From the Vatican

Pope Mass: Jesus Teaches Us to Be "Invasive" in Prayer

Pope 101118October 11, 2018 (Vatican Media) A passage in Thursday’s Gospel was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The theme that was addressed was that of prayer, of how we must pray. Jesus tells his disciples of a man who, at midnight, knocks at a friend's house to ask him for something to eat. And the friend replies that it is not the right moment, that he is already in bed, but then gets up and gives him what he asks for.

Praying with courage and without getting tired

Pope Francis emphasizes three elements: a man in need, a friend, a little bread. It is a surprise visit from the needy friend and his is an insistent request because he has confidence in the friend who has what he needs. The Lord wants to teach us how to pray: said Pope Francis, wants us to pray with "intrusiveness".

Please be bold, because when we pray we usually have a need. The friend is God: he is a rich friend who has bread, he has what we need. As Jesus said: "In prayer be intrusive. Do not get tired ". But do not get tired of what? Of asking. “Ask and it will be given to you”.

Prayer is not a magic wand

But, the Pope continued, "prayer is not like a magic wand", it is not that as soon as we ask, we obtain. It is not a matter of saying two "Our Fathers" and then leaving it at that Prayer requires effort: it asks us for will, it asks for constancy, it asks us to be determined, without shame. Why? Because I'm knocking on my friend's door. God is a friend, and with a friend I can do this. A constant, intrusive prayer. Think of Saint Monica, for example, how many years she prayed like this, even with tears, for the conversion of her son. The Lord eventually opened the door.

Fight with the Lord to obtain what you need

Pope Francis then provided another example, recounting a real life story that happened in Buenos Aires: a man, a worker, had a daughter who was dying, the doctors had given up hope and he traveled 70 kilometers to go up to the Shrine of Our Lady of Luján. It was night time and the sanctuary was closed, but he prayed all night long imploring Our Lady: "I want my daughter, I want my daughter, you can give her to me." And when morning came he returned to the hospital he found his wife who told him: "You know, the doctors took her to do another test, they cannot explain why she woke up and asked for food, there's nothing wrong, she's fine, she's out of danger" This man, Pope Francis concluded, knew how to pray.

The cries of the capricious children

The Pope invited those gathered to think about capricious children when they want something, they cry and cry saying: "I want it! I want it! "And eventually the parents give up. But some may ask: will not God be angry if I do so? It is Jesus himself, said the Pope, who, in anticipating this, told us: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” He is a friend: he always gives good things. He gives more: I ask you to solve this problem and he solves it and also gives you the Holy Spirit. More. Let's think a little: how do you pray? Like a parrot? Do I really pray with a need in my heart? Struggle with God in prayer in order that he gives me what I need if it is right? We learn from this passage of the Gospel how to pray.

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Pope at Audience: Welcome Life as God’s Gift

Pope 101018By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

October 10, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Commandments during Wednesday’s General Audience saying that welcoming life as God’s gift corrects a vision of life interpreted as a problem to be eliminated. Pope Francis reflected on the Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill. When life is welcomed as a gift from God, he said, the vision of interpreting life through the lens of eliminating problems can be corrected.

Value of life

The reading from Wisdom 11:24-26 provided the inspiration for the Pope’s remarks. Pope Francis reaffirmed that the Fifth Commandment is concise and to the point. It is “a defending wall for the foundational value in human relations: the value of life”, he said.

Gift of God, not a problem

Pope Francis then noted a contradictory approach to life: the suppression of “human life in the mother’s womb in order to safeguard other values”.

It is not right to 'take out' a human being, no matter how little, to resolve a problem. That is like hiring a hitman to resolve a problem.

Fear is the culprit

Fear leads to violence and rejection, the Pope continued. Welcoming life as a gift of God leads to accepting life in all of its expressions. Pope Francis mentioned that parents are in need of true support should they discover that the baby they are expecting will be disabled. Then he said,

A sick child, just as an elderly person, needs assistance.  He or she who is presented as a problem is in reality God’s gift who can draw me out of my self-centeredness to make me grow in love.

