Pope Francis Angelus Addresses March 2015 - 

 

Angelus Address: On The Desire to See Jesus

"The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him."

VATICAN CITY, March 22, 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,

In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the evangelist John draws our attention with a curious detail: some "Greeks", of the Hebrew religion, who were in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, turn to Philip and said to him: "We would like to see Jesus" (Jn. 12,21). In the holy city, where Jesus had gone to for the last time, there were many people. There are the little ones and the simple ones, who warmly welcomed the prophet of Nazareth, recognizing in Him the messenger of the Lord. There are the High Priests and the leaders of the people, who want to eliminate him because they consider him a heretic and dangerous. There are also people, like those "Greeks", who are curious of seeing Him and knowing more about His person and on the works He fulfilled, the last of which – the resurrection of Lazarus – made quite a stir.

"We would like to see Jesus": these words, like so many others in the Gospel, go beyond this particular episode and express something universal; they reveal a desire present in the ages and cultures, a desire present in the heart of so many people who have heard of Christ, but have not yet met him.

Responding indirectly, in a prophetic way, to the request to see Him, Jesus pronounces a prophecy that reveals His identity and shows the path to know Him truly: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn. 12,23). It is the hour of the Cross! It is the hour of Satan's defeat, prince of evil, and the definitive triumph of the merciful love of God. Christ declares that He will be "lifted up from the earth" (v. 32), an expression with a dual meaning: "lifted" because He is crucified, and "lifted" because He is exalted by the Father in the Resurrection, to draw everyone to him and to reconcile mankind with God and among themselves. The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him.

Continuing in the prophecy of His imminent Passover, Jesus uses a simple and suggestive image, that of the "grain of wheat" that, once fallen in the earth, dies in order to produce fruit (cfr v.24). In this image we find another aspect of the Cross of Christ: that of fruitfulness. The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries within itself the regenerating strength of the love of God. Immersed in this love through Baptism, Christians can become "grains of wheat" and produce much fruit if they, like Jesus, "lose their own life" for the love of God and for the brothers and sisters (cfr. V.25)

For this, to those who also today "want to see Jesus", to those who are searching for the face of God; to those who have received a catechesis when they were little and then have not gone more in depth, maybe even losing their faith; to so many who have not yet encountered Jesus personally…; to all these people we can offer three things: the Gospel, the crucifix and the witness of our faith, poor but sincere. The Gospel: there we can encounter Jesus, listen to Him, know Him. The crucifix: sign of the love of Jesus who has given Himself for us. And then a faith that is translated in simple gestures of fraternal charity. But mainly, in the coherence of life, between what we say and what we do. Coherence between our faith and our life, between our words and our actions: Gospel, Crucifix and Witness.

May Our Lady help us to bring forward these three things.

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis gave the following address:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Despite the awful weather many of you have come. Congratulations! You are very brave. Even the marathon runners are very brave. I greet you affectionately!

Yesterday, I was in Naples on a pastoral visit. I want to once again thank all Neapolitans for their very warm welcome, they were so good. Thank you so much!

Today marks the World Day of Water promoted by the United Nations. Water is the most essential element for life, the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it. I therefore encourage the international community to ensure that the planet's waters may be adequately protected and that no one be excluded or discriminated against in the use of this good par excellence. With St. Francis of Assisi, we say: "Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, / which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste." (Canticle of the Sun).

I greet all the pilgrims present, in particular the Choir from the "Professional Conservatory of Music" of Orihuela (Spain), the youth from the Collège Saint-Jean de Passy of Paris, the faithful from Hungary, and the musical group from Canton Ticino (Switzerland). I greet the Secular Franciscan Order of Cremona, the UNITALSI of Lombardy, and the group named after the martyred Bishop Oscar Romero, who will soon be proclaimed Blessed; as well as the faithful of Fiumicino, the children of First Communion from Sambuceto, the youth of Ravenna, Milan and Florence who have recently received Confirmation or are about to receive it.

And now we will repeat a gesture already fulfilled last year: according to the ancient tradition of the Church, the Gospel is delivered during Lent to those who are preparing for Baptism; thus I offer to you who are in the Square today a pocket-sized Gospel. It will be distributed for free by some homeless people who live in Rome. Even in this we see a very beautiful gesture that Jesus likes: the ones most in need are the ones who give us the Word of God. Take this Gospel; carry it with you, to read it often, every day. Carry it in your purse, in your pocket, but read it often. A verse, a passage every day. The Word of God is a light for our path! It will do you well. Read it.

I wish you all a Good Sunday, Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

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Pope's Angelus Address

"Let yourselves be filled by the tenderness of the Father, so you can spread it around you!"

VATICAN CITY, March 29, 2015 - Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address today, following the Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square:

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Before the Angelus

At the end of this celebration, I affectionately greet all of you here, particularly young people.

Dear young people, I urge you to continue your journey both in your dioceses and in your pilgrimage across the continents, which will carry you all next year to Krakow, the homeland of St. John Paul II, who first initiated the World Youth Days. The theme of that great meeting: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Mt 5,7), fits in well with the Holy Year of Mercy. Let yourselves be filled by the tenderness of the Father, so you can spread it around you!

And now we turn in prayer to Mary our Mother, so she can help us to live with faith this Holy Week. She also was present when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was cheered by the crowd; but her heart, like that of the Son, was ready for sacrifice. We learn from you, faithful Virgin, to follow the Lord even when His way leads to the Cross.

I entrust to Mary's intercession the victims of the Germanwings plane crash last Tuesday, among which there was also a group of German students.

Angelus Domini ...

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Regina Coeli: On the Joy of the Resurrection

"To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen!"

VATICAN CITY, April 07, 2015 - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and again Happy Easter!

On this Monday after Easter, the Gospel (cfr Mt. 28,8-15) presents to us the story of the women who went to the tomb of Jesus, they find it empty and see an Angel who announces to them that He is risen. And while they run to bring the news to the disciples, they encounter Jesus Himself who says to them: "Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" (v. 10). Galilee is the "periphery" where Jesus began his preaching; and from there the Gospel of the Resurrection will be shared, so that it may be announced to all, and each one can encounter Him, the Risen One, present and active in history. Even today He is with us, here in the square.

This, then, is the announcement that the Church repeats from the first day: "Christ is risen!" And, in Him, through Baptism, we are also risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. This is the good news that we are called to bring to others in every environment, animated by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope that He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can offer to the brothers. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen! Let us all together repeat it, here today in the square: Christ is Risen! Let us repeat it with words, but above all with the witness of our life. The good news of the Resurrection should shine on our face, in our feelings and behaviors, in the way in which we treat others. We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when His light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of Faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness. With our attitude, with our witness, with our life, we say: Jesus is risen! We say it with all our soul.

We are in the days of the Octave of Easter, during which we accompany the joyful climate of the Resurrection. It is curious: the Liturgy considers the entire Octave as one single day, to help us to enter into the mystery, so that His grace is imprinted into our hearts and into our lives. Easter is the event that brought the radical novelty for every human being, for history and for the world: the triumph of life over death; it is the feast of reawakening and regeneration. Let us allow our existence to be conquered and transformed by the Resurrection!

