Pope Francis - Angelus talks 

On Forgiveness

VATICAN CITY, March 17, 2013  -

Here is the translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address given today at St. Peter's Square. * * *

Brothers and sisters, hello! After the first meeting last Wednesday, today I can again offer my greeting to everyone! And I am glad to do it on Sunday, the Lords day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: coming together on Sunday, greeting each other, talking with each other like we are doing now here in the piazza; a piazza that, thanks to the media, has the dimensions of the world. On this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. John 8:1-11), who Jesus saves from the death sentence. Jesus attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more! (8:11). Well, brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, who always has patience. Have you thought about Gods patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not weary of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. Great is the mercy of the Lord, the Psalm says. These last several days I have been able to read a book by a cardinal Cardinal Kasper, a smart theologian, a good theologian on mercy. And it did me much good that book, but dont think that I am advertising the books of my cardinals! It is not that way! But it did me much good, much good... Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy, this word changes everything. It is the best word we can hear: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to rightly understand this mercy of God, this merciful Father, who has a lot of patience ... Let us remember the prophet Isaiah, who says that even if our sins are bright red, Gods mercy can make them white as snow. Mercy is beautiful! I remember, when I had just become a bishop, in the year 1992, Our Lady of Fatima had just arrived in Buenos Aires and there was a big Mass for the sick. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. And near the end of the Mass I got up, because I had to administer holy oil. An old lady came to me, a humble lady, very humble, over 80 years old/ I looked at her and I said to her: Grandma, because in our country this is what we call old people: Grandma do you want to go to confession? Yes, she said to me. But if you havent sinned..., [I said]. And she said to me: We have all sinned... . But maybe the Lord does not forgive them... [I replied]. The Lord forgives everything, she told me, certain of what she was saying. But how do you know that, madam? If the Lord did not forgive everything, [she said], the world wouldnt exist. I felt like asking her, Tell me, madam, did you study at the Gregorian? because thats the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: interior wisdom about the mercy of God. Let us not forget this: God never wearies of forgiving us, never! So, father, whats the problem? Well, the problem is that we grow weary, we do not want to, we tire of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but we, at times, we tire of aski ng forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father, who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And we too learn to be merciful with everyone. We invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man. Now let us all together pray the Angelus. [Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian.] I offer a cordial greeting to all the pilgrims. Thanks for your welcome and for your prayers. I ask you to pray for me. I renew my embrace of the faithful of Rome and I extend it to all of you, who come from various parts of Italy and of the world, and to those who are joining through different media. I chose the name of the Patron of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and that reinforces my spiritual bond with this land, where as you know my family has its origins. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church, this family of God, walking together along the way of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you, may Our Lady protect you. Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving! We are the ones who weary of asking for forgiveness. Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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On Christ's Victory in My Life
Francis' Address for Easter Monday

VATICAN CITY, April 02, 2013  - Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the address Francis gave Monday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Happy Easter to you all! Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. Let us pray that the power of the resurrection of Christ might reach everyone - especially those who suffer - and every place that is in need of trust and hope.
Christ has conquered evil fully and finally, but it is up to us, to people in every age, to embrace this victory in our lives and in the realities of history and society. For this reason it seems important to point out that today we ask God in the liturgy: “O God, who give constant increase to your Church by new offspring, grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives to the Sacrament they have received in faith.” (Collect for Monday in the Octave of Easter).
Indeed, the Baptism that makes us children of God, and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ, must become life. That is to say: they must be reflected in attitudes, behaviors, actions and choices. The grace contained in the Easter Sacraments is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. Nevertheless, everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let that grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, [to change whatever] might do harm to me and to others, then I allow the victory of Christ to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing – without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion, we can become an instrument of God's mercy – that beautiful mercy of God.
To Express in our lives the sacrament we have received: behold, dear brothers and sisters, our daily work – and, I would say, our daily joy! The joy of being instruments of the grace of Christ, as branches of the vine which is Christ himself, inspired by the sustaining presence of His Spirit! We pray together, in the name of the dead and risen Lord, and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Paschal mystery might work deeply in us and in our time, in order that hatred give way to love, lies to the truth, revenge to forgiveness, sadness to joy. 

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On Easter Faith
"We must not be afraid to be Christians and to live as Christians!"

VATICAN CITY, April 08, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters! Buon giorno!

On this Sunday that concludes the Octave of Easter I renew Easter greetings to everyone with the words of the risen Jesus himself: “Peace to you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26). It is not salutation nor a simple greeting: it is a gift, indeed, the precious gift that Christ offers to his disciples after having passed through death and the netherworld (“inferi”). He gives peace as he promised: “I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives it do I give it to you” (John 14:27). This peace is the fruit of the victory of God’s love over evil, it is the fruit of forgiveness. And this is exactly how it is: true peace, profound peace, comes from the experience of the mercy of God. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, established according to the wishes of Blessed John Paul II, who died on the very eve of this celebration.

The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus appeared twice to the Apostles who had locked themselves inside the upper room: the first was on the very evening of the Resurrection, and Thomas was not there, Thomas, who said: if I do not see and do not touch I will not believe. The second time, eight days later, Thomas was present. And Jesus addressed himself precisely to him, inviting him to look at the wounds and to touch them; and Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Then Jesus said: “Because you saw me you believed; blessed are those who have not seen and have believed!” (20:29). And who are these others who believed without seeing? Other disciples, other men and women of Jerusalem who, although they had not encountered the risen Jesus, believed on the testimony of the Apostles and the women. This is a very important consideration with respect to the faith, we might call it the beatitude of faith. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed: this is the beatitude of faith! In every time and in every place those people are blessed who, through the Word of God, proclaimed by the Church and witnessed to by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, Mercy incarnate. And this is true for all of us!

Together with his peace, Jesus granted his Apostles the Holy Spirit, so that they could bring the forgiveness of sins into the world, that forgiveness that only God can give and whose cost was the Blood of his Son (cf. John 20:21-23). The Church is sent by the risen Christ to transmit the remission of sins to men, and in this way to make the Kingdom of love grow, to sow peace in hearts, so that peace also be affirmed in relationships, in societies, in institutions. And the Spirit of the risen Christ drives fear out of the Apostles’ hearts and drives them out of the upper room to spread the Gospel. We too have more courage to witness to the faith in the risen Christ! We must not be afraid to be Christians and to live as Christians! We must have this courage to go proclaim Christ risen because he is our peace, he made peace with his love, with his forgiveness, with his blood, with his mercy.

Dear friends, this afternoon I will celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she help us, bishop and people, to walk together in faith and charity, always confident in the mercy of the Lord: He always waits for us, he loves us, he forgave us with is blood and he forgives us every time we go to him to ask forgiveness. Let us have faith in his mercy!

[Following the recitation of the “Regina Caeli” the Holy Father greeted those present. Here are some of his greetings:]

I offer a cordial greeting to the pilgrims who participated in the holy Mass celebrated by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, the center of devotion to Divine Mercy. Dear bothers and sisters, be messengers and witnesses of God’s mercy!

I am happy to greet the numerous members of the movements and associations that are present for our time of prayer together, especially the Neocatechumenal communities of Rome, who begin today a special mission in the piazzas of the city. I invite everyone to bring the Glad Tidings to every sphere of life, “with sweetness and respect”! (1 Peter 3:16). Go into the public places and proclaim Jesus Christ, our Savior.

[In conclusion the Holy Father said:]

May the Lord bless you, and have a good lunch!

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On the Good Sheperd

VATICAN CITY, April 21, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the faithful gathered at St. Peter's Square before and after the recitation of the Regina Caeli today.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The fourth Sunday of the Easter Season is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd that we read every year. Today’s passage cites these words of Jesus: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they know me and follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (John 10:27-30). These 4 verses contain Jesus’ whole message, the central nucleus of his Gospel: he calls us to participate in his relationship with the Father, and this is eternal life.

Jesus wants to establish a relationship with his friends that is the reflection of the one he himself has with the Father: a relation of mutual belonging in total confidence, in intimate communion. Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and his sheep to express this profound shared understanding, this relationship of friendship. The shepherd calls his sheep and they recognize his voice, they respond to his call and follow him. This is a beautiful parable! The mystery of the voice is suggestive: we think about how from our mother’s womb we learn to recognize her voice and our father’s voice; from the tone of someone’s voice we can perceive love or scorn, affection or coldness. Jesus’s voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it from others, he will lead us along the path of life, a path that stretches even beyond death.

But Jesus at a certain point says, referring to his sheep: “My Father, who gave them to me...” (John 10:29). This is very important, it is a profound mystery, it is not easy to understand: if I feel attracted by Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father, who has placed in me the desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty... and Jesus is all of this in its fullness! This helps us to understand the mystery of vocation, especially of calls to a special consecration. Sometimes Jesus calls us, invites us to follow him, but perhaps it occurs that we do not realize that it is him, as happened to the young Samuel. There are many young people here today in the piazza. There are a lot of you, no? We see... Aha! There are many young people here today in the piazza. I would like to ask you: Have you heard the Lord’s voice at some time in a desire, in upheaval, invite you to follow him more closely? Have you heard it? I can’t hear you. Okay... Have you wanted to be apostles of Jesus? Youth must be placed at the service of great ideals. Do you think so? Do you agree? Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be courageous! Be courageous! Ask him! Behind and prior to every vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone’s powerful and intense prayer: a grandmother’s, a grandfather’s, a mother’s, a father’s, a community’s... This is why Jesus said: “Pray to the Lord of the harvest,” that is, God the Father, “that he might send workers for the harvest!” (Matthew 9:38). Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I would like to underscore this today, which is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us pray in particular for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I had the joy to ordain this morning. And let us invoke Mary’s intercession. Today there were 10 young men who said “Yes” to Jesus and were ordained priests this morning... This is beautiful! Let us invoke Mary’s intercession, she who is the Woman of “Yes.” Mary said “Yes” her whole life! She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time she carried him in her womb. Mary our Mother, help us to recognize Jesus’ voice always better and to follow it to walk along the path of life! Thank you.

Thanks so much for the greeting, but greet Jesus too. Cry out “Jesus,” loudly... Let us all pray together to Our Lady.

[Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli the Holy Father made the following remarks:]

I am attentively following the events unfolding in Venezuela. I follow them with much concern, with intense prayer and with the hope that just and peaceful means are sought to get through this time of grave difficulty that the country is experiencing. I invite the dear Venezuelan people, in a special way institutional leaders and politicians, firmly to reject any sort of violence and to establish dialogue based upon truth in mutual respect, in pursuit of the common good and in love for the nation. I call upon believers to pray and to work for reconciliation and peace. Let us join together in a prayer full of hope for Venezuela, placing her in the hands of Our Lady of Coromoto.

My thoughts also go out to those affected by the earthquake in southwest continental China. Let us pray for the victims and for those who are suffering because of this violent quake.

This afternoon in Sondrio, Italy Don Nicolò Rusca will be proclaimed blessed. He was a Valtellinese priest who lived sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was an exemplary parish priest in Sondrio and was killed during the political and religious struggles of that tormented Europe at that time. Let us praise the Lord for his witness!

[Concluding, the Holy Father said:]

Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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On the Gift of the Spirit

VATICAN CITY, April 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis prior to the recitation of the Regina Caeli at the conclusion of the Day of Confirmands Massa in St. Peter’s Square today.

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Before concluding this celebration I would like to entrust the confirmandi and all of you to Our Lady. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to welcome the newness of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to welcome the Word of God, to welcome Jesus in ourselves and then bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Spirit with the Apostles in the upper room: every time that we come together in prayer, we are supported by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the ability to bear witness to the risen Jesus. I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to that which the Lord asks of you, and always to live and to walk according to the Holy Spirit!

I would like to extend my affectionate greeting to all of the pilgrims who have come from many countries. In particular I greet the young people who are preparing for Confirmation, the large group led by the Sisters of Charity, the parish groups from Poland and Bisignano, as well as the Katholische akademische Verbindung Capitolina.

At this time I, a special time, I would like to offer a prayer for the numerous victims of the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh. I express my solidarity and profound closeness to the families who weep for their loved ones and from the depths of my heart I sincerely call for the protection of the dignity and security of the worker.

Now in the Easter light, fruit of the Spirit, we turn together to the Mother of the Lord.

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On the Journey of Faith

VATICAN CITY, May 05, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to reciting the Regina Caeli at the conclusion of the Mass for the Day of Confraternities held in St. Peter's Square.

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In this moment of profound communion in Christ we also feel the presence of the Virgin Mary living among us. It is a maternal, familiar presence, especially for you who belong to the confraternaties. Love for the Madonna is one of the characteristics of popular piety, which must be valued and directed. For this reason I invite you to meditate on the last chapter of the second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church, “Lumen gentium,” which speaks precisely of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church. There it is stated that Mary “advanced in the pilgrimage of faith” (58). Dear friends, in the Year of Faith I present this portrait of Mary the pilgrim, who follows the Son Jesus and precedes all of us in the journey of faith.

Today the Eastern Churches, which follow the Julian Calendar, celebrate the feast of Easter. I would like to send these brothers and sisters a special greeting, uniting with them with my whole heart in proclaiming the glad tidings: Christ is risen! Recollected in prayer around Mary, we ask God for the gift the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that he might console and comfort all Christians – especially those who celebrate Easter amidst trials and suffering – and guide them in the path of reconciliation and peace.

Yesterday in Brazil Francisca de Paula De Jesus, called “NháChica,” was proclaimed blessed. Her simple life was dedicated wholly to God and to charity, so much so that she was called “mother of the poor.” I share the joy of the Church in Brazil over this luminous disciple of the Lord.

I greet with affection all of the confraternities that have come here from many countries. Thank you for your testimony of faith! I greet also the parish and family groups along with the parade of various musical bands and associations of Schützen who have come from Germany.

I offer a special greeting today to the “Meter” Association on this special day remembering children who are victims of violence. And this provides me with the occasion to direct a thought to those who have suffered and sufffer from abuse. I would like to to assure them that you are present in my prayer, and I would also like firmly to say that we must all cleary and courageously work that every human person, especially children, who are among the most vulnerable, might be defended and protected.

I also encourage those afflicted with pulmonary hypertension.

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On the Newly Canonized Saints

VATICAN CITY, May 12, 2013 - Here is the address given by Pope Francis prior to the recitation of the Regina Caeli at the end of the Canonization Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square today.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this celebration, I would like to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new saints, in a special way I greet the official delegations from Italy, Colombia and Mexico.

May the martyrs of Otranto help the dear Italian people to look to the future with hope, trusting the nearness of God, who never abandons us even in difficult moments.

Through the intercession of Mother Laura Montoya may the Lord grant a new missionary and evangelizing impulse to the Church and, inspired by this new saint’s example of peace and reconciliation, may the beloved sons and daughters of Colombia continue to work for peace and the just development of their homeland.

In the hands of St. Guadalupe García Zavala we place all the poor, the sick and those who assist them, and we commend to her intercession the noble Mexican nation, that all violence and insecurity be banished from that land, and that in every case the way of solidarity and fraternal coexistence be advanced.

I am also happy to note that yesterday in Rome Father Luigi Novarese, founder of the Center for the Volunteers of Suffering (Centro volontari della Sofferenza) and the Silent Workers of the Cross (Silenziosi Operai della Croce) was beatified. I join in the thanksgiving for this exemplary priest, who understood how to renew pastoral work with the sick, making them active participants in the Church.

I greet the participants in the “March for Life,” which took place this morning in Rome and I invite all to continue to be attentive to this very important issue of respect for human life from the moment of conception. In this regard I would like also to mention the gathering of signatures that is taking place today in Italian parishes to support the “One of Us” initiative in Europe to guarantee legal protection of the embryo, protecting every human being from the first instant of his existence. “‘Evangelium Vitae’ Day” will be a special, which will take place here at the Vatican June 15-16, in the context of the Year of Faith, will be a special moment for those who take seriously the defense of the sacredness of human life.

I greet with affection all the parish groups, families, schools and young people present. With filial love we turn now to the Virgin Mary, mother and model of all Christians.

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On Pentecost

VATICAN CITY, May 19, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Regina Caeli at the conclusion of the Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

This feast of faith, which began yesterday with the vigil and culminated this morning with the Eucharist, is about to conclude, a renewed Pentecost that transformed St. Peter’s Square in a cenacle opened to heaven. We relived the experience of the nascent Church, united in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). We too, in the variety of charisms, have experienced the beauty of unity, of being one. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit, who continually creates the unity of the Church.

I would like to thank the movements, the associations, the communities, the ecclesial groups. You are a gift and part of the riches of the Church! This is what you are! I thank in a special way all of you who have come from Rome and from many corners of the globe. Bring the power of the Gospel wherever you go! Do not be afraid! Always rejoice and be passionate about the communion of the Church! May the risen Lord always be with you and Our Lady protect you! Let us remember in prayer the people of the Region of Emilia Romagna in Italy who experienced an earthquake last year on May 20. I also pray for the Italian Federation of Oncology Volunteer Associations.

[After reciting the ReginaCaeli with those present the Holy Father concluded with these words:]

Brothers and sisters, thank you so much for your love for the Church! Have a goodSunday, happy Feast of Pentecost and have a good lunch!

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On the Most Holy Trinity

VATICAN CITY, May 26, 2013 - Here is the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Hello! This morning I made my first pastoral visit to a parish of the Diocese of Rome. I thank the Lord and I ask you to pray for my pastoral service and this Church of Rome, which has the mission of presiding in universal charity.

Today is Trinity Sunday. The light of Easter renews in us every year the joy and stupor of the faith: let us understand that God is not something vague, our God is not something vaporous, he is concrete, he is not an abstraction, but has a name: “God is love.” It is not a sentimental or emotive love, but the love of the Father that is the origin of every life, the love of the Son who dies on the cross and rises, the love of the Spirit, who renews man and the world. Understanding that God is love does us a lot of good, because it teaches us to love, to give ourselves to others as Jesus gave himself to us, to walk with us. Jesus walks with us along the road of life.

The Most Holy Trinity is not the product of human reasoning; it is the face with which God himself revealed himself, not from the height of a cathedra, but walking with humanity. It is precisely Jesus who revealed the Father and promised us the Holy Spirit. God walked with his people in the history of the people of Israel and Jesus always walked with us and promised us the Holy Spirit, who is fire, who teaches us all the things that we do not know, who guides us from within, he gives us the good ideas and the good inspirations.

Today we praise God not for a particular mystery but for himself, “for his great glory,” as the liturgical hymn says. We praise him and we thank him because he is Love, and because he calls us to enter into the embrace of his communion, which is eternal life.

Let us place our praises in the hands of the Virgin Mary. She, the most humble of creatures, through Christ has already arrived at the goal of the earthly pilgrimage: she is already in the glory of the Trinity. Because of this Mary our Mother, Our Lady, shines for us as a sign of sure hope. She is the Mother of hope; on our journey, on our road, she is the Mother of hope. She is also the Mother who consoles us, the Mother of consolation and the Mother who is with us on the journey. Now we all pray to Our Lady together, our Mother who accompanies us on the journey.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, in Palermo, Don Giuseppe Puglisi, priest and martyr, killed by the mafia in 1993, was beatified. Don Puglisi was an exemplary priest, especially dedicated to pastoral work with young people. Teaching them according to the Gospel, he snatched them out of the hands of organized crime, and so they tried to defeat him by killing him. In fact, however, he is the one who won, with the risen Christ. I think of the many sufferings of men and women, and of children, who are exploited by the mafia, who exploit them by forcing them into work that makes them slaves, with prostitution, with many social pressures. The mafia is behind this exploitation and slavery. Let us pray to the Lord that he convert the hearts of these people. They cannot do this! They cannot make us, their brothers, slaves! We must pray to the Lord! Let us pray that these mafiosi convert to God and praise God through the shining witness of Don Giuseppe Puglisi, and let us treasure his example!

I greet with affection all of the pilgrims present, the families, the parish groups, who have come from Italy, Spain, France and many other countries. I greet in particular the Associazione Nazionale San Paolo degli Oratori e dei Circoli Giovanili (National Association of St. Paul of Oratories and Youth Groups). Dear friends, may St. Philip Neri, whom we remember today, and Bl. Giuseppe Puglisi assist you in your efforts. I greet the group of Chinese Catholics who are present, who have gathered in Rome to pray for the Church in China, invoking the intercession of Mary Our Help.

My thoughts go out to those who promote the “Giornate del Sollievo” (Day of Relief) for the sick who are close to the end of their earthly journey; and to the Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla (Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association). Thank you for your work! I greet the Associazione Nazionale Arma di Cavalleria (National Calvary Corps Association), and the faithful of Fiumicello, near Padova.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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On the Feast of Corpus Domini

VATICAN CITY, June 02, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear friends and sisters, hello!

Thursday we celebrated the feast of “Corpus Domini,” which in Italy and other countries is moved to this Sunday. It is the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Gospel proposes to us the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves of bread (Luke9:11-17). I would like to reflect on an aspect of this miracle that always strikes me and makes me think. We are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, evening is drawing near; Jesus is concerned about the people who have been with him for many hours: there are thousands of people and they are hungry. What to do? The disciples pose the problem, and they say to Jesus: “Send the crowd away” so that they can go into the villages nearby and find something to eat. But Jesus says: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (9:13). The disciples are bewildered, and reply: “We only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish,” as if to say: just enough for us.

Jesus knows very well what to do but he wants to involve his disciples, he wants to educate them. The disciples have a human attitude, which looks for the more realist solution, which does not create too many problems: Send the crowd away, they say, and each person will do what he can. After all, you have already done a lot for them: you preached, you healed the sick... Send the crowd away!

Jesus’ attitude is sharply different, and it is determined by his union with the Father and by compassion for the people, that piety that Jesus has towards all of us: Jesus knows our problems, he knows are weaknesses, he knows our needs. With those 5 loaves of bread Jesus thinks: This is providence! From this little bit God can draw out what is necessary for everybody. Jesus puts himself entirely in the hands of the heavenly Father, he knows that with him all things are possible. So he tells the disciples to make the people sit down in groups of 50 – this is not by chance because this means that they are no longer a crowd but they have become a community nourished by the bread of God. Then he takes those bread and fish, lifts up his eyes to heaven, recites the benediction – it is a clear reference to the Eucharist – then he breaks them and begins to give them to the disciples, and the disciples distribute them... and there is not lack of bread and fish, no lack at all! This is the miracle: more than the multiplication there is the sharing animated by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and there is food left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the bread of God for humanity.

The disciples saw what happened but they did not understand the message very well. Like the crowd they were deeply impressed by the multiplication. Once again they do follow human logic rather than God’s logic, which is that of service, love, faith. The feast of “Corpus Domini" asks us to convert to faith in Providence, to know how to share the little that we are and have, and never to be closed up in ourselves. We ask our Mother Mary to help in this conversion, to follow more closely that Jesus whom we adore in the Eucharist. Amen.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

My concern over the continuing conflict in Syria is always profound and painful. It has disturbed Syria for more than 2 years and especially harms the unarmed population, which aspires to peace in justice and understanding. This tragic situation of war brings with it tragic consequences: death, destruction, enormous economic and environmental destruction as well as the scourge of kidnappings. In deploring these facts, I would like to assure my prayer and my solidarity for the persons who have been kidnapped and for their families and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers, that they might free their victims. Let us pray always for our beloved Syria.

In the world there are many situations of conflict, but there are also many signs of hope. I would like to encourage the many steps taken in Latin America toward reconciliation and peace. Let us accompany them with our prayer.

This morning I celebrated Mass with some members of the military and with some relatives of those who have died on peace missions that seek to promote reconciliation and peace in countries in which much blood of brothers continues to be spilled in wars that are always foolish. “Everything is lost with war. Everything is gained with peace.” I ask for prayer for the fallen, the wounded and their families. Let us pray together now in silence, on our heart – everyone together – a pray for the fallen, the wounded and their families. In silence.

I greet with affection all of the pilgrims who are here today: the families, the faithful of many parishes in Italy and other countries, the associations, the movements.

I greet the faithful who have come from Canada and those from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with group from Piccolo Cottolegno of Genova, the work of Don Orione.

Greetings to everyone. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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On the Mercy of Christ

VATICAN CITY, June 09, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitiation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the greatest human expression of divine love. It was just on Friday, in fact, that we celebrated the solemnity of the Heart of Christ, and this feast sets the tone for the whole month. Popular piety greatly values symbols and the Heart of Jesus is the symbol par excellence of God’s mercy; but it is not an imaginary symbol, it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which flows the salvation of all humanity.

In the Gospels we find various references to the Heart of Jesus, for example, in the passage in which Christ himself says: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened; I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves, and learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). Then there is John’s account of Christ’s death, which is fundamental for this theme. St. John, in fact, bears witness to to what he saw on Calvary, that is, that a soldier, when Jesus was already dead, pierced his side with a lance and from that wound blood and water poured out (cf. John 19:33-34). John recognized in that apparently fortuitous sign the fulfillment of the prophecies: from the Heart of Jesus, the Lamb immolated on the cross, forgiveness and life flows forth for all men.

But Jesus' mercy is not only a sentiment, it is a force that gives life, that revives man! Today’s Gospel says this too in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is entering Nain, a Galilean village, at the same time that a funeral is taking place: a young man is being carried on the bier, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately comes to rest upon the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her the Lord immediately felt great compassion for her” (7:13). This “compassion” is God’s love for man, it is mercy, that is, God’s attitude in the encounter with human misery, with our indigence, our suffering, our anxiety. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: mothers, in fact, experience a singular reaction in the face of suffering children. This is how God loves us Scripture says.

And what is the fruit of this love, this mercy? It is life! Jesus says to the widow of Nain: “Do not weep!” and then he calls the dead man and he awakens as from sleep (7:13-15). Let us think about this, it is beautiful: God’s mercy gives man life, it brings him back from death. The Lord always looks upon us with mercy; let us not forget it, he always looks upon us with, he awaits us with mercy. Let us not be afraid to approach him! He has a merciful heart! If we show him our inner wounds, our sins, he will always forgive us. He is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus!

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her immaculate heart, the heart of a mother, shared in God’s “compassion” as far as possible, especially in the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. Help us, Mary, to be meek, humble and merciful with our brothers.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made these remarks:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Krakow 2 Polish religious sisters are being beatified: Zofia Czeska Maciejowska, who in the early part of the 17th century founded the Congregation of the Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Malgorzata Lucja Szewczyk, who in the 19th century founded the Congregation of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sorrowful Mother of God. With the Church that is in Krakow we offer thanks to God!

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On the Gospel of LIfe

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass celebrating the Day of Evangelium Vitae.

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At the conclusion of this Eucharist dedicated to the Gospel of Life, I am happy to recall that yesterday at Carpi Odoardo Focherini was proclaimed blessed. He was a husband and father of 6 children and a journalist. He was captured and imprisoned because of hatred of his Catholic faith and died in a concentration camp in Hersbruck in 1944 when he was 37. He saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. Together with Church in Carpi, we thank God for this witness to the Gospel of Life! From my heart I thank all of you who have come from Rome and many parts of Italy and the world, especially the families and those who work directly for the protection of life.

I cordially greet the 150 members of the Pregnant Association of Argentina who are meeting in the city of Pilar. Thank you so much for what you do! Courage, forward!

Finally, I greet the many participants in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally and the members of the state police motorcycle club.

We turn now to Our Lady, entrusting each human life – especially the most fragile, defenseless and threatened – to her maternal protection.

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On Losing One's Life for Christ  

VATICAN CITY, June 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel reports one of Jesus’ most incisive statements: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).

Here there is a synthesis of Christ’s message and it is expressed with a very effective paradox, which informs us of his way of speaking, it almost makes us hear his voice...

But what does it mean “to lose your life for Jesus’ sake”? This can happen in 2 ways: explicitly confessing the faith or implicitly defending the truth. The martyrs are the supreme example of losing one’s life for Christ. In two thousand years there has been a great multitude of men and women who have sacrificed their life to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world there are many, many – more than in previous centuries – many martyrs, who give their life for Christ, who are put to death for not rejecting Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the previous centuries! But there is also daily martyrdom, which does not bring death but is also a “losing one’s life” for Christ, duty your duty with love, following the logic of Jesus, the logic of the gift, of sacrifice. Let us think of how many fathers and mothers put their faith in practice by concretely offering their life for the good of the family! Think about these people! How many priests, brothers, sisters carry out their service for the kingdom of God with generosity! How many young people renounce their own interests to care for children, the disabled, the elderly... They too are martyrs! Daily martyrs, martyrs of daily life!

And then there are many people, Christians and non-Christians, who “lose their life” for truth. And Christ said, “I am the truth,” so whoever serves the truth serves Christ.

One of these people, who gave his life for the truth, is John the Baptist. In fact,tomorrow, June 24, is his great feast, the solemnity of his birth. John was chosen by God to prepare the way for Jesus, and he pointed him out to the people of Israel as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29). John consecrated himself entirely to God and to the one he sent, Jesus. But in the end, what happened? He died for the sake of truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth! How many just men prefer to go against the current so as not to reject the voice of conscience, the voice of truth! Just persons, who are not afraid to go against the current! And we, we must not have fear to go against the current, when they want to steel our hope, when they propose these rotten values, values that are like food that has gone bad and when food has gone bad, it makes us sick; these values make us sick. We must go against the current! And you young people, you must be the first: Go against the current and be proud to go against the current. Forward, be courageous and go against the current! Be proud to do it!

Dear friends, let us welcome these words of Jesus. It is a rule of life proposed to everyone. And St. John the Baptist helps us to put them into practice.

On this path we are, as always, preceded by our Mother, Mary Most Holy: she lost her life for Jesus, going to the cross, and she received it [back] in fullness, with all the light and beauty of the Resurrection. May Mary help us always make the logic of the Gospel our own.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father spoke these words to those who were present:]

Remember this well: do not be afraid to go against the current! Be courageous! And just as we do not want to eat spoiled food, we must not have these rotten values that ruin life and take away hope. Forward!

I greet with affection the families, the parish groups, the associations, the schools. I greet the students of the diocesan high school of Vipàva in Slovenia; the Polish community of Ascoli Piceno (Italy); the UNITALSI (National Italian Transport Union of Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) of Ischia di Castro (Italy); the young people of the Oratory of Urgnano (Italy) – I see their banner here: Great, you are great! – the faithful of Pordenone (Italy); the sisters and workers of Miulli Hospital of Acquaviva delle Fonti (Italy); a group of union members from the Region of Veneto (Italy).

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

Pray for me and have a good lunch!

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On the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, June 29, is the solemn feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It is in a special way the feast of the Church of Rome, founded on the martyrdom of these 2 Apostles. But it is also a great feast for the universal Church because the whole People of God are in their debt for the gift of faith. Peter was the first to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Paul spread this teaching throughout the Greco-Roman world. And Providence willed that both come here to Rome and here shed blood for the faith. Because of this the Church of Rome immediately, spontaneously became the reference point for the all the Churches in the world. It was not by the power of the Empire but by the force of martyrdom, of witness to Christ! At bottom, it is always and only the love of Christ that generates faith and moves the Church forward.

We think of Peter. When he confessed his faith in Jesus he did not do it through his human powers but because he was conquered by the grace that Jesus unleashed, by the love that he heard in his worlds and saw in his actions. Jesus was the love of God in person! And the same thing happened to Paul, even if in a different way. From the time he was a young man Paul was an enemy of the Christians and when Jesus called him on the road to Damascus his life was transformed: he understood that Jesus was not dead, but alive, and loved him, his enemy, too! This is the experience of mercy, of the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ: this is the Good News, the Gospel that Peter and Paul experienced in themselves and for which they gave their lives. Mercy, forgiveness! The Lord always forgives us, the Lord has mercy, is mercy, has a merciful heart and he always waits for us. Dear brothers, what a joy to believe in God who is all love, all grace! This is the faith that Peter and Paul have received from Christ and have transmitted to the Church. Let us praise the Lord these 2 glorious witnesses, and like them let us allow ourselves to be conquered by Christ, by the mercy of Christ.

Let us also remember that Simon Peter had a brother, Andrew, who shared the experience of faith in Jesus with him. Indeed, Andrew met Jesus before Simon, and he immediately spoke to his brother about Jesus and brought him to him. I am glad to recall this because today, according to the beautiful tradition, the delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who has the Apostle Andrew as patron, is present in Rome. We all send our cordial greeting to Patriarch Bartholomew I and we pray for him and that Church. I also invite all of you to pray together an Ave Maria for Patriarch Bartholomew I. Everyone together, Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Let us also pray for the metropolitan archbishops of the different Churches of the world to whom I just gave the pallium, the symbol of communion and unity.

May our beloved Mother, Mary Most Holy, accompany and sustain us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

With joy I greet the pilgrims who have come from different countries to celebrate the metropolitan archbishops. I pray for all of their communities; in particular I encourage the people of central Africa, sorely tried, to walk in faith and hope.

I greet everyone with affection: families, the faithful of many parishes and associations, especially of Iglesias (Sardinia), of the city of Aragona (Sicily) and of Casale Popolo (Piedmont).

I wish everyone a good feast and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On the freedom that comes from God

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 9:51-62) contains a very important passage about the life of Christ. It is the moment in which, as St. Luke writes, “Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (9:51). Jerusalem is the final goal, where Jesus, at his last Passover, must die and rise again, and in this way carry out his mission of salvation.

From that moment, after that resolute decision, Jesus aims right at the target, and he clearly sets out the conditions to those whom he meets and ask to follow him: there is no stable place to live; they must be detach themselves from concern for human respect; they must not give in to nostalgia for the past.

But Jesus also says to his disciples, who are charged with preceding him on the road to Jerusalem to announce his passage, not to impose anything: if they are not accepted, they are to go elsewhere, they move forward. Jesus never imposes anything, Jesus is humble, Jesus invites. If you wish, come. This is Jesus’ humility: he always invites, he never imposes.

All of this makes us think. It tells us, for example, about the importance that, conscience had even for Jesus: hearing the Father’s voice and following him. Jesus, in his earthly existence, was not, so to speak, “remote controlled.” He was the incarnate Word, the Son of God made man, and at a certain point he firmly decided to go up to Jerusalem for the last time; it was a decision he made with his conscience, but he did not do it alone: he did it together with the Father, in full union with him! He decided in obedience to the Father, listening carefully, in intimacy, to his will. And because of this the decision was firm, because it was made together with the Father. And in the Father Jesus found the strength and the light for his journey. And Jesus was free, in that decision he was free. Jesus wants us Christians to be free like him, with that freedom that comes from this dialogue with the Father, from this dialogue with God. Jesus does not want egotistical Christians, who follow their own “I,” who do not speak with God; nor does he want weak Christians, Christians without a will, Christians who are “remote controlled,” incapable of creativity, who always seek to link themselves to someone else’s will and are not free. Jesus wants us to be free but where is this freedom found? It is found in dialogue with God in our conscience. If a Christian does not know how to speak with God, does not know how to listen to God in his own conscience, he is not free, he is not free.

For this reason we must learn how to listen more to our conscience. But be careful! This does not mean following our own “I,” do that which interests me, is convenient for me, that I like... It is not this! Our conscience is the interior place where we listen to truth, to goodness, where we listen to God; it is the interior place of my relation to him, the one who speaks to my heart and helps me discern, to understand the road that I must take, and once the decision is made, he helps me to go forward, to remain faithful.

We have a marvelous example of what this relationship with God in our conscience is like, a recent marvelous example. Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord made him understand, in prayer, what was the step that he had to take. He followed – with a great sense of discernment and courage – his conscience, that is, the will of God that spoke in his heart. And this example of our Father is good for all of us, as an example to follow.

Deep inside herself Our Lady, with great simplicity, listened and meditated on the Word of God and on that which happened to Jesus. She followed her Son with intimate conviction, with firm hope. Mary helps us to become more and more men and women of conscience, free in conscience, because it is in conscience that there is dialogue with God. She helps us to become more and more men and women capable of listening to God’s voice and of following it with decision.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Italy we celebrate the Day of the Pope’s Charity. I would like to thank the bishops and all the parishes, especially the poorest ones, for the prayers and offerings that support so many pastoral and charitable initiatives of the Successor of Peter in every part of the world. Thanks to all of you!

From my heart I greet all of the pilgrims present, in particular the many faithful who have come from Germany. I also greet the pilgrims from Madrid, Augsburg, Sonnino, Casarano, Lenola, Sambucetole and Montegranaro; the group of lay Dominicans, the Apostolic Fraternity of the Divine Mercy of Piazza Armerina, the Friends of the Missions of the Most Precious Blood, the National Italian Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and to International Shrines (UNITALSI) of Ischia di Castro and the young people of Latisana.

I ask you to pray for me. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On the Joy of Announcing the Gospel

VATICAN CITY, July 07, 2013

Dear brothers and sisters! Hello!

First of all I would like to share with you the joy of having met, yesterday and today, a special group of pilgrims of the Year of Faith. It was made up of seminarians and novices. I ask you to pray for them that the love for Christ grow more and more in their life and they become true missionaries of the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of this Sunday (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) speaks to us precisely of this: the fact that Jesus is not an isolated missionary, he does not wish to carry out his mission alone, but involves his disciples. And today we see that, besides the 12 disciples, he calls another 72, and he sends them to the villages, 2 by 2, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near.

This is so beautiful! Jesus does not want to work alone, he has come to bring God’s love into the world and wants to spread it in communion (“con lo stile della comunione”), in fraternity (“con lo stile della fraternità”). Because of this he immediately forms a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. Immediately he teaches them to be missionaries, to go out.

But, look, the purpose here is not to socialize, to spend time together, no, the purpose is to announce the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! And it is urgent today too! There is no time to lose with small talk, we do need to wait for everyone to agree, we need to go out and announce. The peace of Christ is brought to everyone, and if they do not accept it, we go forward just the same. Healing is brought to the sick because God wants to heal man of every evil. There are so many missionaries that do this! They sow life, health, comfort at the margins of the world. How beautiful this is! They do not live for themselves but to go out and do good! There are so many young people in the piazza today: think about this, ask yourselves: Is Jesus asking me to go out, to leave myself behind and do good? I ask you, young people, you young men and women: Are you brave enough for this, do you have the courage to listen to Jesus’ voice? It is beautiful to missionaries! ... Ah, you’re great! I like this!

These 72 disciples that Jesus sent out ahead of him, who are they? Who do they represent? If the 12 are the Apostles, and so also represent the Bishops, their successors, these 72 may represent the other ordained ministries, priests and deacons; but in a larger sense of the other ministries of the Church, of the catechists, of the lay faithful that work in parish missions, who work with the sick, with those who are disadvantaged and marginalized; but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is near. Everyone must be missionaries, everyone can hear that call of Jesus and go out and announce the Kingdom!

