From the Vatican

Pope: Idolatry of Money Starves Children to Death

Pope 1023172017-10-23 (Vatican Radio)  In these times, with much calamities and injustice on the media, especially regarding children, let us raise an earnest prayer that God convert the hearts of men to be able to know the Lord and not worship money as God.   This was the exhortation of the Pope Francis in his homily at Mass, Monday morning, in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.

Idolatry of money

Taking his cue from the parable in Luke’s Gospel, where the rich fool worshipped money as God, the Pope reflected on the vanity of putting trust in earthly goods rather than in the true treasure of relationship with the Lord.  Despite an abundant harvest, the greedy man thinks of expanding his storehouses.  “Dreaming of a long life”, the Pope said, “he thinks of having more goods to the point of nausea, and not being satisfied, he enters into a spiral of "exasperated consumerism.”

The Pope said, “it is God who puts a limit to this attachment to money.”  A man enslaved by money is not a tale invented by Jesus, the Pope explained, adding it is true even today, where many live adoring money. The life of those who accumulate riches for themselves, has no meaning, he said.  They don’t know what it means to be rich in God.   In this regard, he recalled an episode of a wealthy businessman in Argentina who despite being seriously ill, stubbornly went on to buy a villa without thinking instead that he would have to present himself before God shortly. 

Idolatry starves the poor

Even today, there are these people hungering for money and earthly possessions, the Pope lamented, people who have "a lot" compared to "the hungry children who lack medicines and education and who are abandoned".  This, the Pope pointed out, is an "an idolatry that kills", that “sacrifices human beings”.  "This idolatry starves many people to death,” Pope Francis stressed, citing the case of 200,000 Rohingya children out of 800,000 people in refugee camps, who hardly eat and are malnourished, without medicines.  This is happening today, the Pope said, and not something of Jesus’ time. In the face of this, the Pope urged for an earnest prayer: “Lord,  please touch the hearts of these people who worship God, the God of money. Touch also my heart because so that I don’t fall into that and know how to see.”

Greed breeds war

Another consequence of this greed, the Pope pointed out, is war, including also in the family.  He spoke about what happens in a family when it is the question of inheritance.  Families are divided and end up in hatred, one against the other.  The Pope said that at the end of it all, the Lord gently reminds us that the only road to enriching oneself is in the Lord.  “Wealth is only in God,” the Pope said, adding, this does not mean scorning money. “No,” he said, “it is greed, as the Lord says. Living attached to the God of money.”  This is why, the Pope said, our prayer must be strong, seeking in God the solid foundation of our existence. 

___________________________________

Pope Francis: Church's Mission Entrusted to Pope St. John Paul II

Pope 102217(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has proclaimed October, 2019 an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” to be marked and celebrated in the whole Church throughout the world, and entrusted the mission of the Church in the world especially to Pope St. John Paul II.

The Holy Father recalled his intention to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month on Sunday – World Mission Sunday – during the course of remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, to pray the traditional Angelus with him at noon.

“Today,” said Pope Francis, “World Mission Day is celebrated, on the theme: Mission at the heart of the Christian faith. I urge everyone to live the joy of mission by witnessing the Gospel in the environs where each one lives and works.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “At the same time, we are called upon to support with affection, concrete help, and prayer, the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to those who still do not know Him.”

“I also recall,” he continued, “that I intend to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019, in order to nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church ad gentes. On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.”

___________________________________

Pope at Mass: Hypocrisy and Trickery are Bad for Us

Pope 1020172017-10-20 (Vatican Radio) May God grant us the grace of interior truth, rather than living a life of hypocrisy and trickery. That was Pope Francis’ message on Friday to those gathered for morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta chapel.

Reflecting on the first reading of the day from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, the pope explained that God’s pardon is always freely given and not earned by what we do.

The work we do, he continued, is our response to this gratuitous love and forgiveness of God, who took away original sin and who pardons our sins every time we turn to Him.

Hypocrites try to appear virtuous

In the passage from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis said, we read about another way that people seek justification, by trying to appear righteous and saintly. They are the hypocrites, he said, whose lives are filthy inside, but on the outside they try to appear virtuous and holy by showing how they fast and pray or give to charity.

Jesus asks us to be truthful

In their hearts, the pope said, there is no substance, but they live by deception and theirs is a life of trickery. Jesus always asks us to be truthful in our hearts: that’s why he tells us to pray out of sight, to hide the weakness we feel when we fast, and to conceal our almsgiving, so that the left hand does not know what the right one is doing.

Falsehood is very bad for us

Jesus asks us to live coherently, Pope Francis insisted, because falsehood and hypocrisy are very bad for us. In today’s psalm, he said, we ask the Lord for the grace of truth, saying “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not”. We confess our faults to the Lord  and He takes away the our sin and guilt.