We ask the Virgin Mary, the silent witness to the death and resurrection of Her Son, to make the joy of Easter grow in us. We do it now with the prayer of the Regina Coeli, which in the time of Easter, replaces the Angelus. In this prayer, marked from the Alleluia, may we turn to Mary inviting Her to rejoice, because He that She carried in Her womb is risen as He promised, and we entrust ourselves to Her intercession. In reality, our joy is a reflection of the joy of Mary, because it is She who has guarded and still guards with faith the events of Jesus. Let us recite then this prayer with the emotions of children who are happy so that their Mother is happy.

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Regina Coeli: On Being Witnesses to the Risen Christ

"The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts."

VATICAN CITY, April 19, 2015 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the biblical readings of today's liturgy, the word "witness" resounds twice. The first time is on the lips of Peter: he, after the healing of the paralytic at the door of the temple of Jerusalem, exclaims: "The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). The second time is on the lips of Jesus Risen: He, on the evening of Passover opens the minds of the disciples to the mystery of His death and resurrection and says to them: "You are witnesses of these things" (Lk. 24:48). The Apostles, who saw with their own eyes the Risen Christ, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had revealed himself to them so that the truth of his resurrection could reach everyone through their witness. And the Church has the duty to prolong this mission, every baptized person is called to give witness, with their words and with their lives, that Jesus is risen, that He is alive and present among us. We all are called to give witness that Jesus is alive! We can ask ourselves: who is the witness? The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts. To see, to remember and to tell are the three verbs that describes the identity and mission.

The witness is one who has seen with objective eyes, he has seen a reality, but not with indifferent eyes; he has seen and involves himself in the event. That is why he remembers, not only because he knows how to precisely reconstruct the events, but also because those facts have spoken and he has grasped their profound meaning. Then the witness recounts, not in a cold and detached way, but as one who has questioned himself, and from that the day has changed his life. The witness is someone has changed his life. The content of a Christian witness is not a theory, an ideology or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions, or even a moralism. But rather a message of salvation, a concrete event, indeed a Person: it is Christ Risen, living and sole Savior of all. He can be witnessed by those who have had a personal experience of Him, in prayer and in the Church, through a path that has its foundation in Baptism, its nourishment in the Eucharist, its seal in Confirmation, its continuing conversion in Penance. Thanks to this path, always guided by the Word of God, every Christian can become a witness of Jesus risen. And his witness is all the more credible the more it is evident by a way of living that is evangelical, joyful, courageous, meek, peaceful, merciful.  Instead, if the Christian lets himself be taken by comfort, by vanity, by selfishness, he becomes deaf and blind to the question of the "resurrection" of so many brothers. How can he communicate the living Jesus, how can he communicate the liberating power of Jesus Christ, his infinite tenderness? May Mary, our Mother, sustain us through Her intercession, so that we can become, with our limitations, but with the grace of faith, witnesses of the Risen Lord, bringing to the people who we find the Easter gifts of joy and peace.

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Regina Coeli: On Following the Good Shepherd

"It is not enough to contemplate and give thanks. One should also follow the Good Shepherd."

VATICAN CITY, April 26, 2015  - Below is a translation of Pope Francis' address today before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square:

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Before the Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Fourth Sunday of Easter,  called "Good Shepherd Sunday," each year invites us to rediscover even more new wonder, this definition which Jesus gave of Himself, reading into it in light of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn 10:11). These words came true when Christ fully, freely obeying the will of the Father, sacrificed himself on the Cross. Then it becomes quite clear what it means that He is "the Good Shepherd:" He gives life, He offered His life as a sacrifice for all of us: for you, for you, for you, for me, for everyone! And this is the good shepherd!

Christ is the true shepherd, which realizes the highest model of love for the flock: He has laid down His life freely, no one takes it from him (cf. v. 18), but gives it in favor of the sheep (v. 17). In open opposition to false shepherds, Jesus presents himself as the only true shepherd of the people, the bad shepherd thinks of himself and uses his sheep; the good shepherd thinks of his sheep and gives himself. Unlike the mercenary, Christ is a caring, guiding shepherd who participates in the life of His flock, not for other interests, for He has no other ambition than to guide, nurture and protect his sheep. And all this at the highest price, that of the sacrifice of His own life.

In the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we contemplate God's providence, His paternal concern for each of us. He does not leave us alone! The consequence of this contemplation of Jesus, the true and good Shepherd, is the exclamation of profound wonder that we find in the Second Reading of today's Liturgy: "See what love the Father has given us ..."  It's really a surprising and mysterious love, because in giving us Jesus as the Shepherd who gives His life for us, the Father has given us everything as big and as valuable as He possibly could give us! It is the highest and purest love because it is not motivated by any necessity, is not conditioned by any calculation, and is not attracted to any interested desire to exchange. Faced with this love of God, we experience great joy and we are open to gratitude for what we have received for free.

But it is not enough to contemplate and give thanks. One should also follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those who have the mission as leaders in the Church - priests, bishops, popes - are called not to take on the mentality of 'manager,' but that of the servant, in imitation of Jesus who, stripping himself, has saved us with His mercy. Also called to this style of pastoral life of the Good Shepherd are the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I have had the joy of ordaining this morning in St. Peter's Basilica. And two of them will overlook to thank you for your prayers and to greet you ... [two priests near the Holy Father were overlooking those gathered]

Mary obtain for me, for the bishops and priests of the whole world the grace to serve the holy people of God through joyful proclamation of the Gospel, heartfelt celebration of the sacraments and patient and mild pastoral leadership.

[Original text: Italian]

After the Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I want to assure my closeness to people affected by a strong earthquake in Nepal and neighboring countries. I pray for the victims, for the wounded and for all who suffer because of this disaster. You have the support of fraternal solidarity. Let's pray to Our Lady who is close to them. "Hail Mary ..."

Today, in Canada, Blessed Maria Elisa Turgeon, founder of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of San Germano, is proclaimed: an exemplary religious, devoted to prayer, teaching in small towns of her diocese, and to works of charity. We thank the Lord for this woman, model of life consecrated to God and generous commitment to the service of others.

I greet with affection all the pilgrims from Rome, Italy and from various countries, especially those coming in large numbers from Poland to mark the first anniversary of the canonization of John Paul II. Beloved, always resound in your hearts his call: "Open the doors to Christ!" that he said in the strong and holy voice he had. May the Lord bless you and your families and Madonna protect you.

I greet the faithful of Budapest, Madrid, Burgos, Bratislava and Cairo; as well as those of Trieste, Giovinazzo, Gorga, Gorlago, Pesaro, Lamezia Terme. I greet the young people of Niscemi and Trezzano Rosa, and the boys of the vicariates of Casalpusterlengo and Codogno, who are going to renew the profession of faith.

I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!

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Regina Coeli: On the Fruits of the Union With Christ and the Church

"Let us receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes ours: we can think like Him, act like Him, see the world and things with the eyes of Jesus."

ROME, May 03, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square today:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel presents to us Jesus during the Last Supper, in the moment in which death is close at hand. His “hour” has come. He is with his disciples for the last time, and now wants to impress well in their minds a fundamental truth: that even when He is physically no longer in their midst, they will be able to remain united to Him in a new way, and thus bring much fruit. If one, on the contrary, loses communion with Him, he would become sterile, nay, harmful for the community. And to express this reality, this new way of being united to Him, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches: “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.” (Jn 15, 4-5). With this image He teaches us to remain in Him, to be united to Him, even though He cannot be physically present.