The Gospel says that those 72 came back from their missions filled with joy, because they experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. Jesus confirms it: to these disciples Jesus gives the power to conquer demons. But he adds: “Do not rejoice, however, because the demons submit to you; rejoice instead because your names are written in heaven” (Luke10:20). Do not boast as if we were the protagonists: there is only one protagonist: it is the Lord! The Lord’s grace is the protagonist! He is the only protagonist! And this alone is our joy: to be his disciples, his friends. May Our Lady help us to be good workers for the Gospel.

Dear friends, joy! Do not be afraid to be joyful! Do not be afraid of joy! That joy that the Lord gives us when we let him into our life, let us allow him to enter in our life and invite us to go out of ourselves to the margins of life and announce the Gospel. Do not be afraid of joy. Joy and courage!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

As you know, 2 days ago the encyclical letter on the topic of faith was published with the title “Lumen fidei,” the light of faith. Pope Benedict XVI began this encyclical for the Year of Faith. It follows his encyclicals on charity and hope. I took up this great labor and concluded it. I offer it with joy to the whole People of God: in fact, today we all need to go to the essence of the Christian faith, to study it and bring it to bear on contemporary issues. But I think that this encyclical, at least in some parts, can be useful also to those who seek God and the meaning of life. I place it in the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bear that fruit that the Lord wants.

I offer my cordial greeting to all of you, dear faithful of Rome and pilgrims. I greet in particular the young people of the Diocese of Rome who are preparing to leave for Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Dear young people, I too am preparing! Let us walk together toward this great feast of faith; may Our Lady accompany us and we’ll see each other down there!

I greet the Rosminian Sisters and the Francescane Angeline Sisters, who are conducting their general chapters; and the leaders of the Community of Sant'Egidio who have come from various countries for the course of formation. A wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch! Goodbye!

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On the Good Samaritan

CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY, July 14, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus at the Papal Residence of Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today our Sunday gathering for the Angelus is here at Castel Gandolfo. I greet the inhabitants of this beautiful little town! I would like to thank you above all for your prayers, and I thank all of you many pilgrims who have come here for you prayers too.

Today’s Gospel, from chapter 10 of Luke, is the famous parable of the good Samaritan. Who was this man? He was anyone, coming down from Jerusalem to Jericho on the road through the Judean desert. On that road a man has just been assailed by brigands, robbed, beaten and left half-dead. Before the Samaritan there pass by a priest and a Levite, two people who are in charge of worship in the Lord’s Temple. They see that poor man but keep going and do not stop. The Samaritan, when he saw the man, instead “had compassion for him” (Luke 10:33) the Gospel says. He came to him, treated his wounds, pouring oil and wine upon them; then he put him on his animal, took him to a hotel and paid for his room... In short, he took care of him: it is the example of love of neighbor. But why does Jesus choose a Samaritan as the protagonist of the parable? Because the Samaritans were despised by the Jews on account of different religious traditions; and yet Jesus shows that the heart of that Samaritan is good and generous and that – unlike the priest and the Levite – he puts into practice the will of God, who desires mercy more than sacrifices (cf. Mark 12:33). God always wants mercy for everyone and not condemnation. He wants the mercy of the heart because he is merciful and well understands our suffering, our difficulties and even our sins. He gives to all of us this merciful heart! The Samaritan does just this: he simply imitates the mercy of God, mercy toward those in need.

A man who fully lived this Gospel of the good Samaritan is the saint whom we remember today: St. Camillus de Lellis, founder of the Ministers to the Sick, patron of the sick and healthcare workers. St. Camillus died on July 14, 1614: precisely today begins the 4th century since his death, which will culminate in one year. I greet with affection all the sons and spiritual daughters of St. Camillus, who live his charism of charity and daily contact with the sick. You are like good Samaritans! I pray that doctors, the infirm and those who work in hospitals and care centers will be animated by the same spirit. Let us entrust this intention to Mary Most Holy.

And there is another intention that I would like to entrust to Our Lady together with all of you. World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro is coming up soon. There are many young people here according to age, but all of you are young at heart! I will leave in 8 days, but many young people will leave for Brazil earlier. Let us pray then for this great pilgrimage that is beginning, that Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil, guide the steps of the participants and open their hearts to welcome the message Christ will give them.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following to those who were present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I join in prayer with the prelates and faithful of the Church in Ukraine, gathered in the cathedral of Lutsk for the Holy Mass of suffrage on the occasion of the 70 anniversary of the massacres at Volhynia. Such actions, provoked by nationalist ideology in the tragic context of World War 2, caused tens of thousands of victims and wounded the fraternity of the 2 peoples, the Polish and the Ukrainian. I entrust to the mercy of God the souls of the victims and, for their people, I ask the grace of profound reconciliation and of a peaceful future in hope and in sincere collaboration for the common upbuilding of the Kingdom of God.

I think also of the pastors and the faithful who are participating in the pilgrimage of the family of Radio Maria to Jasna Góra, Częstochowa, Poland. I entrust you to the protection of the Mother of God and I bless you from my heart.

I greet with affection the faithful of the Diocese of Albano! I invoke the protection of their patron St. Bonaventure, whose feast the Church will celebrate tomorrow. May it be a beautiful feast and many best wishes! I greet all of the pilgrims who are present here: the parish groups, the families, the young people, especially those from Ireland; the group of young deaf people, who are holding an international meeting in Rome.

I greet the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, whom I wish a fruitful spiritual renewal; the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with families of different nations; the Daughters of Divine Charity, holding their general chapter; the superiors of the Daughters of Mary the Helper. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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On Contemplating the Word of God

VATICAN CITY, July 21, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's words before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The reading of the 10th chapter of the evangelist Luke continues this Sunday too. Today’s passage is the one about Martha and Mary. Who are these 2 women? Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, are relatives and faithful disciples of the Lord, who lived in Bethany. St. Luke described them in this way: Mary, at Jesus’ feet, “listened to his word,” while Martha was busy with a lot serving (cf. Luke 10:39-40). Both offer welcome to the Lord as he is traveling, but in different ways. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening. But Martha lets herself be absorbed by the things that need to be prepared and in so busy that she turns to Jesus saying: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me” (7:40). And Jesus responds rebuking her with sweetness. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (10:41).

What does Jesus wish to say? What is this one thing that we need? Above all it is important to understand that it is not a matter of contrasting 2 attitudes: listening to the Lord’s word, contemplation, and concrete service to our neighbor. They are not 2 opposed attitudes but, on the contrary, they are 2 aspects that are both essential for our Christian life; aspects that must never be separated but lived in profound unity and harmony. So why does Martha receive the rebuke even if it is done with sweetness? Because she took only what she was doing to be essential, she was too absorbed and worried about things to “do.” For a Christian, the works of service and charity are never detached from the principle source of our action: that is, listening to the Word of the Lord, sitting – like Mary – at Jesus’ feet in the attitude of a disciple. And for this reason Mary is rebuked.

In our Christian life too prayer and action are always profoundly united. Prayer that does not lead to concrete action toward a brother who is poor, sick, in need of help, the brother in difficulty, is a sterile and incomplete prayer. But, in the same way, when in ecclesial service we are only concerned with doing, we give greater weight to things, functions, structures, and we forget the centrality of Christ; we do not set aside time for dialogue with him in prayer, we are in risk of serving ourselves and not God present in our needy brother. St. Benedict took up the way of life that he summed up for his monks in 2 words: “ora et labora,” pray and work. It is from contemplation, from a strong relationship of friendship with the Lord that there is borne in us the capacity to live and bear God’s love, his mercy, his tenderness to others. It is also our work with our needy brother, our labor of charity in works of mercy, that brings us to the Lord because we see the Lord in our needy brother and sister.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the Mother of listening and service – who teaches us to meditate on the Word of her Son in our heart – to pray with fidelity, to be always more concretely attentive to the needs of our brothers.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke these words to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]

I greet with affection all the pilgrims present: families, parishes, associations, movements and groups. In particular I greet the faithful from Florence, Foggia and Villa Castelli, and the altar boys from Conselve with their families. I see a banner down there that reads “Buon Viaggio!” (Have a good trip!). Thank you! Thank you! I ask you to accompany me spiritually with prayer on the trip that I will start tomorrow. As you know, I will travel to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for the 28th World Youth Day. There will be many young people down there from every part of the world. And I think that you could call this Youth Week, yes, indeed, Youth Week! The young people will be the protagonists of this week. All of those who come to Rio want to hear Jesus’ voice, to listen to Jesus: “Lord, what should I do with my life? What it the road I should take?” You too – I don’t know if there are young people here in the piazza today! Are there young people? Aha! You young people too who are in the piazza, ask the Lord the same questions: “Lord, what should I do with my life? What it the road I should take?” Let us entrust these questions to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, much loved and venerated in Brazil: those that the young people will ask there and those that you will ask today. And may Our Lady help us in this new stage of pilgrimage. I wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus    On the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, July 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Address given by the Holy Father at the residence of the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro to pray the Angelus prayer for the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Mother of God and the grandparents of Jesus. It is also Grandparents Day in Brazil and around the world.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Friends,

I give thanks to Divine Providence for bringing me here to the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Orani Tempesta and to each of you for your warm welcome, which demonstrates your affection for the Successor of Peter. I would be happy if my visit to this city were to renew, in each one of you, your love for Christ and his Church and your joy in being one with him, belonging to the Church and being committed to offering a living witness to the faith.

The Angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day. It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities: in the morning, at midday, and at sunset. But it is an important prayer. I encourage each of you to recite it, along with the Hail Mary. It reminds us of a luminous event which transformed history: the Incarnation, the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth.

Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, "Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives" (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom.

And now, in this Square, in all the surrounding streets, and in those homes that are experiencing this moment of prayer with us, we feel like one big family, and we turn to Mary, that she may protect our families and make them places of faith and love in which the presence of Jesus her Son is felt.

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On True Wealth

VATICAN CITY, August 05, 2013 -

Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis before and after the recitation of the Angelus from the window of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on Sunday.

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Dear brothers and sisters! Hello!

Last Sunday I found myself in Rio de Janeiro. Holy Mass and World Youth Day concluded. I think we should all together thank the Lord for the great gift that this event was, for Brazil, for Latin America and for the world. It was a new stage in the pilgrimage of young people across the continents with cross of Christ. We must not forget that the World Youth Days are not “fireworks,” moments of enthusiasm that are an end in themselves; they are the stages of a long journey, begun in 1985, by the initiative of John Paul II. He gave the cross to the young people and told them: go and I will come with you! And this is how it was; and this pilgrimage of young people continued with Pope Benedict, and, thanks be to God, I too was able to live this marvelous stage in Brazil. Let us always remember: the youth do not follow the Pope, they follow Jesus Christ, carrying his cross. And the Pope leads them and accompanies them on this journey of faith and hope. So, I thank all the young people who participated, some of whom also made sacrifices to do so. And I thank the Lord too for the meetings I had with the Pastors and people of that great country that is Brazil, as well as with the authorities and volunteers. May the Lord repay all those who worked for this great feast of faith. I would also like to stress my gratitude, many thanks to the Brazilians. These people of Brazil are great, a people with a big heart! I will not forget their warm welcome, their greetings, their looks, such joy. They are also a generous people; I ask the Lord to bless them abundantly!

I would like to ask you to pray with me that the young people who participated World Youth Day be able to translate this experience into their daily journey, into their everyday behavior; and also be able to translate it into the important decisions of life, responding to the personal call of the Lord. Today the provocative words of Qoheleth resound in today’s liturgy: “Vanity of vanities ... all is vanity” (1:2). Young people are especially sensitive to the lack of meaning and values that surrounds them. And unfortunately they pay the consequences. But meeting with the living Jesus in his great family that is the Church fills the heart with joy because it fills us with true life, with a profound good, that does not pass or go bad: we saw it in the faces of the kids in Rio. But this experience must confront the vanity of daily life, the poison of the void that insinuates itself into our societies based on profit and having, that deceives young people with consumerism. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us precisely of the absurdity of basing our happiness on having. The rich man says to himself: My soul, you possess many things ... relax, eat, drink and enjoy! But God says to him: You fool, this very night your soul will be demanded of you. And the things you accumulated, whose will it be? (cf. Luke 12:19-20). Dear brothers and sisters, truth wealth is love of God shared with our brothers, that love that comes from God and brings us to share it with each other and help each other. Whoever has experience of this love does not fear death and receives peace of heart. Let us entrust this intention – of receiving God’s love and sharing it with our brothers – to the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks in Italian to those present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you and thank you for your presence despite the heat.

I am happy to greet in particular some youth groups: the Carmelite Youth of Croatia; the young people of Sandon and Fossò in the Diocese of Verona; those from Mozzanica in the Diocese of Cremona; those from Moncalieri, who walked here; those from Bergamo, who came by bicycle. Thank you all! There are a lot of young people in the piazza today: this seems like Rio de Janeiro!

I would like to assure parish priests and all the priests of the world a special remembrance because today is the feast of their patron: St. Jean Marie Vianney. Dear brothers, we are united in prayer and in personal charity.

Tomorrow, Romans, we remember our Mother, the “Salus Populi Romani”: let us ask her to protect us; and now we all together greet her with an Ave Maria. Everyone together: “Ave Maria...”. A greeting to our Mother – everyone together a greeting to our mother (he applauds together with the people).

I would also like to recall the liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, which will be the day after tomorrow, with a profound sentiment of gratitude for the Venerable Pope Paul VI, who departed from this world on the evening of August 6, 35 years ago.

Dear friends, I wish you a good Sunday and a good month of August. And have a good lunch! Goodbye!

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On Man's True Treasure

VATICAN CITY, August 11, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today from the window of the Apostolic Palace to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello! This Sundays Gospel (Luke 12:32-48) speaks to us of the desire for the definitive meeting with Christ, a desire that makes us always ready, with our spirit awake, because we await this encounter with our whole heart, with our entire self.

This is a fundamental aspect of life. There is a desire that we all have in our heart, whether explicit or hidden, we have it in our heart, we all have this desire in our heart. It is important to see this teaching of Jesus too in the concrete, existential context in which he transmitted it. In this case, the evangelist Luke shows us Jesus, who is walking with his disciples towards Jerusalem, towards the Passover (Pasqua) of death and resurrection, and on this journey he teaches them, confiding to them what he has in his heart, the intimate attitudes of his soul. Among these attitudes is the detachment from earthly goods, the confidence in the Fathers providence and, precisely, interior vigilance, the active expectation of the Kingdom of God. For Jesus it is the expectation of returning to the house of the Father. For us it is the expectation of Christ himself, who will come to get us to bring us to the feast without end, as he has already done with his Mother, Mary Most Holy: he brought her to heaven with him. This Gospel wishes to tell us that the Christian is one who carries within himself a great desire, a profound desire: that of meeting with his Lord together with his brothers, with his companions on the road. And all of this that Jesus tells us is summed up in this well-known saying of his: Where your treasure is, there your heart is too (Luke 12:34). The heart that desires... But we all have a desire! How poor are those people who lack desire! The desire to go forward toward the horizon, and for us Christians this horizon is the encounter with Jesus, the real encounter with him, who is our life, our joy, what makes us happy. But I will ask you 2 questions. The first: Do all of you have a desiring heart, a hear that desires? Think and answer in silence and in your heart: Do you have a heart that desires, or do you have a closed heart, a heart that is asleep, a heart that is anesthetized against the things of life? The desire: to go forward to the enco unter with Jesus. And the second question: Where is your treasure, that which you desire?

Because Jesus told us: Where your treasure is, there your heart is too and I ask: Where is your treasure? What is the most important, most precious reality for you, the reality that pulls at my heart like a magnet? What pulls at your heart? Can I say that it is the love of God? Is there the will to do good to others, to live for the Lord and for our brothers? Can I say this? Everyone answers in his heart. But someone might say to me: But, Father, Im someone who works, who has a family. For me the most important thing is to move my family ahead, to get ahead in work... Of course, it is true, it is important. But what is the power that unites the family? It is precisely love, and God is the one who sows love in our hearts, the love of God: It is precisely the love of God that gives meaning to the little daily duties and also helps us face the great trials. This is mans true treasure. Going forward in life with love, with that love that the Lord sowed in the heart, with the love of G od. And this is the true treasure. But what is the love of God? It is not something vague, a generic sentiment. The love of God has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Jesus. The love of God manifests itself in Jesus. Because we cannot love air... Do we love air? Do we love everything? No, it is not possible! We love persons, and the person whom we love is Jesus, the gift of the Father among us. It is a love that gives value and beauty to everything else; a love that gives strength to the family, work, study, friendship, art, to every human activity. And it gives meaning even to negative experiences because this love allows us to go beyond these experiences, to go beyond, not to remain prisoners of evil, but makes us go beyond, it always opens us up to hope. So, the love of God in Jesus always opens us up to hope, to that horizon of hope, to that ultimate horizon of our pilgrimage. In this way even our struggles and falls have a meaning. Our sins too have meaning in the love of God, be cause this love of God in Jesus Christ always forgives, it loves us so much that it always forgives us.

Dear brothers and sisters, today in the Church we recall St. Clare of Assisi, who, in the footsteps of Francis left everything to consecrate herself to Christ in poverty. St. Clare gives us a very beautiful witness to todays Gospel. May she help us, together with the Virgin Mary, to live it also ourselves, each one according to his own vocation.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Let us remember that Thursday is the solemnity of Marys assumption. Let us think about Our Mother, who arrived in heaven with Jesus, and let us celebrate with her on that day. I would like to offer a greeting to Muslims throughout the world, our brothers, who a short time ago celebrated the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, dedicated in a special way to fasting, to prayer and to almsgiving. As I wrote in my message for this occasion, I hope that Christians and Muslims work to promote reciprocal understanding, especially in the education of new generations. I greet with affection the Romans and pilgrims who are present. Today too I have the joy of greeting groups of young people: first of all those who have come from Chicago, on pilgrimage from Lourdes to Roma; and then the young people of Locate, of Predore and Tavernola Bergamasca, and the Scouts of Vittoria. I repeat to you too the words that were the theme of the great meeting in Rio: Go and make disciples of all nations.

To all of you, and to everyone, I wish a good Sunday and a good lunch! Goodbye!

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On Faith and Strength

VATICAN CITY, August 19, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

In today’s liturgy we listen to these words from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). This is a statement that we should highlight in a special way in this Year of Faith. We too, during this whole year of faith, should keep our gave fixed on Jesus because faith, which is our “yes” to the filial relation to God, comes from him, it comes from Jesus. He is the only mediator of this relationship between us and our Father who is in heaven. Jesus is the Son and we are sons in him.

But the Word of God this Sunday contains words of Jesus that put us into crisis and need to be explained so that they are not misunderstood. Jesus says to the disciples: “Did you think that I came to bring peace to the earth? No, I say to you, I came to bring division” (Luke 12:51). What does this mean? It means that the faith is not something decorative, ornamental; living the faith is not decorating life with a little religion, as if life were a pie and faith like the whipped cream that you use to decorate it. No, faith is not this. Faith entails choosing God as the basic criterion for life, and God is not empty, God is not neutral, God is always positive, God is love, and love is positive! After Jesus has come into the world we cannot act as if we do not know God, as if God were something abstract, empty, a mere name; no, God has a particular face, he has a name: God is mercy, God is fidelity, he is life that is given to all of us. This is why Jesus says: I came to bring division; not that Jesus wishes to divide men against each other. On the contrary, Jesus is our peace, he is our reconciliation! But this peace is not the peace of a grave, it is not neutrality, Jesus does not bring neutrality, this peace is not a compromise at all costs. Following Jesus means rejecting evil, egoism, and choosing the good, truth, justice, even when that requires sacrifice and renunciation of our own interests. And, yes, this divides; we know that it divides us even from the closest bonds. But remember: it is not Jesus who divides! He posits the criterion: living for ourselves or living for God and for others; be served or serve; obey ourselves or obey God. This is the way that Jesus is a “sign of contradiction” (Luke 2:34).

So, these words of the Gospel do not authorize in any way the use of force in spreading the faith. It is precisely the contrary: the true force of the Christian is the force of truth and of love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! Faith and violence are incompatible! But faith and strength go together. The Christian is not violent, but he strong. And with what strength? That of meekness, the force of meekness, the force of love.

Dear friends, even among Jesus’ relatives there were some that at a certain point did not share his way of living and preaching, which the Gospel tells us (cf. Mark 3:20-21). But his Mother always followed him faithfully, keeping the gaze of her heart fixed upon Jesus, the Son of the Most High, and his mystery. And in the end, thanks to Mary’s faith, Jesus’s relatives will become part of the first Christian community (cf. Acts 1:14). Let us ask Mary to help us too to keep our gaze carefully fixed upon Jesus and to follow him always, even when it costs us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks to those who were present:]

Remember this: following Jesus is not something neutral. Following Jesus means getting involved because faith is not something decorative, it is the strength of the soul!

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25th August, 2013    Angelus address:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

Today's Gospel invites us to reflect on the theme of salvation. Jesus is going up from Galilee to the city of Jerusalem, and along the way, says St. Luke the Evangelist, someone asked him,

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (13:23). Jesus did not answer the question directly: it is not important to know how many are saved, but rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation. And so Jesus responds to the question by saying, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (v. 24). What does Jesus mean? What is the gate by which we enter? And why does Jesus speak about a narrow gate?

The image of the gate recurs several times in the Gospel and is reminiscent of home and hearth, where we find safety, love and warmth. Jesus tells us that there is a gate that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus himself (cf. Jn 10:9). He is the gate. He is the gateway to salvation. He leads us to the Father. And the gate that is Jesus is never closed, this gate is never closed, it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges. Because, you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone. Some of you might say to me, “But Father, surely I am excluded, because I am a great sinner. I have done so many things in my life.” No, you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you. Don’t be afraid: He’s waiting for you. Be lively, have the courage to enter through His gate. All are invited to pass through this gate, to pass through the gate of faith, to enter into His life, and to allow Him to enter into our life, because He transforms it, renews it, the gifts of full and lasting joy.

Nowadays we pass many doors that invite us to enter, that promise a happiness that then we realise lasts but a moment, which is an end in itself and has no future. But I ask you: which gate do we want to enter? And who we want to through the gate of our lives? I want to say emphatically: don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus, to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others. Because Jesus illuminates our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a “flash”! No, it is a soft light that always endures and that gives us peace. That is the light that we meet if we enter through the gate of Jesus.

Certainly, it is a narrow gate, the gate of Jesus, not because it is a torture chamber. No, not because of that! But because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him. Jesus in the Gospel tells us that being a Christian is not having a “label”! I ask you, are you Christians because of a label, or in truth? And for each one the answer is within. Not Christians, never Christians because of a label! Christians in truth, in the heart. To be Christian is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.

We ask the Virgin Mary, the Gate of Heaven, to help us to pass through the gate of faith, to allow her Son to transform our existence as He transformed hers, in order to bring everyone the joy of the Gospel.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for peace in Syria (see separate story) and went on to greet pilgrims in attendance in Saint Peter's Square.]

 

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present: families, the numerous groups and the Associazione Albergoni. In particular I greet the Sisters of Santa Dorotea, the youth of Verona, Syracuse, Nave, Modica and Trento, the candidates for Confirmation of the Unità Pastorale of Angarano and Val Liona, seminarians and priests of the Pontifical North American College, the workers of Cuneo and the pilgrims Verrua Po, San Zeno Naviglio, Urago d'Oglio, Varano Borghi and Sao Paulo. For many people, these days mark the end of the summer vacation period. I wish you all a peaceful and committed return to normal daily life looking to the future with hope.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week! Buon pranzo, and arrivederci!

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On the Narrow Door That Is Christ

VATICAN CITY, August 26, 2013

Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on the topic of salvation. Jesus going up from Galilee to the city of Jerusalem and along the way someone – the evangelist Luke says – comes up to him and asks him: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (Luke 13:23). Jesus does not answer the question directly. It is not important to know how many will be saved, rather, it is important to know the way to salvation. This is how Jesus responds to the question: “Try to enter by the narrow door, because many will try to enter but will not succeed” (Luke 13:24). What does Jesus wish to say? What is the door by which we should enter? And why does Jesus talk about a narrow door? The image of the door appears various times in the Gospel and reminds us of the door of a house, of the domestic hearth, where we find security, love, warmth. Jesus tells us that there is a door that permits us to enter into God’s family, in the warmth of the house of God, into communion with him. This door is Jesus himself (cf. John 10:9). He is the door. He is the way of salvation. He leads us to the Father. And the door that is Jesus is never closed, this door is never closed; it is always open and to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges, because, as you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone. One might try to tell me: “But, Father, surely I am excluded, because I am a great sinner: I have done ugly things, many ugly things in my life.” No, you are not excluded! Precisely because of this you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, to forgive him. Jesus is always waiting for you, to embrace you, to forgive you. Do not be afraid: he is waiting for you. Wake up, take heart to enter his door. Everyone is invited to enter by this door, to enter the door of faith, to enter into his life, and to let him enter our life, so that he transform it, renew it, give us complete and lasting joy.

Today we pass by many doors that invite us to enter, promising a happiness that we then realize lasts only an instant, that exhausts itself and has not future. But I ask you: What door do we wish to enter? And who do we want to let in through door of our life? I want to say firmly: let us not be afraid to enter the door of faith in Jesus, to let him enter more and more into our life, to leave behind our egoism, our closedness, our indifference to others, so that Jesus illuminate our life with a light that never goes out. It is not fireworks, it is not a flash! No, it is a tranquil light that lasts forever and gives us peace. This is the light that we encounter if we enter the door of Jesus.

Of course, Jesus is the narrow door, not because it is a place of torture. No, that is not the reason! It is because he asks us to open up our heart to him, to recognize ourselves as sinners in need of salvation, of his forgiveness, of his love, of having the humility to welcome his mercy and be renewed by him. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that being Christians is not having a “label”! I ask you: Are you only Christians by label or are you Christians in truth? Each one answer for himself! Never Christians by label! Christians in truth and of the heart. Be Christians and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. Our whole life must pass through the narrow door that is Christ.

We ask the Virgin Mary, the Door of Heaven, to help us to enter the door of faith, to let her Son transform our existence as he transformed hers to bring everyone the joy of the Gospel.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present. Here are his remarks:]

With great suffering and concern I continue to follow the situation in Syria. The growth in violence in a war between brothers, with a multiplication of massacres and atrocities that we have all been able to see in the terrible images of recent days, moves me once again to call in a loud voice for the fighting to cease. It is not conflict that offers a perspectives of hope for resolving problems, but it is the capacity for meeting and dialogue.

From the depths of my heart, I would like to manifest my nearness in prayer and in solidarity to all the victims of this conflict, to all those who suffer, especially the children, and invite everyone to keep the hope of peace alive. I appeal to the international community to show itself to be more responsive to this tragic situation and to do all it can to help the beloved Syrian nation find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death.

Let us all pray together – everyone together pray to Our Lady, Queen of Peace: Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us. Everyone: Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

I greet with affection all the pilgrims who are present: the families, the numerous groups and the Albergoni Association. I especially offer greetings to the Sister Teachers of Saint Dorothy, the young people of Verona, Siracusa, Nave, Modica and Trento; the confirmands of the pastoral groups of Angarano and Val Liona; the seminarians and priests of the Pontifical North American College; the workers of Cuneo and the pilgrims and the pilgrims of Verrua Po, San Zeno Naviglio, Urago d’Oglio, Varano Borghi and Sao Paolo in Brazil. For many people this is the end of summer vacation. I wish everyone a happy and productive return to normal daily life, looking to the future in hope.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week! Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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On the Plea for Peace (Angelus)
"I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 Sept. next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world"

VATICAN CITY, September 01, 2013 - Here is a Vatican translation of the Pope's address this morning, given before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Hello!

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

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On the Choice to Be a Disciple
"Jesus does not want to delude anyone"

VATICAN CITY, September 08, 2013 - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists on the conditions of being his disciples: Do not oppose anything to your love for him, carry your cross and follow him. Many people, in fact, approached Jesus. They wanted to be his disciples; this especially happened after some miraculous sign, which confirmed him as the Messiah, the King of Israel. But Jesus does not want to delude anyone. He knows well what awaits him at Jerusalem, what way the Father wants him to go. It is the way of the cross, for the sacrifice of himself for the forgiveness of our sins. Following Jesus does not mean being a member of some triumphant entourage! It means sharing his merciful love, entering into his great work of mercy for each man and for all men. Jesus’ work is simply a work a mercy, of forgiveness, of love! Jesus is so merciful! And this universal pardon, this universal mercy, passes through the cross. Jesus does not to do this work alone: he wants to involve us too in the mission that the Father has given him. After the resurrection he will say to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you … Those whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven” (John 20:21, 22). The disciple of Jesus gives up all he has, all his goods, because he has found in him the greatest Good from which every other good receives its full value and meaning: family bonds, other relationships, work, cultural and economic goods and so on… The Christian detaches himself from everything and rediscovers all of it in the logic of the Gospel, the logic of love and service.

To explain this demand Jesus uses two parables: that of the tower that must be built and that of the king who goes to war. Jesus states in the second parable: “What king, going to war against another king, does not first sit down and determine whether he cannot defeat with 10,000 men the one who is marching on him with 20,000? If he cannot, while the other is still far away, he sends messengers to ask for peace” (Luke 14:31-32). Here Jesus does not intend to address the topic of war. It is only a parable. However, at the present time when we are fervently praying for peace, this Word of the Lord strikes at our heart and the substance of it tells us: there is a deeper war that all of us must fight! It is the tough and courageous decision to reject evil and its seductions and to choose the good, ready to pay personally. This profound war of fighting evil is following Christ! This is carrying our cross! What point is there to fighting wars, many wars, if you are incapable of fighting this deeper war against evil? It is pointless! It is unacceptable… Among other things this war against evil entails saying no to fratricidal hatred and the lies that serve it; saying no to violence in all its forms; saying no to the proliferation of weapons and their illegal trafficking. There is so much! So much! And the doubt always remains: that war there, that other one there – because there are wars everywhere – is it truly a war over real problems or is it a commercial war to sell illegal weapons? These are the enemies to fight, unified and with consistency, with no other interests at heart but those of peace and the common good.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we also remember the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a feast especially dear to the Eastern Churches. And all of us, now, we can send a kind greeting to all our brothers and sisters, bishops and monks of the Eastern Churches, Orthodox and Catholic: a kind greeting! Jesus is the sun. Mary is the dawn that announces his rising. Yesterday evening we held a vigil entrusting to Mary’s intercession our prayer for peace in the world, especially in Syria and in the whole Middle East. Let us invoke Mary now as Queen of Peace. Queen of Peace pray for us! Queen of Peace pray for us!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present:]

I would like to thank everyone who, in various ways, joined in the Vigil of Prayer and Fasting yesterday evening. I thank the many people who united the offering of their sufferings. I express my gratitude to the civil authorities, as well as to the members of other Christian communities and of other religions, and to men and women of good will who have undertaken, on this occasion, periods of prayer, fasting and reflection.

But the task remains: we move forward with prayer and works of peace. I invite you to continue to pray so that the violence and devastation in Syria may cease immediately and that a renewed effort be undertaken to achieve a just solution to this fratricidal conflict. Let us pray also for other countries in the Middle East, in particular for Lebanon, that it may find its hoped-for stability and continue to be a model of peaceful co-existence; for Iraq, that sectarian violence may give way to reconciliation; and that the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians may proceed with determination and courage. Finally, let us pray for Egypt, that all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, may commit themselves to build up together a society dedicated to the good of the whole population.

[The two preceding paragraphs are from the official Vatican English translation of the Holy Father’s remarks.]

With joy we recall that yesterday, in Rovigo, Maria Bolognesi was beatified, a faithful laywoman of that place, who was born in 1924 and died in 1980. She spent her whole life in the service of others, especially the poor and sick, enduring great sufferings in profound union with the passion of Christ. Let us thank God for her witness to the Gospel!

I greet with affection all the pilgrims present, all of you! In particular I greet the faithful of the Patriarchate of Venice, led by the Patriarch; the alumni and alumnae of Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (Daughters of Mary Help [of Christians]); and the participants in the “Campaign of Our Lady Pilgrim of Schoenstatt.”

I greet the faithful of Carcare, Bitonto, Sciacca, Nocera Superiore, and of the Diocese of Acerra; the Compagnia delle Sorelle del Santo Rosario di Villa Pitignano (Society of Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Villa Pitignano); the young people of Torano Nuovo, Martignano, Tencarola and Carmignano, and the Sorelle della Misericordia di Verona (Sisters of Mercy of Verona).

I greet the choir of San Giovanni Ilarione, the “Pace e Gioia” (Peace and Joy) associations of Santa Vittoria d’Alba and Calima di Orzinuovi, and the blood donors of Cimolais.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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On the Mercy of God

VATICAN CITY, September 16, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

In today’s liturgy we read chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, which contains 3 parables of mercy: that of the lost sheep, that of the lost coin, and then the longest of all the parables, unique to St. Luke, that of the of the father and the 2 sons, the “prodigal” son and the son who thinks he is “just,” who thinks he is holy. All 3 of these parables speak of God’s joy. God is joyful. This is interesting: God is joyful! And what is God’s joy? It is God’s joy to pardon, God’s joy is to pardon! It is the joy of a shepherd who finds his little sheep; the joy of a woman who finds her coin; it is the joy of a father who welcomes back into his house the son who was lost – it was as if he were dead and had come back to life, had come back home. Here is the whole Gospel! Here! Here is the whole Gospel, the whole of Christianity! But understand that it is not sentiment, it is not “do-goodism”! On the contrary, mercy is the true power that can save man and the world from the “cancer” of sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Love alone fills the voids, the negative abysses that evil opens in the heart of history. Only love can do this, and this is God’s joy!

Jesus is all mercy, all love: he is God made man. Each of us, each of us, is that lost sheep, that lost coin; each of us is that son who has squandered his freedom following idols, mirages of happiness, and has lost everything. But God does not forget us, the Father never abandons us. He is a patient father, he is always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but he always remains faithful. And when we return to him, he welcomes us as his children into his house because he never ceases, not even for a moment, to wait for us, with love. And his heart celebrates for every child that returns. It celebrates because it is joy. God has this joy when one of us sinners goes to him and asks forgiveness.

What is the danger? It is that we presume to be just, and judge others. We judge God too because we think that he ought to castigate sinners, condemn them to death, instead of forgiving them. This is how we court the danger of remaining outside the Father’s house! Like that older brother of the parable, who, instead of being happy because his brother had returned, gets angry with the father who welcomed him and celebrates. If there is no mercy in our heart, the joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe every precept, because it is love that saves, not merely following precepts. It is the love of God and neighbor that fulfills all the commandments. And this is God’s love, his joy: forgiveness. He always waits for us! Maybe someone has something heavy in his heart: “But I did this, I did that… .” He is waiting for you! He is a father: he is always waiting for us!

If we live by the law “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth for a tooth,” we will never get out of the spiral of evil. The Devil is clever, and he dupes us into thinking that with our human justice we can save ourselves and the world. In reality, only God’s justice can save us! And God’s justice is revealed in the cross: the cross is God’s judgment on all of us and this world. But how does God judge us? By giving his life for us! This is the supreme act of justice that defeated the Prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is also the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls all of us to follow this road: “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). I will ask you to do something now. In silence, everyone, let us all think… everyone think of a person with whom we are not in good stead, with whom we are angry, whom we dislike. Let us think of this person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and become merciful with this person. [There is a moment of silence for the prayer proposed by the Holy Father.]

Let us now call upon the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian and Spanish. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday in Argentina José Gabriel Brochero, a priest of the Diocese of Córdoba, who was born in 1840 and died in 1914, was beatified. Moved by the love of Christ he dedicated himself to his flock, to bring everyone to the Kingdom of God, with immense mercy and zeal for souls. He lived among the people and encouraged many of them make spiritual retreats. He traveled many kilometers, riding through the mountains with his mule that he called “Ugly Face,” because it was not very nice looking. He even traveled in the rain. He was courageous! But you too, with this rain, you are here, you are brave. What an impressive group! At the end this newly beatified priest was blind and suffering from leprosy, but he was full of joy, the joy of the Good Shepherd, the joy of the Merciful Shepherd!

[Then in Spanish the Holy Father said:]

I would like to join in the joy of the Church in Argentina for the beatification of this exemplary pastor, who, on the back of his mule, tirelessly traveled the rough roads of his parish, seeking to bring the people who had been entrusted to him to God. Let us ask Christ, through the intercession of this newly beatified priest, that he increase the number of priests, who, in imitation of Fr. Brochero, give their lives to the service of evangelization, kneeling before the Crucified and bearing witness everywhere to the love and mercy of God.

Today in Turin concludes the Social Week of Italian Catholics, which took as its theme “Family: Hope and Future for Italian Society.” I greet all the participants and I am glad to see the great commitment of families and for families in the Church in Italy. It is a powerful stimulus for institutions and for the whole country. Have courage! Forward on this path of the family!

I greet with affection all the pilgrims who are present here today: the families, the parish groups, the young people. In particular I greet the faithful of Dresano, Taggì di Sotto and Torre Canne di Fasano; l’UNITALSI (National Italian Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) of Ogliastra, the children of Trent who will soon receive First Communion, the young people from Florence and the Italy Spider Club.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On Our Lady of Bonaria

CAGLIARI, September 22, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus after Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari today.

--- --- ---

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I greet in particular my brother bishops of Sardinia, whom I thank. Here, at the feet of Our Lady, I would like to thank each and every one of you, dear faithful, priests, religious, public officials and in a special way those who worked together to organize this visit. Above all I would like to entrust you to Mary, Our Lady of Bonaria. But at this moment I think of all the Marian shrines of Sardinia: your land has a strong connection with Mary, a connection that you express in your devotion and in your culture. Always be true sons of Mary and the Church, and show it with you life, following the example of the saints!

In this regard, we recall that yesterday, in Bergamo, Tommaso Acerbis da Olera, a Capuchin friar, who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries, was beatified. We give thanks for this witness of humility and charity of Christ!

Now let us recite the prayer of the Angelus together.

[The Holy Father then recited the Angelus together with those present. Following this, in conclusion he said:]

I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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Angelus: On the Day of Catechists

VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2013  - Here is the Holy Father's words prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the Mass for the Day of Catechists held in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I would like to greet all of you and thank you for your participation, especially the catechists who have come from all over the world.

I offer a special greeting to my brother His Beatitude Youhanna X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. His presence invites us to pray once again for peace in Syria and the Middle East.

I greet the pilgrims who have come from Assisi on horseback and the Italian Alpine Club on the 150th anniversary of its foundation.