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Pope at Mass: The True Christian is in Love with the Lord

Pope 100918By Gabriella Ceraso

October 9, 2018 (Vatican Media) In order not to go astray in our life as Christians, the key is to be “in love” with the Lord, and to be inspired by Him in our actions. This was the case with St Paul the Apostle, who describes the Christian life in the reading from the Letter to the Galatians. There must be a balance between “contemplation and service,” two qualities which are illustrated in the day’s Gospel from St Luke, which is centered on the figures of Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus of Bethania, who welcomed Jesus into their home as a guest.

Busy Christians, without the peace of the Lord

By their actions, Pope Francis explained, these two sisters, “teach us how we should go forward in the Christian life.” Mary “listened to the Lord,” while Martha was “distracted,” because she was occupied with service.” The Pope described Martha as one of the “strong” women, capable even of rebuking the Lord for not being present at the death of her brother Lazarus. She knew how to put herself forward, and so was courageous. Yet she lacked “contemplation,” and was incapable of “losing time gazing upon the Lord”:

There are so many Christians, yes, they go to Mass on Sundays, but they are always busy. They have no time for their children, they don’t play with their children. This is bad. “I have so much to do, I’m so busy…” [they say]. And in the end they become worshippers of that religion which is busy-ness: they belong to the group of the busy, who are always doing things… But pause, gaze upon the Lord, take the Gospel, listen to the Word of the Lord, open your heart… No: always the language of the hands, always. And they do good, but not Christian good: a human good. These people lack contemplation. Martha lacked that. [She was] courageous, always going forward, taking things in hand, but lacking peace: losing time gazing upon the Lord.

Contemplation is not “doing nothing”

On the other hand, Mary doesn’t sit around “doing-nothing.” She “gazed upon the Lord because the Lord had touched her heart; and it is from there, from that inspiration of the Lord, that there came the work that she had to undertake later.” This is the rule of St Benedict, “Ora et labora,” “pray and work,” which monks and nuns incarnate in the cloister, who certainly don’t spend the whole day gazing at the heavens. They pray and work.” And this was especially what St Paul incarnated, as he wrote in the day’s first Reading: “When God chose him,” the Pope said, “he didn’t go off to preach” immediately, but instead “went off to pray,” “to contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ who was revealed”:

Everything Paul did, he did with this spirit of contemplation, of gazing upon the Lord. It was the Lord who spoke from his heart, because Paul was in love with the Lord. And this is the key for not going astray: “being in love.” In order to know which side we are on, or whether we are exaggerating because we are getting into an overly abstract, even gnostic, contemplation; or whether we are too busy; we must ask ourselves the question: “Am I in love with the Lord? Am I certain, certain that He has chosen me? Or do I live my Christianity like this, doing things… Yes, I do this, I do that; But what does my heart do? Does it contemplate?

Contemplation and service: the path of our life

The Pope said it is like a husband returning home from work, and finding his wife waiting to greet him: A wife that is truly in love does not make him comfortable, and then return to her chores; she “takes the time to be with him.” We too take time for the Lord in our service to others:

Contemplation and service: this is the path of our life. Each one of us can think to ourselves, “How much time each day do I give to contemplating the mystery of Jesus?” And then, “How do I work? Do I work so much that there seems to be an alienation? Or is my work consistent with my faith, work as a service that comes from the Gospel?” We would do well to consider this.

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Pope Mass: True Christians Not Afraid to Get Their Hands Dirty

Pope 100818October 8, 2018 (Vatican Media) During morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis urges lay people and pastors to reflect on what it means to be Christian, calling on them to be "open" to God's surprises, drawing close to those in need.

An invitation to be "earnest Christians ", Christians who "are not afraid to get their hands dirty, their clothes, when they draw near", Christians "open to surprises" and who, like Jesus, "pay for others". Those were Pope Francis’ words during his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Taking inspiration from today's Gospel from Luke, the Pontiff reflected on the "six characters" of the parable told by Jesus to the Doctor of the Law who, to put him "to the test", asks him: "Who is my neighbor?" Then he lists the bandits, the wounded, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan and the innkeeper.