Jesus is the Life, and through Him - like the sap in the tree - passes the same love of God to the branches, the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are the branches, and through this parable Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which they find the source of their life. It is like that for us Christians. Grafted with the Baptism of Christ, we have received from Him freely the gift of new life; and thanks to the Church we can remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to Baptism and grow in friendship with the Lord through prayer, daily prayer, through the listening and docility of His Word- to read the Gospel - in the participation of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

If one is intimately united to Jesus, they rejoice in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that - as  St. Paul tells us - are “love, joy, peace, magnanimity, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, meekness, dominion of self” (Gal. 5, 22); and consequently does so much good to both neighbour and to society: It is a Christian person. From this attitude, in fact, it is recognized if one is a true Christian, as from the fruits the tree is known. The fruits of this profound union with Jesus are marvelous: our whole person is transformed by the grace of the Spirit: courage, intelligence, will, affections, even the body, because we are unity of spirit and body. Let us receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes ours: we can think like Him, act like Him, see the world and things with the eyes of Jesus. Consequently, we can love our brothers and sisters, starting from the most poor and suffering, with his heart and bring thus in the world fruits of kindness, of charity and of peace.

Each one of us is a branch of the one vine; and all together we are called to bring fruits of this common belonging to Christ and to the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that we may become living branches in the Church and to give witness to our faith in a coherent way - a coherence of life and thought, of life and faith - aware that all of us, according to our particular vocation, participates in the unique salvific mission of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father said the following words:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I give a cordial welcome to all those who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world!

Yesterday, in Turin, Luigi Bordino, consecrated lay person of the Congregation of Brothers of Saint Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo was declared Blessed. He dedicated his life to the sick and suffering people, and he spent himself tirelessly in favor of the poorest, medicating and washing their wounds. Let us thank the Lord for this humble and generous disciple.

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Regina Coeli: No One Has Greater Love Than This

"An applause for the mommies in the square. And this applause embraces all the mothers, all our dear mothers, those that live with us physically, but also those that live with us spiritually."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, May 10, 2015

Here below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli this afternoon in St. Peter’s Square:

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Before the Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel - John, Chapter 15 - takes us back to the Upper Room, where we listen to the new commandment of Jesus: "This is my commandment – he says to the disciples - that you love one another as I have loved you" ( v. 12). And, thinking about the sacrifice of the Cross by then almost imminent, he added: "No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you "(v. 13-14). These words, spoken at the Last Supper, summarize the whole message of Jesus; indeed, they summarize all that He has done: he gave his life for his friends. Friends who had not understood him, that in the crucial moment abandoned, betrayed and denied him. This says to us that God loves us despite not being worthy of His love. This is how much Jesus loves us.

In this way, Jesus shows us the way to follow the path of love. His commandment is not a simple rule, which is always something external respect to life. The commandment of Christ is new because He first carried it out, he gave his flesh, and so the law of love is written once and for all in the human heart (cf. Jer 31:33). And how is it written? Written with the fire of the Holy Spirit. And with this same Spirit, that Jesus gives us, we can walk on this road too! 

It is a concrete path that leads us to move beyond ourselves to reach out to others. Jesus showed us that God's love is realized in love of neighbor. Both the two go together. The pages of the Gospel are full of this love: Children and adults, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, the righteous and sinners have been welcome in the heart of Christ.

Therefore, this Word of God calls us to love each one another, even if we do not always understand each other, and do not always agree ... but that's where we see Christian love. A love that also manifests itself when there are differences in opinion or character. But there's that love that is greater than these difference, that which Jesus teaches us. It is a love that is new, because it is renewed by Jesus and His Spirit. It is a love freed from egoism that gives us the joy in our hearts, so as Jesus himself says: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full" (v.11).

This love draws its strength from its Baptism, when by the grace of God and the faith of the Church, we have been grafted into the true vine which is Christ, passed from death to life, and become adopted children so that we can turn to God as Father (cf. Rom 8.15). It is this love of Christ, that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts, to make everyday wonders in the Church and in the world. There are so many small and big gestures that obey the Lord's commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you" (cf. Jn 15:12). Little gestures of closeness to an elderly, a child, a sick person, a single person and distressed, homeless, jobless, immigrant, refugee ... Thanks to the strength of the Word of Christ, each of us can go make ourselves to be the neighbor to the brother or sister that we meet. Gestures of closeness, of proximity. In these gestures, we manifest the love that Jesus has taught to us.

Help us in this our Blessed Mother, because in the daily life of each of us the love of God and love of neighbor are always united.

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Pope Francis' Regina Coeli Address on Pentecost Sunday

"We too are given the gift of the 'language' of the Gospel and the 'fire' of the Holy Spirit, for us to proclaim the Risen Jesus in our midst and to warm the hearts of people, bringing them closer to Him."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, May 24, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli this Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter's Square:

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Before the Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The feast of Pentecost makes us relive the beginnings of the Church. The book of Acts says that, fifty days after the Passover, in the house where the disciples were, Jesus, "Suddenly, a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven ... And they were calmed and filled with the Holy Spirit.  From this outpouring, the disciples are completely transformed: the fear is replaced by courage, the closure gives way to the announcement, and any doubt is cast out by faith, full of love. And 'the "baptism" of the Church, as such was starting its journey in history, driven by the strength of the Holy Spirit.

That event, which changes the hearts and lives of the Apostles and other disciples, is reflected immediately outside of the Cenacle. In fact, the door closed for fifty days is finally open and the first Christian community, no longer closed in on itself, begins to speak to the crowds from different backgrounds of the incredible things God has done (cf. v. 11), that is, the Resurrection of Jesus, who was crucified. And everyone present hears from the disciples in their own language. The gift of the Spirit restores harmony of languages ​​that had been lost in Babel and prefigures the universal dimension of the mission of the Apostles. The universal Church is born, one, Catholic, with a precise, but open identity, that embraces the whole world, without exception. To nobody does the Mother Church closes the door in the face, to no one! Not even to the most sinful, to no one! And this is out of the  strength, the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Mother Church opens, opens its doors to everyone because it is Mother.

The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost in the hearts of the disciples is the beginning of a new season: the season of the testimony and fraternity. It is a season that comes from above, from God, like flames of fire that came to rest on the head of each disciple. It was the flame of love burning away all bitterness; it was the language of the Gospel that crosses the boundaries put into place by men and touches the hearts of everyone, without distinction of language, race or nationality. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out continuously, even today, on the Church and on all of us because we go out of our mediocrity and our closing off of ourselves and communicate to the world the merciful love of the Lord. This is our mission! We too are given the gift of the 'language' of the Gospel and the 'fire' of the Holy Spirit, in order for us to proclaim the risen Jesus, alive and present in our midst, and warm the hearts of people, bringing them closer to Him, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

We entrust to the maternal intercession of Mary, who was present as Mother in the midst of the disciples in the Upper Room: she is the Mother of the Church, the mother of Jesus becomes Mother of the Church. We entrust to her that the Holy Spirit descends abundantly upon the Church of our time, filling the hearts of all the faithful and kindling in them the fire of His love .