[In Spanish he said:]

I greet with affection the pilgrims from Nicaragua. The pastors and faithful of this dear nation are celebrating with joy the centenary of the canonical foundation of their ecclesiastical province.

[Again in Italian he said:]

With joy we recall the beatification yesterday in Croatia of Miroslav Bulešić, a diocesan priest, who was martyred in 1947. We praise the Lord, who grants to the weak the power of extreme testimony.

We turn now to Mary with the Angelus prayer.

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Angelus:  On the Power of Faith

VATICAN CITY, October 06, 2013 - Here is the translation of the address given by the Holy Father before and after the recitation of the Angelus today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

First of all I want to thank God for the day I spent at Assisi on Friday. Understand that this was the first time that I went to Assisi and it was a great gift to make this pilgrimage on the feast on St. Francis. I thank the people of Assisi for their warm reception. Many thanks!

Today the Gospel reading begins this way: “At that time the apostles said to the Lord: “‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17;5-6). I think that all of us can make this request our own. We, like the Apostles, also say to Jesus: ”Increase our faith!” Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak, fragile, but we offer it to you just as it is, so that you will make it grow. It seems to me that it would be good for all of us to repeat this together: “Lord, increase our faith!” Shall we do it? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!

And the Lord, how does he answer? He replies: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). The mustard seed is very small, but Jesus says that it is enough to have a faith like this, small, but true, sincere to do things that are humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but with an incredibly strong faith, who truly move mountains! Think, for example, of certain mammas and papas who face very hard situations; or certain sick people, even gravely sick people, who convey serenity to those who visit them. These people, precisely because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “We are useless servants. We have done what we were supposed to do” (Luke 17:10). How many people among us have this strong, humble faith and do so much good!

In this month of October, which is especially dedicated to the missions, we think of many missionaries, men and women, who have overcome all sorts of obstacles to spread the Gospel. They have truly given their life; as St. Paul says to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed to bear witness to our Lord, nor to me, in prison for him; but with the power of God, suffer with me for the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8). But this is meant for everyone: each one of us, in his everyday life, can bear witness to Christ, with the power of God, the power of faith, the small faith that we have, which, nevertheless, is strong! With this strength bear witness to Jesus Christ, be Christians with your life, with our witness!

And where do we get this strength from? We get it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be lacking, and prayer is a dialogue of the soul with God. October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it a tradition to recite the Supplication to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary. Let us join spiritually in this act of confidence in our Mother, and we receive from her hands the beads of the Rosary: the Rosary is a school of prayer; the Rosary is a school of faith!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday in Modena (Italy) Rolando Rivi was beatified. He was a seminarian of that region, Emilia, who was killed in 1945, when he was 14, because of hatred for his faith, guilty only of wearing a cassock during that time of raging violence against the clergy, who spoke out to condemn in the name of God the postwar massacres. But the faith in Jesus overcomes the spirit of the world! Let us thank God for this young martyr, heroic witness to the Gospel! Let us give thanks to God for this young martyr, heroic witness to the Gospel. Many young people today have this example before their eyes: a courageous young man who knew where he must go, who knew the love of Jesus in his heart and gave his life for him. A beautiful example for young people!

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Angelus: On the Marian Day

VATICAN CITY, October 13, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass for the Marian Day. The Mass was held in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, in Terragona, Spain about 500 martyrs, killed for their faith during the Spanish civil war of the 1930s, are being proclaimed blessed. Let us praised the Lord for these courageous witnesses of his and through their intercession let us supplicate [God] to free the world from all violence.

I thank all of you who came in great numbers from Rome, from Italy and from many parts of the world for this celebration of faith dedicated to Mary our Mother.

[Speaking in Spanish, the Holy Father said:]

I greet with affection the Panamanian group who are meeting today in Rome and I entrust them to the protection of Our Lady of Antigua, heavenly patroness of this dear nation.

[Speaking again in Italian, he said]

I greet the children of the Piccole Impronte [Small Prints] International Orchestra for Peace, and the National Association for Amputee and Handicapped Workers.

I greet the young people of Rome, who have recently undertaken the “Jesus at the Center” mission: always be missionaries of the Gospel, every day and in every place! And I happily address a greeting also to the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari.

And now let us pray together:

“Angelus Domini...”

I wish you a good Sunday, a good lunch. And goodbye!

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On Praying with Insistence

VATICAN CITY, October 21, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus yesterday to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

In today's Gospel, Jesus told a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. The main character is a widow who, forced to plead before a dishonest judge, manages to get him to grant her justice. And Jesus concludes, if the widow managed to convince that judge, do you think God will not hear us, if we pray to Him insistently? The expression used by Jesus is very strong: Will not God then do justice for His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night?

To cry out day and night to the Lord! This is a striking image of prayer. But we might ask, why does God want this. Doesn't He already know our needs? What does it mean to insist with God?

And this is a good question, that leads us to deepen a very important aspect of the Faith: God invites us to pray with insistence, not because He doesn't know what we need, or because He doesn't listen to us. On the contrary, He always hears and knows all of us, with love. In our daily journey, especially in difficulties, in the fight against evil outside of ourselves and within us, the Lord is not far away, He is at our side; we fight with Him beside us, and our weapon is prayer, which makes us feel His presence alongside of us, His mercy, even His help. But the fight against evil is hard and long, it requires patience and resistance like Moses, who had to hold up his arms so that his people could triumph (cf. Ex. 17:8-13). It is so: there is a struggle to carry on every day; but God is our ally, faith in Him is our strength, and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore, Jesus assures us of victory but in the end He asks When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? (Lk. 18:8). If the faith goes out, if prayer goes out, and we walk in the darkness, we will be lost on the journey of life.

Let us learn, therefore, from the widow of the Gospel, and pray always without growing weary. This widow was good, she knew to fight for her children, and I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray, who never grow weary! Today let us remember, all of us, these women who with their behavior give us a true witness of faith, of courage, of a model of prayer. Let us remember them! Pray always, but not to convince the Lord by the strength of words! He knows better than we do what it is we need. And so persevering prayer is an expression of faith in a God Who calls us to fight along with Him, every day, every moment, to overcome evil with good.

(After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:)

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is World Mission Day. What is the mission of the Church? To spread throughout the world the flame of faith that Jesus has lighted in the world: faith in God who is Father, Love, and Mercy. The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but that the sharing of the flame that heats up the soul. I thank all those who through prayer and concrete help sustain the work of the missions, in particular the solicitude of the Bishop of Rome for spread of the Gospel. On this Day, we are close to all men and women missionaries, who work without making noise, and who give their lives. [Missionaries] like the Italian Afra Martinelli, who worked for many years in Nigeria: one day she was killed in a robbery; everyone wept, Christians and Muslims. They really loved her! She announced the Gospel with her life, with the works she accomplished, a center of instruction; in this way she spread the flame of faith, she fought the good fight. Let us think about this our sister, and greet her with applause, all of us!

I think too of Stefano Sándor, who was beatified yesterday in Budapest. He was a lay Salesian, exemplary in service to young people, in the oratory and in professional instruction. When the Communist regime closed all the Catholic churches, he confronted the persecutions with courage, and was killed when he was 39 years old. Let us unite ourselves with the Salesian family and the Hungarian Church in giving thanks.

I want to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines who have been struck by a strong earthquake, and I invite you to pray for that dear Nation, which in recent days has suffered different calamities.

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present, beginning with the young people who gave lift to the 100 meter Sprint for Faith event, which was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture. Thank you for reminding us that the believer is an athlete of the spirit! Thank you so much!

I welcome with joy the faithful of the Dioceses of Bologna and of Cesena-Sarsina, led by Cardinal Caffarra and Bishop Regattieri; as well as those of Corrientes, Argentina, and of Maracaibo and Barinas in Venezuela. And today in Argentina, Mothers Day is celebrated. I offer an affectionate greeting to the mothers of my land!

I greet the prayer group Raio de Luz of Brazil; and the Fraternity of Secular Trinitarians.

There are many Italian parishes and associations, I can't name them, but I greet all of you with affection and I thank you.

Buona Domenica! Arrivederci, and Buon Pranzo!

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On the Feast of All Saints
"All of us are called to walk on the path of sanctity, and this path has a name, a face: the face of Jesus Christ"

VATICAN CITY, November 04, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address the Pope gave before praying the midday Angelus on All Saints’ Day.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The feast of All Saints, which we celebrate today, reminds us that the end of our existence is not death but Paradise! The Apostle John wrote: “it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The saints, God’s friends, assure us that this promise does not disappoint. In their earthly existence, in fact, they lived in profound communion with God. In the faces of the littlest and disdained brothers they saw the face of God, and now they contemplate Him face to face in his glorious beauty.

The saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each one of us. They are persons who, before attaining the glory of Heaven, lived a normal life, with joys and sorrows, toil and hopes. But what changed their life? When they came to know the love of God, they followed Him with their whole heart, without conditions or hypocrisies; they spent their life at the service of others, they endured sufferings and adversities without hating, and responding to evil with goodness, spreading joy and peace. This is the life of saints: persons who for love of God did not put conditions to Him in their life. They were not hypocritical; they spent their life at the service of others to serve their neighbor. They suffered so many adversities, but without hating. The saints never hated. Understand this well: love is of God, but from whom does hatred come? Hatred does not come from God but from the devil! And the saints went away from the devil. The saints are men and women who have joy in their heart and transmit it to others. Never hate, but serve others, the neediest; pray and live in joy, this is the path of sanctity!

To be saints is not the privilege of a few, as if some had a great inheritance. In Baptism all of us have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for all. Hence, all of us are called to walk on the path of sanctity, and this path has a name, a face: the face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us to become saints. In the Gospel he shows us the way: that of the Beatitudes (cf. Matthew 5:1-12). The Kingdom of Heaven, in fact, is for those who do not put their security in things, but in the love of God; for those who have a simple, humble heart, who do not presume to be just and do not judge others, who are able to suffer with those who suffer and to be joyful with the joyful; they are not violent but merciful and they seek to be architects of reconciliation and peace. The saint is an architect of reconciliation and peace; he always helps people to reconcile with one another and always helps to establish peace. And so sanctity is beautiful; it is a beautiful way!

Today, on this feast, the saints give us a message. They tell us: have confidence in the Lord, because the Lord does not disappoint! He never disappoints; he is a good friend, always by our side. With their witness the saints encourage us not to be afraid to go against the current or to be misunderstood and derided when we speak of Him and the Gospel; they demonstrate with their life that, whoever stays faithful to God and to his Word already experiences on this earth the comfort of his love and then a “hundredfold” in eternity. This is what we hope for and ask of the Lord for our deceased brothers and sisters. With wisdom the Church has put in close sequence the feast of All Saints and the commemoration of All the Deceased Faithful. To our prayer of praise of God and of veneration of the blessed spirits is joined the prayer of suffrage for all those who have preceded us in the passage from this world to eternal life.

We entrust our prayer to the intercession of Mary, Queen of All Saints.

After the Angelus, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you all affectionately, especially the families, parish groups and Associations.

I give a warm greeting to all those who took part this morning in the Race of Saints, organized by the Don Bosco in the World Foundation. Saint Paul would say that the whole life of a Christian is a “race” to win the prize of sanctity: you gave us a good example. Thank you for this race!

This afternoon, I will go to the Verano cemetery and will celebrate Holy Mass there. I will be joined spiritually to all those who in these days visit cemeteries, where those sleep who have preceded us in the sign of faith and await the day of resurrection. In particular, I will pray for the victims of violence, especially for Christians who have lost their life because of persecutions. I will also pray in a special way for all those brothers and sisters of ours, men, women and children who died assailed by thirst, hunger and toil in the journey to attain a better condition of life. In these days we have seen in the newspapers that cruel image of the desert: let us all, in silence, pray for these brothers and sisters of ours.

A wish everyone a good fest of All Saints. Good-bye and good lunch!

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On the Desire to See Jesus

VATICAN CITY, November 04, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address Francis gave before and after praying the midday Angelus on Sunday with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel passage from Luke shows us that Jesus, on his journey to Jerusalem, enters the city of Jericho. This is the last stage of a journey that sums up in itself Jesus’ whole life, which is dedicated to seeking out and saving the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the closer the journey comes to its destination, the more a circle of hostility closes in on Jesus.

And yet in Jericho there occurs one of the most joyful events narrated by Luke: the conversion of Zacchaeus. This man is a lost sheep, he is despised and an “excommunicant,” because he is a publican, indeed, he is the head of the publicans in the city, a friend of the hated Roman occupiers, he is a thief and an exploiter.

Prevented from getting nearer to Jesus, probably because of bad reputation, and being short, Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see the Master who is passing by. This exterior gesture, a little ridiculous, nevertheless expressed the interior act of the man who tries to get above the crowd to have contact with Jesus. Zacchaeus himself does not know the profound meaning of his gesture, he does not know why he does this but he does it; nor does he dare to hope that he might overcome the distance that separates him from the Lord; he resigns himself simply to seeing him pass by. But Jesus, when he comes closer to the tree, calls him by name. “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). That little man, rejected by everyone and distant from Jesus, is as if lost in anonymity; but Jesus calls him, and that name “Zacchaeus,” in the language of that time, has a beautiful meaning, full of allusions: “Zacchaeus,” in fact, means “God remembers.”

And Jesus enters Zacchaeus’ house, provoking the criticism of all the people of Jericho (because even in that time people gossiped a lot!), who said: “What? With all the excellent people who are in this city, he goes and stays with that publican?” Yes, because he was lost; and Jesus says: "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). From that day forward, into Zacchaeus’ house entered joy, entered peace, entered salvation, entered Jesus. There is no profession or social condition, there is no sin or crime of any sort that can erase any one of God’s children from his memory and from his heart. “God remembers” always and he never forgets anyone that he has created; God is Father, always in vigilant and loving expectation of seeing the desire to return home be born in his child. And when he sees that desire, even if it is barely aroused, and many times almost unconscious, he is immediately there, and with his forgiveness he makes the journey of conversion and return easier. Let us look at Zacchaeus today on the tree: what he does is a bit ridiculous, but it is a deed of salvation. And I say to you: if you have a burden on your conscience, if you are ashamed of many things that you have done, stop for a moment, do not be afraid. Know that someone waits for you because he has never forgotten you; and this person is your Father, it is God who awaits you! Like Zacchaeus, climb up the tree of the desire to be forgiven; I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Jesus is merciful and never tires of forgiving us! Remember this well, this is how Jesus is.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us too allow ourselves to be called by name Jesus! In the depths of our heart let us listen to his voice, which says to us: “Today I stay at your house,” that is, in your heart, in your life. And let us welcome him with joy: he can change us, he can transform our heart of stone into a heart of flesh, he can free us from egoism and make our life a gift of love. Jesus can do it; let Jesus heal you!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those who were present in the piazza of St. Peter’s.]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet with affection all the Romans and pilgrims who are present, especially the families, the parishes and the groups from many countries around the world.

I greet the faithful from Lebanon and those from the city of Madrid.

I greet the young people from Petosino, the confirmandi from Grassina and the young people from Cavallermaggiore; the pilgrims from Naples, Salerno, Venice, Nardò and Gallipoli.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus   On Life in Eternity

VATICAN CITY, November 10, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents us Jesus contending with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. And it is precisely on this topic that they pose a question to Jesus to give him trouble and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They propose a hypothetical situation: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will she be after her death?” Jesus, always meek and patient, first of all responds that life after death does not have the same parameters as life on earth. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension, where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is linked to our existence in this world. The resurrected, Jesus says, will be like angels, and they will live in a different state that we cannot experience or imagine now. And this is how Jesus explains things.

But then Jesus, so to speak, launches a counterattack. And he does this by citing Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and an originality that fills us with admiration for our Master, the only Master! Jesus finds the proof of the resurrection in the episode about Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The name of God is connected to the men and women to which he binds himself, and this link is stronger than death. And we can also say of God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! It is as if he bore our name. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus says: “God is not the God of the dead but of the living, because everyone lives for him” (Luke 20:38). And this is the decisive link, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: he himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection because, with his crucified love, he overcame death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life still more true than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not merely an embellishment of this present life: it transcends our imagination, because God continually awakens wonder in us with his love and with his mercy.

So, what will happen is precisely the contrary of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that illuminates eternity, the other life, the one that awaits us, but eternity – that life – that illuminates and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things only with human eyes, we are brought to say that man’s journey runs from life to death. This is obvious! But this is only the case if we look at things with human eyes. Jesus stands this perspective on its head and says that our pilgrimage runs from death to life: to fullness of life! We are on a journey, on pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that life is what enlightens us on our journey! So, death is behind us, at our backs, not in front of us. Before us there is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our name, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” also the God with my name, with your name, with your name..., with our name. God of the living! ... Before us is the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of light without end. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we meet Jesus and his love, and in this way we can have a foretaste of the risen life. Our experience of his love and his fidelity lights a fire in our heart and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, it cannot be for a limited time: fidelity is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not for a limited time: it is forever! And to go forward! He is faithful forever and he awaits us, each of us, he accompanies each of us with this eternal fidelity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square:]

Today in Paderborn, Germany, Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel will be proclaimed blessed. Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she lived in the 19th century. The Eucharist was the source from which she drew spiritual energy to dedicate herself with untiring charity to the weakest. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

I would like again to assure the people of the Philippines and that region, who have been struck by a massive typhoon, of my closeness to them. Unfortunately, there are many victims and enormous damage. Let us pray for a moment in silence and then to Our Lady for these brothers and sisters of ours and let us try also to help them concretely. Let us pray in silence. [And then after a pause:] Hail Mary...

Today is the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Kristallnacht,” the night of violence against Jews, their synagogues, homes and businesses [in Germany and Austria] November 9-10, 1938. It marked a sad step toward the tragedy of the Shoah. Let us renew our nearness and solidarity with the Jewish people, our big brothers. And we pray to God that the memory of the past, the memory of past sins help us to be ever more vigilant against every form of hatred and intolerance.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Goodbye and have a good lunch!

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On God's Plan of Goodness and Mercy

VATICAN CITY, November 18, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) consists in the first part of one of Jesus’ sermons, that on the last times. Jesus gives it in Jerusalem, near the temple, and the topic is given to him precisely by the people who were talking about the temple’s beauty, because that temple was beautiful. So Jesus said: “All that you see here -- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down" (Luke 21:6). Naturally, they ask him: When will this happen? What will the signs be? But Jesus deflects attention away from these secondary aspects – When will it happen? What will it be like? – and turns it toward the real issues. And there are 2. First, do not let yourself be deceived by false messiahs and not let yourself be paralyzed by fear. Second, live the period of waiting as time of witness and perseverance. And we are in this of waiting, of waiting for the Lord’s coming.

This sermon of Jesus is always relevant, even for us who live in the 21st century. He repeats: “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name” (21:8). It is an invitation to discernment, this Christian virtue of understanding where the spirit of the Lord is and where the evil spirit is. Today too, in fact, there are false “saviors,” who try to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, even sorcerers, people who want to attract the minds and hearts, especially of young people, to themselves. Jesus warns us: “Do not follow them!” “Do not follow them!”

And the Lord helps us not to be afraid too: in the face of wars, revolutions, but also natural calamities, epidemics, Jesus frees us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions. The second aspect addresses us precisely as Christians and members of the Church: Jesus foretells painful trials and persecutions that his disciples must undergo for his sake. Nevertheless, he assures them: “Not one of your heads will be harmed” (21:18). He reminds us that we are totally in God’s hands! The adversity that we face because of our faith and our adherence to the Gospel are occasions for witness; they need not distance us from the Lord but move us to abandon ourselves all the more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace.

I am reflecting in this moment and let all of us reflect. Let us do it together: let us think about the many brother and sister Christians, who suffer persecution because of their faith. There are many, perhaps many more than in the first centuries. Jesus is with them. We too are united to them by our prayer and our affection. We also admire their courage and their testimony. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer because of being faithful to Jesus Christ. We salute them from our hearts and with affection.

In the end, Jesus makes a promise that guarantees victory: “With your perseverance you will save your life” (21:19). How much hope there is in these words! They are call to hope and patience, to knowing how to wait for the sure fruits of salvation, trusting in the profound meaning of life and of history: trials and difficulties are part of a larger design; the Lord, Lord of history brings everything to fulfillment. Despite the disorder and disasters that disturb the world, the plan of God’s goodness and mercy will prevail! And this is our hope: to walk in this way, on this road, in this plan of God that will prevail. This is our hope.

This message of Jesus makes us reflect on our present moment and gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope, in the company of Our Lady, who always walks with us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]

I greet all of you: families, associations and groups, who have come from Rome, from Italy and from every part of the world: Spain, France, Finland, the low countries. In particular I greet the pilgrims from Vercelli, Salerno, Lizzanello; the Motoclub Lucania from Potenza, the young people of Montecassino and Caserta.

Today the Eritrean community in Rome celebrates the feast of St. Michael. We greet you from our heart!

Today is the “Day of Victims of Road Accidents.” I assure you of my prayers and encourage you to continue in your work for prevention because respect for laws is the primary way of protecting oneself and others.

Today I would also like to suggest a medicine to you. But someone might think: “The Pope is a pharmacist now?” It is a special medicine that will make the fruits of the Year of Faith concrete. This year is drawing to its close. It is a medicine of 59 pills for the heart. It is a “spiritual medicine” called “Misericordina.” A little box with 59 pills for the heart. The medicine is in this little box and some volunteers will hand it out to you as you are leaving the piazza. Take it! It is a rosary with which you can also pray the “Mercy chaplet,” a spiritual help for our soul and to spread love, forgiveness and fraternity everywhere. Do not forget to take it because it is good for you, okay? It is good for your heart, you soul and your whole life!

I offer you all a cordial wish for a good Sunday. Goodbye and have a good lunch!

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VATICAN CITY, November 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis before the recitation of the Angelus at the Closing Mass for the Year of Faith.

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Before concluding this celebration, I would like to greet all the pilgrims, families, parish groups, associations and movements, who have come from so many countries. I greet the participants in the national conference on mercy. I greet the Ukrainian community, which observes the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, the “great famine” provoked by the Soviet regime that caused millions of deaths.

On this day our grateful thoughts turn to the missionaries, who, over the course of the centuries, have proclaimed the Gospel and sowed the seeds of faith in many parts of the world. Among these is Bl. Junípero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary. Today is the 300th anniversary of his birth.

I do not want to end without recognizing all those who worked to promote this Year of Faith, [in particular] Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who guided this journey. I thank him very much, from my heart, him and all his collaborators. Many thanks!

Now let us pray the Angelus together. With this prayer we invoke the protection of Mary especially for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because of their faith, and there are many!

Angelus Domini…

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

I thank you for your presence at this concelebration. I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch.

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Angelus: On the First Sunday of Advent

VATICAN CITY, December 01, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today, the first  Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year, that is, a new journey of the People of God with Jesus, our Shepherd, who guides us through history toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Thus, this day has a special appeal. Through it we experience a profound sense of the meaning of history. We rediscover the beauty of all being on a journey: the Church, with her vocation and mission, and the whole of humanity, nations, civilizations, cultures, all on a journey along the paths of time.

But where is this journey headed? Is there a common goal? And what is this goal? The Lord answers us through the prophet Isaiah and says: “At the end of days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.  All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths’” (Isaiah 2:2-3). This is what Isaiah says about where we are going. It is a universal pilgrimage toward a common goal, which in the Old Testament is Jerusalem, where the Lord’s temple stands, because from there, from Jerusalem, comes the revelation of the face of God and his law. Revelation found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and he himself is the “Lord’s temple,” the Word made flesh: he is both the leader and the goal of our pilgrimage, of the pilgrimage of the whole People of God; and in its light other peoples too can journey toward the Kingdom of justice, toward the Kingdom of peace. The prophet says further: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again” (2:4). Let me repeat what the prophet says. Listen well: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” But when will this happen? What a beautiful day it will be when weapons are destroyed to be transformed into tools for work! What a beautiful day that will be! And this is possible! Let us bet on hope, on the hope of peace, and it will be possible!

This journey is never finished. Just as in the life of each one of us there is always a need to start again, to get back up, to rediscover the meaning of our existence, so for the great human family it is necessary always to redirect ourselves toward the common horizon that is the goal of our journey. It is the horizon of hope! This is the horizon of a good journey. The season of Advent that today we begin once again, restores the horizon of hope for us, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. It is a hope that does not disappoint simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful! He does not disappoint! Let us think about and fell this beauty.

The model of this spiritual attitude, of this way of being and of this journey of life, is the Virgin Mary. A simple village girl, who carries all the hope of God in her heart! In her womb the hope of God took flesh, became man, became history: Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the song of the People of God on its journey, and of all men and women who hope in God, in the power of his mercy. Let us be guided by her, who is a mother, a mamma, and knows how to guide us. Let us be guided by her during this time of waiting and active vigilance.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the World Day for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Let us express our nearness to persons who are affected, especially children; a nearness that is very concrete for the silent work of many missionaries and workers. Let us pray for everyone, for doctors and for researchers. May every sick person, without exception, find the cure that he needs.

I greet with affection all the pilgrims who are gathered here: families, parishes, associations. I especially greet the faithful from Madrid, the Florilège Choir from Belgium, the Family Together group of Solofra and the Artistic Work Association of Rome.

I greet the faithful from Bari, Sant’Elpidio a Mare, Pollenza and Grumo Nevano.

I wish everyone a good beginning of Advent. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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Angelus:  On the Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, December 08, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello,

This second Sunday of Advent falls on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and so our gaze is drawn to the beauty of the Mother of Jesus, our Mother! With great joy the Church contemplates the one who is “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and beginning with these words let us all greet her together: “full of grace.” Let us say “Full of grace!” 3 times. Everybody: Full of grace! Full of grace! Full of grace! And this is how God saw her from the very beginning in his plan of love. He saw her as beautiful, full of grace. Our Mother is beautiful! Mary helps us on our journey toward Christmas, because she teaches us how to live this season of Advent in expectation of the Lord, because this season of Advent is one in which we wait for the Lord, who will visit us all on that feast but who will also visit everyone in his heart. The Lord is coming! Let us await him!

The Gospel of St. Luke presents Mary, a girl of Nazareth, a little place in Galilee, at the margins of the Roman Empire and at the margins of Israel, a small town. And yet upon her, that girl of that distant little town, upon her, the Lord’s gaze fell. He had chosen her beforehand to be the mother of his Son. In view of this maternity Mary was preserved from original sin, that is, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation that wounds every human being deep down. But this fracture was healed beforehand in the Mother of him who has come to free us from the slavery of sin. Mary the Immaculate is inscribed in God’s plan; she is the fruit of the love of God that saves the world.

And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: her whole life, her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is a “yes” to God. But it certainly was not easy for her! When the angel called her “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), she was “very disturbed,” because in her humility she feels that she is nothing before God. The angel comforts her: “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And, behld, you will conceive a son ... and you will call him Jesus (1:30). This announcement upsets her all the more, also because she was not yet married to Joseph; but the angel adds: “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you ... because he who will be born will be holy called Son of God” (1:35). Mary listens, obeys interiorly and answers: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word” (1:38).

The mystery of this girl of Nazareth, which is in the heart of God, is not foreign to us. She is not there while we are here. No, we are bound together. In fact, God looks with love upon every man and woman! With a first and last name. He looks with love upon each one of us. The apostle Paul says that God “chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate” (Ephesians 1:4). We too have always been chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially in the Sacraments.

On this feast, then, contemplating our beautiful Immaculate Mother, we also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: being loved, being transformed by love, being transformed by the beauty of God. Let us look at her, our Mother, and let her look at us, because she is our Mother and she loves us very much; let her look at us so that we can learn how to be more humble, and more courageous too in following the Word of God, in welcoming the tender embrace of Jesus his Son, an embrace that gives us life, hope and peace.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you with affection, especially the families, the parish groups and associations. I greet the faithful from Biella, Cossato, Bianzé, Lomazzo, Livorno Ferraris, Rocca di Papa, San Marzano sul Sarno and Pratola Serra.

We spiritually join with the Church in North America, which today remembers the foundation of its first parish, 350 years ago: Notre Dame de Québec. Let us give thanks for the journey that has been taken since then, especially for the saints and martyrs who fructified those lands. From my heart I bless all the faithful who celebrate this jubilee.

A special thought goes out to the members of Italian Catholic Action – there they are – who today renew their membership in that association. I wish them every good in their apostolic and formative work. Forward, with courage!

This afternoon, following an ancient tradition, I will go to the Piazza di Spagna, to pray at the foot of the monument of Mary Immaculate. I ask you to join with me spiritually on this journey, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, to entrust the city of Rome to her, the Church and all of humanity. On the return I will stop for a moment at Santa Maria Maggiore to greet the Salus Populi Romani (Salvation of the People of Rome, i.e., Mary) and pray for all of you, for all Romans.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and happy feast of our Mother. Have good lunch and I will see you soon.

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Angelus  On the Sunday of Joy

VATICAN CITY, December 15, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. It is called “Gaudete Sunday,” that is, the Sundayof joy. Often in the liturgy [today] we hear invitation to rejoice, to be happy. Why? Because the Lord is near. Christmas is near. The Christian message is called “gospel,” that is, “glad tidings,” an announcement of joy for the whole people; the Church is not a refuge for sad people, the Church is a house of joy! And those who are sad find joy in her, they find true joy in her.

But the joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It is caused by our finding ourselves embraced and loved by God. As the prophet Isaiah (cf. 35:1-6a, 8a, 10) reminds us, God is he who comes to save us, and give succor especially to the fearful of heart. His coming among us strengthens, solidifies, encourages, lifts up and makes the desert and plain bloom, that is, our life when it becomes arid. And when does our life become arid? This happens when it lacks the water of the Word of God and his Spirit of love. However great are our limits and our dismay, we are not permitted to be downhearted and vacillating in the face of our infirmities. On the contrary, we are invited to get a grip and straighten our weak knees, to have courage and not be afraid because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy. He gives us the strength to go forward. He is always with us to help us go forward. He is a God who truly wants what is good for us, he loves us and so he is with us, to help us, to strengthen us and go forward. Take heart! Always forward! Thanks to his help we can always start over. How? How do we start over? Someone might say to me: “No, Father, I have done a lot of... I am a great sinner... I cannot start over!” You’re wrong! You can start over! How? Because he waits for you, he is near you, he loves you, he is merciful, he forgives you, he gives you the strength to start over! He gives it to everyone! Then we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and tears and sing a new song. And this true joy remains in times of trial too, even in suffering, because it is not a superficial joy but enters into the very depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and confides in him.

Christian joy, like hope, has its foundation in God’s fidelity, in the certainty that he always keeps his promises. The prophet Isaiah exhorts those who have lost their way and are in trouble to trust in the Lord’s fidelity because his salvation will not delay in breaking into their life. Those who have met Jesus along the way have experienced a joy that nothing and no one can take away. Jesus Christ is our joy! His faithful love is inexhaustible! Thus, when a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus. But we must not leave him to his own devices. We must pray for him, and make him feel the warmth of the community.

The Virgin Mary helps us hurry toward Bethlehem to meet the Child who is born for us, for the salvation and joy of all men. To her the Angels says: “Rejoice, full of grace. The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). She obtains for us the joy of the Gospel in the family, at work, in the parish and everywhere. It is an intimate joy, made of wonder and tenderness. It is what a mother experiences when she looks at her newborn child, and feels that he is a gift of God, a miracle that she can only be grateful for!

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]

Dear brothers and sisters, I am sorry that you have to stand in the rain! But I am with you, from here... Courage! Thank you!

Today the first greeting is for the children of Rome, who have come for the traditional blessing of the “Bambinelli” (figures of the Christ Child for the crèche), organized by the Centro Oratori Romani. Dear children, when you pray before your crèche, remember me too, as I will remember you. I thank you, and Merry Christmas!

I greet the families, parish groups, associations and individual pilgrims from Rome, from Italy and from many parts of the world, especially Spain and the United States of America. I greet the young people from Zambia with affection, and I hope that they will become “living stones” to build a more human society. I extend a greeting to all the young people who are present here, especially those from Piscopio and Gallipoli, and the Catholic Action university group from Lucano.

I greet the choirs of Vicenza, L’Aquila and Mercato San Severino; the faithful from Silvi Marina and San Lorenzello; and the members of CRAL Telecom with their families.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye.

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On Mary and Joseph

VATICAN CITY, December 22, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

On this 4th Sunday of Advent, the Gospel tells us about the events that preceded Jesus’s birth, the evangelist Matthew presents them from the point of view of St. Joseph, the betrothed husband of the Virgin Mary.

Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth but they did not live together yet because the marriage ceremony had not yet taken place. In the meantime Mary, after having received the Angel’s announcement, became pregnant by the work of the Holy Spirit. When Joseph realized that she was expecting he bewildered. The Gospel does not explain to us what his thoughts were but it does tell us the essential: he tries to do God’s will and is ready for the most radical renunciation. Instead of defending himself and demanding his rights, Joseph opts for a solution that represents an enormous sacrifice for him. And the Gospel says: “Because he was a just man and did not want to accuse her publicly, he decided to send here away quietly” (1:19).

This brief sentence sums up a real interior drama, if we think of the love that Joseph had for Mary! But even such a circumstance Joseph wants to do God’s will and resolves, surely with deep sorrow, to part with Mary in secret. We should meditate on these words to understand the trial that Joseph endured in the days that preceded Jesus’ birth. It was a trial similar to the sacrifice asked of Abraham when God asked him for his son Isaac (Cf. Genesis 22): to give up the most precious thing, the person he loved most.

But just as in Abraham’s case, the Lord intervenes: he found the faith that seeks and opens up a different path, a path of love and happiness: “Joseph,” he said to him, “do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20).

This Gospel manifests to us all of Joseph’s greatness of soul. He was pursuing a good plan for his life but God had another design for him, a greater mission. Joseph was a man who always listed to God’s voice, profoundly sensitive to his hidden will, a man attentive to the messages that came to him from the depths of his heart and from above. He did not persist in pursuing his own plan for his life, he did not allow rancor to poison his soul, but was ready to place himself at the service of the thing that was presented to him in a disconcerting way. And it was in this way that he was a good man. He did not hate and he did not allow rancor to poison his soul. But how often does hatred and antipathy too, how often does rancor poison our souls! And this is bad for us. Joseph never permits this to happen: he is a good example of this. And in this way Joseph became freer and greater. Accepting himself according to God’s plan, Joseph finds himself completely, beyond himself. This freedom he has to give up what belongs to him, the ownership of his own life, and this total interior availability to God’s will, grab our attention and show us the way.

Let us prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas contemplating Mary and Joseph: Mary, the woman who is full of grace, who had the courage to entrust herself totally to the Word of God; Joseph, the faithful and just man who preferred to believe the Lord rather than listen to the voices of human doubt and pride. Let us travel with them toward Bethlehem.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square:]

I read there written in big letters: “The poor cannot wait.” That’s beautiful! And this reminds me that Jesus was born in a stable, he was not born in a house. Afterward he had to flee, to go to Egypt to save his life. In the end, he returned to his home, to Nazareth. And today I think, reading that banner, of many homeless families, whether it is because they never had one or because they lost it for many reasons. Family and house go together. It is very hard to care for a family without a house to live in. In these days of Christmas I invite everyone – people, social organizations, [political] authorities – to do everything possible for every family to have a house.

I greet with affection all of you dear pilgrims who have come from various countries to participate in this meeting of prayer. My thoughts turn to the families, parish groups, associations and individual faithful. I especially greet the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the band from San Giovanni Valdarno, the young people from the parish of San Francesco Nuovo in Rieti, and the participants in the relay from Alexandria to Rome to raise awareness about peace efforts in Somalia.

My wish for all of those who have gathered here today from Italy to show their social commitment is that they will be able to make a constructive contribution, rejecting the temptations of conflict and violence, and always following the path of dialogue, defending rights.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a Christmas of hope, of justice and of fraternity. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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On the Feast of St. Stephen

VATICAN CITY, December 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today in St. Peter’s Square, on the Feast of St. Stephen.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning

You are not afraid of the rain, you are good!

The liturgy prolongs the Solemnity of Christmas for 8 days: a joyous time for all the people of God! And in this second day of the octave, in the joy of Christmas is inserted the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. The book of the Acts of the Apostles presents him as a “man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (6,5), chosen with six others to serve the widows and the poor in the first community of Jerusalem. It also recounts his martyrdom: when, after a fiery speech that enraged the members of the Sanhedrin, he was dragged outside the walls of the city and stoned to death. Stephen died like Jesus, asking forgiveness for his murderers.

In the joyous season of Christmas, this commemoration may seem out of place. Christmas in fact is the feast of life and infuses in us feelings of serenity and peace; why disturb this enchantment with the memory of such an atrocious violence? In reality, in the eyes of faith, the feast of St. Stephen is in full harmony with the profound significance of Christmas. In martyrdom, violence is conquered by love, death by life. The Church sees in the sacrifice of the martyrs their “birth in heaven.” Therefore, we celebrate today the “nativity” of Stephen, which in depth springs from the Nativity of Christ. Jesus transforms the death of those who love Him into the dawn of a new life!

In the martyrdom of Stephen, the same confrontation between good and evil is reproduced, between hate and forgiveness, between meekness and violence, that culminated in the Cross of Christ. The memory of the first martyr comes as such, immediately, to dissolve the false image of Christmas: the fairy tale and mawkish image that does not exist in the Gospel! The liturgy brings us back to the authentic sense of the Incarnation, connecting Bethlehem to Calvary and reminding us that divine salvation implies the fight against sin, it passes through the narrow door of the Cross. This is the path that Jesus showed clearly to his disciples, as evidenced by today’s Gospel: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 10,22).

Therefore, today, we pray in a special way for Christians who are discriminated against for their witness to Christ and the Gospel. We are close to these brothers and sisters who, like St. Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to various types of violence. I am sure that, unfortunately, they are more numerous today than in the early days of the Church. There are so many! This occurs especially where religious freedom is not guaranteed or not fully developed. It also occurs in countries and areas who, on paper protect freedom and human rights, but where in fact believers, and especially Christians, find limitations and discrimination. I would like to ask you all to pray for a moment in silence for these brothers and sisters [...] And let us entrust them to Our Lady [Hail Mary…] For a Christian, this is not surprising, because Jesus foretold it as an opportunity to give witness. However, on the civil level, injustice must be denounced and eliminated.

May Mary, Queen of Martyrs, help us to live Christmas with this ardor of faith and love that shines in St. Stephen and in all the martyrs of the Church.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

I greet the families, the parish groups, the associations and the faithful of Rome, Italy and every part of the world. The visit in these days to the creche to admire Mary and Joseph with the Child, will arouse in all a generous commitment to love one another, so that within families and various communities this climate of understanding and brotherhood that is so beneficial to the common good may be lived.