Truth is always before God

We must always be truthful with God, the pope concluded, so let us learn not to accuse others, but rather to accuse ourselves, without trying to hide our sins from the Lord.

___________________________________

Pope:  Jesus Heals and Saves Us from Death

Pope 1018172017-10-18 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death.

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

This is the English Summary of the Pope’s catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: this morning I wish to reflect on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.  It is Jesus, however, that ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.  Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41).  

___________________________________

Pope Francis at Santa Marta: On the Folly of Hard-Hearted Christians

Pope 10171712017-10-17 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday – the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr. Following the Readings of the Day, the Holy Father reflected on the “foolishness” of those, who are unable to hear the Word of God, preferring appearances, idols, or ideologies – like the people of Jerusalem, whose faithlessness caused Our Lord to weep nostalgic tears.

The folly of those who hear not the Word

Francis’ reflection took the word “fools”, which appears twice in the Readings, as his starting point: Jesus says it to the Pharisees (Lk 11: 37-41), while St. Paul refers to the Pagans (Rm 1: 16-25). St. Paul had also deployed the term to refer to the Christians of Galatia, whom he called “fools” because they let themselves be duped by “new ideas”. This word, “more than a condemnation,” explained Pope Francis, “is a signal,” for it shows the way of foolishness leading to corruption. “These three groups of fools are corrupt,” Pope Francis said.

Jesus told the Doctors of the Law that they resembled whitewashed sepulchres: they became corrupt because they worried only about the “outside of things” being beautiful, but not what is inside, where corruption exists. They were, therefore, “corrupted by vanity, by appearance, by external beauty, by outward justice.” The Pagans, on the other hand, have the corruption of idolatry: they became corrupt because they exchanged the glory of God – which they could have known through reason – for idols.

The folly of Christians today

There are also idolatries today, such as consumerism – the Pope noted – or such as practiced by those, who look for a comfortable god. Finally, those Christians who sell themselves to ideologies, and have ceased to be Christians, often having rather become, “ideologues of Christianity.” All three of these groups, because of their foolishness, “end up in corruption.” Francis then explains what this foolishness consists of:

“Folly is a form of ‘not listening’, one might literally say a nescio, ‘I do not know’, I do not listen. The inability to hearken to the Word: when the Word does not enter, I do not let it in because I do not listen. The fool does not listen. He believes he is listening, but he does not listen. He does his own thing, always – and for this reason the Word of God cannot enter into his heart, and there is no place for love. And if it enters, it enters distilled, transformed by my own conception of reality. The fools do not know how to listen, and this deafness leads to this corruption. The Word of God does not enter, there is no place for love and in the end there is no place for freedom.”

Thus, they become slaves, because they exchange “the truth of God with lies,” and worship creatures instead of the Creator:

“They are not free and do not listen: this deafness leaves room neither for love, nor for freedom; it always leads us to slavery. Do I listen to the Word of God? Do I let it in? This Word, of which we have heard in the singing of the Alleluia – the Word of God is alive, effective, revealing the feelings and thoughts of the heart. It cuts, it gets inside. Do I let this Word in, or am I deaf to it? Do I transform it into appearance, transform it into idolatry, into idolatrous habits, or into ideology? Thus, it does not enter: this is the folly of Christians.”

Concluding exhortation: do not be foolish

Pope Francis concludes with an exhortation: to look at the “icons of today's fools,” adding, “There are foolish Christians and even foolish shepherds,” in this day. “Saint Augustine,” he recalled, “takes the stick to them, with gusto,” because “the folly of the shepherds hurts the flock.”

“Let us look at the icon of foolish Christians,” urged Pope Francis, “and beside this folly let us look on the Lord who is always at the door,” he knocks and waits. His concluding invitation is therefore that we should consider the Lord’s nostalgia for us: “of the love He had for us first”:

“And if we fall into this stupidity, we move away from Him and He feels this nostalgia – nostalgia for us – and Jesus wept with this longing cry, weeping over Jerusalem: it was nostalgia for a people He had chosen, a people He loved, but who had gone away for foolishness, who preferred appearances, idols, or ideologies.”

__________________________________

Pope Appeals for End to Conflicts, Climate Change and Hunger

Pope 1016172017-10-16 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday appealed to the international community not only to guarantee enough production and fair distribution of food for all but also to ensure the right of every human being to feed himself according to his needs without being forced to leave his home and loved ones.

He made the call at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, where he marked World Food Day, which this year has as its theme, “Change the future of migration. Invest in Food Security and rural development.” 