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Angelus: On the Mystery of the Holy Trinity

“Today’s liturgical solemnity, while it makes us contemplate the wonderful mystery from which we come from and where we go towards, renews in us the mission of living in communion with God and to live in communion among ourselves…”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, May 31, 2015

The following is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this afternoon in St. Peter’s Square:

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good Sunday!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, that reminds of the mystery of the one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the communion of Divine Persons who are with one another, for one another, in one another: this communion is the life of God, the mystery of love of the Living God. But who has revealed to us this mystery? Jesus. He has spoken to us about God as a Father; He has spoken to us of the Spirit; and He has spoken to us of Himself as the Son of God.Thus, He has revealed to us this mystery. And when risen [from the dead], He sent his disciples to evangelize the people, telling them to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28,19). Christ entrusts this command in every time to the Church, who inherited from the Apostles the missionary mandate. He addresses also to each one of us who, by virtue of Baptism, are part of his Community.

Therefore, today’s liturgical solemnity, while it makes us contemplate the wonderful mystery from which we come from and where we go towards, renews in us the mission of living in communion with God and to live in communion among ourselves on the model of that communion of God. We are called to live not without each other, over or against the other, but with one another, and in one another. This means to receive and accordingly give witness to the beauty of the Gospel; to live in love mutually and towards all, sharing in joy and sufferings, learning to ask and to grant forgiveness, valuing the various charisms under the guidance of the Pastors. In one word: we are entrusted with the task of building ecclesial communities that is more and more a family, capable of reflecting the splendor of the Trinity and to evangelize not only with words, but with the strength of the love of God that lives in us.

The Trinity, as I mentioned, is also the ultimate goal toward which our earthly pilgrimage is geared. The path of Christian life is in fact a path that is essentially ”trinitarian”: the Holy Spirit guides us to full knowledge of the teachings of Christ. And it also reminds us of what Jesus taught us.  And Jesus, for his part, has come to the world to make us know the Father, to be lead by Him, to reconcile us with Him. Everything, in Christian life, revolves around the mystery of the Trinity and is fulfilled in this infinite mystery. Let us look, therefore, to keep high the “tone” of our life, reminding ourselves to what end, for what glory we exist, work, struggle, suffer; and to which immense prize we are called [to have].

This mystery embraces our whole life and our whole Christian life. We must remind ourselves every time we make the sign of the Cross: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And now I invite you, all together, and with a loud voice, to make this sign of the Cross. Everyone together!

[Makes the Sign of the Cross]

In this last day of May, the Marian month, we entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary. May She, who more than any other creature has known, adored, and loved the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, guides us by the hand; help us to grasp, in the events of the world, the signs of the presence of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May She helps us to love Jesus wholeheartedly, to walk towards the vision of the Trinity, wonderful goal to which our lives are geared toward. We also ask Her to help the Church, that it may be a mystery of communion, to be always a Church community, a hospitable community, where every person, especially the poor and marginalized, can find acceptance and that feels like a daughter of God, wanted and loved.

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Angelus: On the Parable of the Seed

“As the humble seed grows in the earth, so does the Word work with the power of God in the hearts of those who listen.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, June 14, 2015

Here below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this afternoon in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel is composed of two very brief parables: that of the seed that sprouts and grows on its own, and that of the mustard seed (cfr Mc 4, 26-34). Through these images taken from the rural world, Jesus presents the efficacy of the Word of God and the requirements of his Kingdom, showing the reasons for our hope and our commitment in history.

In the first parable, attention is placed on the fact that the seed sown in the earth takes root and develops on its own, whether the farmer is asleep or keeping watch. He is confident in the internal power of the seed itself and in the fertility of the soil. In the language of the Gospel, the seed is the symbol of the Word of God, whose fruitfulness is recalled from this parable. As the humble seed grows in the earth, so does the Word work with the power of God in the hearts of those who listen. God has entrusted his Word to our earth, that is to each one of us with our concrete humanity. We can be confident because the Word of God is a creating word, destined to become the “full grain in the ear.” (v. 28)

This word, if received, certainly brings forth its fruits because God Himself makes it sprout and mature through ways that we can’t always verify and in a way that we do not know. (cfr v. 27). All this tells us that it is always God, it always God who makes his Kingdom grow. That is why we pray so much “thy Kingdom come”. It is He who makes it grow. Man and his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices in the divine creating action and waits patiently for the fruits. The Word of God makes it grow, it gives life. And here, I would like to remind you again, the importance of having a pocket-sized Gospel, the Bible. A small Gospel in your purse, in your pocket and to nourish yourselves everyday with this living Word of God, to read a passage from the Gospel everyday, a passage from the Bible. Please don’t ever forget this. Because this is the strength that makes the life of the Kingdom of God sprout in us.

The second parable uses the image of the mustard seed. Despite being the smallest of all the seeds, it is full of life and grows until it becomes “the largest of plants” (Mk. 4, 32). And so is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small reality and apparently irrelevant. To become a part of it, one must be poor of heart; not trusting in their own abilities, but in the power of the love of God; not acting to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble. When we live like this, the strength of Christ bursts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history.

An important teaching comes from these two parables: the Kingdom of God requires our collaboration, but it is above all an initiative and gift of the Lord. Our weak work, seemingly small in front of the complexity of the problems of the world, if included in that of God does not fear the difficulties. The victory of the Lord is secure: His love will sprout and will grow every seed of goodness present in the earth.

This opens us to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, the injustices, the sufferings that we find. The seed of goodness and peace sprouts and develops, because the merciful love of God makes it mature.

May the Holy Virgin, who received the seed of the divine Word as “fertile land”, sustain us in this hope.

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Pope's Angelus Address

'Who believes 'touches' Jesus and draws from Him the grace that saves.'

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, June 28, 2015

Below is translation of Pope Francis' address today to the faithful in St. Peter's Square before and after the recitation of the Angelus:

***

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel presents the story of the resurrection of a twelve-year-old daughter of one of the heads of the synagogue, who fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him: "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” (Mark 5:23). In this prayer, we feel the concern of every father for the life and for the sake of his children. But we also feel the great faith that this man has in Jesus. And when the news that the girl is dead, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid; just have faith" (v. 36). He entered the house, the Lord sent away all the people crying and crying, and turns to the dead child and said, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" (v. 41). And immediately the girl got up and began walking. Here, we see the absolute power of Jesus over physical death, that, for Him, it is like a sleep from which one can awaken.

Within this narrative, the Evangelist puts another episode: the healing of a woman who for twelve years was suffering from hemorrhages. This disease, according to the culture of the time, made her "unclean," she had to avoid all human contact or she would be condemned to civil death. This anonymous woman in the crowd following Jesus, says to herself, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." (v. 28). And so it happens: the need to be liberated, along with her ‘ripping’ faith, so to speak, drives her to the Lord for healing.  Who believes, "touches" Jesus and draws from Him the grace that saves. Faith is this, to touch him and expect to draw from Him his saving grace. It saves us in the spiritual life. It saves us many problems! Jesus notices her and, in the midst of people, seeks the face of the woman. She comes forward trembling and He says, "Daughter, your faith has saved you" (v. 34). It is the voice of the heavenly Father who speaks in Jesus: "Daughter, you are not cursed, you are not excluded, you are my daughter!" Every time when Jesus approaches us, when we go to Him, we hear this from the Father: 'Son. You are my son, you are my daughter, you're healed, you're healed. I heal all, everyone and everything."