Happy Christmas and have a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus: On the Holy Family

VATICAN CITY, December 29, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

On this first Sunday after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In fact, every crèche scene shows us Jesus together with Our Lady and St. Joseph in the grotto of Bethlehem. God wanted to be born in a human family, he wanted to have a mother and a father like us.

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family traveling the sorrowful road of exile, in search of refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experience the dramatic fate of refugees, with the fear, uncertainty and uneasiness it brings (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our time, millions of families can encounter this sad reality. Almost every day the television and the newspapers cay news about refugees who flee from hunger, from war, from other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always meet with true welcome, respect, appreciation of the values which they bring with them. Their legitimate expectations conflict with complex situations and difficulties that sometimes seem insuperable. So, when we fix our gaze upon the Holy Family of Nazareth in the moment that they become refugees, we think about the drama of those grants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and slave labor. But let us also think about the other “exiles”: I would call them “hidden exiles,” those exiles that can be within our own family: the elderly, for example, who are sometimes treated as an inconvenience. I often think that an indicator of how a family is doing is how the children and old people in the family are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving presence of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is present where man is in danger, there where man suffers, there where he flees, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also there where man dreams, where he hopes to return to freedom in his homeland, plans and decides about his life and dignity and those of his family.

Today our contemplation of the Holy Family lets itself be drawn also by the simplicity of the life they lead at Nazareth. It is an example that is very good for our families, it helps them further to become communities of love and reconciliation in which tenderness, mutual help and reciprocal forgiveness are experienced. Let us remember the 3 key phrases for a life of peace and joy in the family: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. In a family when you are not intrusive but say “excuse me,” when you are not self-centered but say “thank you,” and when you realize that you have done something wrong and you say “I’m sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these 3 phrases. But we can say them all together: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. (The people gathered in St. Peter’s Square then repeated the words after the Holy Father.) I would also like families to be aware of their importance in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, passes first of all through families to then reach the different spheres of daily life.

Let us fervently invoke Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St. Joseph her husband. Let us ask them to enlighten, to comfort, to guide every family in the world so that they may carry out the mission that God has entrusted to them with dignity and serenity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said a prayer to the Holy Family and then greeted the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

The upcoming consistory and Synod of Bishops will deal with the topic of the family, and the preparatory phase started some time ago. Because of this, today, the feast of the Holy Family, I would like to entrust the synodal work to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, praying for the families of the whole word. I invite you to join spiritually with me in the prayer that I now recite:

Prayer to the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendor of true love,

we turn to you in trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

make our families too

places of communion and cenacles of prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may violence, closure and division

never again be experienced in families;

may whoever has been wounded or scandalized

soon be consoled and healed.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the coming Synod of Bishops

reawaken in everyone the consciousness

of the sacred and inviolable character of the family,

its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

hear and grant our supplication. Amen.

I offer a special greeting to the faithful with whom we are connected by video: in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops is present; in the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family is present; in the Basilica Shrine of the Holy House in Loreto. And I extend this greeting to those gathered in various parts of the world for other celebrations of the family, such as the one in Madrid.

Finally, I greet with affection all of the pilgrims present here, especially the families! I know that there are members of the Romanian community of Rome present. I greet thhe young people of the Focolari movement who have come from various countries, among whom are the groups from the Dioceses of Milan, Como, Lodi, Padua, Vicenza and Concordia-Pordenone. I greet the yooueople from Curno and Calcinate with their catechists; the faithful from Salcedo, Carzago Riviera, San Giovanni in Persiceto and Modica

I wish you all a beautiful feast of the Holy Family, a beautiful and good Sunday and a good lunch. Good bye!

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On the Mystery of the Incarnation

VATICAN CITY, January 05, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday’s liturgy re-proposes to us, in the prologue of St. John’s Gospel, the deepest meaning of Jesus’ birth. He is the Word of God who became man and pitched his “tent,” his dwelling, among men. The Evangelist writes: “The Word became flesh and came to live among us” (John 1:14). In these words, which never cease to astound us, is the whole of Christianity! God became mortal, fragile like us, he shared our human condition, except for sin, but took our sins upon himself as if they were his own. He entered into our history, he fully became God-with-us! Jesus’ birth, then, shows us that God wanted to unite himself to every man and woman, to each one of us, to communicate his life and his joy.

So, God is God with us, God who loves us, God who walks with us. This is the message of Christmas: the Word became flesh. Thus, Christmas reveals God’s immense love for humanity. From here stems the enthusiasm, the hope of Christians, who in our poverty know that we are loved, visited and accompanied by God; and we look at the world and at history as the place in which to walk together with him and with each other, toward the new heaven and the new earth. With the birth of Jesus a new promise is born, a new world is born, but also a world that can always be renewed. God is always present to raise up new men, to purify the world from the sin that makes it old, from the sin that corrupts it. As much as human history and our own personal history can be marked by difficulties and weaknesses, faith in the Incarnation tells us that God is solidary with man and his history. This closeness of God to man, to every man, and to each of us, is a gift that never fades away! He is with us! He is God with us! This is the good news of Christmas: the divine light, which flooded the hearts of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and guided the steps of the shepherds and the magi, also shines for us today.

In the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God there is also an aspect connected to human freedom, to the freedom of each one of us. In fact, the Word of God pitched his tent among us, sinners and needful of mercy. And we must all make haste to receive the grace that he offers us. But, St. John’s Gospel continues, “his own did not welcome him” (1:11). We too often reject him, we prefer to remain closed up in our errors and the anxiety of our sins. But Jesus does not desist and does not cease to offer himself and his grace that save us! Jesus is patient, Jesus knows how to wait, he always waits for us. This is a message of hope, a message of salvation, ancient and ever new. And we are called to bear witness with joy to this message of the Gospel of life, the Gospel of light, of hope and love, because this is Jesus’ message: life, light, hope, love.

May Mary, the Mother of God and our tender Mother, sustain us always so that we remain faithful to the Christian vocation and make the justice and peace that we desire at beginning of this new year a reality.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made further remarks and greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the climate of joy typical of this Christmas season, I would like to announce that May 24-26, if it pleases God, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The principal purpose of this trip is to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, which occurred exactly 50 years ago today, January 5. There will be 3 stops: Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. 3 days. At the Holy Sepulcher we will celebrate an ecumenical meeting with all of the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, together with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Until then I ask for your prayers for this pilgrimage, which will be a pilgrimage of prayer.

In recent weeks many Christmas and New Years greetings have been sent to me from all over the world. I would like to reply to all of them but, unfortunately, it is impossible! So, from my heart I would like to thank the children for their drawings. They are truly beautiful! Children draw beautiful pictures! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I thank the children first of all. I thank the young people, the elderly, the families, the parish and religious communities, the associations, the movements and the different groups that wished to show me their affection and nearness. I ask everyone to continue to pray for me, I need it, and to pray for this service to the Church.

And now I greet with affection you, dear pilgrims who are present here today, especially the Associazione Italiana Maestri Cattolici (Italian Association of Catholic Teachers). I encourage you in your educational work; it is very important! I greet the faithful from Arco di Trento and Bellona, the young people from Induno Olona and the groups from Crema and Mantova who work with disabled people. I also greet the large group of Brazilian sailors.

I wish all of you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus:   On the Feast of the Epiphany

VATICAN CITY, January 07, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Monday, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we celebrate Epiphany, that is, the “manifestation” of the Lord. This Solemnity is connected with the biblical account of the coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem to render homage to the King of the Jews: an episode that Pope Benedict commented on magnificently in his book on Jesus’ infancy. That was, in fact, the first “manifestation” of Christ to the Gentiles. That is why the Epiphany highlights the universal opening of the salvation brought by Jesus. The liturgy of this day acclaims: “All the people on earth adore you, Lord,” because Jesus came for us all, for all peoples, for all!

In fact, this feast makes us see a twofold movement: on one hand, God’s movement towards the world, towards humanity -- the whole history of salvation, which culminates in Jesus --; and on the other hand the movement of men towards God -- we think of the religions, of the search for truth, of the people’s journey to peace, interior peace, justice, liberty --. And this twofold movement is moved by a reciprocal attraction. On God’s part, what is it that attracts Him? It is His love for us: we are His children, He loves us and He wants to free us from evil, from sicknesses, from death and take us to His House, in His Kingdom. “Out of pure grace, God attracts us, to unite us to Himself” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 112). And there is also love on our part, a desire: good always attracts us; truth attracts us; life, happiness, beauty attract us. Jesus is the meeting point of this reciprocal attraction, of this twofold movement. Jesus: He is God and man. God and man. But, who takes the initiative? It is always God! God’s love always comes before ours! He always takes the initiative. He waits for us, He invites us, the initiative is always His. Jesus is God who became man. He was incarnated and born for us. The new star that appeared to the Magi was the sign of the birth of Christ. If they had not seen the star, those men would not have set out. Light precedes us, truth precedes us, beauty precedes us. God precedes us. The prophet Isaiah said that God is like the flower of the almond tree. Why? Because the almond tree is the first to flower in that land. And God always precedes, He always seeks us first. He takes the first step. God precedes us always. His grace precedes us and this grace appeared in Jesus. He is the epiphany. He, Jesus Christ, is the manifestation of the love of God. He is with us.

The Church is altogether within this movement of God towards the world: her joy is the Gospel, it is to reflect the light of Christ. The Church is the people who have experienced this attraction and carry it within, in the heart and in life. “I would like -- sincerely -- to say to those who feel far from God and from the Church -- to say respectfully -- to say to those who are fearful and indifferent: the Lord calls you also, He calls you to be part of His people, and He does so with great respect and love!” (Ibid., 113). The Lord calls you. The Lord seeks you. The Lord waits for you. The Lord does not engage in proselytism, He gives love, and this love seeks you, waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.

Let us ask God, for the whole Church, the joy of evangelizing, because “Christ was sent to reveal and communicate the charity of God to all peoples” (Ad gentes, 10). May the Virgin Mary help us all to be missionary-disciples, small stars that reflect His light. And we pray so that hearts will open to receive the proclamation, and all men will come “to be partakers of the promise through the Gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).

After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:

Brothers and Sisters,

I give my cordial good wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches that tomorrow will celebrate the Holy Christmas. May the peace that God has given humanity with the birth of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, reinforce in all faith, hope and charity, and give comfort to the Christian communities, to the Churches that are being tested.

Epiphany is the Missionary Day for Children, proposed by the Pontifical Work of the Holy Infancy. So many youth in the parishes are protagonists of gestures of solidarity to their contemporaries, and in this way widen the horizon of their fraternity. Dear children and youngsters, with your prayer and your commitment you collaborate in the mission of the Church. I thank you for this and I bless you!

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Angelus: On the Baptism of the Lord

VATICAN CITY, January 12, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This morning I baptized 32 newborns. I thank the Lord with you for these babies and for every new life. I like to baptize children. I really enjoy it! Every child who is born is a gift of joy and hope, and every child who is baptized is marvel of the faith and a festival for the family of God.

Today’s Gospel reading highlights the fact that, when Jesus received baptism from John in the Jordan River, “the heavens opened for him” (Matthew 3:16). This fulfills the prophecies. In fact, there is an invocation that the liturgy has us repeat during Advent: “O that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Isaiah 63:19). If the heavens remain closed, our horizon in this earthly life is dark, without hope. But, celebrating Christmas, the faith has once again given us the certainty that the heavens have been opened by Jesus’coming. And on the day of Christ’s baptism we again contemplate the opened heavens. The manifestation of the Son of God on earth is the beginning of the great time of mercy, after sin had closed the heavens, making a barrier between human beings and their Creator. With Jesus’ birth the heavens are opened! God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love. From the moment the Word was made flesh it is possible to see the heavens opened. It is possible for the shepherds of Bethlehem, for the magi from the East, for the Baptist, for the Apostles of Jesus, for St. Stephen, the first martyr, who exclaimed: “I see the heavens opened!” (Acts 7:56). And it is also possible for each one of us, if we let ourselves be invaded by God’s love! This is the great time of mercy! Do not forget it. This is the great time of mercy!

When Jesus received the of baptism repentance from John the Baptist, entering into solidarity with the repentant people – he who is without and without a need to convert – God the Father made his voice heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son. In him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus received the heavenly Father’s approval, who sent him precisely to share our condition, our poverty. Sharing is the true way to love. Jesus does not disassociate himself from us. He considers us brothers and shares with us. And in this way he makes us sons, together with him, of God the Father. This is revelation and the source of true love. And this is the great time of mercy!

Does it not seem to you that in our time there is a need for more fraternal sharing and of love? Does it not seem to you that we all need more charity? I am not talking about that charity that contents itself with extemporaneous help and does not get involved, does not put itself into play, but that charity that shares, that takes on our brother’s hardships and suffering. What flavor life has when we let ourselves be flooded with God’s love!

Let us ask the Holy Virgin with her intercession to sustain us our effort to follow Christ along the way of faith and charity, the way traced out by our Baptism.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I offer all of you my cordial greeting, especially the families and the faithful from different parishes in Italy and other countries along with the associations and various groups who are present.

Today I would like to address a special thought to the parents who have had their children baptized and those who are preparing for the Baptism of a child. I join in the joy of these families, I thank the Lord with them, and I pray that the Baptism of their children with help the parents themselves to rediscover the beauty of faith and to return in a new way to the Sacraments and to the community.

As has already been announced, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, I will have the joy of holding a consistory, during which I will name 16 new cardinals, who – belonging to 12 nations from every corner of the world – represent the profound ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Church’s dispersed throughout the world.

On the following day I will preside at a solemn celebration with the new cardinals while on February 20-21I will hold a consistory with all of the cardinals to reflect on the theme of the family.

Here are the names of the new cardinals:

1 – Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Titular Archbishop of Acquapendente, Secretary of State.

2 – Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri, Titular Archbishop of Diocleziana, Secretary General of the Synod.

3 - Monsignor Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Regensburg, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

4 – Monsignor Beniamino Stella, Titular Archbishop of Midila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

5 – Monsignor Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (Great Britain).

6 – Monsignor Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua).

7 – Monsignor Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec (Canada).

8 – Monsignor Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

9 – Monsignor Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist., Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

10 – Monsignor Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy).

11 – Monsignor Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina).

12 – Monsignor Andrew Yeom Soo jung, Archbishop of Seoul (Korea).

13 – Monsignor Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago de Chile (Chile).

14 – Monsignor Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

15 – Monsignor Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines).

16 – Monsignor Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti).

Together with them, I add to the College of Cardinals 3 archbishops emeriti who are distinguished by their service to the Holy See and to the Church:

Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, Titular Archbishop of Mesembria;

Monsignor Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona;

Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop Emeritus of Castries, in the Antilles.

Let us pray for the new cardinals that, clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they can more efficaciously assist the Bishop of Rome in his service to the universal Church.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus On the Lamb of God

VATICAN CITY, January 19, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

With the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated last Sunday, we have entered into the liturgical time that we call “ordinary.” On this second Sunday, the Gospel presents to us the scene of the meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist at the Jordan River. The narrator is the eye witness, John the Evangelist, who, before he was a disciple of Jesus was a disciple of the Baptist, together with his brother James, with Simon and Andrew, all are from Galilee, all are fisherman. So, John the Baptist sees Jesus, who steps forward from the crowd and, inspired from above, sees in Jesus the one sent by God. For this reason he points him out with theses words: “Behold the lamb of God, he who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The word that is translated with “take away” literally means “to relieve,” “to take upon onself.” Jesus has come into the world with a precise mission: to free it from the slavery of sin, taking humanity’s faults upon himself. In what way? By loving. There is no other way to defeat evil and sin than with the love that moves one to give the gift of his life for others. In the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus is given the traits of the Servant of the Lord, who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), to the point of dying on the cross. He is the true Passover lamb, who immerses himself in the river of our sin, to purify us.

The Baptist sees before him a man who gets in line with sinners to be baptized even though he does not need to. He is the man who God sent into the world as the sacrificial lamb. The word “lamb” appears several times in the New Testament and always in reference to Jesus. This image of the lamb might surprise us: an animal that is certainly not characterized by its strength and hardiness takes upon himself such an oppressive weight. The enormous mass of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, who is a symbol of obedience, docility and defenseless love, who goes to the point of sacrificing himself. The lamb is not an oppressor but is docile; he is not aggressive but peaceful; he does not show his claws or teeth in the face of an attack, but endures it and is submissive. And this is how Jesus is! This is how Jesus is! He is like a lamb.

What does it mean for the Church, for us, today to be disciples of Jesus the Lamb of God? It means putting innocence in the place of malice, love in the place of force, humility in the place of pride, service in the place of prestige. It is good work! We Christians must do this: put innocence in the place of malice, love in the place of force, humility in the place of pride, service in the place of prestige. Being disciples of the Lamb means that we must not live like a “city under siege,” but like a city on a hill, open, welcoming, solidary. It means not having an attitude of closedness, but proposing the Gospel to everyone, testifying with our life that following Jesus makes us more free and more joyful.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the World day of Migrants and Refugees on the theme of “Migrants and Refugees: Toward a Better World,” which I developed in a message that was published some time ago. I offer a special greeting to the representatives of the different ethnic communities who have come here, especially to the Catholic communities of Rome. Dear friends, you are near to the heart of the Church because the Church is a people on a journey toward the Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ brought among us. Do not lose hope for a better world! I hope you will live in peace in the countries that receive you, bringing the values of your culture of origin with you. I would like to thank those who work with migrants, who welcome them and accompany them in their difficult moments, to defend them against those whom Bl. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini called “the merchants in human flesh,” who want to enslave the migrants. In a special way I want to thank the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, the Scalabrini priests and sisters, who do much good for the Church and become migrants with the migrants.

At this time we think of the many migrants, the many refugees, of their sufferings, of their life, often without work, without documents, with such grief. And we can together say a prayer for the migrants and the refugees who live in the worst and most difficult situations: Hail Mary...

I greet with affection all of you, dear faithful, from different parishes in Italy and other countries, and the associations and various groups. In particular I greet the Spanish pilgrims from Pontevedra, La Coruña, Murcia and the students from Badajoz. I greet the Opera Don Orione group, the Associazione Laici Amore Misericordioso (Lay Association of Divine Mercy), and the San Francesco choir of Montelupone.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus: On Following Christ
"The Lord walks the roads of our daily life"

VATICAN CITY, January 26, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello,

This Sunday’s Gospel recounts the beginnings of Jesus’s public life in the cities and villages of Galilee. His mission did not start from Jerusalem, that is, from the religious, social, and political center but from an area on the periphery, from an area despised by the most observant Jews because of the presence in that region of foreign groups. This is why the prophet Isaiah refers to it as “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 8:23).

It is a borderland, an area with many travelers where one meets people of different races, cultures and religions. Thus, Galilee in this way becomes the symbolic place of the Gospel’s openness to all peoples. From this point of view, Galilee resembles today’s world: the joint presence of different cultures, the necessity of confrontation and encounter. We too are immersed every day in a “Galilee of the Gentiles,” and in this sort of context we can be frightened and give in to the temptation of building walls around ourselves to be safer and more protected. But Jesus teaches us that the glad tidings that he brings are not reserved for just one part of humanity; it is to be communicated to everyone. It is a joyful proclamation to those who have been waiting for it but also perhaps to those who have given up and no longer have the strength to seek and to ask.

Starting from Galilee, Jesus teaches us that no one is excluded from God’s salvation, that, on the contrary, God prefers starting on the periphery, from those who are last, to reach all. He teaches us a method, his method, that, however also expresses the content, namely, the Father’s mercy. “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (“Evangelii gaudium,” 20).

Jesus begins his mission not only from a de-centered (“decentrato”), but also from people that are, we could say, “low profile.” To choose his first disciples and future apostles, he does not turn to the schools of the scribes and doctors of the Law, but to humbler, simpler persons, who make an effort to prepare for the Kingdom of God. Jesus calls them where they work, on the shores of the sea, they are fishermen. He calls them and they immediately follow him. They leave their nets and go with him: their life will become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure.

Dear friends, the Lord call today too! The Lord walks the roads of our daily life. Today too, in this moment, here, the Lord passes through the piazza. He calls us to go with him, to work with him for the Kingdom of God, in the Galilees of our time. Each of you should think: the Lord passes by today, the Lord looks at me, he is looking at me! What does the Lord say to me? And if one of you feels that the Lord says to him, “Follow me,” be courageous, go with the Lord. The Lord never disappoints. Listen in your heart whether the Lord is calling you to follow him. Let us allow ourselves to be reached by his gaze, his voice, and let us follow him! So “that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world” (“Evangelii gaudium,” 288).

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father further addressed those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Today you see that I am not alone. Two of you are with me. They came up here. They are great!

Today we celebrate the World Leprosy Day. This sickness, although it is disappearing, unfortunately still strikes many people today, who live in miserable circumstances. It is important to keep the solidarity with these brothers and sisters alive. We assure them of our prayer; and we also pray for all those who care for them and, in different ways, work to defeat this disaease.

I am close to the Ukraine in prayer, especially those who lost their lives recently and their families. I would like to see a constructive dialogue develop between the institutions and civil society, an end to all violent actions and the victory of the spirit of peace and pursuit of the common good in everyone’s hearts!

Today there are many children in the piazza. Many! With them too I would like to turn my thoughts to Cocò Campolongo, who at 3 years old was burned in a car in Cassano allo Jonio. This fury against such a little child does not seem to have precedent in the history of crime. Let us pray with Cocò, who is surely in heaven with Jesus, for the people who committed this crime, that they repent and covert to the Lord.

In the next few days, millions of people, who live in the Far East or in different places in the world, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese and others, will celebrate the lunar new year. I wish them all a life full of joy and hope. May the irrepressible longing for brotherhood that lives in their hearts find a privileged place in the intimacy of the family, where it can be found, formed and realized. This will be a precious contribution to the building up of a more human world, in which peace reigns.

Yesterday in Naples, Maria Cristina di Savoia was proclaimed blessed. She lived in the first half of the 19th century and was the queen of the 2 Sicilies. A woman of profound spirituality and great humility, she knew how to take on the suffering of her people, becoming a true mother of the poor. Her extraordinary example of charity testified that the good life of the Gospel is possible in every setting and social condition.

I greet with affection all of you, dear pilgrims, who have come from different parishes in Italy and other countries. I also greet all of the associations, student groups and others. I especially greet the students from Cuenca, Spain and the young women from Panama. I greet the faithful from Caltanissetta, Priolo Gargallo, San Severino Marche and San Giuliano Milanese, and the alumni of the School of Minoprio

I turn now to the young people of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Rome! Dear young people, this year too, accompanied by the cardinal vicar, you have come here in large numbers at the end of your “Caravan of Peace.” I thank you! I thank you very much! Let us now listen to the message that your friends here next to me will read to us.

[Reading of the message.]

And now these two great kids will release the doves, symbol of peace.

[Release of the doves.]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On the Presentation of the Lord

VATICAN CITY, February 02, 2014  -

Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. Today is also the Day of Consecrated Life, which recalls the importance for the Church of those who have received the vocation to follow Jesus closely along the path of the evangelical counsels. Today’s Gospel gives an account of how Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple 40 days after his birth to offer and consecrate him to God according to the prescription of the Jewish Law. This Gospel episode also constitutes an icon of the gift of their life made by those who, by a gift of God, assume the traits of Jesus as virgin, poor and obedient.

This gift of ourselves to God regards every Christian because we are all consecrated to him through our baptism. We are all called to offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus and like Jesus, making a generous gift of our lives, in the family, at work, in service to the Church, in works of mercy. Nevertheless, such a consecration is lived in a special way by religious, by monks and by consecrated laypersons, who, with the profession of their vows, belong to God in a total and exclusive way. This belonging to the Lord permits those who live it in an authentic way to offer a special witness of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally given to their brothers, to bring the light of Christ where the darkness is the most impenetrable and spread hope to discouraged hearts.

Consecrated persons are a sign of God in the different spheres of life, they are the leaven for the growth a just and fraternal society, they are a prophecy of sharing with the little ones and the poor. Thus understood and lived, the consecrated life appears to us as it really is: a gift of God, a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to his People! Every consecrated person is a gift a gift for the People of God on its journey. There is great need of these presences that reinforce and renew the commitment to spread the Gospel, Christian education, charity toward the neediest, contemplative prayer; the commitment to human formation, the spiritual formation of young people and of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family. But think about what would happen if there were no sisters in the hospitals, sisters in the missions, sisters in the schools. Think of a Church without sisters! You can’t. They are this gift, this leaven that moves the People of God forward. These are great women who consecrate their life to God, who advance the message of Jesus.

The Church and the world need this witness of God’s love and mercy. The consecrated and religious are that God is good and merciful. So, it is necessary to appreciate with gratitude the experiences of consecrated life and deepen our knowledge of the different charisms and spiritualities. We must pray that many young people answer “yes” to the Lord’s call to consecrate themselves totally to him in view of a disinterested service to their brothers, of consecrating their life to serve God and their brothers.

For all these reasons, as it was just announced, next year will be dedicated in a special way to consecrated life. From this moment let us entrust this initiative to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who, as the parents of Jesus, were the first to be consecrated to him and to consecrate their life to him.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke further to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

I greet the families, the parishes, the associations and all the pilgrims who have come to Rome from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular I greet the Spanish students from Villafranca de los Barros e Zafra; the devotees of Bl. Stefano Bellesini, who have come from Verona, the faithful from Taranto, the choirs from Turriaco, Modena and the province of Taranto.

Today in Italy we celebrate the Day for Life, whose theme this year is “Generating the Future.” I offer my greeting and encouragement to the associations, movements and cultural centers engaged in the defense and the promotion of life. I join the Italian bishops in repeating that “every child is the countenance of the Lord the lover of life, a gift to the family and to society” (Message for the 36th National Day for Life). Everyone, in his proper role and in his proper sphere, should feel called to love and serve life, to welcome it, to respect it and to promote it, especially when it is fragile and in need of attention and care, from the maternal womb to its end on this earth.

I greet the Cardinal Vicar and those working in the Diocese of Rome to organize the Day for Life. I express my appreciation for the university instructors who, on this occasion, have conducted conferences on the contemporary problems linked to the birthrate. Thank you so much.

My thoughts turn to the dear people of Rome and Tuscany who have been affected by the rain that has caused flooding. May these brothers of ours who are suffering not lack our concrete solidarity and our prayer. Dear brothers and sisters, I am very close to you!

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus: On the Light of Christ

VATICAN CITY, February 09, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Brothers and sisters, hello!

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, which follows directly after the Beatitudes, Jesus says to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14). This surprises us a little bit when we think of the people to whom Jesus was speaking. Who were those disciples? They were fishermen, simple people... But Jesus looked upon them with the eyes of God, and his statement should be understood precisely as a consequence of the Beatitudes. He wishes to say: if you will be poor in spirit, if you will be meek, if you will be pure of heart, if you will be merciful... you will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!

To better understand these images, let us bear in mind that the Jewish Law prescribed putting a little salt upon every offering presented to God, as a sign of the covenant. Light, for Israel, was a symbol of the messianic revelation that triumphs over the darkness of paganism. Thus, Christians, the new Israel, received a mission for all men: with faith and charity they can direct, consecrate and make humanity fruitful. All of us baptized are missionary disciples and we are called to become a living gospel in the world: with a holy life we will give “taste” to the different spheres [of society] and defend them from corruption, just as salt does; and we will bring the light of Christ with the witness of a genuine charity. But if we Christians lose our taste and extinguish our presence as salt and light, we will lose effectiveness. But how beautiful is this mission to give light to the world! It is a mission that we have. It is beautiful! It is also very beautiful to keep the light that we have received from Jesus, protect it, keep it. The Christian must be a shining person, who brings light, who always gives light! A light that is not his, but a gift from God, it is Jesus’ gift. And we carry this light. If the Christian extinguishes this light, his life has no meaning. He is a Christian in name only, he does not bring light with him, his light is without meaning. But I would like to ask you now, how do you want to live? Do you want to live like a light [“lampada”] that is on or one that is off? On or off? How do you want to live? [The people in St. Peter’s Square respond, “On!”]. A light that is on! It is God himself who gives us this light and we give it to others. A light that is on! This is the Christian vocation.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke further to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

The day after tomorrow, February 11, we celebrate the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, and we will observe the World Day of the Sick. It is a propitious occasion to put the community of sick people at the center. Pray for them and with them, be close to them. The Message for this Day is inspired by an expression of St. John: “Faith and Charity: ‘We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another’ (1 Jn 3:16).” In particular, we can imitate the attitude of Jesus toward the sick, the sick of every sort: the Lord cares for them, shares their suffering and opens their heart to hope.

I also think of all the health workers. What precious work they do! Thanks so much for your precious work. Every day in the sick the encounter not only bodies marked by fragility, but persons to whom they offer attention and appropriate care. The dignity of the person is never reduced to his faculties or capacities, and it is not lessened, disabled and in need of help. I think also of the families, where it is normal to take care of those who are sick; but sometimes the situations can be more burdensome... Many people write to me, and today I want to assure all of these families of my prayers, and I say to them: do not be afraid of weakness [“fragilità”]! Do not be afraid of weakness! Help each other with love, and you will feel the consoling presence of God.

The attitude toward the sick that is generous and Christian is salt of the earth and light of the world. May Mary help us to practice it and obtain peace for all of those who are suffering.

The Winter Olympics are taking place now in Sochi, Russia. I would like to send my greetings to the organizers and all the athletes, with the wish that it be a true feast of sport and friendship.

I greet all of the pilgrims present today, the families, parish groups, associations. In particular I greet the teachers and students who have come from England; the group of women theologians from different European countries, who are in Rome for a scholarly conference; the faithful of the parishes of Santa Maria Immacolata and San Vincenzo de Paoli in Rome, those who have come from Cavallina and Montecarelli in Mugello, from Lavello and from Affi, the Comunità Sollievo, and the School of San Luca-Bovalino in Calabria.

I pray for those who are suffering from the damage and upheaval caused by natural disasters in different countries, and here in Rome too. I am close to them. Nature challenges us to be solidary and attentive to the protection of creation, and to prepare – as far as it is possible – for the worst situations.

And before I depart, the question I asked comes back to my mind. Light on or light off? What do you want? On or off? The Christian brings light! He is a light that is on! Always forward with the light of Jesus!

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus: On the Fulfillment of the Law
"And we, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves up to the action of the Spirit, who makes us able to live divine love."

VATICAN CITY, February 16, 2014 -

Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The Gospel this Sunday is part of the so-called “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus’ first important preaching. Today the theme is Jesus’ attitude toward the Jewish Law. He says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus, then, does not want to eliminate the commandments that the Lord gave through Moses, but to complete fulfillment. And immediately afterwards he adds that this “fulfillment” of the Law requires a greater justice, a more authentic observance. In fact, he tells his disciples: “If your justice does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

But what does this “complete fulfillment” of the Law mean? And in what does this greater justice consist? Jesus himself answers us with some examples. Jesus was practical. He always used examples when he spoke to make himself understood. He starts with the 5th commandment of the Decalogue: "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill’ ... But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). With this Jesus reminds us that words too can kill! When it is said of person that he has the “tongue of a snake,” what does it mean? It means that his words kill! So, not only should we not try to take our neighbor’s life, we should not pour the poison of anger on him or strike him with calumny. Nor should we speak ill of him. We start gossiping. Gossiping too can kill because it kills a person’s reputation! Gossip is very ugly! At the beginning it can seem pleasant, even entertaining, like sucking on candy. But in the end it fills our hearts with bitterness, and it poisons us too. I will tell you the truth, I am convinced that if each of us were to decide to avoid gossip, in the end we would become a saint! It is a beautiful path! Do we want to become saints? Yes or no? [The people in the piazza respond “Yes!”] Do we want to be attached to gossiping as a habit? Yes or no? [The people in the piazza respond “No!”] So, we are agreed: no more gossiping! Jesus proposes the perfection of love to those who follow him. It is a love whose only measure is to be without measure, to go beyond all calculation. Love of neighbor is an attitude that is so basic that Jesus even says that our relationship with God cannot be sincere unless we are willing to make peace with our neighbor. He puts it this way: So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

From all of this it is understood that Jesus does not merely stress disciplinary observance and external conduct. He goes to the root of the Law, pointing above all to the intention and so to the heart of man, from where our good or evil actions originate. To act well and honestly juridical norms are not enough, deeper motivations are necessary, which are an expression of a hidden wisdom, God’s Wisdom, which can be received from the Holy Spirit. And we, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves up to the action of the Spirit, who makes us able to live divine love.

In the light of this teaching every precept reveals its full meaning as a demand of love, and all precepts are contained within the greatest commandment: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke further to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

I greet with affection all of the Romans and pilgrims present, the families, the parishes, the young people from the many countries of the world.

I especially greet the many faithful from the Czech Republic, who have accompanied their bishops on the “ad limina” visit, and the Spaniards from the Dioceses of Orihuela-Alicante, Jerez de la Frontera and Cádiz y Ceuta.

I greet the parish groups from Calenzano, Aversa and Naples and from Santa Maria Regina Pacis in Ostia and Sant’Andrea Avellino in Rome. I greet the Movimento Giovanile Guanelliano, the young people of the Movimento Arcobaleno of Modena and the choir of Santo Stefano in Caorle.

I greet the group of members of the Italian military.

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Angelus:  On Belonging to Christ
"Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses!"

VATICAN CITY, February 23, 2014  - Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

In the second reading this Sunday, St. Paul says: “So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23). Why does the Apostle say this? It is because he finds himself faced with divisions in the community at Corinth, where different groups had been formed that each regarded some preacher as their leader. They said: “I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am of Cephas...” (Corinthians 1:12). St. Paul explains that this way of thinking is mistaken because the community does not belong to the apostles, rather the apostles belong to the community. But the community as a whole belongs to Christ!

This belonging to Christ means that in the Christian communities – dioceses, parishes, associations, movements – the differences cannot contradict the fact that, through Baptism, we have the same dignity: all of us, in Jesus Christ, are children of God. And this is our dignity: in Jesus Christ we are children of God! Those who have received the office of leadership, of preaching, of administering the Sacraments, must not think of themselves as owners of special powers, as masters, but put themselves at the service of the community, helping it to travel the path of holiness with joy.

Today the Church entrusts this way of pastoral life to the new cardinals, with whom I celebrated Mass this morning. We can greet all the new cardinals with applause. Let us all greet them! Yesterday’s consistory and today’s eucharistic celebration offered us a precious occasion to experience the catholicity, the universality of the Church, well-represented by the various origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around the Successor of Peter. And may the Lord give us the grace to work for the unity of the Church, to build this unity, because unity is more important than conflicts! The unity of the Church is from Christ; conflicts are problems that are not always from Christ.

The liturgical moments of celebration that we have had the opportunity to experience during the course of the last couple days, reinforce the faith in all of us and the love for Christ and for his Church! I invite you to support these shepherds and to assist them with prayer, so that they always lead with zeal the people entrusted to them, showing everyone the tenderness and love of the Lord. But a bishop, a cardinal, a pope have such a great need of prayer to help the people of God to go forward! I say “help,” that is, serve the people of God, because the vocation of a bishop, a cardinal and a pope is precisely this: to be servants, to serve in the name of Christ. Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses! All of us together, bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful must offer the witness of a Church faithful to Christ, animated by the desire to serve our brothers and ready to meet with prophetic courage the spiritual expectations and needs of the men and women of our time. May Our Lady accompany us and protect us on this journey.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks to those gathered in St. Peter’s square:]

I greet all of the pilgrims present, especially those who have come for the consistory, to accompany the new cardinals; and I heartily thank the countries who have wished to be present at this event with official delegations.

I greet the students of Toulouse and the community of Venezuelans who live in Italy.

I greet the faithful from Caltanissetta, Reggio Calabria, Sortino, Altamura, Ruvo and Lido degli Estensi; the young people from Reggio Emilia and those from the Diocese of Lodi; the Bicyclist Association of Agrigento and the volunteers of the Civil Protection from Bassa Padovana.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch! Goodbye!

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Angelus:  On Divine Providence
A heart that is preoccupied with the desire to possess is a heart that is full of this desire to possess, but it lacks God

VATICAN CITY, March 02, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

At the center of this Sunday’s liturgy we find one of the most comforting truths: divine providence. The prophet Isaiah presents it as an image of maternal love full of tenderness, and says this: “Could a woman forget her child, be without tenderness for the offspring of her womb?” (49:15). How beautiful this is! God does not forget us, each one of us! He does not forget about each of us with a first and last name. He loves us and does not forget us. What a beautiful thought... This invitation to confidence in God has a parallel in the passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “Look at the birds of the sky,” says Jesus, “they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them ... Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them” (Matthew 6:26, 28-29).

But considering the many people who live in precarious conditions, or in a misery that offends their dignity, these words of Jesus might seem abstract, if not illusory. But in reality they are more actual than ever! They remind us that you cannot serve 2 masters: God and wealth. So long as everyone is out to get whatever he can for himself, there will never be justice. We must understand this well! So long as everyone is out to get whatever he can for himself, there will never be justice. If, however, trusting in God’s providence, we seek his kingdom together, then no one will lack what they need to live with dignity.

A heart that is preoccupied with the desire to possess is a heart that is full of this desire to possess, but it lacks God. For this reason Jesus often admonished the rich, because the temptation to place their trust in the goods of this world is strong, and security, true security, is in God. In a heart possessed by riches, there is no longer much room for faith: everything is concerned with riches, there is no room for faith. If, however, God is given the place that belongs to him, that is, the first place, then his love will lead us to share our riches too, to put them in the service of projects of solidarity and development, as we see in so many examples, even recent ones, in the history of the Church. And in this way God’s providence passes through our service to others, our sharing with others. If each of us were to accumulate wealth not only for ourselves but to put at the service of others, in this case God’s providence would manifest itself in this gesture of solidarity. If, however, someone acquires things only for himself, what will happen to him when he is called by God? He cannot bring his riches with him, because, as you know, there are no pockets in the burial shroud! It is better to share because we only bring to heaven what we shared with others.

The path that Jesus points to might seem very unrealistic from the perspective of a common mentality and the economic crisis; but if we think about it carefully, it leads us to the right hierarchy of values. Jesus says: “Is life not worth more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). To ensure that no one lacks bread, water, clothing, housing, work, health we need to recognize each other as children of the heavenly Father and so as brothers to each other, and conduct ourselves accordingly. I proposed this in my Message for Peace on January 1: brotherhood is the way to peace, this going forward together, sharing things together.