Do not pass by: stop, have compassion, help

The brigands who "beat the man", leaving him half dead "; the priest who when he saw the wounded man "passed by", without taking into account his mission, thinking only of the imminent "hour of Mass". So did the Levite, "a cultured man of the Law". Pope Francis urged us to dwell on “passing by", a concept which- he said - "must enter our hearts today". It is - he observed - that of two "officials" who, "consistent" with being who they are, said: "it is not for me" to help the injured person. On the contrary, those who "do not pass by" are the Samaritan, "who was a sinner, one excommunicated by the people of Israel": the "greatest sinner - underlined the Pope – he had compassion". Perhaps - he noted - he was "a merchant who was traveling for business", too:

He did not look at his watch, did not think about blood. "He came close to him - he got off his donkey - he tied his wounds, pouring oil and wine". He got his hands dirty, got his clothes dirty. "Then he loaded him on his mount, took him to a hotel", all dirty ... blood ... And so he had to get there. "And he took care of him". He did not say: "But, I’ll leave him here, call the doctors who’ll come. I'm leaving, I've done my part. "No. "He took care" saying: "Now you are mine, not for a possession, but to serve you". He was not an official, he was a man with a heart, a man with an open heart.

Open to God's surprises

The Pope then speaks of the innkeeper who "was stunned" to see a "foreigner", a "pagan - so we say - because he was not of the people of Israel" who stopped to rescue the man, paying "two denari" and promising to pay any expenses on his return. The innkeeper does not doubt that he will receive what is owed, adds Pope Francis, it is the reaction of one who lives a testimony, one open to the surprises of God, just like the Samaritan.

Both were not officials. "Are you a Christian? Are you Christian? ". "Yes yes yes, I go on Sundays to Mass and I try to do the right thing ... less talk, because I always like to talk, but the rest I do well". Are you open? Are you open to God's surprises or are you a Christian official, closed? "I do this, I go to Mass on Sunday, Communion, Confession once a year, this, this ... I am up standing". These are the Christian officials, those who are not open to the surprises of God, those who know so much about God but do not meet God. Those who never enter into amazement before a testimony. On the contrary: they are incapable of giving witness.

Jesus and his Church

The Pope, therefore, urges everyone, "laymen and pastors", to ask ourselves if we are Christians open to what the Lord gives us "every day", "to the surprises of God that often, like this Samaritan, makes things difficult for us", or are we a Christian official, doing what we have to, feeling that we abide by "the rules" and then being constrained by the same rules. Some ancient theologians, Pope Francis recalled, said that in this passage "the whole Gospel" is contained.

Each of us is the man there, wounded, and the Samaritan is Jesus. And he healed our wounds. He drew near to us. He took care of us. He paid for us. And he said to his Church: "But if you need more, you pay, I will come back and I will pay". Think about this: in this passage there is the whole Gospel.

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Pope Angelus: The Beauty of Marriage

Pope 100718October 7, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis during his Angelus address speaks of the beauty and dignity of marriage between a man and a woman and stresses the Church's closeness to those experiencing broken relationships.

In his Angelus address from St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis took inspiration from Sunday's Gospel which recounts Jesus' words on marriage. The Pope described how the Pharisees provoked Jesus by asking him if it was lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife, as provided for by the law of Moses.  Jesus replies by saying, "Because of the harshness of your heart he - that is, the ancient legislator - wrote this norm for you". That is to say, it is a concession that serves to plug the gaps produced by our selfishness, but does not correspond to the original intention of the Creator.” Jesus, continued Pope Francis, tells the Pharisees that, “in the Creator's original plan, there is no man who marries a woman and, if things do not go well, he repudiates her. No. There is instead a man and woman called to know each other, to complete each other, to help each other in marriage.”

Dignity of Marriage

This teaching of Jesus is very clear, said the Pope; it “defends the dignity of marriage, as a union of love that implies fidelity. What allows the spouses to remain united in marriage is a love of mutual giving sustained by the grace of Christ. If, on the other hand, the spouses' individual interest, their own satisfaction, prevails, then their union cannot resist.”  The Pontiff went on to say that, it is the Gospel passage itself that reminds us, with great realism, that man and woman, who are called to experience a relationship based on love”, can hurt each other, which can lead to marital crises. Jesus, the Pope said, “does not accept repudiation and anything that can lead to the sinking of a relationship. He does this to confirm God's plan, in which the strength and beauty of human relationships stand out.”

Church’s maternal closeness to marriage difficulties

The Church, the Holy Father pointed out, “strives to make her maternal closeness felt concretely to those who live the experience of broken relationships or wearily try to carry on.”

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