These two episodes - a healing and resurrection - have a single center: the faith. The message is clear and can be summed up in one question: Do we believe that Jesus can heal us and can awaken us from the dead? The whole Gospel is written in the light of faith: Jesus is risen, He has conquered death, and because of this victory, we will be resurrected. This faith, who for the first Christians was secure, could tarnish and become uncertain, to the point that some confuse resurrection with reincarnation. The Gospel this Sunday invites us to live in the certainty of the resurrection: Jesus is Lord, has power over evil and death, and wants to take us into the Father's home, where life reigns.

The Resurrection of Christ acts in history as the beginning of renewal and hope. Anyone who is desperate and tired until death, if he relies on Jesus, his love can start living again. Faith is a force of life, gives fullness to our humanity; and those who believe in Christ, must recognize that because it promotes life in every situation, to be lived by all, especially the weakest, the love of God that frees and saves. We ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the gift of a strong faith and courage that pushes us to spread hope and life among our brothers. 

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Angelus: On the Multiplication of the Loaves

“God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and make us participants of His gift.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, July 26, 2015

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

* * *  

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Jn. 6, 1-15) presents the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves, in the narration of John the evangelist.

Jesus finds himself on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and is surrounded by a “large crowd”. drawn by the “signs he was performing on the sick” (v. 2). In Him, the merciful power of God acts, that heals every ill of the body and spirit. But Jesus is not only a healer, He is also a teacher: in fact he goes up on the mountain and he sits, the typical behavior of teacher when He teaches: He goes up on that natural “cathedra” created by His Heavenly Father. At this point, Jesus, who knows well what He is about to do, He put His disciples to the test. What should be done to feed all those people? Philip, one of the Twelve, makes a quick calculation: organizing a collection, a maximum of 200 denari can be gathered to buy bread, that still would not be enough to feed 5,000 people.

The disciples reason in “market” terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic: the logic of giving. There are two types of logic: that of buying and that of giving. And it is there that Andrew, another one of the Apostles, brother of Simon Peter, presents a boy who is willing to give all that he has: 5 loaves and 2 fishes; but surely - Andrew says - they are nothing for so many. (cfr v. 9) But Jesus waited precisely for this. He orders His disciples to have the people sit, then takes those loaves and those fishes, he gives thanks to the Father and distributes them (cfr v. 11). These gestures anticipate those of the Last Supper, that give Jesus’ bread its most profound and truest meaning. The bread of God is Jesus Himself. Making Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and we become children of the Heavenly Father and brothers among us. To participate in the Eucharist means to enter inro Jesus’ logic, the logic of gratefulness, of sharing. And as much as we are poor, we can all give something. “To Make Communion” means also to draw from Christ the grace that enables us to share with others that which we are and what we have.

The crowd is struck by the wonder of the multiplication of the loaves; but the gift that Jesus offers is the fullness of life for the hungry man. Jesus not only satisfies material hunger, but the most profound one, the hunger of the meaning of life, the hunger of God. In front of suffering, loneliness, poverty and the difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining does not resolve anything, but we can offer that little that we have like that boy. We surely have some time, some kind of talent, some kind of expertise. Who among us does not have their “five loaves and two fishes”? We all have it! If we are willing to place it in the Lord’s hands, it would be enough so that in the world there would be a bit more love, of peace, of justice and above all, of joy. How much we are in need of joy in the world! God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and make us participants of His gift.

Our prayer supports the common commitment so that the Bread of Heaven lacks for no one, that gives eternal life and what is necessary for a dignified life, and it confirms the logic of sharing and love. May the Virgin Mary accompany us with Her maternal intercession.

After the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father said the following:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the registration for the 31st World Youth Day opens, which will take place next year in Poland. I myself wanted to open the registrations. And for this reason, I have a young man and a young woman here near me so that they can be with me in the moment of opening the registration here in front of you. There, I am registered! Through this electronic device I have registered as a pilgrim to this day. Celebrated during the Year of Mercy, this Day will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of the youth, called to reflect on the theme: “Blessed on the merciful, for they will find mercy” (Mt. 5,7). I invite the youth of the whole world to lives this pilgrimage be it by going to Krakow, or participating in this moment of grace in their own communities.

In a few days, we will mark the second anniversary since, in Syria, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio was kidnapped. I make a heartfelt and urgent appeal for the freedom of this esteemed religious man. I can’t also forget the Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria and all the other people who, in areas of conflict, have been seized. I hope for a renewed commitment by the competent local and international authorities, so that these our brothers will soon be restored to freedom. With affection and participation in their suffering, we wish to remember them in prayer. And let us pray all together the prayer: Hail Mary…

I greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and other countries. I greet the participants of the International Pilgrimage of the Sisters of Saint Felice, the faithful of Salamanca, the youth of Brescia (Italy) who are serving at the soup kitchen of Caritas in Rome, and the youth of Ponte San Giovanni (Perugia).

Today, the Church remembers Saint Joachim and Saint Ann, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and thus, the grandparents of Jesus! On this occasion I would like to greet all the grandmothers and grandfathers, thanking them for their presence in the families and for the new generations. For all the grandparents who are living, but also for those who are looking at us from heaven, let us greet them and give them a good applause.

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

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Angelus: On the Bread of Life

“God himself is the gift and the giver"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, August 02, 2015

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. This Sunday we continue reading the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel.

After the multiplication of the loaves, the people had begun to look for Jesus and they found him in Capernaum. He understands well the reason for so much enthusiasm in following after him and he reveals it clearly: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

In fact, these people follow him because of the material bread that had satisfied their hunger the day before, when Jesus had multiplied the loaves. They had not understood that this bread broken for so many, for the multitude, was the expression of love of Jesus himself. They had given more value to the bread than to its provider.

Faced with this spiritual blindness, Jesus points to the need to go beyond the gift and discover the giver. God himself is the gift and the giver. And thus in that bread, in that gesture, the people can find the One who gives the bread, who is God.

He invites to open oneself to a perspective that is not only that of daily concerns: what to eat, what to wear, success, one’s career. Jesus speaks of another food, he speaks of a food that does not perish, and that is necessary to seek and to welcome. He exhorts: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” That is, look for salvation, an encounter with God.

With these words, he wants us to understand that beyond physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger – all of us have this hunger – a hunger that is more important and that cannot be satisfied with normal food. This is a hunger for life, a hunger for eternity that only He can satisfy as He is the “bread of life.”

Jesus does not eliminate the preoccupation with and search for daily food. No. He doesn’t eliminate the concern for all of this that can make life more advanced. But Jesus reminds us that in the end, the true meaning of our earthly existence is in eternity, is in the encounter with Him, who is gift and giver. And he reminds us as well that human history, with its suffering and joys, needs to be viewed in a context of eternity, that is, in the context of that definitive encounter with Him.

And this encounter enlightens us during all the days of our lives. If we think of this encounter, of this great gift, the small gifts of life, and also the sufferings, the worries, will be illuminated by the hope of this encounter. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This is a reference to the Eucharist, the greatest gift that satisfies the soul and the body.

To find and to welcome Jesus within us, the “bread of life,” gives meaning and hope in the often-difficult path of life. But this “bread of life” has been given us with a task: that we at the same time satisfy the spiritual and material hunger of our brothers and sisters, proclaiming the Gospel in every place.

With the testimony of our attitude of fraternity and solidarity with our neighbor, we make Christ and his love present again in the midst of mankind. The Holy Virgin helps us in the search for and following of her son Jesus, the true bread, the living bread that does not perish and that “endures for eternal life.”