In the light of the Word of God this Sunday we invoke the Virgin Mary as Mother of Divine Providence. We entrust our existence to her, the path of the Church and of humanity. In particular we ask for her intercession so that we can all make an effort to live in a simple and sober way, with our eyes open to the needs of our brothers who most require our help most.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father spoke again to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I ask you to continue to pray for Ukraine, which finds itself in a delicate situation. While it is my wish that the citizens of the country strive to overcome misunderstandings and to build the future of the nation together, I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to support every initiative on behalf of dialogue and concord.

This week we start Lent, which is the journey of the people of God toward Easter, a journey of conversion, of struggle against evil with the weapons of prayer, of fasting, of mercy. Humanity needs justice, reconciliation, peace and can have these things only if it returns with all of its heart to God, who is their source. We too need God’s forgiveness. Let us enter into Lent in the spirit of worship of God and fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, are most affected by poverty and violent conflicts.

I wish all of you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Angelus: On Temptation

VATICAN CITY, March 09, 2014  - Here is the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent presents us every year with an episode about the temptations of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him and, after the baptism in the Jordan, drove him to confront Satan openly in the desert for 40 days before beginning his public mission.

The tempter tries to lead Jesus away from the Father’s plan, that is, from the path of sacrifice, of the love that offers itself in expiation. He wants to lead Jesus down an easy road, a road of success and power. In their duel Jesus and Satan fire rounds of Scripture at each other. In fact, Satan, to steer Jesus away from the cross, presents him with false messianic hopes: economic well-being, indicated by the possibility of transforming bread into stones; the spectacular and miraclistic (“miracolistico”) style, with the idea of throwing himself down from the highest point of the temple of Jerusalem and being saved by the angels; and finally the shortcut of power and dominion in exchange for worshipping Satan. These are the 3 groups of temptations. We too know them well!

Jesus decisively rejects all of these temptations and reaffirms his unwavering will to follow the path set by the Father, without any compromise with sin or the world’s logic. Note well how Jesus replies. He does not dialogue with Satan, as Eve did in the earthly paradise. Jesus knows well that you cannot dialogue with Satan. Satan is quite astute. For this reason Jesus, instead of dialoguing with Satan like Eve did, chooses to take refuge in the Word of God and answers with the force of this Word. Let us remember this: in the moment of temptation, in our temptations, we should not argue with Satan, but always defend ourselves with the Word of God! And this will save us. In his replies to Satan, the Lord, using the Word of God, reminds us above all that “not by bread alone does man live but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3); and this gives us strength, it sustains us in the struggle against the worldly mentality that lowers man to the level of basic needs, causing him to lose the hunger for what is true, good and beautiful, the hunger for God and his love. Furthermore, Jesus reminds us that “it is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7), because the road of faith also passes through darkness and is helped by patience and persevering expectation. Jesus finally points out that “it is written: ‘The Lord your God you will adore: him alone will you pay worship’” (4:10). In other words, we must detach ourselves from idols, from vain things, and build our life on what is essential.

These words of Jesus will then be concretely validated by his actions. His absolute fidelity to the Father’s plan of love will lead him after 3 years to the final settling of accounts with the “prince of this world” (John 16:11), in the hour of the passion of the cross, and there Jesus will win his definitive victory, the victory of love!

Dear brothers, the time of Lent is the propitious occasion for all of us to take the journey of conversion, taking this page of the Gospel seriously. Let us renew our baptismal promises: let us renounce Satan and all of his works and seductions – because he himself is a seducer – to walk the paths of the Lord and “arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit” (Collect of the first Sunday of Lent, Year A).

During this Lent, let us remember the invitation of Caritas International in its campaign against hunger in the world. I wish everyone that the Lenten journey that has just started bear an abundance of fruits; and I ask you to remember me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia in prayer as we begin a week of retreat. Thank you.

Have a good Sunday and a good lunch! Goodbye!

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Angelus: On the Transfiguration
"We are called to bring to these brothers who are enduring hardships the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the grace we have received"

VATICAN CITY, March 16, 2014  - Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today the Gospel presents the event of the Transfiguration. It is the second stage on the Lenten journey. The first was the temptation in the desert, last Sunday; the second is the Transfiguration. Jesus “takes Peter, James and John apart with him on the mountain” (Matthew 17:1). In the Bible the mountain represents a place of nearness to God and of intimate encounter with him; the place of prayer where you are in the presence of the Lord. Up on the mountain Jesus shows himself to the 3 disciples transfigured; he is luminous, beautiful; and then Moses and Elijah appear and converse with him. His countenance is so radiant and his clothing so bright that Peter is in awe, so much that he wants to stay there, he wants almost to freeze the moment. Immediately the voice of the Father speaks from above, proclaiming Jesus as his beloved Son, saying: “Listen to him” (17:5). These words are important! Our Father says to these apostles and to us too: “Listen to Jesus, because he is my beloved Son.” Let us keep these words in our head and heart this week: “Listen to Jesus!” And it is not the Pope who says this, it is God the Father who says this: to me, to you, to everyone, everyone! It is a kind of help for going forward on the road of Lent. “Listen to Jesus!” Do not forget.

This invitation of the Father is very important. We, disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously. To hear Jesus, it is necessary to be close to him, to follow him, as the crowds in the Gospel did who walked the roads of Palestine. Jesus did not have a fixed post of instruction or pulpit, but was an itinerant teacher, who proposed his teachings along the road, the teachings given to him by the Father, taking trips that were not always predictable and sometimes not very easy. Follow Jesus to listen to him. But let us also listen to Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel. I ask you a question: Do you read a passage of the Gospel every day? Yes, no ... yes, no ... Half and half ... Some yes, some no. But is it is important! Do you read the Gospel? It is a good thing; it is a good thing to have a little Gospel book, little, and carry it with us, in our pocket, in our bag, to read a little passage from it any time during the day. Any time during the day I take the Gospel out of my pocket and read something, a short passage. There is Jesus who speaks to us, in the Gospel! Think about this. It is not hard, nor is it necessary that it be all 4 Gospels. 1 of the Gospels, very small, with us. We should always carry the Gospel with us, because it is Jesus’ word, to listen to it.

I would like to draw 2 significant elements from this episode of the Transfiguration that I sum up in 2 words: ascent and descent. We need to go apart by ourselves, to ascend the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the Lord’s voice. We do this in prayer. But we cannot remain there! The encounter with God in prayer moves us again to “descend from the mountain” and return below, to the plain, where we meet many brothers who are burdened by toil, sickness, injustice, ignorance, material and spiritual poverty. We are called to bring to these brothers who are enduring hardships the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the grace we have received. And this is curious. When we listen to Jesus’ Word, we listen to Jesus’ word and have it in our heart that Word grows. And do you know how it grows? By giving it to someone else! Jesus’ Word in us grows when we proclaim it, when we give it to others! And this is the Christian life. It is a mission for the whole Church, for all of the baptized, for all of us: listen to Jesus and offer him to others. Don’t forget: this week, listen to Jesus! And think about this thing about the Gospel. Will you do it? Will you do this? Then next Sunday you will tell me whether you have done this: having a little Gospel in your pocket or bag to read a little passage during the day.

And now let us turn to our Mother Mary, and entrust ourselves to her guidance to make this Lenten journey with faith and generosity, learning a little more to “ascend” with prayer and listen to Jesus and to “descend” with fraternal charity, announcing Jesus.

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Angelus: On the Encounter with Christ

VATICAN CITY, March 23, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today’s Gospel presents us with the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in [the Samaritan town of] Sychar near an ancient well where the woman had come to draw water. Jesus found himself seated at the well that day “tired from his journey” (John 4:6). He immediately says: “Give me to drink” (4:7). In this way he overcomes the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans and the mentality of prejudiced mentality toward women. Jesus’ simple request is the beginning of a frank dialogue through which, with great delicacy, he enters into the interior world of a person to whom, according to the social norms, he should not have even spoken a word. But Jesus does it! Jesus is not afraid. Jesus, when he sees a person, goes forward, because he loves. He loves us all. Prejudice does not hinder his contact with a person. Jesus places the person before his [the person’s] situation, not judging him but making him feel appreciated, recognized and in this way awakens in him the desire to move beyond his daily routine.

Jesus’ thirst was not so much for water but to meet a parched soul. Jesus needed to meet the Samaritan woman to open her heart. He asks her for a drink of water to bring to light the thirst that was in her. The woman is moved by this encounter: she asks Jesus those profound questions that all of us have but that we often ignore. We too have many questions to ask, but we cannot find the courage to pose them to Jesus! Lent, dear brothers and sisters, is the opportune time to look inside ourselves, to allow our most genuine spiritual needs to emerge, and to ask the Lord’s help in prayer. The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to express ourselves in this way: “Jesus, give me that water that will eternally quench my thirst.”

The Gospel tells us that the disciples were astonished that their Master spoke with that woman. But the Lord is greater than prejudices; this is why he was not afraid to engage with the Samaritan woman. Mercy is greater than prejudice. This we must learn well! Mercy is greater than prejudice, and Jesus is very merciful, very! The outcome of this meeting at the well was that the woman was transformed: “she left her water jar behind” (4:28) and ran into the town to tell people about her extraordinary experience. “I found a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” She was enthusiastic. She went to get water from the well and found another water, the living water of mercy that wells up to eternal life. She found the water that she had always been looking for! She ran to the village – that village that judged her, condemned her and rejected her – and announces that she has met the Messiah: someone who changed her life. Because every encounter with Jesus changes our life, always. It is a step forward, a step closer to God. And thus every encounter with Jesus changes our life. It is always, always this way. In this Gospel, we too find the inspiration to “leave our water jar behind,” the symbol of all that is apparently important but that loses value before the “love of God.” We all have one, or more than one! I ask you, and me: “What is your interior water jar, that which burdens you, that which distances you from God?” Let us leave it aside and listen to the voice of Jesus with our heart. He offers us a different water, a water that brings us closer to the Lord. We are called to rediscover the importance and meaning of our Christian life, begun in Baptism, and like the Samaritan woman, to bear witness to our brothers. Bear witness to what? To joy! Bear witness to the joy of the encounter with Jesus, because I said that every encounter with Jesus changes our life, and every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy, that joy that comes from within. And this is how the Lord is. And speak of how many wonderful things that the Lord knows how to do in our heart when we have the courage to leave our water jar behind.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father again addressed those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Now let us remember the 2 phrases: every encounter with Jesus changes our life and every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy. Should we say them together? Every encounter with Jesus changes our life; every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy. This is true.

Tomorrow is World Tuberculosis Day: let us pray for all people who have this sickness and for those who care for them in various ways.

On Friday and Saturday we will observe a special penitential moment called “24 Hours for the Lord.” It will begin with a celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica Friday afternoon, then in the evening and during the night some churches in the center of Rome will be open for prayer and Confession. It will be – we can call it this – it will be the feast of forgiveness, which also take place in many dioceses and parishes throughout the world. We must celebrate the forgiveness that the Lord grants us, just as the father in the parable of the prodigal son did. When his son returned home he celebrated, forgetting all of his sins. It will be the feast of forgiveness.

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Angelus: On Coming to the Light
"We must repent, we must stop acting in these ways so we can set out decisively on the road of sanctity"

VATICAN CITY, March 30, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello,

Today’s Gospel presents us with the episode of the man born blind to whom Jesus gives sight. The long narrative opens with a blind man who begins to see and closes – this is curious – with those who presumably see and who continue to be blind in their soul. John tells of the miracle in just 6 verses because he wants to draw attention not to the miracle but to what happens afterward, that is, to the discussions that the miracle causes. He also wants to draw attention to the gossip. Often a good work, a charitable work causes gossip and discussion, because there are some who do not wish to see the truth. The evangelist John wants to draw attention to this, which also happens today when a good work is done. The blind man who is healed is first interrogated by the astonished crowd – they saw the miracle and they interrogate him. Then he is interrogated by the doctors of the law; and they also interrogate his parents. In the end, the blind man who is healed arrives at faith, and this is greatest grace that Jesus bestows upon him: not only to see him but to know him, to see him as “the light of the world” (John 9:5).

While the blind man comes gradually closer to the light, the doctors of the law on the contrary sink ever further into their interior blindness. Shut up in their presumptions, they think they have the light; because of this they do not open to Jesus’ truth. They do everything they can to deny the evidence. They question the reliability of the man who is healed; then they deny the action of God in the healing, saying that God does not heal on the Sabbath; then, finally, they doubt that the man was even born blind. Their closure to the light becomes aggressive and leads to the expulsion of the man who is healed from the Temple.

The path of the blind man instead is a gradual process that begins with knowing Jesus’ name. He does not know anything else about him. In fact, he says: "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes” (9:11). In response to the pressing questions of the doctors of the law he first says that Jesus is a prophet (9:17) and then a man close to God (9:31). After he is thrown out of the Temple, excluded from society, Jesus finds him again and “opens his eyes” a second time, revealing to him is true identity: “I am the Messiah,” he tells him. At this point, the man who was blind exclaims: “I believe, Lord!” (9:38), and prostrates himself before Jesus. This is a passage of the Gospel that gives us a glimpse of the drama of the interior blindness of many people. And we glimpse our own interior blindness too because we sometimes have moments of such blindness.

Our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who is open to the light, who is open to God, who is open to his grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, our life is a little like that of the doctors of the law: from the height of our pride we judge others, and, in the end, the Lord! Today we are invited to open ourselves up to the light of Christ to bear fruit in our life, to eliminate non-Christian ways of acting; we are all Christians, but all of us, all of us, at times act in ways that are not Christian, we act in ways that are sinful. We must repent, we must stop acting in these ways so we can set out decisively on the road of sanctity. This road has its beginning in Baptism. We too are “enlightened” by Christ in Baptism, so that, as St. Paul notes, we can walk as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), with humility, patience, mercy. These doctors of the law did not have humility, patience or mercy!

I would like to suggest to you today, when you return home, to open the Gospel of John and read this passage of chapter 9. It will do you well, because in this way you will see this road from blindness to light and the other, wicked road toward deeper blindness. Let us ask ourselves about the state of our heart. Do I have an open heart or a closed one? Open or closed to God? Open or closed to my neighbor? We always have some closure in us born of sin, of mistakes, of errors. We must not be afraid! Let us open ourselves up to the Lord. He awaits us always to help us see better, to give us light, to forgive us. Let us not forget this! To the Virgin Mary we entrust the Lenten journey, so that we too, like the blind man who was healed, can with the grace of Christ “come to the light,” make progress toward the light and be reborn to a new life.

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Angelus: On Divine Mercy
"There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all!"

VATICAN CITY, April 06, 2014  - Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The Gospel of this fifth Sunday of Lent tells us of the resurrection of Lazarus. It is the culmination of the miraculous “signs” worked by Jesus: it is a gesture that is to great, too clearly divine to be tolerated by the high priests, who, once they found out about it, decided to kill Jesus (cf. John 11:53).

Lazarus was dead for 3 days already when Jesus arrived; and to his sisters Martha and Mary he spoke words that have forever impressed themselves on the memory of the Christian community. Jesus speaks thus: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” From this word of the Lord we believe that the life of whoever believes in Jesus and follows his commandment, after death will be transformed into a new, full and immortal life. Just as Jesus rose with his own body but did not return to an earthly life, we too will rise with our bodies, which will be transfigured and glorious bodies. He awaits us with the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit, which had raised him up, will also raise those who are united with him.

Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (11:43-44). This commanding cry is addressed to every man, because we are all marked for death, all of us; it is the voice of he who is the Lord of life and desires that all “have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Christ has not resigned himself to the tombs that we have created with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He does not resign himself to this! He invites us, he almost commands us, to come out of the tombs in which our sins have buried us. He insistently calls us out of the darkness of the prison in which we have shut ourselves, contenting ourselves with a false, egoistic and mediocre life. “Come out!” he tells us, “Come out!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to let ourselves be seized by these words of Jesus that he repeats to each one of us today. It is an invitation to remove the “burial shroud,” the burial shroud of pride. Pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves of many idols, of many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face – often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! – and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.

Jesus’ gesture, which raises Lazarus, shows how far the power of God’s Grace can go and how far our conversion can go, our change. But listen well: there is no limit to divine mercy offered to all! There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all! Remember this well. And we can say it all together: “There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all!” Let us say it together: “There is no limit to divine mercy offered to all!” The Lord is always ready to remove the stone from the tomb of our sins, which separate us from him, from the light of the living.

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Pope's Regina Caeli Address on Easter Monday
Says Let's "Bring a 'ray' of the light of the Risen One to different situations"

VATICAN CITY, April 22, 2014  - At 12pm Monday, Pope Francis appeared at the window  of the Apostolic Vatican Palace, to recite the Regina Caeli with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square

Here is a translation of the Pope’s words on introducing the Marian prayer of Eastertide.

***

Before the Regina Caeli

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Happy Easter! “Cristos anesti! – Alethos anesti!”, Christ is risen! – He is truly risen!” He is here, among us in the Square! During this week we can continue to exchange Easter wishes as if it were the only day.

Great is the day that the Lord has made.

The dominant sentiment perceived, in the evangelical accounts of the Resurrection, is joy full of wonder, but a great wonder! A joy that comes from within! And, in the Liturgy, we relive the state of mind of the disciples because of the news the women brought to them: Jesus is risen! We have seen him!

We let this experience, imprinted in the Gospel, be imprinted also in our hearts and shine in our life. We let the joyful wonder of Easter Sunday shine in our thoughts, our looks, our attitudes, our gestures and our words. I wish we were so luminous! However, this is not makeup! It comes from within, from a heart immersed in the source of this joy, as that of Mary Magdalen, who weeps for the loss of her Lord and did not believe her eyes when seen Him risen. Whoever has this experience becomes a witness of the Resurrection because, in a certain sense, he himself has risen, she herself was raised. Then one is able to bring a “ray” of the light of the Risen One to different situations: to happy ones, rendering them more beautiful and preserving them from egoism; to painful ones, bringing serenity and hope.

It will do us good this week to take the Book of the Gospel and read those chapters that speak of Jesus’ Resurrection. It will do us so much good to take up the Book, to find the chapters and read about it! It will do us good this week to think also of the joy of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. How profound her sorrow was, so much so as to pierce her soul, how intimate and profound was her joy, which the disciples were able to draw from. Having passed through the experience of the Death and Resurrection of her Son, she is seen in faith as the supreme expression of the love of God, Mary’s heart became a source of peace, of consolation, of hope and of mercy. All the prerogatives of our Mother stem from here, from her participation in Jesus’ Pasch. From Friday to Sunday morning, she did not lose hope: we contemplated her as the sorrowful Mother but, at the same time, as a Mother full of hope. She, the Mother of all the disciples, the Mother of the Church, is the Mother of hope.

To her, silent witness of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, we pray that she may introduce us to the joy of Easter. We will do so with the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which in Eastertide replaces the prayer of the Angelus.

After the Regina Caeli:

I give my cordial greeting to you all, dear pilgrims, who have come from Italy and from several countries

to take part in this meeting of prayer.

Remember this week to take up the Gospel, to find the chapters that speak of the Resurrection and to

read, every day, a passage of those chapters. It will do us good, in this week of the Resurrection of Jesus.

I express to each of you the hope that you will spend this Monday of the Angel, in which the joy of Christ’s resurrection is prolonged, in joy and serenity.

Happy and holy Easter to all! Have a good lunch and good-bye!

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On the Canonizations of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II
"We turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, whom St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II loved like her true sons"

VATICAN CITY, April 27, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Regina Coeli at the conclusion of the Canonization Mass of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before concluding this feast of faith I would like to greet and thank all of you!

I thank the cardinals and the numerous bishops and priests of every part of the world.

My gratitude goes out to official delegations from many countries, who have come to pay homage to 2 pontiffs, who contributed in a permanent way to the cause of the development of peoples and to peace. A special thanks to the Italian officials for their precious collaboration.

With great affection I greet the pilgrims of the Diocese of Bergamo and of Krakow! My dear friends, honor the memory of the 2 popes by faithfully following their teachings.

I am grateful to all of those who with great generosity prepared these memorable days: he Diocese of Rome with Cardinal Vallini, the municipality of Rome with the Mayor Ignazio Marino, the law enforcement agencies and the various other organizations, associations and the numerous volunteers. Thank you everyone!

My greeting goes out to all the pilgrims here in St. Peter’s Square, on the nearby streets and in other places in Rome; and to those who are joining us by radio and television; and I thank the media directors and workers, who have given so many people the possibility of participating. A special greeting goes out to the sick and the elderly toward whom the new saints were especially close.

And now we turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, whom St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II loved like her true sons.

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Angelus: On the Journey of Faith
"There is always a Word of God that gives us direction after we have become confused"

VATICAN CITY, May 04, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Gospel for this Sunday, which is the third Sunday of Easter, is about the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35). These were 2 disciples of Jesus, who, after his death and once the Sabbath was over, leave Jerusalem and return, sad and dejected, to their village called Emmaus. Along the way, the risen Jesus comes to walk beside them but they do not recognize him. Seeing their sadness, he first helps them to understand that the passion and death of the Messiah were foreseen in God’s plan and foretold in Sacred Scripture and, thus, relights a fire of hope in their hearts.

At that point the disciples feel strongly drawn to that mysterious man and invite him to stay with them that evening. Jesus accepts their invitation and enters the house with them. And when at dinner he blesses the bread and breaks it, they recognize him, but he disappears from their sight, leaving them full of wonder. After being enlightened by the Word, they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, new sign of his presence. And immediately they feel a need to return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about this experience of theirs, that they met Jesus alive and recognized him in that act of breaking the bread.

The road to Emmaus in this way becomes the symbol of our journey of faith: the Scriptures and the Eucharist are the indispensable elements for our encounter with the Lord. We too arrive at Sunday Mass with our worries, our problems and delusions... Life sometimes wounds us and we walk along sadly toward our “Emmaus,” turning our backs on God’s plan. We distance ourselves from God. But the Liturgy of the Word welcomes us: Jesus explains the Scriptures and reignites the fire of faith and hope in our hearts and in Communion he gives us strength. Word of God, Eucharist. Read a passage of Scripture every day. Remember it well: read a passage of Scripture every day, and on Sunday go to receive Communion, to receive Jesus. This is how it happened with the disciples of Emmaus: they took in the Word; they shared the piece of bread and from sad and defeated they became joyful. Remember it well! When you are said, take up the Word of God. When you are down, take up the Word of God and go to Sunday Mass to receive Communion, to participate in the mystery of Jesus. Word of God, Eucharist: they fill us with joy.

Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy let us pray that every Christian, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, especially at Sunday Mass, rediscover the grace of the transformative encounter with the Lord, with the risen Lord, who is always with us. There is always a Word of God that gives us direction after we have become confused; and through our weariness and delusions there is always piece of broken Bread that makes us go forward on the way.

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On the Good Shepherd
"On this Sunday let us pray for the Shepherds of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, May 11, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

On this fourth Sunday of the Easter season. John the Evangelist presents to us the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Contemplating this passage of the Gospel, we can understand what type of relationship Jesus had with this disciples: a relationship based on tenderness, on love, on mutual knowledge and on the promise of a gift that is beyond measure: “I have come,” says Jesus “that they might have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10). Such a relationship is the model of relationships among Christians and of human relations.

Today too, as in Jesus’ time, many people propose themselves as “shepherds” of our lives; but only the Risen One is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to have faith in the Lord who guides us. But he does not only guide us, he accompanies us, he journeys with us. Let us listen with a mind and heart open to his Word to nourish our faith, enlighten our conscience and follow the teachings of the Gospel.

On this Sunday let us pray for the Shepherds of the Church, for all bishops, including the Bishop, for all priests, for all of them! In particular let us pray for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I ordained earlier today in the Basilica of St. Peter. Greetings to these 13 priests! May the Lord help us shepherds always to be faithful to the Master and wise and enlightened guides of the people of God entrusted to us. I als ask you, please, help us to be good pastors. Once I read something beautiful about how the people of God help bishops and priests be good shepherds. It is a text of St. Caesarius of Arles, a father of the first centuries of the Church. He explains how the people of God must help the shepherd and gave the following example. When the calf is hungry, he does to the cow, to the mother, to get milk. The cow, however, does not immediately give it to him: it seems that she is keeping it for herself. And what does the calf do? He knocks against the cow’s udder with his head so that the milk comes out. It is a beautiful image! “So you too,” the saint says, “must be like this with the shepherds. Always knock at their door, at their heart, so that they give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of leadership.” And I ask you, please, to importune the shepherds, to disturb them, all of us shepherds, so that we can give you the milk of grace, of doctrine and of leadership. Importune [us]! Think of that beautiful image of that calf, how he importunes the mother so that she gives him something to eat.

In imitation of Jesus, every Shepherd “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind” (“Evangelii gaudium,” 31). May all shepherds be like this! But you must importune the shepherds, so that they give you the guide of doctrine and grace.

This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this year’s message I noted that “every vocation requires in each case an exodus out of ourselves to center our existence on Christ and his Gospel” (2). This is why the call to follow Jesus is both thrilling and demanding. Its realization always requires that we enter into deep friendship with the Lord so that we are able to live from him and for him.

Let us pray that in this time many young people hear the Lord’s voice, a voice that is always threatened with being drowned out by many other voices. Let us pray for young people. Perhaps here in the piazza there is someone who hears this voice of the Lord calling him to the priesthood. Let us pray for him, if he is here, and for all young people who are called.

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On Being Guided by the Holy Spirit
"...When we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, he brings us to harmony, to unity and to respect for different gifts and talents"

VATICAN CITY, May 18, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Basilica.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today the reading from the Acts of the Apostles makes us see that in the primitive Church too tensions and dissent. There are conflicts in life and the problem is how to deal with them. Until that time the unity of the Christian community had been helped by the fact that its members belonged to the same ethnic group, the same culture. They were all Jews. But when Christianity – which by Jesus’ will is destined for all people – opens up to Greek culture, this homogeneity disappears and the first difficulties occur. At that moment malcontent spreads, there are complaints, rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment circulate. This happens in our parishes too! The community’s assistance of needy people – widows, orphans and poor people generally – seems to privilege the Christians of Jewish extraction over others.

So, in the face of this conflict, the Apostles take the situation in hand: they call a meeting that is includes disciples too, they discuss the issue together. Everyone. Problems do not go away by pretending that they do not exist! And this frank confrontation between pastors and faithful is beautiful. A subdivision of tasks is thus established. The Apostles make a proposal that is accepted by everyone. They will dedicate themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word, while 7 men, the deacons, will provide service at meals and to the poor. These 7 are not chosen because they are experts but because they are honest men with good reputations, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. They are installed in their service by the imposition of the hands of the Apostles. And in this way, from the state of malcontent, from that complaining, from those rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment they passed to a solution. Confronting each other, debating, praying – it is in this way that conflicts are resolved in the Church. Confronting each other, debating and praying. With the certainty that gossip, envy, jealousy never lead to concord, to harmony or to peace. The Holy Spirit was there too, crowning this agreement and this helps us understand that when we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, he brings us to harmony, to unity and to respect for different gifts and talents. Have you truly understood this? No gossip, no envy, no jealousy! Do you understand?

May the Virgin Mary help us to be docile to the Holy Spirit, so that we know how to respect each other and be ever more united in faith and charity, keeping our hearts open to the needs of our brothers.

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Angelus: On the Ascension of Christ
"The Father always forgives because he looks at the wounds of Jesus, looks at our sin and forgives it."

ROME, June 01, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the faithful present in St. Peter's Square today.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello,

Today in Italy and in other countries the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is being celebrated, 40 days after Easter. The Acts of the Apostles recounts this episode, Jesus’ final departure from his disciples and from this world (cf. Acts 1:2, 9). Matthew’s Gospel, on the other hand, reports Jesus’ mandate to his disciples: the invitation to go, to leave and announce his message of salvation to all peoples (cf. Matthew 28:16-20). “Go,” or better “leave” becomes the key word for today’s feast: Jesus leaves to go to the Father and commands his disciples to leave to go out to the world.

Jesus leaves, he ascends into heaven, that it, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent into the world. He has completed his work, so he returns to the Father. But this is not a separation because he remains with us forever under a new form. With his ascension the risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles – and our gaze – to the heights of heaven to show us that the Father is the goal of our journey. He himself said that he would be leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven. Nevertheless, Jesus remains present and active in the vicissitudes of human history with the power and the gifts of his Spirit. He is near to each one of us, even if we do not see him with our eyes. He is there! He accompanies us, he leads us, he takes us by the hand and lifts us up when we have fallen. The risen Jesus is near to Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against. He is near to every man and woman who suffers. He is near to all of us, even today here is here with us in the piazza. The Lord is with us! Do you believe this? So, let us say it together: The Lord is with us!

Jesus, when he returns to heaven, brings the Father a gift. It is the gift? His wounds. His body is very beautiful, without bruises, without the wounds of the flagellation, but the wounds [in his hands, feet, side, and head] remain. When he returns to the Father he shows him the wounds and says to him: “Look, Father, this is the price of the forgiveness that you give.” When the Father looks at Jesus’ wounds he always forgives us, not because we are good but because Jesus has paid for us. Looking at Jesus’ wounds, the Father becomes more merciful. This is the great work of Jesus in heaven today: showing the Father the price of forgiveness, his wounds. This is beautiful and it moves us not to have fear of asking forgiveness. The Father always forgives because he looks at the wounds of Jesus, looks at our sin and forgives it.

But Jesus is also present through the Church, which he send to extend his mission. Jesus’ last word to his disciples is the command to leave: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). It is a precise mandate, it is not optional! The Christian community is a community that is “going out,” “departing.” Even more, the Church is born in “going out.” And you will say to me: But what about the cloistered communities? Yes, they too because they are always “going out” with prayer, with their heart open to the world, to the horizons of God. And the elderly and sick? They too, with prayer and union with the wounds of Jesus.

To his missionary disciples Jesus says: “I am with you always even to the end of the world” (28:20). By themselves, without Jesus, we cannot do anything! In the apostolate our own strength, our own resources, our own structures, even if they are necessary, are not enough. Without the presence of the Lord and the power of his Spirit, our work, even if it is well-organized, is ineffective. And thus we go out to people to tell them who Jesus is.

And together with Jesus Mary our Mother accompanies us. She is already in the house of the Father, she is the Queen of the World and so we invoke her now. But like Jesus, she is with us, she walks with us, she is the Mother of our hope.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father again addressed those who were gathered in the piazza of St. Peter’s]

With a sad soul I pray for the victims of the tensions that still continue in some regions of Ukraine and in the Central African Republic. I renew my concerned appeal to all the parties involved that the misunderstandings be overcome and dialogue be sought with patience and appeasement. May Mary, Queen of Peace, help us all with her maternal intercession. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the World Day of Social Communications. The theme this year is communication in the service of the culture of encounter. The means of social communication can promote the unity of the human family, solidarity and commitment to a dignified life for all. Let us pray that communication, in every form, be effectively in the service of encounters between persons, communities, nations; may they be encounters based on respect and mutual openness.

Yesterday, at Collevalenza, Mother Esperanza was beatified. She was born in Spain with the name María Josefa Alhama Valera and she is the foundress of the Handmaids and Sons of Merciful Love. May her witness help the Church to announce everywhere, with concrete, daily deeds, the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father for every person. Everyone, please salute Bl. Mother Esperanza with applause!

I greet all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims: the families, the parish groups, associations, schools. In particular, I greet the faithful of Lyon and Paris, from Texas and Aulendorf, Germany, and the Italians who live in Ulm and Neu-Ulm. I greet the young people who are preparing to receive Confirmation, encouraging them to be joyful witnesses to Jesus. I greet the choirs from Palazzolo Sull’Oglio and Longi. A special thought goes out to the many Italian campers who are engaged in works of solidarity and the cyclists who launched “1 Kilometer for Syria.”

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good lunch and good bye, and pray for me!

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Angelus:  On Pentecost
"A Church that does not hesitate to go out to meet people to proclaim the message that she has been given, even if that message disturbs or upsets consciences, even if this message leads, perhaps, to problems and at times also to martyrdom"

ROME, June 08, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

The feast of Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the cenacle. Like Easter, it is an event that occurred on a Jewish feast, and leads to a surprising end. The book of the Acts of the Apostles describes the signs and fruits of that extraordinary occasion: the forceful wind, the tongues of fire; fear vanishes and courage takes its place; their tongues are loosened and everyone understands the proclamation. Where God’s Spirit is, everything is reborn and transfigured. The event of Pentecost marks the birth of the Church and its public manifestation. Two things strike us and one of them is that the Church surprises and upsets.

A basic element in Pentecost is surprise. Our God is a God who surprises. We know this. No one expected anything more from Jesus’ disciples. After Jesus’ death they were a small, insignificant group of defeated orphans of their Master. But an unexpected event occurs that causes wonder. The people are disconcerted because each one heard the disciples speak in his own language, telling of the great works of God (cf. Acts 2:6-7, 11). The Church that is born at Pentecost is a community that awakens wonder because, with the power that comes from God, she announces a new message – Christ’s resurrection – with a new language, the universal language of love. A new announcement: Chris is alive, he is risen; a new language: the language of love. The disciples are invested with power from above and speak with courage – a few minutes before they were all cowards, but now they speak with courage and boldness, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is called always to be like this: to be able to surprise by proclaiming to everyone that Jesus the Christ has defeated death, that God’s arms are always open, that his patience is always there to care for us to heal us, to forgive us. It is precisely because of this mission that the risen Jesus sent his Spirit to the Church. Attention: if the Church is alive, she must always surprise. It is proper to the living Church to surprise. A Church that does not have the capacity to surprise is a weak, sick, dying Church that must be revived.

Some in Jerusalem would have preferred that Jesus’ disciples, hindered by their fear, stay shut up at home so as not to upset things. Today, too, many want Christians to be like this. But the risen Lord pushes them out into the world: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). The Church of Pentecost is a Church that does not resign herself to being innocuous. No, she does not resign herself to this! She does not want to be just a decoration. She is a Church that does not hesitate to go out to meet people to proclaim the message that she has been given, even if that message disturbs or upsets consciences, even if this message leads, perhaps, to problems and at times also to martyrdom. She is born one and universal, with a precise identity, but open, a Church that embraces the world but does not capture it; she leaves it free. Her embrace is like the colonnade of this piazza: the two arms open to welcome, but they do not close to detain. We Christians are free, and the Church wants us to be free!

We turn now to the Virgin Mary, who, on that morning of Pentecost was in the cenacle, and the Mother was with her children. In her the power of the Holy Spirit truly accomplished “great things” (Luke 1:49). She herself said so. May she, Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Church, obtain by her intercession a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God upon the Church and the world.

[Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father again addressed those gathered in the piazza of St. Peter’s:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet everyone, Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups, associations and individual faithful. In particular I greet the students of the Dioceses of Valencia, Spain, the pilgrimage promoted by the Congregation of the Most Holy Crucified of Vittoria (Sicily), the children from Borgo and Buggino (Pistoia), the Apostles of Mercy group from Bitonto, the your people of Latina Scalo and the participants in the Ferrari meeting.

As you know, this evening in the Vatican, the presidents of Israel and Palestine will join me and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, my brother Bartholomew, to ask God for the gift of peace in the Holy Land, the Middle East and in the whole world. I would like to thank all of those who, personally and in community, have prayed and are praying for this meeting, and will spiritually join in our supplications. Thank you! Thank you so much!

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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Angelus: On the Holy Trinity
"The devil always tries to make us hate because he is always sowing the discord of hate; he does not know love, God is love!"

VATICAN CITY, June 15, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * * 

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which presents for our contemplation and adoration the divine life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: a life of communion and perfect love, origin and goal of the whole universe and every creature, God. In the Trinity we also recognize a model of the Church in which we are called to love each other as Jesus loved us. Love is the concrete sign that manifests faith in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Love is distinctive of the Christian, as Jesus told us: “From this everyone will know that you are my disciples" (John 13:15). It is a contradiction to think of Christians who hate. It is a contradiction! And the devil always tries to make us hate because he is always sowing the discord of hate; he does not know love, God is love!

We are all called to witness to and proclaim the message that “God is love,” that God is not distant and unconcerned with our human affairs. He is near, he is always at our side, he journey’s with us to share our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our toils. He loves us so greatly and to such a point that he be became man, he came into the world not to judge it but that the world might be saved through Jesus (cf. John 3:16). This is God’s love in Jesus, this love that is so hard to understand but that we sense when we draw near to Jesus. And he always forgives us, he always waits for us, he loves us very much. And the love of Jesus that we feel is the love of God.

The Holy Spirit, gift of the risen Jesus, communicates the divine life to us and thus he draws us into the dynamism of the Trinity, which is a dynamism of love, communion, mutual service, sharing. A person who loves others for the joy itself of loving is a reflection of the Trinity. A parish in which people want what is best for each other and spiritual and material goods are shared is a reflection of the Trinity.

True love is without limits but it knows how to limit itself to encounter the other, to respect the other’s freedom. We go to Mass every Sunday and celebrate the Eucharist together and the Eucharist is like the “burning bush” in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates itself; because of this the Church placed the feast of “Corpus Domini” after that of the Trinity. Thursday, following the Roman tradition, we celebrate the Holy Mass at St. John Lateran and then we will process with the Most Blessed Sacrament. I invite Romans and pilgrims to participate to express our desire to be a people “gathered in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (St. Cyprian). I will expect all of you on Thursday at 7 p.m. for the Mass and procession of “Corpus Christi.”

May the Virgin Mary, perfect creature of the Trinity help us to make our whole life, in the little gestures and most important choices, a hymn of praise to God, who is Love.

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Pope's Angelus Address
"He did not come into this world to give something, but to give Himself, His life, as nourishment for all those who have faith in Him."

VATICAN CITY, June 22, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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BEFORE THE ANGELUS:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Celebrated in Italy and in many other countries this Sunday is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – often the Latin name is used: Corpus Domini or Corpus Christi. The ecclesial community gathers around the Eucharist to adore the most precious treasure that Jesus left it.

John’s Gospel presents the discourse on the “bread of life,” held by Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum, in which he affirms: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51). Jesus stresses that he did not come to this world to give something, but to give himself, his life, as nourishment for all those who have faith in him. This communion of ours with the Lord commits us, his disciples, to imitate him, making of our existence, with our attitudes, bread broken for others, as the Master broke bread which is really his flesh. For us, instead, it is our generous behavior towards our neighbor which demonstrates the attitude of breaking our life for others.