Conflicts and climate-change

Addressing the UN’s specialized agency that leads the international community’s fight against hunger and malnutrition in the world, the Pope urged governments to work together to end the conflicts and climate-change related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread. Citing the 2016 Paris climate accord in which governments committed themselves to combatting global warming, the Pope who spoke in Spanish, regretted ‎that “unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it.”‎ 

He noted that negligence and greed over the world's limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food.  He called for a change in lifestyle and the use of resources, adding it cannot be left for others to do.

World hunger

A UN report in September pointed out that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was growing once more after a decade of decline because of ongoing conflicts and floods and droughts triggered by climate change.  While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the UN warned that the increase is cause for great concern.

Love, fraternity, solidarity

Describing population control as a “false solution” to tackling hunger and malnutrition in the world, Pope Francis said what is needed instead is a better management of the earth’s abundant resources and prevention of waste in food and resources.  What is needed, he said, is a new model of international cooperation based on love, fraternity and solidarity that respond to the needs of the poorest.  Pity, he pointed out, is limited to emergency aid, but love inspires justice that is needed to bring about a just social order.

As a token of his visit and message, Pope Francis gifted to the UN food agency a marble sculpture of Aylan, the three-year-old Syrian toddler of Kurdish origin, whose image in the media made global headlines after his body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015 after he drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The Vatican explained that the sculpture featuring a weeping angel over the little boy's corpse, symbolized the tragedy of migration.

__________________________________

Pope Francis Canonizes 35 New Saints

Pope 1015172017-10-15 (Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”.

To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Canonization Mass, he said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”. 

Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil, while three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions. The other two new saints are a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739.

This is the full text of the Pope’s homily for the Mass of Canonization:

The parable we have just heard describes the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast (cf. Mt 22:1-14).  The central character is the king’s son, the bridegroom, in whom we can easily see Jesus.  The parable makes no mention of the bride, but only of the guests who were invited and expected, and those who wore the wedding garments. We are those guests, because the Lord wants “to celebrate the wedding” with us.  The wedding inaugurates a lifelong fellowship, the communion God wants to enjoy with all of us.  Our relationship with him, then, has to be more than that of devoted subjects with their king, faithful servants with their master, or dedicated students with their teacher.  It is above all the relationship of a beloved bride with her bridegroom.  In other words, the Lord wants us, he goes out to seek us and he invites us.  For him, it is not enough that we should do our duty and obey his laws.  He desires a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.

Such is the Christian life, a love story with God.  The Lord freely takes the initiative and no one can claim to be the only one invited.  No one has a better seat than anyone else, for all enjoy God’s favor.  The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love.  We can ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him; if we remember, among everything else we say, to tell him daily, “Lord, I love you; you are my life”.  Because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty.  It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.  The God of life, however, awaits a response of life.  The Lord of love awaits a response of love.  Speaking to one of the Churches in the Book of Revelation, God makes an explicit reproach: “You have abandoned your first love” (cf. Rev 2:4).  This is the danger – a Christian life that becomes routine, content with “normality”, without drive or enthusiasm, and with a short memory.  Instead, let us fan into flame the memory of our first love.  We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation.

The Gospel, however, warns us that the invitation can be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs.  “They made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business” (Mt 22:5).  Each was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation.  The guests did not think that the wedding feast would be dreary or boring; they simply “made light of it”.  They were caught up in their own affairs.  They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands.  This is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort…  We settle into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.  And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside.  When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves.  When everything depends on me – on what I like, on what serves me best, on what I want – then I become harsh and unbending.  I lash out at people for no reason, like the guests in the Gospel, who treated shamefully and ultimately killed (cf. v. 6) those sent to deliver the invitation, simply because they were bothering them. 

The Gospel asks us, then, where we stand: with ourselves or with God?  Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.  The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite.  When he hears a “no”, he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation.  In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.  When we are hurt by the unfair treatment of others or their rejection, we frequently harbor grudges and resentment.  God on the other hand, while hurt by our “no”, tries again; he keeps doing good even for those who do evil.  Because this is what love does.  Because this is the only way that evil is defeated.  Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.

There is one last idea that the Gospel emphasizes: the mandatory garment of the invited guests.  It is not enough to respond just once to the invitation, simply to say “yes” and then do nothing else.  Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the “habit” of practicing love.  We cannot say, “Lord, Lord”, without experiencing and putting into practice God’s will (cf. Mt 7:21).  We need to put on God’s love and to renew our choice for him daily.  The Saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way.  They did not say a fleeting “yes” to love; they said they “yes” with their lives and to the very end.  The robe they wore daily was the love of Jesus, that “mad” love that loved us to the end and offered his forgiveness and his robe to those who crucified him.  At baptism we received a white robe, the wedding garment for God.  Let us ask him, through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters, for the grace to decide daily to put on this garment and to keep it spotless.  How can we do this?  Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness.  This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.

__________________________________