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Pope Francis' Angelus Address

"With this attitude of faith, we can understand the meaning of "Bread of Life" that Jesus gives us"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, August 09, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer today at noon to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square:

***

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday, we continue reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus, having accomplished the great miracle of the multiplication of the bread, explains to people the meaning of the "sign" (Jn 6.41 to 51).

As he had done earlier with the Samaritan woman, starting from the experience of thirst and the sign of water, here Jesus goes from the experience of hunger and the sign of bread, to reveal Himself and to offer an invitation to believe in Him.

The people seek Him and listen to Him, because they remained enthused by the miracle; they wanted to make him king! However, when Jesus affirms that the true bread, given by God, is Himself, many are shocked, and begin murmuring among themselves, "Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’? "(Jn 6, 42). And they begin to murmur … Then Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him," and adds: “whoever believes has eternal life."(vv. 44.47).

This word of the Lord amazes us, and makes us think, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,” and “whoever believes has eternal life”.... It makes one reflect. It introduces the dynamic of faith, which is a relationship: the relationship between the human person and the person of Jesus, where the Father plays a decisive role, and, of course, also the Holy Spirit. That is implied here. It is not enough to meet Jesus to believe in Him, not just in reading the Bible, the Gospel; not even enough in witnessing a miracle ... So many people were in close contact with Jesus and did not believe. Indeed, they also despised and condemned Him. And I ask myself: Why? Were they not attracted by the Father? No, but because their hearts were closed to the action of the Spirit of God. If you keep your heart closed, the faith doesn't enter! We open or close our hearts. But instead the faith, which is like a seed deep in the heart, blossoms when we allow ourselves to be "drawn" from the Father to Jesus, and "go to Him" with an open mind, without prejudices; then we recognize in His face the face of God, and in his words, the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit has made us enter into the relationship of love and of life between Jesus and God, the Father. So we receive the gift of the faith.

Therefore, with this attitude of faith, we can understand the meaning of "Bread of life" that Jesus gives us, and that He describes in this way: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (Jn 6:51). In Jesus, in His "flesh" - that is, in His concrete humanity – God’s love, which is the Holy Spirit, is everything. Those who let themselves be attracted by this love go to Jesus in faith, and receive from Him life, eternal life.

Someone who lived this experience in such an exemplary way was the Virgin of Nazareth, Mary: the first human person who believed in God by accepting the flesh of Jesus. Let us learn from her, our Mother, joy and gratitude for the gift of faith. A gift that is not "private" but shared: it is "for the life of the world"!

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ANGELUS: On Jesus, the Bread of Life

"To nourish ourselves from that 'Bread of life' means being in tune with the heart of Christ, to assimilate His choices, His thoughts, His behavior"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, August 16, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer today at noon to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square:

 

***

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In these Sundays, the Liturgy proposes to us, from the Gospel of John, Jesus' discourse on the Bread of Life, that is He Himself and that is also the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Today's passage (Jn. 6, 51-58) presents the last part of that discourse, and refers to some of those among the people who are scandalized because Jesus said: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day" (Jn. 6,54).

The astonishment of those listening is understandable; in fact, Jesus uses the typical style of the prophets to provoke in the people – and also in us – questions and, in the end, to make a decision. The first of the questions is: What does "eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood" mean? Is it only an image, a way of saying, a symbol, or does it indicate something real? To answer this, one needs to guess what is happening in Jesus' heart while he breaks the bread for the hungry crowd. Knowing that He must die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies Himself with that broken and shared bread, and that becomes for Him the "sign" of the Sacrifice that awaits Him. This process culminates in the Last Supper, where the bread and wine truly become His Body and His Blood.

It is the Eucharist where Jesus leaves us a precise purpose: that we can become one with Him. In fact, he says: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (v.56). To remain: Jesus in us and us in Him. Communion is assimilation: eating Him, we become Him. But this requires our "yes", our adherence to the faith.

At times, during the Holy Mass, it may happen to feel this objection: "What is the purpose of the Mass? I go in Church when I feel like it, and I pray better alone." But the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus has done in the Last Supper: we say, to understand well, that the Eucharist is a "memorial", that is, an act that actualizes and makes present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus: the bread is truly His Body given to us; the wine is truly His Blood that has been shed.

The Eucharist is Jesus who gives Himself entirely to us. By nourishing ourselves from Him and remaining in Him through the Eucharistic Communion, if we do it with faith, it transforms our life; it transforms it into a gift to God and a gift to our brothers. To nourish ourselves from that "bread of life" means being in tune with the heart of Christ, to assimilate His choices, His thoughts, His behavior. It means entering into a dynamic of sacrificial love and become a person of peace, of forgiveness, of reconciliation of sharing in solidarity. It is the same as Jesus has done.

Jesus concludes his discourse with these words; "Whoever eats this bread will live forever" (Jn. 6,58). Yes, living in a concrete, real communion with Jesus on this earth makes us pass from death to life. The heavens begin precisely in this communion with Jesus.

In Heaven, Mary our Mother awaits us – yesterday we celebrated this mystery. May She obtain for us the grace of nourishing ourselves always with faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life.

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ANGELUS: On the Feast of the Assumption

"Our lives, seen in the light Mary's Assumption into Heaven, is not a wandering without meaning, but a pilgrimage that, with all its uncertainties and sufferings, has a sure destination: the house of Our Father."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, August 16, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer yesterday at noon to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

***

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and Happy Feast of Our Lady.

Today the Church celebrates one of the most important feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Feast of Her Assumption. At the conclusion of Her earthly life, the Mother of Christ was raised in soul and body to Heaven, that is, in the glory of eternal life, in the full communion with God.

Today's Gospel (Lk. 1, 39-56) presents us to Mary who, immediately after having conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, went to see her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who also miraculously awaits a son. In this meeting full of the Holy Spirit, Mary expresses Her joy with the canticle of Magnificat, because She has fully realized the meaning of the great things that are happening in Her life: through Her the expectation of Her people is fulfilled.

But the Gospel also shows us what is the true reason Mary's greatness and blessedness: the reason is faith. In fact, Elizabeth greets Her with these words: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (Lk. 1,45). Faith is the heart of the whole history of Mary; She is the believer, the great believer; she knows – and says – that the violence of the mighty, the pride of the rich, the hubris of the arrogant weighs down in history. Still, Mary believes and proclaims that God does not abandon His humble and poor children, but helps them with mercy, with care, overthrowing the mighty from their thrones, scattering the proud from the plots in their hearts. This is the faith of Our Mother; this is the faith of Mary!

The Canticle of Our Lady also lets us sense the full meaning of the story of Mary: if the mercy of the Lord is the motor of history, then He could not "allow Her who generated the Lord of life to know the corruption of the sepulchre" (Preface). All this is not only about Mary. The "great things" done in Her by the Almighty profoundly touches us, it speaks of our journey in life, it reminds us of the destination that awaits us: the house of the Father. Our lives, seen in the light Mary's Assumption into Heaven, is not a wandering without meaning, but a pilgrimage that, with all its uncertainties and sufferings, has a sure destination: the house of Our Father, who awaits us with love. It is beautiful to think of this: that we have a Father who awaits us with love, and that also our Mother Mary is there and She awaits us with love.