Every time we take part in the Holy Mass and nourish ourselves with the Body of Christ, the presence of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit acts in us, it molds our heart, communicates to us interior attitudes that are translated in behavior according to the Gospel. First of all docility to the Word of God, then fraternity among us, the courage of Christian witness, the inventiveness of charity, the capacity to give hope to the distrustful, of receiving the excluded. Thus the Eucharist makes a Christian lifestyle mature. The charity of Christ, received with an open heart, changes us, transforms us, renders us capable of loving not according the human measure, always limited, but according to the measure of God. And what is God’s measure? It is without measure! The measure of God is without measure. All! All! All! The love of God cannot be measured: it is without measure! And then we become capable of loving even those who do not love us: and this isn’t easy -- to love someone who doesn’t love us … It isn’t easy! Because if we know that a person doesn’t love us, we are also led not to love him. And instead, no! We must also love one who doesn’t love us. We must oppose evil with good, we must forgive, share and welcome. Thanks to Jesus and to his Spirit, our life also becomes “broken bread” for our brothers.

And living this way we discover true joy! The joy of making ourselves gift, to exchange the great gift that we received first, without our merit. This is beautiful: our life becomes gift! This is to imitate Jesus. I would like to remind you of these two things: First: the measure of the love of God is to love without measure. Is this clear? And, with the love of Jesus, receiving the Eucharist, our life becomes gift, as Jesus’ life was. Do not forget these two things: the measure of the love of God is to love without measure. And, following Jesus, with the Eucharist we make our life a gift.

Jesus, bread of eternal life, came down from heaven and was made flesh thanks to the faith of Mary Most Holy. After having borne him with ineffable love, she followed him faithfully to the cross and to the Resurrection. Let us ask Our Lady to help us to rediscover the beauty of the Eucharist, and to make it the center of our life, especially in Sunday Mass and in Adoration.

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Pope's Angelus Address: Imitate Christ's Meekness and Humility
"Once the solace and comfort of Christ is received, we are called in turn to become solace and comfort for our brothers, with a meek and humble attitude, in imitation of the Master."

VATICAN CITY, July 06, 2014  - At midday today, Pope Francis made his customary appearance at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. 

Here is a translation of the Pope's words:

***

Brothers and Sisters,

In this Sunday's Gospel we find Jesus' invitation: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). He has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee, many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, the marginalized ... These people always run after him to listen to his word - a word that gives hope! - and also just to touch the hem of his garment. Jesus himself looked for these harassed and helpless crowds, who were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:35-36), to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal many in body and in spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: "Come unto me," and promises them relief and solace.

This invitation of Jesus extends to the present day, reaching many brothers and sisters weighed down by poor living conditions, difficult life situations and, sometimes, with no valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also in the suburbs of the richest countries, there are many people harassed and helpless under the unbearable weight of abandonment and indifference. On the margins of society there are many men and women tested by poverty, but also a life of dissatisfaction and frustration. Many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their own lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits man, imposes an unbearable "yoke", and that the privileged few don’t want to lead. To each of these sons of the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says, "Come unto me, all of you."

But he also says this to those who possess everything – but their hearts are empty, empty, their hearts are empty without God. Jesus also says to them, “Come unto me.” The invitation of Jesus is for everyone, but in a special way for these who suffer the most.

Jesus promises to give rest to all, but there is also an invitation, which is like a commandment: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart" (Mt 11:29). The "yoke" of the Lord consists of the weighty duty of brotherly love. Once the solace and comfort of Christ is received, we are called in turn to become solace and comfort for our brothers, with a meek ​​and humble attitude, in imitation of the Master. This meekness and humility of heart helps us not only to take the weight of the other, but also to not impose upon them our own personal views, our judgments and our criticism.

We invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her mantle that welcomes all harassed and helpless people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can be of relief to those who need help, tenderness and hope.

***

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you all cordially, Romans and pilgrims!

I greet the faithful of the parish of Salzano, in the diocese of Treviso, where Don Giuseppe Sarto, who later would become Pope Pius X and proclaimed a saint, was parish priest, and which marks the centenary of his death.

I greet the Little Missionaries of Santa Paula Frassinetti, the faithful of Melìa and Sambatello (Reggio Calabria), the nursery school of the Parish of Verdellino, the group "Brenna 60" and participants in the rally of vintage cars.

Please don’t forget to pray for me, and I will do so for you.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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On the Parable of the Sower
Pope Francis' Angelus Address for Sunday, July 13th

VATICAN CITY, July 13, 2014  - Here below is an English translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address, delivered at midday to faithful and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square from the window of the study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday's Gospel (Mt 13:1-23) shows us Jesus' sermon on the shore of Lake Galilee and, because a large crowd around him, he gets on a boat, moving away a little from the shore and preaches from there. When he speaks to the people, Jesus uses many parables: a language comprehensible to everyone, with images drawn from nature and everyday life situations.

The first is an introduction to all the parables: that of the sower who casts his seed freely on all types of terrain. And the protagonist of this parable is really the seed, which produces fruit, more or less, depending on the land on which it falls. The first three terrains are unproductive: on the path, the seeds are eaten by birds; on the rocky ground, the buds dry quickly because they have no roots; among bushes, the seeds are choked by thorns. The fourth ground is good ground: only there, the seed takes root and bears fruit.

In this case, Jesus doesn’t limit himself to just presenting the parable; he also explains it to his disciples. The seed that fell on the path signifies those who hear the proclamation of the Kingdom of God but do not receive him, so the Evil One comes and takes it away. Evil, in fact, does not want the seed of the Gospel to sprout in the hearts of men. This is the first comparison. The second is the seed that fell on stoney ground: this represents the people who hear the word of God, and receive it immediately, but superficially, because they have no roots and are inconsistent; and when trials and tribulations arrive, these people lose heart immediately. The third case is that of the seed that fell among thorns. Jesus explains that it refers to those who hear the word but, because of worldly concerns and the seduction of wealth, remains stifled. Finally, the seed that fell on fertile soil represents those who hear the word, welcome it, safeguard it, and understand it – and it bears fruit. The perfect model of this good ground is the Virgin Mary.

This parable speaks to each of us today, as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. It reminds us that we are the land where the Lord tirelessly throws the seed of His Word and His love. What is our disposition when we receive it? How is our heart? What does the ground look like: a path, a stone, a thorn bush? It's up to us to become good soil without thorns or stones, but tilled and cultivated with care, so that it can bring forth good fruit for us and for our brothers. At every Mass, the good seed of the Gospel is sown in us ever anew, by means of the table of the Word of God: a seed to be accepted, to safeguard, to live. Even in these summer months, during the holiday period, it is important to participate every Sunday at this table, to draw light and strength for our journey.

***

After the Angelus prayer:

I extend a heartfelt appeal to all of you to continue to pray earnestly for peace in the Holy Land, in the light of the tragic events of recent days. I still vividly recall the meeting of 8 June with Patriarch Bartholomew, President Peres and President Abbas, with whom we invoked the gift of peace and heard the call to break the cycle of hatred and violence. Some might think that such a meeting took place in vain. But no, because prayer helps us not to allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, nor resign ourselves to violence and hatred taking over dialogue and reconciliation. I urge the parties concerned and all those who have political responsibility at local and international levels to spare a prayer and make some effort to put an end to all hostilities and to achieve the desired peace for the good of all. And I invite everyone to unite in prayer. In silence everyone, let us pray.

The Pope and the faithful then took a moment to pray.

Now, Lord, help us! Grant us peace, teach us peace, guide us toward peace. Open our eyes and our hearts and give us the courage to say: "Never again war!" "Everything is destroyed by war." Strengthen us in courage to take concrete actions to build peace ... Make us willing to listen to the cry of our citizens who are asking us to transform our weapons into instruments of peace, our fears into trust, and our tensions into forgiveness.

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Pope's Angelus Address for July 20th
"In the face of the weeds in the world, the disciple of the Lord is called to imitate the patience of God, nourishing hope with the support of an unshakable faith in the ultimate victory of the good, that is of God."

VATICAN CITY, July 20, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday's liturgy offers some evangelical parables, short stories that Jesus used to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven to the crowds. Among those in the Gospel reading of today, one that is rather complex, is Jesus' explanation to his disciples of the good wheat and the tares, which addresses the problem of evil in the world and highlights the patience of God (cf. Mt 13,24-30.36-43). The scene takes place in a field where the master sows the wheat. But one night the enemy comes and sows tares, a term that in Hebrew derives from the same word as "Satan" and refers to the concept of division. The servants would straight away cut away the bad weeds, but the master stops them for this reason: "Lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. (Mt 13:29)”.

The teaching of the parable is twofold. First of all, he says that the evil in the world comes not from God but from the enemy, the Devil. This enemy is cunning: he sowed evil amidst the good, so that it is impossible for us to clearly separate them. But God, in the end, will do it.

And here we come to the second theme: the contrast between the impatience of servants and the patient waiting of the owner of the field, who represents God. We are sometimes in a hurry to judge, classify, place the good here and the bad beyond. But God knows to wait. He looks at the "field" of every person’s life with patience and mercy. He sees much better than us the dirt and the evil, but He also sees the seeds of good and looks forward with confidence for them to mature. God is patient, he knows to wait.

The attitude of the owner is that of hope, founded on the certainty that evil has neither the first nor the last word. It is thanks to this patient hope of God that the same weeds in the end, can become good wheat. But beware: evangelical patience is not indifference to evil. One cannot make confusion between good and evil! In the face of the weeds in the world, the disciple of the Lord is called to imitate the patience of God, nourishing hope with the support of an unshakable faith in the ultimate victory of the good, that is of God.

In the end, in fact, the evil will be removed and disposed of. At the time of the harvest, that is the judgment, the reapers will perform the order of the master, separating the tares to burn (cf. Mt 13:30). On that day of the final harvest, the judge will be Jesus, the One who sowed good seed in the world and who himself became a "grain of wheat", died and rose again. At the end we will all be judged by the same standards by which we judged: the mercy we gave to others will also be used with us. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, our Mother, to help us to grow in patience, hope and mercy.

***

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have learned with concern the news coming from Christian community in Mosul (Iraq) and in other parts of the Middle East, where, from the very beginning of Christianity, they lived with their fellow citizens, offering a significant contribution to the good of society. I invite you to remember them in prayer. I also urge you to persevere in prayer for situations of tension and conflict that persist in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine. May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence will not be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace! 

The Holy Father then paused for a moment of silence with the crowd to pray for peace, before saying: “Madonna, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”

I extend a cordial greeting to all of you, pilgrims from Italy and other countries.

I greet the choir of the diocese of Killala (Ireland), the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence and the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida, the faithful of Pescara and Villanova in Villanova, young people of Messina and the child guests of the Tivoli summer camp.

Please don't forget to pray for me.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address, Sunday July 27th
"Everything makes sense when you find this treasure, which Jesus called "the Kingdom of God," that is, God reigning in your life, in our lives."

VATICAN CITY, July 27, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The brief similarities put forward in today's liturgy conclude the chapter of Matthew’s Gospel dedicated to the parables of the Kingdom of God (13:44-52). Among these are two small masterpieces: the parables of the treasure hidden in the field, and the pearl of great price. They tell us that the discovery of the Kingdom of God can come suddenly, as when the peasant farmer is ploughing, finding the treasure unexpectedly; or after a long search, as the pearl for the merchant, who finally found the pearl of great price he had long dreamed of. But in that case and in the other, the primary fact remains that the treasure and the pearl are worth more than all other goods. Therefore, the farmer and the merchant, when they find them, give up everything else to buy them. They do not need to reason, to think, to reflect: they realize immediately the incomparable value of what they have found, and are willing to lose anything to have it.

So is the Kingdom of God: whoever finds it has no doubts, he feels that it is what he was looking and waiting for, and that it responds to his most authentic aspirations. And it is really so: those who know Jesus, who meet him personally, remain fascinated, attracted by so much goodness, so much truth, so much beauty, and all in great humility and simplicity. Look for Jesus, encounter Jesus. This is the great treasure!

How many people, how many saints, reading the Gospel with an open heart, have been so struck by Jesus, converted to Him. Think of St. Francis of Assisi. He was already a Christian, but "milk-and-water" [insipid]. When he read the Gospel, in a decisive moment of his youth, he met Jesus, and found the Kingdom of God, and then all his dreams of earthly glory vanished. The Gospel makes one know the real, living Jesus. He addresses your heart and changes your life. So yes, leave everything. You can actually change your way of life, or continue to do what you did before, but you are another, you are born again. You find that you are given meaning, flavour, light to everything, even to hardships, even to suffering, even to death. Read the Gospel, read the Gospel. We’ve said this before, remember? Read a passage of the Gospel every day. Also carry a small copy of the Gospel with us, in your pocket, in your handbag – have one at hand, anyway. And there, reading a passage, we find Jesus.

Everything makes sense when you find this treasure, which Jesus called "the Kingdom of God," that is, God reigning in your life, in our lives. He is love, peace and joy in every man and in all men. This is what God wants, it is that for which Jesus gave himself up to die on a Cross, to free us from the power of darkness and move into the realm of life, beauty, goodness, joy! Read the Gospel and find Jesus, and have this Christian joy and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, you see, the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God shines through. The Christian cannot conceal his faith, because it shines through in every word, every gesture, even in the most simple, everyday ones. The love that God shines through, given to us through Jesus. Let us pray, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that his kingdom of love, justice and peace comes to us and to the whole world.

***

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Tomorrow marks the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which caused millions of deaths and immense destruction. This conflict, which Pope Benedict XV called a "senseless slaughter", resulted, after four long years, in a most fragile peace. Tomorrow, as we remember this tragic event, I hope that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated, but that the lessons of history be taken into account, that the demands of peace through patient and courageous dialogue are always made to prevail.

In particular, my thoughts go out to three areas of crisis: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. I ask that you continue to join me in prayer that the Lord may grant to the people and authorities of those areas the wisdom and strength needed to push ahead with the path of peace by addressing each dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and with the force of reconciliation. That at the center of every decision, special interests aren’t put forward, but rather the common good and respect for every person. Let’s remember that all is lost with war, and nothing is lost with peace [applause].

Brothers and sisters, no more war! No more war! Above all, I think of the children, those who have been denied hope of a decent life, of a future: dead children, wounded children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have remnants of war as toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Please stop!  I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop! Please stop! [applause].

I extend a cordial greeting to all of you, pilgrims from Italy and other countries.

I greet the group of Brazilians, the parishes of the Diocese of Cartagena (Spain), the scouts of Gavião (Portugal), young people in Madrid, Asidonia-Jerez (Spain), and those of Monteolimpino (Como), ministrants from Conselve and Ronchi Casalserugo , the cubs of Catania and the faithful of Acerra.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address, Sunday, August 3rd
"Compassion, sharing, the Eucharist. This is the path that Jesus shows us in this Gospel."

VATICAN CITY, August 03, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this Sunday, the Gospel presents us with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt. 14, 13-21). Jesus fulfilled this along the Sea of Galilee, in an isolated area where he has retired to with his disciples after learning of the death of John the Baptist. But so many people followed him and reached him; and Jesus, seeing them, felt compassion for them and healed the sick until the evening. Now the disciples, concerned about the late hour, advised him to dismiss the crowd so that they could go into the villages and buy food to eat. But Jesus calmly replies: “Give them some food yourselves.” (Mt. 14,16); and he had them bring five loaves and two fishes, he blessed them, and began to break them and give them to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate until they were satisfied and there was even [food] leftover.

In this event, we can grasp three messages. The first is compassion. In front of the crowd that surrounds him and - so to say - “do not leave him in peace”, Jesus does not react with irritation. He doesn’t say, “But these people bother me!” No, No. He reacts with a feeling of compassion, because He knows that they do not seek him out of curiosity, but out of need. But beware: compassion, that which Jesus feels, is not simply to feel pity. It is much more! It means sympathy, that is, to empathize with the suffering of others to the point of taking it upon oneself! That is how Jesus is! He suffers together with us, He suffers with us, He suffers for us.

And the sign of this compassion are the numerous healings he performed. Jesus teaches us to place the needs of the poor before our own. Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be as urgent as of those of the poor who do not have the necessary [things] to live. We often speak of the poor, but when we speak of the poor, do we feel that man, that woman, those children, do not have enough to live on? They do not have [food]  to eat, they do not have clothes, they do not have access to medicine, even the children who do not have the chance to go to school? And for this, our needs, even if legitimate, will never be as urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities to live on.

The second message is sharing. First compassion, that which Jesus felt, and sharing. It is helpful to compare the reaction of the disciples, in front of people who were tired and hungry, with that of Jesus. They are different. The disciples think that it is better to dismiss them, so that they can go get food. Jesus says instead: “Give them some food yourselves.” Two different reactions, that reflect two opposing logics: the disciples reason according to the world, through which everyone must think of themselves. They react as if to say: “Fend for yourselves!”

Jesus thinks instead according to the logic of God, which is that of sharing. How many times, we turn the other side so as not to see the brothers in need. And this, looking the other way, is a polite way of say with white gloves on: “Fend for yourselves.” And this is not of Jesus. This is selfishness!

If He has dismissed the crowd, so many people would be left without eating. Instead, those few loaves and fishes, shared and blessed by God, were enough for everyone. Attention: this is not a magic trick, it is a “sign”! A sign that invites to have faith in God, the providential Father, who does not let us miss “our daily bread”, if we know how to share it as brothers! Compassion, Sharing.

Finally a third message: the miracle of the loaves foretells the Eucharist. It is seen in the gesture of Jesus who “said the blessing” (v.19) before breaking the bread and distributing it to the people. It is the same gesture that Jesus will do at the Last Supper, when He institutes a perpetual memorial of His redeeming Sacrifice. In the Eucharist, Jesus does not give a piece of bread, but the bread of eternal life, He gives Himself, offering Himself to the Father out of love for us. But we should go to the Eucharist with those feelings of Jesus, that is, compassion and with that desire of Jesus: sharing. Whoever goes to the Eucharist without having compassion for the needy and without sharing, is not well with Jesus.

Compassion, sharing, the Eucharist. This is the path that Jesus shows us in this Gospel. A path that leads us to face with fellowship the needs of this world, but that leads us beyond this world, because it comes from God and returns to Him. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, accompany us on this journey.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you, you who have braved the rain, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from different countries.

I greet [the participants of] the relay race of the Stella Maris Parish in Lido di Latina, in partnership with the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Swiss Guard, and I bless the torch that will remain lit during the month of August as a sign of devotion to Our Lady.

I greet the youth from the Parish of the Sacred Heart in Pontedera, the diocese of Pisa, who have come to Rome on foot along the Via Francigena.

And I greet the scouts from the AGESCI present today, with a blessing for the thousands of Italian scouts on their way to the great national meeting in San Rossore.

And remember: compassion, sharing, Eucharist.

To all I wish a good Sunday and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address, Sunday, August 10th
"What saves [the Church] is not the quality and courage of its men, but the faith, that allows to walk in the darkness, in the midst of difficulties."

VATICAN CITY, August 10, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's Gospel presents us with the story of Jesus who walks on the water of the Lake (cfr. Mt. 14, 22-33). After the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, He invites the disciples to go on the boat and precede him to the other side, while He dismisses the crowd, and then retires all alone to pray on the mountain until late at night. Meanwhile, a strong storm rises on the lake, and it is in the midst of this story that Jesus reaches the disciples' boat, walking on the water of the lake. When they see him, the disciples are frightened, they think it is a ghost, but He reassures them: "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid!" (v.27). Peter, with his typical zeal, asks him almost as a test: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."; and Jesus says to him, "Come!" (vv.28-29). Peter steps off the boat and starts to walk on the water; but the strong winds strike him and he begins to sink. Then he cries: "Lord, save me!" (v.30), and Jesus stretches out his hand and lifts him up.

This story is a beautiful icon of the faith of the apostle Peter. In the voice of Jesus telling him: "Come!", he recognizes the echo of the first meeting on the shore of this same lake, and immediately, yet again, leaves the boat and goes towards the Master. And he walks on water! The faithful and immediate response to the call of the Lord always does extraordinary things. Jesus himself would say that we are capable of doing miracles with our faith, faith in Him, faith in His word, faith in His voice! Instead, Peter begins to sink in the moment in which he looks away from Jesus and is swept by the adversities that surround him. But the Lord is always there, and when Peter calls on Him, Jesus saves him from danger. In the person of Peter, with his impulses and his weaknesses, our faith is described: always fragile and poor, restless and yet victorious, Christian faith walks to meet the risen Lord, in the midst of storms and the dangers of the world. The final scene is very important. "After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, 'Truly, you are the Son of God!'" (vv.32-33). All the disciples are on the boat, united by the experience of weakness, of doubt, of fear, of "little faith". But when Jesus goes back on the boat, the weather changes immediately: all feel united in the faith in Him. All little and frightened, become great in the moment in which they throw themselves on their knees and recognize in their master the Son of God. How many times, even to us, the same thing happens? Without Jesus, far from Jesus, we feel afraid, inadequate to the point of thinking that we cannot do it anymore. Faith is lacking! But Jesus is always with us: perhaps hidden but present and ready to support us.

This is an effective image of the Church: a boat that must confront the storms and that sometimes seems on the verge of being overwhelmed. What saves it is not the quality and courage of its men, but the faith, that allows to walk in the darkness, in the midst of difficulties.

Faith gives us the security of Jesus presence, who is always near us, of his hand that grasps us to escape the dangers. We are all on this boat, and here we feel secure despite out limits and our weaknesses. We are safe above all when we know when to kneel and adore Jesus. Adore Jesus, who is the only Lord of our life. For this we always call upon our Mother, Our Lady. To Her, we turn our confidence towards.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

The news coming from Iraq leaves us in disbelief and dismay: thousands of people, including many Christians, brutally driven from their homes; children dead from thirst and hunger during the escape; women who are abducted; people slaughtered; violence of every kind; destruction everywhere, destruction of homes, destruction of religious, historical and cultural patrimonies. All this greatly offends God and greatly offends humanity. You cannot bring hatred in the name of God. You cannot make war in the name of God!

All of us thinking on this situation, on these people, let us make a moment of silence and pray.

(Silence)

I thank those that, with courage, are bringing relief to these brothers and sisters, and I hope that an effective political solution on an international and local level can stop these crimes and restore the law. To better assure my closeness to these dear people, I have nominated Cardinal Fernando Filoni as my personal envoy in Iraq, who will leave tomorrow from Rome. Even in Gaza, after a ceasefire, war has started again, that kills innocent victims, children, and does nothing other than to worsen the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Let us pray to the God of peace, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary: Give peace, Lord, to our days and make us builders of justice and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Let us pray as well for the victims of the "Ebola" virus and for those who are fighting to stop it.

I greet all the pilgrims and Romans, in particular the youth from Verona, Cazzago San Martino, Sarmeola and Mestrino, and the girl scouts of Treviso. From next Wednesday until Monday the 18th I will be making an apostolic journey to Korea: please accompany me with prayers. I need them! Thank you.

To all I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye. 

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Sunday Angelus: On Peter's Profession of Faith
"Each baptized person is called to offer to Jesus their own faith, poor but sincere, so that He can continue to build his Church, today, in every part of the world."

ROME, August 24, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt. 16, 13-20) is the famous passage, which is central in St. Matthew’s account. Simon, in the name of the Twelve, professes his faith in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus calls Simon “blessed” for this faith, recognizing in him a special gift from the Father, and he says to him: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

Let us pause for a moment on this point, on the fact that Jesus attributes this new name to Simon: “Peter”, who in Jesus’ language is pronounced “Kefa”, a word that means “rock”. In the Bible, this name, this word “rock” is referred to God. Jesus attributes it to Simon not for his quality or for his human merits, but for his genuine and firm faith, which comes from above.

Jesus feels a great joy in His heart, because He recognizes in Simon the hand of the Father, the action of the Holy Spirit. He recognizes that God the Father has given to Simon a “trustworthy” faith, in which He, Jesus, can build his Church, that is, His community. That is, all of us, all of us. Jesus has in mind to give life to “His” Church, a people no longer founded on ancestry but rather on faith, namely a relationship with Himself, a relationship of love and of trust. Our relationship with Jesus builds the Church. And so to start his Church, Jesus needs to find in the disciples a solid faith, “trustworthy.” It is this that He must verify at this point of His journey. And that is why He asks the question.

The Lord has in mind the image of constructing, the image of the community as an edifice. That is why, when he hears Simon’s sincere profession of faith, he calls him “rock”, the intention of building his Church upon this faith is manifested.

Brothers and sisters, that which has occurred in a unique way to Saint Peter, also takes place in every Christian that develops a sincere faith in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God. Today’s Gospel challenges each and every one of us. How is your faith? Each one must answer in their heart. How is your faith? What does the Lord find in our hearts? A steadfast heart like a rock or a sand-like heart, that is, doubtful, wary, incredulous? It would do us well today to think about this.

If the Lord finds in our hearts a faith, I do not say perfect, but sincere, genuine, then He also sees in us the living stones with which he can build his community. Of this community, the fundamental rock is Christ, the only cornerstone. On his part, Peter is a rock, as a visible foundation of the unity of the Church; but each baptized person is called to offer to Jesus their own faith, poor but sincere, so that He can continue to build his Church, today, in every part of the world.

Even today, “the people” believe Jesus to be a great prophet, a master of wisdom, a model of justice...And today Jesus asks his disciples, that is us, all of us: “But you, who do you say that I am?” What will we respond? Let us think about this. But above all let us pray to God the Father, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary; let us pray that He may give us the grace to respond, with a sincere heart: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

This is a confession of faith, this is the Creed. Let us all repeat this three times together: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

All repeat three times.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sister,

My thoughts turn in a particular way to the beloved land of the Ukraine, whose national feast is today, to all their sons and daughters, for their yearning for peace and serenity, threatened by a situation of tension and conflict that continues unabated, which causes much suffering among the civilian population. We entrust the entire nation to the Lord Jesus and Our Lady and let us all pray together for the victims, their families and all those who suffer.

I have received a letter from a bishop and he recounted all this pain. Let us pray together to Our Lady for this beloved land of the Ukraine on the day of their national feast.

Hail Mary…

I cordially greet all the Roman pilgrims and those who come from various countries, in particular the faithful from Santiago de Compostela (Spain), the children of Maipù (Chile), the youth of Chiry-Ourscamp (France) and those who participated at the international meeting promoted by the diocese of Palestrina.

I affectionately greet the new seminarians from the North American Pontifical College, who have come to Rome to begin their theological studies.

I greet the 600 youth from Bergamo, who on foot, together with their Bishop, have come to Rome from Assisi. That is, from Francis to Francis, as it is written on your banner. You are very good, youth of Bergamo. Yesterday evening, your bishop, along with one of the priests that is accompanying you, told me about these days of pilgrimage. Congratulations.

Dear young people, return home with the desire to give witness to the beauty of the Christian faith. I greet the youth from Verona, Montegrotto Terme and from Valle Liona, as well as the faithful from Giussano e Bassano del Grappa.

I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me.

To all I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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Sunday Angelus: On the Gospel, Eucharist and Prayer
"Thanks to these gifts from the Lord, we can conform not to the world, but to Christ, and to follow Him on His path, the path of 'losing ones own life' in order to find it"

VATICAN CITY, August 31, 2014  - At 12pm today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below is an English translation of his words introducing the Marian prayer, and his address that followed:

***

Dear brothers and sisters, Good Morning!

In the Sunday itinerary with the Gospel of Matthew, we arrive today at the crucial point in which Jesus, after confirming that Peter and the other eleven had believed in Him as the Messiah and Son of God, “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly…,and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (16,21).

It is a critical moment in which Jesus and the disciples’ way of thinking emerges. Even Peter feels compelled to reproach the Master, because he cannot attribute such a shameful end for the Messiah.

Jesus, in turn, severely reproaches Peter, He puts him “back in line” because he does not think “as God does, but as human beings do.” (v.23) and without realizing that he his playing the role of Satan, the tempter.

The Apostle Paul, in this Sunday’s liturgy also insists upon this point when writing to the Christians of Rome, saying: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God” (Rm. 12,2)

In fact, we Christians live in the world fully inserted in the social and cultural reality of our time, and rightly so. But this carries the risk that we become “worldly”,the risk that “the salt loses its flavor”, as Jesus would say (cfr. Mt. 5,13), that is, that the Christian is “watered down”, losing the charge of newness that comes from the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Instead, they should be the opposite: when the strength of the Gospel remains alive in Christians, they can transform “mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life” (Paul VI, Apost.Exhort. Evangelii nuntiandi, 19).

It is sad to find watered down Christians, who are like watered wine. You can’t tell whether they are Christian or worldly. Like watered wine, where you can’t tell whether it is wine or water. This is sad. It is sad to find Christians that are no longer the salt of the Earth. And we know that when salt loses its flavor, it is no longer useful. Their salt has lost its flavor because they are committed to the spirit of this world. That is, they have become worldly.

Therefore, it is necessary to renew oneself continuously, to draw this sap from the Gospel. And how can one do this in practice? First and foremost, by reading and meditating the Gospel every day, so the word of Jesus may always be present in our life. Remember, it would help you to carry a Gospel with you, a small book of Gospels, in your pocket or in your purse, and read a small passage during the day. But always the Gospel because it is carrying the Word of Jesus and being able to read it.

Also, participating in Sunday Mass, where we find the Lord in the community, listening to His Word and receiving the Eucharist which unites us to Him and one another. And then, days of retreat and spiritual exercises are very important for spiritual renewal.

Gospel, Eucharist, Prayer. Do not forget: Gospel, Eucharist and Prayer. Thanks to these gifts from the Lord, we can conform not to the world, but to Christ, and to follow Him on His path, the path of “losing one’s own life” in order to find it (v.25). “Losing it” in the sense of donating it, offering it for love and in love - and this involves the sacrifice, even to the cross - to receive it again purified, freed from selfishness and from the debt of death, full of eternity.

The Virgin Mary always precedes us on this path; let us be guided and accompanied by Her.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow, in Italy, the Day for the Care of Creation will be celebrated, which is promoted by the Episcopal Conference. This year’s theme is very important: “Educating to care of creation, for the health of our country and our cities.” I hope that it will strengthen the committment all institutions, associations and citizens, so that the life and the health of all people may be safeguarded as well as respecting the environment and nature.

I greet the pligrims who have come from different countries, in particular, the pilgrims from Santiago de Chile, Pistoia, San Giovanni Bianco e Alban Sant’Alessandro (Bergamo); the youth of Modena, Bassano del Grappa e Ravenna. The large group of police motorcyclists and the police band. It would be beautiful to hear them play at the end.

A special greeting goes to the Catholic parliamentarians, gathered for their 5th international meeting, and I encourage them to live the delicate role of representatives of the people in conformity to the Gospel values.

Yesterday, I received a numerous family from Mirabella Imbaccari (Italy) who brought me the greetings of the countryside. I thank you all from the countryside for your affection.

I greet the participants of the Meeting of Scholas. Continue your work with children and youth, working in education, sports and culture. And I wish you a good match tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium.

I can see from here the youth who belong to the union of plastic recyclers. Be faithful to your motto. It is dangerous to walk alone, in the fields, in life. Always go together.

I wish you a good Sunday. I ask you to pray for me and have a good lunch.

Goodbye.

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Pope's Angelus Address: Sunday 7th September

VATICAN CITY, September 07, 2014 - At 12pm today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below are the words of the Pope in introducing the Marian prayer:

***

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

The Gospel of this Sunday, taken from the 18th chapter of Matthew, presents the theme of fraternal correction in the community of believers. Jesus teaches us that if my brother sins against me, I have to use charity towards him and, first of all, talk to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good. And if the brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a progressive intervention: first, go back with two or three other people to make him more aware of the mistake he has made. If, despite this, he does not accept the exhortation, I need to tell the community. And if he won’t even listen to the community, I need to make him feel the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith.

The stages of this route show the effort the Lord asks of his community to accompany those who make mistakes, so they are not lost. It is first necessary to avoid the clamor of news and the gossip of the community: "Go and admonish, you and him alone" (verse. 15). An attitude of gentleness, prudence, humility, and attention against those who have committed a crime, avoiding that words can hurt and kill the brother. Because, you know, eh? Even words kill! When I make an unfair criticism, when I “curse” a brother with my tongue, this is killing the reputation of the other! Even words kill! Let’s be serious about this… At the same time this discretion has the purpose of not unnecessarily mortifying the sinner. The two have a talk, no one notices and it’s all over. It is in light of this need, which also includes this series of interventions, which includes involving some witnesses and then even the community. The goal is to help the person realize what he has done, and that with his sin, he has offended not just one, but all. But it also helps us – us - to free ourselves from anger or resentment which only hurt: that bitterness of the heart that brings anger and resentment, and that lead us to insult and attack. But it is very bad to see this come out of the mouth of a Christian as an insult or an attack! It’s bad! Got it? No insults! Insulting is not Christian!

In fact, before God we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. Everyone! In fact, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is a matter of love and communion that must prevail in the Christian community, it is a reciprocal service that we can and must render for one another. And it is possible and effective only if everyone is a sinner and in need of forgiveness of the Lord. The same conscience that makes me recognize the mistake of the other, beforehand reminds me that I have erred and wronged so many times.

For this reason, at the beginning of the Mass, every time we are asked to recognize that we are sinners before the Lord, expressing with words and gestures sincere repentance of the heart. And we say: “Have mercy on me, Lord. I am a sinner! I confess, Almighty God, my sins.” We don’t say: “Oh Lord, have mercy on this person next to me or those that are sinners”. No! “Have mercy on me!” All are sinners and in need of the Lord’s forgiveness. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to our spirit and makes us recognize our faults in the light of the word of Jesus. And it is the same Jesus who invites us all, saints and sinners, to his table by gathering us on the main crossroads, the various situations life (cf. Mt 22.9 to 10). And among the conditions that are common to those participating in the celebration of the Eucharist, two are fundamental: we are all sinners and God gives everyone his mercy. We must always remember this before going to the brother to offer fraternal correction.

We ask all of this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, noting that tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical feast of his Nativity.

[Original text: Italian]

After the Angelus:

In these last few days have been significant steps in the search for a truce in the regions affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. I hope that they can bring relief to the population and contribute to the efforts for a lasting peace. I pray that, in the logic of the meeting, the dialogue that has started will continue to bear the fruit that is hoped.

Also I add my voice to that of the Bishops of Lesotho, who appealed for peace in that country. I condemn all acts of violence and pray to the Lord that the Kingdom of Lesotho will restore peace and justice in fraternity.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all the pilgrims from Italy and other countries, in particular the group of Brazilians, the students of St. Basil the Great School of Presov (Slovakia), the faithful of Sulzano (Brescia), Gravina di Puglia, Castiglion Fiorentino, Poggio Rusco (Mantova), Albignasego (Padua), of Molino High (Vicenza), the boys of Confirmation of Matera, Valdagno and Vibo Valentia.

To all of you I ask you to please pray for me, and I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address: Sunday, September 14th
"Through the cross of Christ, evil is overcome, death is defeated, life is given to us, hope is restored. "

VATICAN CITY, September 14, 2014  - At 12pm today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Here below are the words of the Pope in introducing the Marian prayer:

***

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On September 14th, the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Some non-Christian people might ask themselves: why “exalt” a cross? We can respond that we do not exalt a cross, or all the crosses: we exalt the Cross of Jesus, because in it is revealed fully the love of God for humanity. It is that which reminds us of the Gospel of John in today’s liturgy: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (3,16). The Father has “given” the Son to save us, and this resulted in the death of Jesus, and the death on a cross. Why? Why was the Cross necessary? It was because of the gravity of the evil we were enslaved to. The Cross of Jesus expresses two things: all the negative strength of evil, and all gentle omnipotence of the mercy of God. The Cross seems to declare the failure of Jesus, but in reality it marks his victory. On Calvary, those who mocked him would say to him: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (cfr. Mt. 27,40). But the opposite was true: precisely because he was the Son of God, Jesus was there, on the cross, faithful to the end to the loving plan of the Father. It is precisely this reason why God “exalted” Jesus (Phil. 2,9), conferring on Him a universal kingship.

What do we see, then, when we turn our gaze towards the Cross where Jesus was nailed? We contemplate the sign of the infinite love of God for each and every one of us and the roots of our salvation. From that Cross flows the mercy of the Father who embraces the whole world. Through the cross of Christ, evil is overcome, death is defeated, life is given to us, hope is restored. The Cross of Jesus is our only true hope! This is important! Through the Cross of Christ hope is restored! That is why the Church “exalts” the holy Cross, and that is why we Christians bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross. That is we do not exalt a cross, but the Glorious Cross of Jesus, a sign of the immense love of God, sign of our salvation, and the path towards the resurrection. And this is our hope.

As we contemplate and celebrate the holy Cross, we think with emotion of so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and killed because of their faithfulness to Christ. This happens especially where religious liberty is still not guaranteed or fully realized. But it also occurs in countries and environments where, in principle, freedom and human rights are guaranteed, but where concretely believers, especially Christians, encounter limitations and discriminations. So today we remember them and pray in a particular way for them.

On Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, was the Virgin Mary (cfr. John 19, 25-27). She is the Sorrowful Virgin, who we celebrate in tomorrow’s liturgy. To Her I entrust the present and the future of the Church, so that we may all discover and receive the message of love and salvation of the Cross of Jesus. I entrust to Her in particular the newlywed couples who I had the joy of uniting in marriage this morning, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

After the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow, in the Central African Republic, will officially begin the Mission desired by the Security Council of the United Nations to promote peace in the country and to protect the civilian population, who are severely suffering the consequences of the ongoing conflict. While I ensure the the commitment and prayers of the Catholic Church, I encourage the efforts of the international community, who are coming to the aid of Central Africans of good will. As soon as the violence gives the way to dialogue, the opposing factions will put aside their special interests and strive to ensure that every citizen, no matter what ethnicity or religion they belong to, can collaborate for the edification of the common good. May the Lord accompany this work for peace.

Yesterday I went to Redipuglia, to the Austro-Hungarian cemetery and the Sacrario. There, I prayed for those who have died because of the great war. The numbers are shocking! It’s estimated that almost 8 million young soldiers were killed as well as almost 7 million civilians. This makes us understand how war is madness! A madness which humanity has not yet learned the lesson! Because after that one, there was a Second World War and so many others that continue today. When will we learn, when will we learn this lesson? I invite everyone to look at Jesus crucified to understand that hatred and evil are defeated by forgiveness and goodness. To understand that war only increases evil and death.

And now I cordially greet all of you, the Roman faithful and pilgrims from Italy and from various countries.

I greet in particular “Los Amigos de Santa Teresita y de Madre Elisabeth” from Colombia; the faithful from Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Messina, Genova, Collegno e Spoleto, and the youth choir from Trebaseleghe (Padova). I greet the workers representatives of the IDI Group and the adherents of the ‘Movimento Arcobaleno Santa Maria Addolorata.

I ask you all to please pray for me.

To all I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address, Sunday Oct. 5th
"For the family to be able to walk well, with trust and hope, it must be nourished by the Word of God."

