourishes.  It gives us a free memory, because Jesus’ love and forgiveness heal the wounds of the past, soothe our remembrance of wrongs experienced and inflicted.  It gives us a patient memory, because amid all our troubles we know that the Spirit of Jesus remains in us.  The Eucharist encourages us: even on the roughest road, we are not alone; the Lord does not forget us and whenever we turn to him, he restores us with his love.

The Eucharist also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals, but one body.  As the people in the desert gathered the manna that fell from heaven and shared it in their families (cf. Ex 16), so Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven, calls us together to receive him and to share him with one another.  The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”; it is the sacrament of the many, who form one body.  Saint Paul reminded us of this: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17).  The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity.  Whoever receives it cannot fail to be a builder of unity, because building unity has become part of his or her “spiritual DNA”.  May this Bread of unity heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism.  May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip.

Now, in experiencing this Eucharist, let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his love, that makes us one body and leads us to unity. 

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Pope Angelus: Jesus Food of Eternal Life

Pope 0618172017-06-18 (Vatican Radio) In a sunny St Peter’s Square on Sunday Pope Francis recalled the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi.

Following the Angelus prayer and taking his cue from the Gospel of St John, the Holy Father reminded the pilgrims and tourists present that Jesus states that he is “the living bread which has descended from heaven.

The Pope explained that the Father has sent him into the world as the food of eternal life, and for this reason he will sacrifice himself on the Cross, donating his body and shedding his blood.

Pope Francis went on to say that “in the Eucharist, Jesus, as he did with the disciples of Emmaus, accompanies us, pilgrims in order to nourish faith, hope and charity in us; To comfort us in trials; To support us in our commitment to justice and peace. This solidarity, the Pope said, is everywhere.

Feeding on Jesus in the  Eucharist, the Holy Father continued  “also means abandoning ourselves with confidence and letting ourselves be led by Him.”

The Pope also reminded the faithful that he would celebrate Mass in the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran on Sunday evening followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.