Meanwhile, as life goes on, God shines "for his people, a pilgrim on earth, a sign of consolation and of assured hope" (ibid.). That sign has a face, that sign has a name: the luminous face of the Mother of the Lord, the blessed name of Mary, the one full of grace, because She believed in the word of the Lord: the great believer! As members of the Church, we are destined to share the glory of our Mother, so that, thanks to God, we too may believe in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and, through Baptism, we are inserted into this mystery of salvation.

Today all together we pray, so that, while our path on this earth unfolds, She May turn to us Ger merciful eyes, that She clear for us the way, that She show us the destination, and that She shows us after this exile Jesus, the blessed fruit of Her womb: And together we say: Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary!

After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:

My thoughts go out, in this moment, to the people of the city of Tianjin, in northern China, where several explosions in an industrial area have caused numerous deaths and injuries, and extensive damage. I assure my prayers for those who have lost their lives and for all those who are suffering from this disaster; May the Lord give them comfort and support to all those engaged in relieving their suffering.

I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from different countries! I entrust you to the maternal care of our Mother, who lives in the glory of God and always accompanies our path.

And how beautiful would it be if today you could go to visit Our Lady, the Salus Populi Romani, in Saint Mary Major: it would be a beautiful gesture. Thank you for coming and I wish you a Happy Feast of the Madonna. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Converting the Heart

"The literal observance of precepts is sterile if it doesn’t change the heart"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, August 30, 2015

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:

* * *

The Gospel of this Sunday presents a dispute between Jesus and some Pharisees and scribes. The discussion refers to the "tradition of the elders" (Mark 7:3), which Jesus, citing the Prophet Isaiah, defines as "human precepts." And [saying] that they should never take the place of the "commandments of God." 

The ancient prescriptions in question included not only the precepts of God revealed to Moses but also a series of details to spell out the specifics of the instructions of the law of Moses.

The interlocutors applied these norms in a very scrupulous manner and presented them as the expression of authentic religiosity. Thus they rebuke Jesus and his disciples for transgressing them, particularly those that referred to the exterior purification of the body.

Jesus’ answer has the force of a prophetic pronouncement: "You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition."

These are words that fill us with admiration for our Teacher: we feel that in Him is truth and that his wisdom liberates us from prejudice.

But, pay attention here. With these words Jesus wants to put us on guard, today, don’t you think? [on guard against] thinking that an exterior observance of the law is sufficient for being a good Christian. Just like back then for the Pharisees, there is also for us the danger of considering that all is well with us or that we’re better than the others because of the simple fact of observing certain rules or customs, even though we don’t love our neighbor, are hard of heart and proud.

The literal observance of precepts is sterile if it doesn’t change the heart and if it is not translated into concrete attitudes: opening oneself to the encounter with God and his word, seeking justice and peace, helping the poor, the weak and the oppressed.

We all know, from our communities, parishes and neighborhoods, the bad brought to the Church and the scandal caused by those people who call themselves very Catholic, who frequently go to church, but then, in their daily lives, don’t take care of their families, speak ill of others, etc. 

This is what Jesus condemns because this is a Christian anti-testimony.

Continuing with his exhortation, Jesus focuses the attention on another, deeper aspect and affirms, "Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;

but the things that come out from within are what defile."

In this way, he emphasizes the primacy of the interior of the "heart": exterior things are not what makes us holy or not holy, but rather the heart that expresses our intentions, our desires and the desire to do everything for love of God. 

Exterior expressions are the consequence of what we have decided in the heart, and not the other way around. With exterior expressions, if the heart doesn’t change, we are not true Christians. The border between good and evil does not lie outside of us, but rather within us, in our conscience.

We can ask ourselves: Where is my heart? Jesus said, your treasure is where your heart is. What is my treasure? Is it Jesus and his doctrine? My heart is good or my treasure is another thing? Thus, it is the heart that we must purify and convert. Without a purified heart, we can never have truly clean hands and lips that speak sincere words of love, mercy and forgiveness.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, to give us a pure heart, free of all hypocrisy — that’s the adjective that Jesus used with the Pharisees: hypocrites, because they say one thing and do another. Free from all hypocrisy so that in this way we are able to live according to the spirit of the law and reach its goal, which is love.

[Praying of the Angelus]

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Restoring Communication

"His deafness expresses the inability to hear and to understand, not just the words of man, but also the Word of God"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, September 06, 2015

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!

The Gospel of today relates Jesus’ healing of a man who was deaf and unable to speak, an incredible event that shows how Jesus re-establishes the full communication of man with God and with other people. The miracle is set in the district of the Decapolis., that is, in completely pagan territory; thus, this deaf man who is brought before Jesus becomes the symbol of an unbeliever who completes a journey to faith. In effect, his deafness expresses the inability to hear and to understand, not just the words of man, but also the Word of God. And St. Paul reminds us that "faith comes from what is heard."

The first thing that Jesus does is take this man far from the crowd: He doesn’t want to give publicity to this action that he’s going to carry out, but he also doesn’t want his word to be lost in the din of voices and the chatter of those around. The Word of God that Christ brings us needs silence to be welcomed as the Word that heals, that reconciles and re-establishes communication.

Then we are told about two movements Jesus made. He touches the ears and the tongue of the deaf man. To re-establish the relationship with this man who is "blocked" in communication, he first seeks to re-establish contact. But the miracle is a gift that comes from on high, which Jesus implores from the Father. That’s why he raises his eyes to the heavens and orders, "Be opened." And the ears of the deaf man are opened, the knot of his tongue is untied and he begins to speak correctly.

The lesson we can take from this episode is that God is not closed in on himself, but instead he opens himself and places himself in communication with humanity. In his immense mercy, he overcomes the abyss of the infinite difference between Him and us, and comes to meet us. To bring about this communication with man, God becomes man. It is not enough for him to speak to us through the law and the prophets, but instead he makes himself present in the person of his Son, the Word made flesh. Jesus is the great "bridge-builder" who builds in himself the great bridge of full communion with the Father.

But this Gospel speaks to us also about ourselves: Often we are drawn up and closed in ourselves, and we create many inaccessible and inhospitable islands. Even the most basic human relationships can sometimes create realities incapable of reciprocal openness: the couple closed in, the family closed in, the group closed in, the parish closed in, the country closed in. And this is not of God. This is ours. This is our sin.

However, at the origin of our Christian life, in baptism, precisely that gesture and that word of Jesus are present: "Ephphatha!" "Be opened!" And the miracle has been worked. We have been healed of the deafness of egotism and the muteness of being closed in on ourselves, and of sin, and we have been inserted into the great family of the Church. We can hear God who speaks to us and communicates his Word to those who have never before heard it, or to the one who has forgotten it and buried it under the thorns of the anxieties and the traps of the world.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, a woman of listening and of joyful testimony, that she sustains us in the commitment to profess our faith and to communicate the marvels of the Lord to those we find along our way.

 

[Praying of the Angelus]

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

God’s mercy is seen through our works, as shown us by the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose anniversary of death we marked yesterday.

Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death from war and hunger, and who have begun a journey moved by vital hope, the Gospel calls us to be "neighbors" of the weakest and the abandoned. To give them concrete hope. It’s not enough to say, "Take heart. Be patient." Christian hope has a fighting spirit, with the tenacity of one who goes toward a sure goal. 

Therefore, before the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, I make an appeal to parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines of all Europe, that they give expression to an application of the Gospel and welcome a family of refugees. A concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy.