VATICAN CITY, October 05, 2014  - Here below is the Angelus address of Pope Francis, given at midday in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, October 5th 2014. 

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

This morning, we opened the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with the Eucharistic celebration in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Together with me, the Synodal Fathers, who have come from all over the world, will live two intense weeks of listening and discussion, made fruitful by prayer, on the topic “The Pastoral Challenges on the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”

Today, the Word of God presents the image of the vine as symbol of the people that the Lord has chosen. Like a vine, the people require so much care; they require a patient and faithful love. In this way, God works with us, and in the same way, we pastors are called to do the same. Taking care of the family is also a way of working in the Lord’s vineyard, that it will bear fruits of the Kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 21:33-43).

However, for the family to be able to walk well, with trust and hope, it must be nourished by the Word of God. Therefore, it is a happy coincidence that in fact today our Pauline brothers wished to make a great distribution of the Bible, here in the square, and in many other places. Let's thank our Pauline brothers! They do so on the occasion of the centenary of their foundation by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, great apostle of communication. So today, while the Synod on the Family opens, we can say with the help of the Paulines: a Bible in every family! A Bible in every family! [...] We have one or two but they mustn't be hidden, not put on a shelf, but to have one and take it in our hand, to read it often, every day, be it individually or together, husband and wife, parents and children, perhaps in the evening, especially on Sunday. Thus, the family grows, walks, with the light and strength of the Word of God! [...]

I invite all to support the works of the Synod with prayer, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. At this moment, we associate ourselves spiritually with all those at the Shrine of Pompey, elevating the traditional “Supplication” to Our Lady of the Rosary. May she obtain peace for families and for the whole world!

Angelus Domini …

***

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday, Sister Mary Teresa Demjanovich, of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, was proclaimed Blessed in the United States. We thank God for this faithful disciple of Christ, who led an intense spiritual life.

Observed today in Italy is the Day of the Pulling Down of Architectural Barriers. I encourage all those who do their utmost to guarantee equal opportunities of life for all, regardless of the physical condition of each individual. I hope that institutions and individual citizens will be ever more attentive to this important social objective.

And now I greet you all cordially, Roman faithful and pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. In particular, I greet the students who have come from Australia and those of Saint Bonaventure’s Gymnasium, Dilligen, Germany, the young people from Jordan, the Saint John of Matha Association and the faithful of Saint Paul’s parish in Bergamo.

I greet the pilgrims who have come on bicycle from Milan in memory of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, saintly mother of a family, witness of the Gospel of life, and I encourage them to continue their initiatives of solidarity in favour of the most vulnerable people. 

Please, don't forget to pray for the synod [...]

I wish you all a happy Sunday and good lunch. And please, pray for me. Good-bye!

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Angelus Address: The Response to God's Invitation
"The Gospel, rejected by some, finds a surprising welcome in so many hearts"

VATICAN CITY, October 12, 2014 - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters.

In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus speaks to us of the answer given to God's invitation to participate in a wedding banquet; God is represented by a king.

The invitation has three fundamental characteristics: Gratuitousness, amplitude, and universality. There are many who are invited, but something surprising happens. None of those chosen decides to go to the celebration. They have other things to do. Moreover, some show indifference and even annoyance.

God is good to us. He freely offers us his friendship. He offers his joy, salvation. But so often we don't welcome his gifts. We put our material preoccupations, our own interests, in first place.

Some of those invited even mistreat and kill the servants who bring the invitation. But despite the lack of response from those called, God's project is not impeded. Faced with rejection from those called first, he is not discouraged. He does not cancel the celebration but rather re-extends the invitation, expanding it beyond any reasonable limits, and sends his servants to the plazas and the crossroads to gather up everyone they encounter.

We're talking about common people, the poor, the abandoned, the disinherited, even "good ones and bad ones." Even the evil are invited, without distinction. And the banquet hall is filled with these "excluded ones." The Gospel, rejected by some, finds a surprising welcome in so many hearts.

The goodness of God does not have limits and does not discriminate against anyone. That's why the banquet of the gifts of the Lord is universal, universal for everyone. He gives everyone the possibility of responding to his invitation, to his call, to his path. No one has the right to feel privileged or to claim exclusivity. 

All of this moves us to overcome the habit of placing ourselves comfortably at the center, as the leaders of the priests and pharisees did. This shouldn't be done. We have to open ourselves to the peripheries, recognizing as well that the one at the margins, even the one rejected and despised by society, is the object of God's generosity. All of us are called to avoid reducing the Kingdom of God to within the limits of our "little church," our "tiny little church." That doesn't work. But rather to expand the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God.

Within this there is a condition: to put on the wedding garment. That is, to give concrete testimony of concrete charity to God and to neighbor. 

We entrust to the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin the turmoils and the hopes of so many of our brothers and sisters, excluded, weak, rejected, despised. Also those who are persecuted because of their faith. We invoke her protection over the work of the synod of bishops gathered these days in the Vatican.

[After praying the Angelus:]

Dear brothers and sisters, this morning in the city of Sassari, Father Francesco Zirano of the Conventual Franciscans, was beatified. He chose to be assassinated rather than to deny his faith. We give thanks to God for this priest-martyr, a heroic witness of the Gospel. 

His courageous fidelity to Christ was an act of great eloquence, especially for these times of brutal persecution against Christians.

In this moment, our thoughts go to the city of Genoa, once again hit hard by floods. I promise my prayer for the victim and for all those who have suffered damages. May the Madonna della Guardia sustain the beloved people of Genoa in the work of solidarity, so they can rise above this difficult challenge.

Let us pray all together to the Madonna della Guardia: [Hail Mary] Mother Mary, della Guardia, protect Genoa.

I greet the pilgrims, especially the family and parish groups. 

In particular, I want to warmly greet the groups of Canadian pilgrims, who've come to Rome because of the canonization of Saints François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation. May the new saints enkindle apostolic fervor in the hearts of young Canadians.

I greet the group from the "Office Chrétien des personnes handicapées," which has come from France; the families from the Colegio Reinado del Corazón de Jesus, of Madrid; the faithful of Segovia; the Polish here present; and those who have promoted special works of charity on the occasion of the Day of the Pope.

I greet the numerous group from the "Associazione Amici di San Colombano per l’Europa," who have come on the occasion of the opening of the 14th centenary of the death of St. Colombano, great evangelizer of the European continent.

I greet the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, who are participating in their general chapter; the faithful of the parish of Santa Maria Immacolata di Carenno; the representatives of the Diocese of Lodi, gathered in Rome for the episcopal ordination of their pastor; the faithful of Bergamo and Marne.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. 

Please, I ask you to pray for me.

Have a good lunch and good bye.

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On the Pontificate of Blessed Paul VI
"To this Pontiff, the Christian people will always be grateful for the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus"

VATICAN CITY, October 19, 2014  - At the conclusion of the Holy Mass, Pope Francis recited the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square. These are the Pope's words of introduction to the Marian prayer:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the conclusion of the this solemn celebration, I wish to greet the pilgrims from Italy and from various countries, with a respectful greeting to the official Delegations. In particular, I greet the faithful from the diocese of Brescia, Milan and Rome, who are significantly linked to the life and ministry of Pope Montini. I thank you all for your presence and exhort you to faithfully follow the teachings and example of the newly Blessed.

He was a staunch supporter of the mission ad gentes; a testimony of this is the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi with which he intended to awaken the enthusiasm and commitment to the mission of the Church. It is important to consider this aspect of the Pontificate of Paul VI, especially today as we celebrate World Mission Day.

Before invoking Our Lady all together with the Angelus prayer, I would like to underline the profound Marian devotion of Blessed Paul VI. To this Pontiff, the Christian people will always be grateful for the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus and for having proclaimed Mary as "The Mother of the Church", on the occasion of the closing of the third session of the Second Vatican Council.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, help us to carry out faithfully in our lives the will of the Lord, as the newly Blessed had done.

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On the Love for God and Neighbor
"Love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love"

VATICAN CITY, October 26, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer, to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square today. 

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Divine Law can be summed up in the love for God and for neighbor. The evangelist Matthew says that some Pharisees agreed to put Jesus to the test (cfr 22, 34-35). One of these, an expert of the Law, asks Him this question: “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (v. 36). Jesus, citing the book of Deuteronomy, responds: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (vv. 37-38). He could’ve stopped there. Instead, Jesus adds something else that was not asked of by the expert of the Law. He said: “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39). Even this second commandment is not invented by Jesus, but rather taken from the Book of Leviticus. Its newness consists precisely in putting together these two commandments - the love for God and love for the neighbor -  revealing that they are inseparable and complementary, they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot love God without loving your neighbor and you can’t love your neighbor without loving God. Pope Benedict has left us a beautiful commentary about this in his first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (nn. 16-18).

In fact, the visible sign that a Christian can show to give witness to the world, to others, to their family, of the love of God is the love of the brethren. The commandment of love to God and neighbor is the first not because it is the first in the list of commandment. Jesus does not place it in the top, but at the center because it is the heart from which everything has to start and from which everyone must return to and reference.

Already in the Old Testament the need to be holy, in the image of God who is holy, included the duty to take care of the most vulnerable such as the foreigner, the orphan, the widow (cfr Ex. 22, 20-26). Jesus fulfills this law of the covenant, He who unites in Himself, in his flesh, divinity and humanity into one single mystery of love.

Now, in the light of the words of Jesus, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love. We can never separate religious life from the service of the brothers and sisters, to those concrete brethren we meet. We can never divide prayer, the encounter with God in the Sacraments, from listening to others, from being close to their lives, especially from their wounds. Remember this: love is the measure of faith. How much do you love? And each one should respond to this: How is your faith? My faith is seen in how I love. Faith is the soul of love.

In the midst of the dense forest of rules and regulations - the legalisms of yesterday and today - Jesus makes an opening that allows us to see two faces: the face of the Father and that of the brothers. He does not give us two rules or two precepts, but two faces. No! Not precepts or rules, He gives us two faces! Actually, it is one face: that of God that is reflected in the faces of so many, because in the face of every brother and sister, especially the smallest, the fragile, the helpless and the needy, the very image of God is present. We should ask ourselves when we meet one of these brothers or sisters: Are we able to recognize in them the face of God? Are we capable of doing this?

In this way, Jesus offers every man and woman the fundamental criteria on which to base their lives. But above all, He gives us his Spirit, which allows us to love God and neighbor like Him, with a free and generous heart. Through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, let us open ourselves to receive this gift of love, to walk always in this law, of two faces that are one face, in the law of love.

After the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father said the following:

Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Sao Paolo Brazil, Mother Assunta Marcheta was proclaimed Blessed. She was born in Italy and co-founder of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo - the Scalabrinis. She was a nun who was exemplary in the service of orphans, [and] of Italian immigrants. She saw Jesus present in the poor, in the orphans, in the sick, in the migrants. Let us give thanks to the Lord for this woman, a model of tireless missionary spirit and courageous dedication in the service of charity.

I affectionately greet the pilgrims from Italy and various countries, beginning with the devotees of Our Lady of the Sea from Bova Marina. I gladly welcome the faithful from Lugana in Sirmione, Usini, Portobuffolé, Arteselle, Latina and Guidonia; as well as those from Losanna (Switzerland), Marseille (France). A special thought goes to the Peruvian community of Rome who are here present with the sacred image of Our Lord of the Miracles.

I also greet the pilgrims from Schönstatt. I can see the image of Our Mother from here.  

I thank you all and affectionately greet you.

Please, pray for me. Do not forget. Have a Good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye.

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On All Souls Day
"The remembrance of the dead, the care for graves and prayers of repose are a witness of the confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death is not the final word on the human fate"

VATICAN CITY, November 02, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's words before and after the recitation of the Angelus to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two occurrences are intimately related to each other, just as the joy and tears find a syntheses in Jesus Christ that is the foundation of our faith and of our hope. On the one hand, in fact, the Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices for the intercession of the Saints and Blesseds that sustains Her in the mission of announcing the Gospel; on the other, She, like Jesus, shares in the tears of those who suffer the departing of a loved one, and like Him and thanks to Him, resounds the thanks to the Father who has freed us from the dominion of sin and death.

Between yesterday and today, many visit the cemetery which, as this same word says, is the "place of rest", awaiting the final awakening.  It is beautiful to think that it will be Jesus who will awaken us. Jesus Himself has revealed that the death of the body is like a time of sleep from which He will awaken us. With this faith we stop– even spiritually- at the graves of our loved ones, of those who have loved us and have done good to us. But today we are called to remember everyone, even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and of violence; so many "little ones" in the world crushed by hunger and poverty. We remember the unnamed people who rest in common graves. We remember our brothers and sisters killed for being Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord those who have left us in the course of this year.

The tradition of the Church has always exhorted to pray for the deceased, in particular by offering for them the Eucharistic Celebration: that is the best spiritual help that we can give for their souls, particularly those abandoned the most. The foundation of the prayers of repose is found in the communion of the Mystical Body. As the Second Vatican Council affirms, " Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead." (Lumen gentium, 50)

The remembrance of the dead, the care for graves and prayers of repose are a witness of the confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death is not the final word on the human fate, since man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment in God.

We raise this prayer to God:

God of infinite mercy, we entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins.

Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned.

Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification. May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.

We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.

May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy.  May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.

Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.

Amen.

With this faith in the supreme destiny of man, we turn now to Our Lady, who suffered under the cross the tragedy of the death of Christ and took part in the joy of His resurrection. May She, the Gate of Heaven, help us to always understand more the value of the prayers of repose for the dead. They are close to us! May She sustain us in our daily pilgrimage on this earth and help us to not lose sight of the final goal of life which is Paradise. And we with this hope that never disappoints we move forward!

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet the families, parish groups, the associations and all the pilgrims who come from Rome, from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the faithful from the diocese of Seville (Spain), as well as those from Case Finali in Cesena and the volunteers from Oppeano and Granzette who do clown-therapy in the hospitals. I see you there. Continue doing this that does so much good for the seek. Let us greet this good people.

To all I wish a Good Sunday, in the Christian remembrance of  our deceased loved ones. Please, do not forget to pray for me.

Have a good lunch and goodbye. 

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On the Parable of the Talents
"Jesus does not ask us to preserve His Grace in a safe"

VATICAN CITY, November 16, 2014  - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis before and after the recitation of the Angelus today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday's Gospel is the parable of the talents, taken from Saint Matthew (25, 14-30). It tells the story of a man who, before leaving for a trip, calls his servants and entrusts them with his wealth in talents, ancient coins of great value. That master entrusts five talents to the first servant, to the second two, and the third one. During the absence of the master, the three servants must make this fortune fruitful. The first and the second servant doubled each of their starting capital; the third, however, for fear of losing everything, buried the talent he received in a hole. Upon the master’s return, the first two receive praise and a reward, while the third who only returns the coin received, is scolded and punished.

The meaning of this is very clear. The man of the parable represents Jesus, we are the servants and the talents are the wealth the Lord entrusts to us. What is this wealth? His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, His forgiveness, so many things. In short, his most precious goods. This is the wealth that he entrusts to us. Not just to guard it, but to make it grow. While in the common language, the word “talent” refers to a distinct individual talent - for example, in music, in sports, etc. - , in the parable, the talents represent the goods of the Lord, that He entrusts to us so that we make them fruitful. The hole dug in the ground by the “wicked and lazy servant” (v.26) shows the fear of risk that blocks the creativity and fruitfulness of love.  Jesus does not ask us to preserve His Grace in a safe. Jesus does not ask us this! He wants us to use it for the benefit of others and that’s how it grows. It’s as if He tells us: “Here is my mercy, my tenderness, my forgiveness: take it and use it.”And what have we done? Who have we “infected” with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbor? They are questions that do us well to ask.

Any environment, even the most distant and impractical, can become a place where talents can bear fruit. There are no situations or places that are closed to the Christian presence and witness. The witness that Jesus asks us is not closed, its open, it depends on us.

This parable urges us to not hide our faith and our belonging to Christ, to not bury the Word of the Gospel, but to make it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in our concrete situations, as a power that undermines, that purifies, that renews. Likewise forgiveness, which the Lord gives us especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: let us not close it in ourselves, but rather let it unleash its power, that breaks down those walls that our selfishness has built up, that it makes us take the first steps in relationships that are stuck, to resume dialogue where there is no more communication. Make these talents, these gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us be given to others, so that they grow and bear fruit with our witness. Today, it would be a beautiful gesture if each one of you would open the Gospel at home. The Gospel of St. Matthew 25, 14-30. Read this and meditate it. My talents, my riches, all that God has given to me spiritually, the Word of God; how do I make this grow in others? Or do I just preserve it in a safe?

The Lord does not give everyone the same things and in the same way: He knows us personally and entrusts us with what is right for us; but He has the same, immense trust in us. God trusts us, God has hope in us! And this is the same for everyone. Do not disappoint Him! Do not be fooled by fear, but reciprocate trust with trust! The Virgin Mary embodies this attitude in the most beautiful and fullest way. She received and accepted the greatest gift: Jesus, and in turn has offered Him to humanity with a generous heart. We ask Her to help us to be “good and faithful servants”, to participate “in the joy of our Lord.”

After the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope said the following:

Dear brothers and sisters,

In these days in Rome there have been very strong tensions between residents and immigrants. These are events that have happened in various European cities, especially in outlying neighborhoods marked by other hardships. I invite the institutions, at all levels, to take as a priority that which now constitutes a social emergency and that, if not addressed promptly and in an adequate way, risks becoming worse. The Christian community is committed to this in a concrete way, so that there may be an encounter and not confrontation. Citizens and immigrants, with the representatives of institutions, can meet each other, even in a room in the parish, to talk together about the situation.

The important thing is to not give in to the temptation of confrontation, to reject all violence. It is possible to dialogue, to listen, to plan together, And in this way overcome suspicion and prejudice and build a more secure, peaceful and inclusive coexistence.

Today is the “World Day of Road Victims”. We remember in our prayers those who have lost their lives, hope for a constant commitment in the prevention of road accidents, as well as the prudent and respective behavior towards the law by motorists.

I greet you, families, parishes, associations and faithful, who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrims who have come from Murcia (Spain), Cagliari, Teramo, Gubbio and Lissone; the Amadeus di Villafranca choir, the “Accompagnatori Santuari Mariani nel Mondo” association, and the youth who have received Confirmation from Monte San Savino and from Torano Nuovo. I greet the employees of the Fatebenefratelli Hospital of Rome and the group of musicians from the Opera House of Rome.

And do not forget: today at home, open the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 25, verse 14. Read it and ask yourself those questions.

To all I wish a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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Angelus: On the Newly Canonized Saints
"I wish you a peaceful, happy Sunday with the joy of these new Saints."

VATICAN CITY, November 23, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus prayer at the conclusion of the Canonization Mass of six new Saints. 

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the conclusion of this celebration, I would like to greet all of you who have come to honor the new Saints, especially the official Delegations from Italy and India.

May the example of the four Italian saints, born in the provinces of Vicenza, Naples, Cosenza and Rimini, help the dear Italian people to revive the spirit of collaboration and harmony for the common good and to look with hope towards the future, trusting in the closeness of God who never abandons us, even in difficult moments.

Through the intercession of the Indian Saints, from Kerala, a great land of faith and priestly and religious vocations, may the Lord grant a new missionary impulse to the Church in India, which is very great, so that inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation, Christians from India may continue on the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence.

I affectionately greet the Cardinals, Bishops, priests, as well as the families, parish groups, associations and schools present. With filial love, we turn now to the Virgin Mary, mother of the Church, Queen of Saints and model of all Christians.

After the final blessing, the Pope said the following: 

I wish you a peaceful, happy Sunday with the joy of these new Saints. I ask you to please pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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On the Lord's Consolation
"Isaiah's message, that resonates in this second Sunday of Advent, is a balm on our wounds and an impetus to prepare the way of the Lord diligently."

VATICAN CITY, December 07, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday marks the second stage of the Time of Advent, a wonderful time that awakens in us the expectation of the return of Christ and the memory of his historic coming. Today’s liturgy presents us with a message full of hope. It is the Lord’s invitation expressed by the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (40,1). With these words, the Book of consolation is opened, in which the prophet addresses to the people in exile the joyful announcement of liberation. The time of tribulation is ended; the people of Israel can look towards the future with confidence: the return home finally awaits them. And this is the reason for the invitation to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord.

Isaiah addresses the people who have passed through a dark time, that have undergone a very hard trial; but now the time of consolation has come. Sadness and fear can make way for joy, because the Lord Himself will guide his people on the path of freedom and salvation.

In what way will He do this? With the care and tenderness of a shepherd who takes care of His flock. He will give unity and security to the flock, they will graze, the scattered sheep will be gathered safely, He will pay special attention to the most fragile and weak (v.11). This is God’s attitude towards us, His creatures. Hence, the prophet invites the listener - which includes us, today - to spread among the people this message of hope. The message that the Lord consoles us, to make way for the consolation that comes from the Lord.

But we cannot be messengers of God's consolation if we do not experience first the joy of being consoled and loved by Him. This happens especially when we listen to His Word. The Gospel, which we should carry in our pocket, do not forget this! The Gospel, in your pocket or in your purse, read it continuously. This consoles us!

When we remain in prayerful silence in His presence, when we meet Him in the Eucharist or in the sacrament of Reconciliation. All this consoles us!

So now, let us allow Isaiah’s invitation - “Comfort, give comfort to my people” - resound in our hearts in this time of Advent. Today there is a need for people who are witnesses of the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which shakes up those who are resigned, revives the discouraged, ignites the fire of hope. It is He who ignites the fire of hope, not us!

So many situations require our consoling witness. To be joyful people, consoled. I think of those who are oppressed by suffering, injustice and abuses; those who are enslaved by money, power, success, worldliness. Poor things, they have a false consolation, they do not have the true consolation of the Lord!

We are all called to console our brothers and sisters, giving witness that only God can eliminate the causes of existential and spiritual tragedies. He can do it, He is powerful!

Isaiah’s message, that resonates in this second Sunday of Advent, is a balm on our wounds and an impetus to prepare the way of the Lord diligently. The prophet, in fact, speaks today to our hearts to tell us that God forgets our sins and consoles us. If we trust in Him with humble and contrite hearts, He will break down the walls of evil, He will fill the holes of our omissions, He will pave the bumps of pride and vanity and will open a path of encounter with Him.

It is curious, but so many times, we are afraid of consolation, of being consoled. In fact, we feel safer in sadness and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sadness, we feel almost like the protagonists. Instead, in consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist! It is He who consoles us, it is He who gives us the courage to come out of ourselves. It is He who brings us to the source of every true consolation, that is, the Father. And this is conversion, Please, let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Let yourselves be consoled by the Lord!

The Virgin Mary is the “path” that God Himself has prepared to come into the world. Let us entrust to Her the expectation of salvation and peace for all men and women of our time.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you all, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims who have come from Italy and different countries: families, parish groups, associations. In particular, I greet the Identes missionaries, who are so good, they do so much good. The faithful of Bianzè, Dalmine, Sassuolo, Arpaìse e Oliveri; the community of Rumeni di Cordenons - Pordenone; the “Porta Aperta” association of Modena, the families of Fratta Polesine, and the youth from Petosino.

To all I wish a good Sunday, Please,let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Understood? Let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye. And tomorrow have a good day of the Immaculate [Conception].

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On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
"None of us can buy salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the Lord!"

ROME, December 08, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

The message of today's feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary can be summed up in these words: everything is a grace, everything is a free gift from God and his love for us. The Angel Gabriel calls Mary "full of grace" (Lk.1,28): in Her there is no room for sin, because God has always chosen Her as the mother of Jesus and has preserved Her from original sin.

And Mary corresponds to the grace and abandons Herself to it saying to the Angel: "Be it done to me according to your word" (v.38). She doesn't say "I will do it according to your word", but "Be it done to me…" And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God who speaks to us and to receive His will; according to the logic of the Gospel, nothing is more active and fruitful than to listen and receive the Word of the Lord. Which comes from the Gospel, which comes from the Bible! The Lord always speaks to us!

The attitude of Mary of Nazareth shows us that being comes before doing, and we must leave it to God to truly become as He wants us to be. It is He who does so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Just as, at a physical level, She receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God that is forming in Her, She also receives the grace and corresponds to it with faith, on a spiritual level. For this reason, St. Augustine says that the Virgin "conceived first in the heart before the womb" (Discorsi, 215,4). Faith was conceived first, then the Lord!

This mystery of the acceptance of grace, who in Mary by a unique privilege, was without the obstacle of sin, is a chance for everyone. St. Paul, in fact, opens his Letter to the Ephesians with these words of praise: "Blessed be God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the Heavens in Christ" (1,3). As Mary was greeted by St. Elizabeth as "blessed among women" (Lk. 1,42), so have we always been "blessed", that is loved, and therefore "chosen first from the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate" (Eph. 1,4).

Mary was preserved, while we were saved thanks to Baptism and the faith. All however, be it Her and us, through Jesus Christ, "for the praise of the glory of his grace" (v.6), that grace from which the Immaculate was filled in its fullness.

In front of the love, mercy, divine grace poured into our hearts, the consequence that is imposed is one: gratuity. None of us can buy salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the Lord! A free gift from God that arrives in us and lives within us. As we have received freely, so we are called to give freely (cfr Mt. 10,8); in imitation of Mary, who, immediately after having received the announcement of the Angel, goes to share the gift of fertility with Her cousin Elizabeth. Because, if everything has been given, everything must be given back.

In what way? By letting the Holy Spirit make of us a gift to others. The Spirit is a gift for us, and we, with the strength of the Spirit, must be gifts for others. That makes us become instruments of acceptance, reconciliation and forgiveness. If our existence is to be transformed by the grace of the Lord, because the grace of the Lord transforms us, we cannot keep for ourselves the light that comes from his face, but we let it shine so that it illuminates others. Let us learn from Mary, who had her gaze constantly fixed on Her Son and Her face has become "the face that resembles Christ the most" » (Dante, Paradiso, XXXII, 87). We turn to Her now with the prayer that recalls the annunciation of the Angel.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I affectionately greet all of you, especially the families and parish groups. I greet the faithful of Rocca di Papa, the pastor, the marathoners, the cyclists and I bless their torch. I greet the group from Felline (Lecce), the "Completamente tuoi" association and the youth from Carugate.

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Action [group] will renew their adherence. I extend a special thought to all their diocesan associations and parishes. May the Immaculate Virgin bless Catholic Action and make it more and more a school of holiness and generous service to the Church and the world.

This afternoon I will travel to St. Mary Major, to greet the Salus Popoli Romani and then to Piazza di Spagna to renew the traditional act of homage and prayer at the feet of the monument to the Immaculate Conception. It will be an afternoon completely dedicated to Our Lady! I ask that you unite yourselves spiritually to me in this pilgrimage that expresses the filial devotion to Our Heavenly Mother. And do not forget, salvation is free! We have received this gratuity, this grace of God and we should give it back. We have received the gift, we should give it back to others. Do not forget this!

To all I wish a happy feast day and a happy Advent season under the guidance of the Virgin Mary. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye. 

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Angelus Address: On the Joy We Have in Jesus
"We don't need to look elsewhere. Jesus came to bring joy to everyone and for ever"

VATICAN CITY, December 14, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

As a gift from the Holy Father, 50,000 prayerbooks, produced by the Office of Papal Charities and published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (the Vatican publishing house), were distributed to those gathered in the square.

* * *

Dear brother and sisters, dear children and young people, good day.

For the last two weeks, the season of Advent has invited us to spiritual vigilance so as to prepare the way of the Lord, the Lord who comes. On this third Sunday, the liturgy proposes to us another interior attitude for living this awaiting of the Lord, that is, joy. As this sign says [indicating a sign in the crowd: "Con Gesù la gioia è di casa"]: With Jesus, joy is part of the home. That proposes to us the joy of Jesus.

The heart of man desires joy. All of us aspire to joy. Every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy to which the Christian is called to live and to give witness? It is that that comes from the closeness of God, of his presence in our lives. Since Jesus entered history, with his birth in Bethlehem, humanity has received the seed of the Kingdom of God, as the earth receives a seed, the promise of a future harvest. We don't need to look elsewhere. Jesus came to bring joy to everyone and for ever.

It is not a joy that is merely anticipated or set in paradise -- "here on earth we are sad but in paradise, we'll be happy." No. It's not that. Rather, [it is] a joy that is already real and that can be felt now, because Jesus himself is our joy, is our home.

As that sign of yours says, "With Jesus, joy part of the home," let us repeat this again, "With Jesus, joy is part of the home." And without Jesus, is their joy? No. Jesus is alive. He is the risen one and he works in us, especially with his word and the sacraments.

All of us who are baptized, the children of the Church, are called to welcome ever again the presence of God in our midst and to help others to discover it, or to rediscover it if we've forgotten it. It is a beautiful mission, similar to that of John the Baptist: to point people toward Christ -- not to ourselves -- because He is the final goal toward which the human heart reaches when it seeks joy and happiness.

Again St. Paul in today's liturgy indicates for us the conditions for being a "missionary of joy": to pray with perseverance, to always give thanks to God, to follow his Spirit, to seek the good and avoid evil. If this would be our style of life, then the Good News could enter into so many houses and help people and families to discover that salvation is in Jesus. In Him, it is possible to find interior peace and the strength to face daily the various situations of life, even the most difficult and costly.

A sad saint or a saint with a face of mourning was never heard of. It's never been heard of. It would be a contradiction.

The Christian is a person who has his heart full of peace, because he knows how to place his joy in the Lord, even when the difficult moments of life arise.

To have faith does not mean to not have difficult moments, but to have the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone. And this is the Peace that God gives to his children.

With eyes set on Christmas, which is approaching, the Church invites us to give witness that Jesus is not a figure from the past. He is the word of God who today continues illuminating the path of man. His actions, the sacraments, are the manifestations of the tenderness, of the consolation, of the love of the Father for each human being. The Virgin Mary, "cause of our joy" always brings us back to joy in the Lord, who comes to free us from so many interior and exterior slaveries.

[Then the Pope led the praying of the Angelus]

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Pope's Angelus Address: On Christ's Call to Our Hearts
"Each one of us is called to respond, as Mary did, with a personal and sincere 'yes'"

VATICAN CITY, December 21, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, the liturgy wants to prepare us for Christmas, which is "already at the gates," inviting us to meditate on the passage of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary. The Archangel Gabriel reveals to the Virgin the will of God that she become the mother of his only begotten Son. "You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High." 

We fix our gaze upon this simple young woman of Nazareth in the moment in which she makes herself available to the divine message with her "yes." We take in two essential aspects of her attitude, which is for us a model of how to prepare for Christmas. 

Above all, her faith, her attitude of faith, which consists in listening to the Word of God to abandon herself to this Word with complete availability of mind and heart. Responding to the Angel, Mary said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." 

In her "here I am" full of faith, Mary does not know which paths she will have to trod, which sorrows she will have to suffer, which risks she will face. But she knows that it is the Lord who is asking, and she trusts totally in Him and abandons herself to His love. This is Mary's faith.

The other aspect is the capacity of the Mother of Christ to recognize the time of God. Mary is the one who has made possible the incarnation of the Son of God, the "revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages."

She has made possible the incarnation of the Word, thanks to her humble and courageous "yes." Mary teaches us to welcome the favorable moment in which Jesus comes into our lives and asks for a generous and prepared response. And Jesus comes.

In fact, the mystery of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, which occurred historically more than 2,000 years ago, is implemented as a spiritual event in the "today of the liturgy." The Word, who dwelled in the virginal womb of Mary, in the celebration of Christmas, comes to call anew the heart of each Christian. He comes by and calls. Each one of us is called to respond, as Mary did, with a personal and sincere "yes," placing ourselves fully at the disposal of God and his mercy. How many times Jesus comes in our lives and how many times he sends us an angel. And how many times we don't realize it because we are very busy, submerged in our thoughts, in our activities, and in these days, in the preparation for Christmas, and we don't realize the one who is passing by and knocking at the door of our hearts asking to be welcomed, asking for a "yes" like that of Mary. A saint said, "I fear that the Lord will pass by." Do you know why he was afraid? It was fear of not realizing, of allowing him to pass by. 

When we feel in our hearts, "I would like to be better. I repent of this thing I've done," there is the Lord who calls, who makes us feel this, the desire to be better, the desire to be closer to others, to God. If you feel this, stop. The Lord is there. Go to pray, and maybe go to confession to clean up the dwelling a bit. This is good. But remember well, if you feel this desire to improve, it is He who is calling. Do not let him pass by.

In the mystery of Christmas, beside Mary, in silence, is the presence of St. Joseph, as is represented in all the nativity scenes, also in this one that you can admire here in St. Peter's Square. The example of Mary and of Joseph is for all of us an invitation to welcome Jesus with an entirely open soul, Jesus who out of love has made himself our brother. He comes to bring to the world the gift of peace. "Peace to those on whom his favor rests," as the choir of angels announced to the shepherds. The precious gift of Christmas is peace and Christ is our true peace. And Christ calls to our hearts to give us peace. Peace of the soul. Let us open the gates to Christ.

We entrust ourselves to the intercession of our Mother and of St. Joseph, to live a Christmas that is truly Christian, free of all worldliness, prepared to welcome the Savior, the God-with-us.

[After the Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters, 

I greet you all, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from the various nations, families, parish groups, associations.

In particular, I greet the youth of the Focolare Movement, of the John XXIII Community, and the AGESCI scouts of Tor Sapienza (Rome). 

Don't forget, the Lord comes by, and if you feel the desire to improve, to be better, it is the Lord who knocks at your door. In this Christmas, the Lord comes by.

I wish everyone a nice Sunday and a Christmas of hope with the doors open to the Lord, of joy and of fraternity. Please pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon.

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On the Feast of St. Stephen
"Today let us pray in a special way for all those who are discriminated against because of their witness to Christ."

VATICAN CITY, December 26, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square this afternoon.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the liturgy recalls the witness of Saint Stephen. Chosen by the Apostles, together with six others, for the diaconate of charity in the community of Jerusalem, he became the first martyr of the Church. With his martyrdom, Stephen honored the coming into the world of the King of kings, offering to Him the gift of his own life. And so he shows us how to live the fullness of the mystery of Christmas.

The Gospel of this feast gives a part of Jesus’ discourse to his disciples in the moment in which He sends them on mission. Among other things, He says, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 10:22). These words of the Lord do not disrupt the celebration of Christmas, but strip it of that false saccharine-sweetness that does not belong to it. It makes us understand that in the trials accepted on account of the faith, violence is overcome by love, death by life. To truly welcome Jesus in our existence, and to prolong the joy of the Holy Night, the path is precisely the one indicated in this Gospel: that is, to bear witness in humility, in silent service, without fear of going against the current, able to pay in person. And if not all are called, as Saint Stephen was, to shed their own blood, nonetheless, every Christian is called in every circumstance to be to live a life that is coherent with the faith he or she professes.

Following the Gospel is certainly a demanding path, but those who travel it with fidelity and courage receive the gift promised by the Lord to men and women of good will. At Bethlehem, in fact, the angels announced to the shepherds, “on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Lk 2:14). This peace given by God is able to soothe the conscience of those who, through the trials of life, know to welcome the Word of God and observe it with perseverance to the end (cf. Mt 10:22).

Today let us pray in a special way for all those who are discriminated against because of their witness to Christ. I want to say to each of them: If you carry this cross with love, you have entered into the mystery of Christmas, you are in the heart of Jesus and of the Church.

Let us pray also that, thanks to the sacrifices of the martyrs of today, the commitment to recognize and concretely to ensure religious liberty — an inalienable right of every human person — would be strengthened in every part of the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope all of you will enjoy a peaceful Christmas feast. May Saint Stephen, Deacon and Proto-martyr, sustain on our daily path all of us, who hope to be crowned, in the end, in the festive assembly of the Saints in paradise.

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Pope's Angelus Address: On the Feast of the Holy Family
"Jesus is the One who brings the generations together. He is the source of that love that unites families and people, overcoming all mistrust, all isolation, every distance."

VATICAN CITY, December 28, 2014  - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sister, Good morning!

In this first Sunday after Christmas, while we are still immersed in the joyful climate of the celebration, the Church invites us to contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth. Today's Gospel presents the Madonna and St. Joseph in the moment in which, 40 days after the birth of Jesus, they go to the temple in Jerusalem. They do it in religious obedience to the Law of Moses, which prescribes to offer the firstborn to the Lord (cfr. Lk. 2,22-24). We can imagine this little family, in the midst of so many people, in the great courtyard of the Temple.

They do not stand out to the eye, they can't be distinguished. Yet they do not go unnoticed! Two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, approach them and begin to praise God for that Child, in which they recognize the Messiah, light of the peoples and salvation of Israel (cfr Lk 2,22-38). It is a simple moment but rich in prophecy: the meeting between a young couple full of joy and faith for the graces of the Lord and two elderly people also full of joy and faith for the actions of the Spirit. Who brings them together? Jesus! Jesus brings them together, the youth and the elderly. Jesus is the One who brings the generations together. He is the source of that love that unites families and people, overcoming all mistrust, all isolation, every distance. This makes us reflect on grandparents: how important is their presence, the presence of grandparents! How precious is their role within the family and society! The good relation between youth and the elderly is decisive for the path of the civil and ecclesial community. And looking at these two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, we greet with applause all the grandparents of the world!

The message that comes from the Holy Family is above all a message of faith. In the family life of Mary and Joseph, God is truly at the center, and it is in the person of Jesus. This is why the Family of Nazareth is holy. Why? Because it is centered on Jesus!

When parents and children breathe together this climate of faith, they possess an energy that allows them to confront difficult trials, as shown by the experience of the Holy Family, for example, during the tragic event of the flight into Egypt: A hard trial.

The Child Jesus with his Mother Mary and with Saint Joseph are the icon of the family, simple yet illuminating. The light they radiate is a light of mercy and salvation for the whole world, a light of truth for every man, for the human family and for individual families. This light that comes from the Holy Family encourages us to offer human warmth in those family situations in which, for various reasons, lack peace, lack harmony and lack forgiveness. Our concrete solidarity does not fail especially in the challenges of the families that are living in more difficult situations due to sickness, lack of work, discrimination, the need to migrate. And here we pause for a moment and in silence, we pray for all these families in difficulty. Be it difficulties of sickness, lack of work, discrimination, the need to migrate, be it the lack of understanding each other, as well as also disunion. In silence, we pray for all these families.

[After a brief moment of silence, the Pope leads the faithful in praying the Hail Mary.]

We entrust to Mary, Queen of the family, all the families of the world so that they may live in faith, in harmony, in mutual help, and for this we invoke upon them Her maternal protection, who was mother and daughter of Her Son.

Angelus Domini…

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Pope's New Year's Day Angelus
"On this first day of the year, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, the Church invites us to fix our gaze of faith and of love on the Mother of Jesus."

VATICAN CITY, January 02, 2015- Below is a translation provided by Vatican Radio of Pope Francis' address before and after the Angelus in St. Peter's Square yesterday on the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God:

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this first day of the year, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, the Church invites us to fix our gaze of faith and of love on the Mother of Jesus. In her, the humble woman of Nazareth, “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). Because of this it is impossible to separate contemplation of Jesus, the Word of life Who is made visible and tangible (cf. 1 Jn 1:1), from contemplation of Mary, who has given Him her love and her human flesh.

Today we hear the words of the Apostle Paul: “God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). That “born of a woman” speaks in an essential manner, and for this reason even more strongly, expresses the true humanity of the Son of God. As a Father of the Church, St Athanasius, affirms, “Our Saviour was truly man, and from that comes the salvation of all humanity” (Letter to Epictetus: PG 26).

But St Paul also adds “born under the law” (Gal 4:4). With this expression he emphasizes that Christ has taken up the human condition, freeing it from the closed, legalistic mentality. In fact, the law deprived of grace becomes an insupportable yoke, and instead of being good for us it is bad for us. This, then, is the end for which God sent His Son to earth to become man: a finality of liberation; indeed, of regeneration. Of liberation, “to ransom those under the law” (v. 5); and the ransom occurred with the death of Christ on the Cross. But especially of regeneration: “so that we might receive adoption as sons” (v. 5). Incorporated in Him, men and women really become children of God. This amazing transition takes place in us with Baptism, which grafts us into Christ as living members, and inserts us into the Church.

At the beginning of a new year, it is good to remember the day of our Baptism: we rediscover the gift received in that Sacrament which has regenerated us to new life – the divine life. And this through Mother Church, which has as a model Mother Mary. Thanks to Baptism we were introduced into communion with God and we are no longer at the mercy of evil and sin, but [rather] we receive the love, the tenderness, the mercy of the heavenly Father.

This closeness of God to our existence gives us true peace, the divine gift that we want especially to implore today, the World Day of Peace. “No longer slaves, but brothers”: this is the Message of this Day. It is a message that involves all of us. We are all called to combat every form of slavery and to build fraternity — all of us, each one according to his or her own responsibility.

To Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, we present our good intentions. We ask you to extend the mantle of your maternal protection over each and every one of us in the new year: “O Holy Mother of God despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin” (Sub tuum praesidium).

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I extend to all of you my heartfelt greetings, wishing you a happy and peaceful new year. I greet in particular the pilgrims from the Scandinavian countries and from Slovakia; the faithful of Asola, Catiglione delle Stiviere, Sccolongo, Sotto il Monte, Bonate Sotto, and Benevento; the young people from Andria and Castenuovo del Garda. A heartfelt greeting to the Sternsinger [“Star boys”] who have come from the diocese of Fulda in Germany. I thank all the Sternsinger in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for their commitment to go from house to house to proclaim the birth of the Lord and to collect offerings for needy children. Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr [German: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year].

I turn my thoughts to all those, in dioceses around the world, who have promotted moments of payer for peace. I recall in particular the national march that took place yesterday in Vicenca, and the “Pace in tutte le terre” [“Peace throughout the world”] demonstration promoted in Rome and in numerous cities around the world.

In this moment we are joined with Rovereto, in Trentino, where you will find the great bell known as “Maria Dolens,” which was made in honour of the fallen in all the wars, and was blessed by Blessed Paul VI in 1965. In a little while we will hear the tolling of that bell, that expresses the hope that there will never again be wars, but always a desire for and a commitment to peace and brotherhood among peoples.

[The tolling of the bells is heard on speakers in the Square, courtesy of CTV.]

Happy New Year to everyone! May it be a year of peace in the tender embrace of the Lord and with the maternal protection of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.

Please, do not forget to pray for me! Buon pranzo, and arrivederci!

[Original Text: Italian]

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Angelus Address: On Peace in Our Hearts, Families, World
"We must convince ourselves, despite any appearances to the contrary, that concord is always possible, at every level and in every situation"

VATICAN CITY, January 04, 2015  - Here is a Vatican Radio translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

A few days ago we began the new year in the name of the Mother of God, celebrating World Peace Day on the theme: “No longer slaves, but brothers”. My hope is that the exploitation of man by man would be overcome. This exploitation is a social plague that mortifies interpersonal relations and impedes a life of communion imprinted with respect, justice and charity. Each person, and every people hungers and thirsts for peace; therefore, it is necessary and urgent to build peace!

Certainly, peace is not only the absence of war, but a general condition in which the human person is in harmony with himself, with nature, and with others. First of all, to silence arms and to extinguish the outbreaks of war remain the unavoidable conditions to begin a journey that leads to the achievement of peace in its different aspects. I think of conflicts still shedding blood in too many regions of the planet, of tensions in families and in communities, as well as the sharp conflicts in our cities and towns between groups of different culture, ethnic and religious backgrounds. We must convince ourselves, despite any appearances to the contrary, that concord is always possible, at every level and in every situation. There is no future without proposals and projects for peace!

From the Old Testament, peace has been attached to the promise of God: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again” (Is 2:4). Peace is proclaimed, as a special gift of God, in the birth of the Redeemer: “Peace on earth to those on whom His favour rests (Lk 2:14).” Such a gift requires that we seek it incessantly in prayer and welcome it every day with commitment, in the situations in which we find ourselves. At the dawn of a new year, we are all called to rekindle in our hearts an impulse of hope, that should result in concrete works of peace, reconciliation, and fraternity. Each one, in his own role and responsibility, can accomplish gestures of fraternity in dealing with one’s neighbour, especially with those who are tried by family tensions or by disagreements of different kinds. These small gestures have great value: they can be the seeds that give hope, they can open paths and prospects of peace.

Let us invoke Mary, the Queen of Peace. She, during her earthly life, knew no small difficulties, joined to the daily fatigue of existence. But she never lost peace of heart, the fruit of trustful abandonment to the mercy of God. Let us ask Mary, our tender Mother, to show to the whole world the sure path of love and of peace.

After the Angelus

I offer a cordial greeting to all of you, dear pilgrims from Italy and from various countries to take part in this encounter of prayer.

In particular I greet the faithful from Casirate d’Adda, Alfianello, Val Brembilla, and Verona.

To each of you I express the hope that you will spend this second Good Sunday in peace and serenity. And please, don’t forget to pray for me.

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Pope's Angelus Address on Solemnity of the Epiphany
"It is the Word of God, which constantly renews our hearts ... Therefore, we must not forget to read it and meditate it every day, so that it becomes for each one of us a flame that we carry within us to guide our steps"

VATICAN CITY, January 07, 2015  - At the end of the Holy Mass, celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Vatican Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

Here below is a translation of the Pope’s Angelus address yesterday:

* * * 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On Christmas Eve, we meditated on the hastening of some shepherds, belonging to the Jewish people, to the cave in Bethlehem. Today, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we recall the arrival of the Magi, who came from the East to adore the newborn King of the Jews and universal Savior and to offer him symbolic gifts. With their gesture of adoration, the Magi witnessed that Jesus came on earth to save not only his people but all peoples. Therefore, in today’s feast our gaze widens to the horizon of the entire world to celebrate the Lord’s “manifestation” to all peoples, namely, the manifestation of God’s love and of universal salvation. He does not keep His love for some privileged persons, but offers it to all. As He is the Creator and Father of all, so He wills to be the Savior of all. Therefore, we are called to nourish great confidence and hope in our dealings with every person and his salvation, including those who seem far from the Lord, who are followed -- or better “chased” – by His passionate and faithful love.

The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as a journey of the soul, as a journey to an encounter with Christ. They were attentive to the signs that indicated His presence; they were tireless in facing the difficulties of their search; they were courageous in drawing the consequences of life derived from the encounter with the Lord. The Magi’s experience evokes the journey of every man to Christ. As it was for the Magi, so for us to seek God means to walk, fixing our gaze on heaven and seeing in the visible sign of the star the invisible God who speaks to our heart. The star that is able to guide every man to Jesus is the Word of God: it is the light that directs our path, nourishes our faith and regenerates it. It is the Word of God, which constantly renews our hearts and our communities. Therefore, we must not forget to read it and meditate it every day, so that it becomes for each one of us a flame that we carry within us to guide our steps and also those of one who walks beside us, who perhaps finds it hard to find the way to Christ.

On this day of the Epiphany, our thought goes also to brothers and sisters of the Christian East, Catholics and Orthodox, many of whom tomorrow will celebrate the Lord’s Birth. To them we send our affectionate good wishes.

Then it pleases me to recall that the World Day of Missionary Childhood is observed today. It is the feast of children who live the gift of fatih with joy and pray that the light of Jesus reaches all children of the world. I encourage educators to cultivate in little ones the missionary spirit, so that among them are born witnesses of God’s tenderness and heralds of His love.

We now turn to the Virgin Mary and invoke her protection on the universal Church, so that the Gospel of Christ, Lumen gentium, light of all peoples, is spread throughout the world.

[After the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope said the following:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims, renewing my wish of peace and every good in the Lord.

I greet the faithful who have come from Aachen, Germany, from Kilbeggan, Ireland, and the students of Northfield, Minnesota, United States of America; the candidates for Confirmation of Romano of Lombardy and their parents; the faithful of Biassono, Verona, Arzignano, Acerra and of some dioceses of Puglia; and the young people of the Don Orione Work.

A special greeting goes to those who give life to the historic-folkloric procession, which this year is dedicated to the territory of the Municipalities of Segni, Artena, Carpineto, Romano, Gorga and Montelanico.

I wish you all a Happy Sunday and good lunch. See you soon!

[Original text: Italian]

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Angelus Address: On the Baptism of the Lord
"With the Baptism of Jesus, not only are the heavens torn open, but God speaks making his voice resound once again: 'You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased'"

VATICAN CITY, January 11, 2015  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season. The Gospel describes what happened on the shores of the Jordan. In the moment in which John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the heavens opened. “On coming up out of the water - St. Mark says - he saw the heavens being torn open” (1,10). The dramatic supplication of the prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Is 63,19). This cry was heard in the event of the Baptism of Jesus. Thus the time of the “closed heavens” was over, which indicated the separation between God and man, a consequence of sin. Sin alienates us from God and interrupts the link between earth and heaven, determining our misery and failure of our lives. The opened heavens show that God has given His grace so that the earth may bear fruit (cfr Sal 85, 13). Thus the earth has become the dwelling place of God among mankind and each one of us has the possibility of meeting with the Son of God, experiencing all the love and infinite mercy. We can find it truly present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We can recognize it in the face of our brothers and sisters, particularly in the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the refugees: they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and visible image of the invisible God.

With the Baptism of Jesus, not only are the heavens torn open, but God speaks making his voice resound once again: “You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased” (Mc 1,11). The voice of the Father proclaims the mystery that is hidden in the Man baptized by the Forerunner.

And then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove: allows the Christ, the Consecrated of the Lord, to begin his mission, which is our salvation. The Holy Spirit: the Great One forgotten in our prayers. We often pray to Jesus; we pray to the Father, especially in the “Our Father”; but not often to the Holy Spirit, right? He is the forgotten One. And we need to ask His help, His strength, His inspiration. The Holy Spirit who has entirely animated the life and ministry of Jesus, it is the same Spirit that today guides the Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they want to be Christian. To place our Christian lives and mission under the action of the Holy Spirit, that we have all received in virtue of our Baptism, which means to find the apostolic courage to overcome easy worldly comforts. Instead, a Christian or a community that is “deaf” to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who urges us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and society, become also a Christian or a community that is “mute”that does not speak or evangelize. But remember this: pray often to the Holy Spirit so that He may help us, give us the strength, give us the inspiration and lead us forward.  

May Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the path of we who are baptized. May She help us to grow in love towards God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, to give us full meaning to our lives.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims! I greet the group of students from the United States of America, as well as the Merciful Love Lay Association. There is so much need today for mercy, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it to various social environments. Go forward! We are living in the time of mercy, this is the time of mercy. Tomorrow I will leave for an apostolic journey to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Thank you for your good wishes written on that banner, thank you so much! And I ask you to accompany me with prayers and I also ask the Sri Lankan and Filipino people who are here in Rome to pray especially for me and for this trip. Thank you!

I wish you all a good Sunday, even if the weather is a bit bad, but it is a good Sunday. And today is a day to remember the joy of your own Baptism. Remember what I asked you to do, to look for the date of your Baptism, so that each one of us can say: I was baptized on that day. May this day give us the joy of Baptism.

Do not forget to pray for me.

Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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Angelus Address: On the Thirst for Unity

"May Jesus' thirst increasingly become our thirst!"

VATICAN CITY, January 25, 2015 - Here is the translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's Gospel presents the beginning of Jesus' preaching in Galilee. Saint Mark highlights that Jesus began to preach "after John [the Baptist] had been arrested" (1,14). Precisely in this moment in which the prophetic voice of the Baptizer, who announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, is silenced by Herod, Jesus begins to walk the streets of his land to bring to all, especially the poor, "the Gospel of God" (ibid). Jesus' announcement is similar to that of John, with the major difference that Jesus does not indicate that another is to come: it is Jesus Himself who is the fulfillment of the promise; He is the "good news" to believe in, to receive and to communicate to men and women of all time, so that they also entrust to Him their existence. Jesus Christ Himself is the living Word and He is active in history: he who listens to Him and follows Him will enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the divine promise because it is He who gives mankind the Holy Spirit, the "living water" that quenches our restless heart that thirsts for life, love, freedom, peace: that thirsts for God. He revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman, who He met at Jacob's well, to whom He said: "Give me to drink" (Jn.4,7). These very words of Christ, addressed to the Samaritan [woman], were the theme of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which concludes today.  This evening, with the faithful of the diocese of Rome and with the representatives of the various Churches and ecclesial communities, we will meet in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray fervently to the Lord, so that he strengthens our commitment to the unity of all believers in Christ. It is an ugly thing that Christians are divided. But Jesus wants us to be united. One body! Our sins, our history have divided us. For this we must pray that the Spirit unites us again.

God, who made Himself man, had our thirst, not only of water, but above all the thirst of a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time, with His incarnation God has placed His thirst, because God also thirsts, in the heart of mankind: Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, in the heart of Christ, human and divine thirst meets. And the desire for the unity of his disciples belongs to this thirst. We find it expressed in the prayers raised to the Father before the Passion: "So that they all may be one" (Jn. 17,21). That is what Jesus wanted, the unity of all. The devil, as we know, is the father of division. He is one that always divides, always makes war and does so much evil.

May Jesus' thirst increasingly become our thist! We continue, therefore, to pray and strive for the full unity of the Disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us with the strength of His Spirit so that this goal can be reached. And we entrust this, our prayer, to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church so that She, like a good Mother, may unite us.

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Angelus Address: On the Power of God's Word

"Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change life! Do not forget this! That is the good news that transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it."

VATICAN CITY, February 01, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday's Gospel reading (cfr Mk. 1, 21-28) presents Jesus, who, with his little community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which in that time was the biggest city of Galilee. And he entered the city.

Mark the Evangelist tells us that Jesus, being that day the Sabbath, went quickly to the synagogue and He began to teach (cfr v.21). This makes us think of the primacy of the Word of God, a word to listen, to receive and to announce.

Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not send the announcement of the Gospel, He does not think of the logistical planning, while surely necessary, of his little community. He does not linger in prganizing. His main concern is that of communicating the Word of God with the strength of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the synagogue are struck, because Jesus "taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes." (v. 22)

What does "with authority" mean? It means that in the human word of Jesus the strength of the Word of God was felt, the same authoritativeness of God was felt, inspirer of the Holy Scripture. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that it carries out that which it says. Because the word of God corresponds with His will. Instead, we often pronounce empty words, without roots or superfluous words, words that do not correspond with the truth. The Word of God, instead, corresponds to the truth and is united to His will and does what He says.  In fact, Jesus, after having preached, quickly demonstrates His authority by freeing a man, present in the synagogue, who was possessed by a demon (cfr Mk. 1,23-26). It was precisely the divine authority of Christ that brought out Satan's reaction, hidden within that man; Jesus, for his part, immediately recognizes the voice of evil and "rebuked him and said, 'Quiet! Come out of him!'" (v.25) With only the strength of His word, Jesus frees the person from evil. And once again those present were astonished. "But this man, where does He come from? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." The word of God astonishes us with that strength. It astonishes us well.

The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are enslaved by so many evil spirits in this world: vanity, the attachment to money, pride, sensuality…The Gospel changes the heart, the Gospel changes the heart! It changes life; it transforms the inclination to evil to resolutions of good. The Gospel is capable of changing the hearts of the people. Therefore it is the duty of Christians to spread everywhere the redeeming power, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. It is suggested by the very passage from today's reading which closes with a missionary aperture: "His fame – Jesus' fame - spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee." (v. 28) The new doctrine taught with authority by Jesus is that which the Church brings to the world, together with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God becomes the words of salvation and the gestures of love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change life! Do not forget this! That is the good news that transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I ask you always to have daily contact with the Gospel. To read it every day; a passage. To meditate upon it and also, to carry it with you everywhere, in your pocket, in your purse. That is, to nourish yourselves every day from this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget, read a passage from the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us, it changes life and it changes the heart.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, with Her who received the word and generated it for the world, for all mankind. May She teach us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative announcers of the Gospel of God.

Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to announce that on Saturday, June 6th, God-willing, I will go to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. I ask today that you pray so that my visit to that dear population be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, arouse ferments of good and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of interreligious dialogue and friendship. I greet the families, the parishes, the associations and all those who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, the pilgrims from Lebanon and Egypt, the student of Zafra and Badajoz (Spain); the faithful of Sassari, Salerno, Verona, Modena, Scano Montiferro and Taranto.

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Angelus Address: On the Meaning and Value of Sickness

"Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered the care of the sick as an integral part of its mission."

VATICAN CITY, February 08, 2015 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' words before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's Gospel (cfr Mk. 1,29-39) presents Jesus, who, after having preached on the Sabbath at the synagogue, heals many sick people. Preach and heal: this is Jesus' main activity in his public life. Through preaching He announces the Kingdom of God and through healing He shows that it is close, that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

Entering the house of Simon Peter, Jesus sees that his mother-in-law is in bed sick; immediately he takes her hand, heals her and makes her stand up. After the sunset, when, the Sabbath was over, when the people could leave and bring Him the sick, He heals a multitude of people afflicted by every kind of sickness: physical, mental, spiritual. Coming to the earth to announce and fulfill the salvation of the whole man and all mankind, Jesus shows a particular fondness for those wounded in body and in spirit: the poor, the sinners, the possessed, the sick, the marginalized. He thus reveals Himself has a physician of both body and soul, the good Samaritan of man. He is the true Savior! Jesus saves, Jesus cares, Jesus heals!

This reality of Jesus' healing of the sick invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of sickness. This reminds us also of the World Day of the Sick, which we will celebrate on Wednesday, February 11th, the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes. I bless the initiatives that are being prepared for this Day, in particular the Vigil that will take place in Rome on the evening of February 10th. And here I pause to remember the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, who is very ill in Poland. Let us say a prayer for him, for his health because it was he who prepared this World Day. And he accompanies us with his suffering in this day. Let us pray for Archbishop Zimowski.

The salvific work of Christ does not end with his person during his earthly life; it continues through the Church, sacrament of love and of the tenderness of God for mankind. Sending his disciples in mission, Jesus confers upon them a dual mandate: announce the Gospel of salvation and heal the sick (Mt.10,7-8). Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered the care of the sick as an integral part of its mission.

"The poor and the suffering you will always have with you", Jesus warns (cfr Mt. 26,11), and the Church continuously finds them on the street, considering the sick as a privileged path to encounter Christ, to welcome and serve Him. To care for a sick person, to welcome him and serve him is to serve Christ. The sick are the flesh of Christ!

This also happens in our time, when, despite the many advances in science, the interior and physical suffering of people raises serious questions on the meaning of sickness, pain and on the reasons for death. These are existential questions, to which the pastoral action of the Church should respond in the light of faith, having before our eyes the Cross, in which the entire salvific mystery of God the Father appears, who out of love for mankind did not spare his only Son (cfr Rm. 8,32). Therefore, each one of us is called to bring the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace to those who suffer and to those who assist them, family members, doctors, nurses, so that the service to the sick may be fulfilled ever more with humanity, with generous dedication, and with evangelical love, with tenderness.

The Mother Church, through our hands, caresses those sufferings, heals those wounds and does it with a mother's tenderness.

Let us pray to Mary, Health of the sick, so that every person in sickness can experience, thanks to the care of those closest to them, the power of God's love and the comfort of His paternal tenderness.

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Angelus Address: On Jesus' Healing of the Leper

"Jesus, takes from us our sick humanity and we take from Him his healthy and healing humanity."

ROME, February 15, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

In these past Sundays, Mark the evangelist has recalled Jesus' actions against every kind of evil, for the benefit of those who suffer in body and in spirit: the possessed, the sick, the sinners…He presents Himself as the one who fights and conquers evil wherever He finds it. In today's Gospel (cfr Mc. 1, 40-45) his struggle faces an emblematic case, because the sick one is a leper. Leprosy is a contagious and merciless sickness, that disfigures the person, and was a symbol of impurity; a leprous person was made to live outside the towns and announce his presence to those passing by. He was marginalized from the civil and religious community. He was like a dead man walking.

The episode of the leper's healing takes place in three brief passages: the invocation of the sick person, Jesus' response, and the consequence of the prodigious healing. The leper begs Jesus "kneeling" and says: "If you wish, you can make me clean." (v.40) To this humble and trustful prayer, Jesus reacts with a profound attitude from his soul: compassion. And "compassion" is one of the most profound words: compassion means to "suffer-with-the other." Christ's heart manifests the paternal compassion of God for that man, coming close to him and touching him. And this particular moment is very important. Jesus "stretched out his hand, touched him…and the leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean." (v.41) The mercy of God overcomes every obstacle and the hand of Jesus touches the leper. He does not arise from a safe distance and does not act by proxy, but exposes Himself directly to the infection of our evil; and so our own evil becomes the place of contact. He, Jesus, takes from us our sick humanity and we take from Him his healthy and healing humanity. This happens every time we receive a Sacrament of faith: the Lord Jesus "touches" us and gives us His grace. In this case, we think especially of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that heals us from the leprosy of sin. Yet once again, the Gospel shows us what God does in front of our evil. God does not come "to give us a lecture" on pain; he does not even come to eliminate suffering and death from the world; He comes rather to take upon himself the weight of our human condition, to bring it till the end, to free us in a radical and definitive way. That is how Christ fights the evil and sufferings of the world: by taking it upon Himself and overcoming it with the strength of the mercy of God.

For us, today, the Gospel of the leper's healing says that, if we want to be true disciples of Jesus, we are called to become, united to Him, instruments of his merciful love, overcoming every kind of marginalization. To become "imitators of Christ" (cfr  1 Cor 11,1) in front of a poor or sick person, we should not be afraid to look them in the eyes, to come close to them with tenderness and compassion, and to touch them and embrace them. I've asked often, to people who help others, to do it looking at them in the eyes, to not be afraid of touching them; that the helpful gesture may be a gesture of communication: we must also need to feel welcomed by them. A gesture of tenderness, a gesture of compassion…But I ask you: When you help others, do you look them in the eyes? Do you receive them without fear of touching them? Do you receive them with tenderness? Think of this: how do you help? From a distance or with tenderness, with closeness? If evil is contagious, so is good. Therefore, it is necessary for good to abound in us, ever more. Let us be infected by good and infect others with good!

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Angelus Address: On Crossing the Lenten 'Desert'

"This is the meaning of this first Sunday of Lent: to place ourselves decisively on the path of Jesus, the road that leads to life"

VATICAN CITY, February 22, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Wednesday, Lent began with the Rite of Ashes, and today is the first Sunday of this liturgical time that makes reference to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, after his baptism in the Jordan River. In today's Gospel, St. Mark writes: "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him" (1,12-13). With these simple words, the evangelist describes the test voluntarily faced by Jesus, before beginning his Messianic mission. It is a test in which the Lord leaves victorious and that prepares Him to announce the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He, in those 40 days of solitude, confronted Satan "in close combat", He unmasks his temptations and conquers him. And through Him, we have all conquered but we must protect this victory in our daily lives.

The Church reminds us of that mystery at the beginning of Lent, so that it may give us the perspective and the meaning of this time, which is a time of combat. Lent is time of combat! A spiritual combat against the spirit of evil (cfr. Collective Prayer of Ash Wednesday). And while we cross the Lenten "desert", we have our gazed fixed upon Easter, which is the definitive victory of Jesus against the Evil One, against sin and against death. This is the meaning of this first Sunday of Lent: to place ourselves decisively on the path of Jesus, the road that leads to life. To look at Jesus. Look at what Jesus has done and go with Him.

This path of Jesus passes through the desert. The desert is the place where the voice of God and the voice of the tempter can be heard. In the noise, in the confusion, this cannot be done; only superficial voices can be heard. Instead we can go deeper in the desert, where our destiny is truly played out, life or death. And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in his Word. For this reason, it is important to know Scripture, because otherwise we do not know how to respond to the attacks of the evil one. And here I would like to return to my advice of reading the Gospel every day. Read the Gospel every day! Meditate on it for a little while, for 10 minutes. And also to carry it with you in your pocket or your purse. But always have the Gospel in hand. The Lenten desert helps us to say no to worldliness, to the "idols", it helps us to make courageous choices in accordance with the Gospel and to strengthen solidarity among the brothers.

Now let us enter into the desert without fear, because we are not alone: we are with Jesus, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. In fact, as it was for Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit who guides us on the Lenten path; that same Spirit that descended upon Jesus and that has been given to us in Baptism.

Lent, therefore is an appropriate time that should lead us to be ever more aware of how much the Holy Spirit, received in Baptism, has worked and can work in us. And in the end of the Lenten itinerary, in the Easter Vigil, we can renew with greater awareness the Baptismal covenant and the commitments that flow from it.

May the Blessed Virgin, model of docility to the Spirit, help us to let ourselves be led by Him, who wishes to make each of us a "new creature."

To Her I entrust, in particular, the week of Spiritual Exercises, that will begin this afternoon, and to which I will participate in together with my collaborators of the Roman Curia. I ask that you pray for us, that in the desert of the Spiritual Exercises, we may listen to the voice of Jesus, and also correct so many defects that we have. And to also confront the temptations that attacks us every day. I ask you therefore to accompany us with your prayers.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I give a cordial greeting to the families, to the parish groups, the associations and to all the pilgrims from Rome, from Italy and from various countries. I greet the faithful from Naples, Cosenza and Verona, and the youth from Seregno who have come for the profession of faith.

Lent is a path of conversion that has the heart at its center. Our heart must convert to the Lord. Therefore, in this first Sunday, I thought to give you who are here in the square a small pocketbook entitled "Custodisci il cuore" ("Guard your heart"). It's this one. [shows booklet] This book collects some teachings of Jesus and the essential contents of our faith, for example the seven Sacraments, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments, the Virtues, the works of mercy…

The volunteers will distribute them, among whom there many homeless people who have come on pilgrimage. And as always, here in the square, with those who are in need, they are the same ones who bring us a great wealth. The wealth of our doctrine, to guard your heart. Each one of you take a booklet and carry it with you, as a help for spiritual conversion and growth that always starts from the heart: there where the match of daily choices between good and evil are played, between worldliness and the Gospel, between indifference and sharing. Humanity is in need of justice, of peace, of love and will have it only by returning with their whole heart to God, who is the source. Take this book and read it.

I wish you all a Good Sunday. Please, especially in this week of [Spiritual] Exercises do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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Angelus Address: On the Lord's Transfiguration

"With Peter, James and John we will also go up today on the mountain of the Transfiguration and pause in contemplation of Jesus face, to receive his message and translate it into our life, because we can also be transfigured by Love."

VATICAN CITY, March 02, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, March 1st.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.

The Liturgy last Sunday presented to us Jesus in the desert, tempted by Satan, but victorious over temptation. In the light of this Gospel we have become aware again of our condition as sinners, but also of the victory over evil offered to all those who undertake the journey of conversion and, like Jesus, want to do the will of God. In this Second Sunday of Lent, the Church points out to us the end of this journey of conversion, namely, participation in the glory of Christ, on whose face shines that of the obedient Servant, dead and risen for us.

The Gospel page narrates the event of the Transfiguration, which is at the height of Jesus’ public ministry. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the “Servant of God” will be fulfilled and his redeeming sacrifice will be carried out. The crowds did not understand this: in front of a Messiah that was opposed to their earthly expectations, they abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a Liberator from the dominion of the Romans, a Liberator of the homeland and they did not like Jesus’ perspective so they left him. The Apostles also did not understand the words with which Jesus announces the success of his mission in his glorious Passion; they did not understand! Jesus then decided to show Peter, James and John an anticipation of his glory, that which he would have after the Resurrection, to confirm them in the faith and encourage them to follow him on the way of trial, on the way of the Cross. And thus, on a high mountain, immersed in prayer, he is transfigured before them: his face and his whole person shine with a resplendent light. The three disciples are frightened, while a cloud overshadows them, and – as in the Baptism at the Jordan – the Father’s voice resounds from on High: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). Jesus is the Son who made himself Servant, sent into the world to realize, through the cross, the plan of salvation, to save all of us. His full adherence to the will of the Father renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is Love.

Thus Jesus reveals himself as the perfect icon of the Father, radiation of his glory. It is the fulfilment of revelation; therefore, next to him transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear, who represent the Law and the Prophets, to signify that everything ends and begins in Jesus, in his Passion and his glory.

The task for the disciples and for us is this: “Listen to him!” Listen to Jesus. He is the Savior: follow him. In fact, to listen to Christ entails assuming the logic of his Paschal Mystery, to walk with him to make of our own existence a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to the will of God, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of interior freedom. In other words, we must be ready to: “lose our life” (Cf. Mark 8:35), giving it so that all men are saved: thus we will meet in eternal happiness. Jesus’ way always leads us to happiness; do not forget this! Jesus’ way always leads to happiness. There will always be a cross and trials in the midst, but in the end it always leads to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us; he has promised us happiness and he will give it to us if we go on his ways.

With Peter, James and John we will also go up today on the mountain of the Transfiguration and pause in contemplation of Jesus’ face, to receive his message and translate it into our life, because we can also be transfigured by Love. In reality, love is able to transfigure everything. Love transfigures everything! Do you believe this? May the Virgin Mary, whom we now invoke with the Angelus prayer, support us on this path.

Following the Angelus, the Pope said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Unfortunately, tragic news does not cease to arrive from Syria and Iraq, related to the violence, kidnapping of persons and abuses that harm Christians and other groups. We want to assure all those involved in these situations that we do not forget them, so that an end will be put as soon as possible to the intolerable brutality of which they are victims. Together with the members of the Roman Curia, last Friday I offered the last Holy Mass of the Spiritual Exercises for this intention. At the same time I ask everyone, in keeping with their possibilities, to do their utmost to alleviate the sufferings of all those being tried, often only because of the faith they profess. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters that suffer for the faith in Syria and Iraq ... Let us pray in silence ...

I also wish to remember Venezuela, which is living again moments of acute tension. I pray for the victims and, in particular, for the boy killed a few days ago at San Cristobal. I exhort all to reject violence and to respect the dignity of every person and the sacredness of human life, and I encourage them to undertake again a common path for the good of the country, reopening sincere and constructive areas of encounter and dialogue. I entrust that dear Nation to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto.

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Pope's Angelus Address

'Do We Allow Him to Do a "Cleansing" in Our Hearts and to Drive Out the Idols?'

VATICAN CITY, March 08, 2015 - Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter's Square today at noon:

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Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today's Gospel today presents the episode of the expulsion of the vendors from the temple (Jn 2: 13-25). Jesus 'made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen' (Jn 2:15), the money, everything. This gesture aroused strong reactions, in the people and in the disciples. Clearly, it appeared as a prophetic gesture, to such an extent that some of those present asked Jesus, 'What sign can you show us for doing these things?' Who are you to do these things. Show us that you have the authority to do them. They were looking from a sign from God, that shows Jesus as being sent by God. And He answered, "Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up" (v. 19).

They answered him, 'This temple has been under construction for forty years, and you will raise it up in three days?' They had not realized that the Lord was referring to the living temple of His body, that would be destroyed with death on the Cross, but would rise again on the third day. 'When He was raised from the dead,' notes the Evangelist, 'his disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the Word which Jesus had said.'

In fact, this gesture of Jesus and his prophetic message is fully understood in light of his Passover. We have here, according to John, the first announcement of the death and Resurrection of Christ: His body, destroyed by the violence of sin on the Cross, in the Resurrection, will become the meeting place between God and men. And the Risen Christ is really the universal meeting place for everyone! Between God and men! For this, His humanity is the true temple, where God is revealed, speaks, meets; and the true worshipers of God are not the guardians of the material temple, the holders of power and religious knowledge, but are those who worship God 'in spirit and truth.' (Jn 4:23)

In this Lenten season, we are preparing for the celebration of Easter, when we renew the promises of our Baptism. We walk into the world as Jesus did and we make our whole existence be a sign of His love for our brothers, especially the weakest and the poorest. We build a temple to God in our lives. And so, we make him "meet-able " to the many people we find along our path.  But, we ask ourselves and each of us may wonder: Does the Lord feel truly at home in my life? Do we allow Him to do a "cleansing" in our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of greed, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, that habit of gossiping and tearing down others?

Do we allow Him to do a cleaning of all behaviors against God, against others and against ourselves, as we heard today in the first reading? Each one can respond to himself, in silence, in his heart. "Do I allow Jesus to make my heart a little cleaner?"... Jesus does not cleanse our hearts with a whip, but cleans with tenderness, with mercy, with love. Mercy is his way of cleaning. Let each of us, let the Lord enter with His mercy. Not with the whip, no, with his mercy, to clean up in our hearts. The whip of Jesus with us is his mercy. Let us open the door that gives this little 'cleaning.'

Each Eucharist, we celebrate with faith. It makes us grow as a living temple of the Lord, through Communion with his Body, crucified and risen. Jesus knows what is in each of us, and knows even our most ardent desire: that to be inhabited by him, only by Him. Holy Mary, privileged dwelling place of the Son of God, accompany and sustain us this Lent, so that we can rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, which frees us and saves us.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

I extend a cordial welcome to the faithful of Rome and all the pilgrims from various parts of the world. I greet the faithful of Curitiba, Brazil; parish groups of Treviso, Genoa, Crotone, L'Aquila and from the area of ​​Domodossola. A special thought goes to the young boys from Garda, who received Confirmation.

During Lent, we try to stay closer to the people who are going through difficult times, to our neighbors, with affection, prayer and solidarity.

Today, March 8th, I salute all the women who daily work to build a more human and welcoming society. And a fraternal thank you to those that in thousands of ways witness the Gospel and work in the Church. And this is, for us, an opportunity to reaffirm the importance and the necessity of their presence in life. A world where women are marginalized is a barren world, because women not only bring life, but send us the ability to see beyond, see beyond them, They send us the ability to understand the world through different eyes, to hear things with more creative, more patient, more tender hearts. A prayer and a special blessing for all women present here in the square and for all women! A greeting!

I wish you all a good Sunday. Do not forget, please, to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!

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Angelus Address: On the Greatness of God's Love

"If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of His Son He has given us the sum of all proofs: He has come to suffer and die for us."

ROME, March 15, 2015  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' words before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's Gospel proposes once again the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16). Listening to this word, we turn our heart's gaze to Jesus Crucified and we feel in us that God loves us, He truly loves us, and He loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that summarizes the whole Gospel, all of faith and all of theology: God loves us with a free and boundless love.

God shows this love above all in Creation, as the liturgy proclaims in the Eucharistic Prayer IV: "[You] have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light." Since the beginning of time there is only the free and gratuitous love of the Father. Saint Irenaeus, a saint from the first century, writes: "In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have [someone] upon whom to confer His benefits" (Adversus haereses, IV, 14,1).

Thus the Eucharistic Prayer IV continues: "And when through disobedience he had lost your friendship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. For you came in mercy to the aid of all." As in creation, so does the gratuitous love of God stand out in the successive steps in the history of salvation: the Lord chooses His people not because they deserve it, but precisely because it is the smallest among all peoples. And when He comes "in the fullness of time", although men had repeatedly broken the covenant, God, rather than abandon them, forged a new bond with them, in the blood of Jesus – the bond of the new and everlasting covenant – a bond that nothing will ever break.

Saint Paul reminds us: "God, who is rich in mercy," – never forget this, He is rich in mercy – "because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ" (Eph, 2,4). The Cross of Christ is the supreme proof of the Love of God for us: Jesus has loved us "until the end" (Jn. 13,1), meaning not only at the final moment of his earthly life, but until extreme limit of love. If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of His Son He has given us the sum of all proofs: He has come to suffer and die for us. And this love that is so great is the mercy of God, because He loves us, He forgives us. With his mercy, God forgives all and God always forgives.

May Mary, Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God. May She be close to us in the moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of Her Son, so that our Lenten itinerary may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome and of charity.

Following the Angelus, the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sister,

With sorrow, with much sorry I received the news of today's terrorist attack against two Churches in the city of Lahore in Pakistan that have caused numerous deaths and wounded people. They are Christian Churches, the Christians who are persecuted. Our brothers shed their blood solely because they are Christians. While I assure my prayers for the victims and their families, I ask from the Lord, I implore the Lord, the source of all good, to give peace and harmony to that country. And that this persecution against Christians, that the world tries to hide, end and that there may be peace.

I give a cordial greeting to you, the faithful of Rome and you who have come from so many parts of the world.

I greet the pilgrims of Granada and Malaga, Spain; as well as those from Mannheim, Germany. I greet the parish groups who come from Perugia, Pordenone, Pavia, from St. Giuseppe all'Aurelio in Rome and from the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio. I give a special thought to the youth of Serravalle Scrivia, from Rosolina and from Verdellino-Zingonia who are preparing to receive Confirmation; to those from the Diocese of Lodi and from the Romana – Vittoria deanery of Milano who have come to Rome to make "the promise" to follow Jesus. I also greet the ministers of Besana in Brianza. And I can see them from here, there is there banner, greetings!

I greet the various volunteer groups who, united in the work of solidarity, are participating in the "Together for the Common Good" demonstration. I express my closeness to the people of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean, struck by a strong hurricane. I pray for the deceased, the wounded and the homeless. I thank those who have acted quickly to bring help and support.

To all I wish a Good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and good bye.

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