That every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe welcome one family, beginning with my Diocese of Rome. 

I address my brother bishops of Europe, true pastors, so that in their dioceses they back my appeal, remembering that Mercy is the second name of Love: "What you have done for the least of my brothers, that you have done for me."

The two parishes of the Vatican will also in the coming days welcome two families of refugees.

Now I will say something in Spanish regarding the situation between Venezuela and Colombia.

In these days the bishops of Venezuela and Colombia have met to examine together the painful situation that has been created at the border between these two countries. I see in this encounter a clear sign of hope. I invite everyone, in particular the beloved Venezuelan and Colombian peoples, to pray, so that, with a spirt of solidarity and fraternity, the current difficulties can be overcome.

Yesterday in Gerona, in Spain, Fidela Oller, Josefa Monrabal and Facunda Margenat have been beatified. They were sisters of the Institute of Religious of St Joseph of Gerona, killed for their fidelity to Christ and the Church. Despite threats and intimidation, these women courageously remained where they were to assist the ill, trusting in God. May their heroic testimony, to the shedding of their blood, give strength and hope to so many today who are persecuted for their Christian faith. And we know that there are many of these people.

Two days ago the eleventh Africa Games opened in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, involving thousands of athletes from all over the continent. I hope that this great sports festival will contribute to peace, brotherhood and the development of all countries of Africa. I greet, we greet the Africans who are participating in these games.

I cordially greet all of you, dear pilgrims who have come from Italy and from various countries, in particular the choir of Molvena, the Daughters of the Cross, the faithful of San Martino Buon Albergo e Caldogno and the youth of the Diocese of Ivrea, who have come to Rome on foot along the Via Francigena.

I wish you all a good Sunday. And please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon!

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ANGELUS: On Following Christ

“Jesus invites us to lose our life for Him and the Gospel, to receive it renewed, realized and authentic.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, September 13, 2015

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Today’s Gospel presents us Jesus who, on his way towards Caesarea Philippi, asks the disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mk. 8,27). They respond that some believe he is John the Baptist reborn, others Elijah or one of the great Prophets. The people appreciated Jesus, they considered him a “God-sent”, but still could not recognize him as the foretold and long-awaited Messiah. “But who do you say that I am?”  (v. 29). This is the most important question, with which Jesus speaks directly to those who have followed him, to verify their faith. Peter, in the name of all, exclaims with candidness: “You are the Christ” (v. 29). Jesus remains struck by Peter’s faith, He recognizes that it is the fruit of a special grace of God the Father. And now He openly reveals to the disciples that which awaits Him in Jerusalem, that is that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly...be killed, and rise after three days” (v. 31).

The same Peter, who just professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah, is scandalized by these words. He took the Master aside and reproaches him. And how does Jesus react? He in turn reproaches Peter, with very severe words: “Get behind me, Satan!” He calls him Satan! “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (v. 33). Jesus sees that in Peter, as in the other disciples - and in each one of us! - the temptation by the Evil One opposes the grace of the Father, that it wants to deter us from the will of God. Announcing that He must suffer and be put to death to then rise, Jesus wants those who follow Him to understand that He is a humble and a servant Messiah. He is the obedient Servant to the will of the Father, until the complete sacrifice of His own life. For this, turning towards the whole crowd there, He declares that he who wishes to become his disciple must accept being a servant, as He has made himself a servant, and warns: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (v. 35).

To undertake the discipleship of Jesus means to take up your cross - we all have it - to accompany Him on His path, an uncomfortable path that is not of success or of passing glory, but that which takes us to the true freedom, freedom from selfishness and from sin. It is to operate a clear rejection of that worldly mentality that places one’s “I” and own interests at the center of existence. That is not what Jesus wants from us. Instead Jesus invites us to lose our life for Him and the Gospel, to receive it renewed, realized and authentic. We are sure, thanks to Jesus, that this path brings us to the Resurrection, to the full and definitive life with God. To decide to follow Him, our Master and Lord who made Himself the Servant of all, requires a strong union with Him, the attentive and assiduous listening of His Word - remember to read everyday a passage from the Gospel - and the grace of the Sacraments. There are young people here in the square, young men and women. I only want to ask you: have you felt the desire to follow Jesus more closely? Think about it, pray and allow the Lord to speak to you.

May the Virgin Mary, who has followed Jesus to Calvary, help us to always purify our faith from false images of God, to adhere fully to Christ and his Gospel.

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Pope's Angelus Address

"The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 04, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus Address today at noon in St. Peter's Square, following his having presided over Mass for the Opening of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica:

***

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Eucharistic celebration with which we began the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops just ended in St. Peter's Basilica. The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment. We'll keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to find, on the basis of His teaching of truth and mercy, the most appropriate ways for adequate commitment of the Church with families and for families, so that the Creator's original plan for man and woman be implemented and may operate in today's world, in all its beauty and its strength.

The liturgy of this Sunday repeats the fundamental text of Genesis on the complementarity and reciprocity between man and woman (cf. Gen 2.18 to 24). For this - the Bible says - the man leaves his father and mother and joins his wife and the two become one flesh, that is, one life, one existence (cf. v. 24). In this unit, the spouses transmit life to new human beings: they become parents. [They] participate in the creative power of God himself. But be careful! God is love, and one takes part in His work when one loves with Him and like Him. To this end - as Saint Paul says - love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (cf. Rom 5 , 5). And this is also the love that is given to spouses in the sacrament of marriage. It is the love that fuels their relationship, through joys and sorrows, quiet and difficult moments. It is 'the love that awakens the desire to create children, waiting for them, welcome them, raise them, educate them. It is the same love that, in today's Gospel, Jesus reveals to the children: "Let the children come to me, do not prevent them: for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mk 10:14).

Today, we ask the Lord that all parents and educators in the world, as well as all of society, are made instruments of that acceptance and love with which Jesus embraces the little ones. He looks into their hearts with tenderness and solicitude of a father and a mother at the same time. I think of so many children that are hungry, abandoned, exploited, forced into the war, refused. It is painful to see images of children that are unhappy, looking lost, fleeing from poverty and conflicts. They are knocking on our doors and our hearts begging for help. The Lord helps us not to be a 'fortress-society,' but a 'family-society,' which welcomes, with proper rules, but welcomes... Always welcomes... with love!

I invite you to support the work of the Synod with prayer, that the Holy Spirit makes the Synod Fathers fully docile to His inspirations. We invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, uniting ourselves spiritually to those who, at this moment, at the Shrine of Pompeii recite the "Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary."

[Original text: Italian]

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Angelus: On Jesus' Loving Gaze

"Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?"

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 11, 2015

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.

The Gospel of today, taken from the 10th Chapter of Mark, plays out in three different scenes, marked by three gazes of Jesus.

The first scene presents the encounter between the Teacher and an anonymous person who, according to the parallel passage in Matthew, is identified as a "youth." An encounter of Jesus with a youth. The youth runs toward Jesus, kneels down and calls him, "Good Teacher." Then, he asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (v. 17). That is, happiness. "Eternal life" is not only the life of there beyond, but what is a full life, a complete one, limitless. 

What should we do to reach that? Jesus’ answer summarizes the commandments that refer to love for neighbor. In this respect, this youth finds no fault in himself; but evidently following the precepts is not sufficient for him. It does not satisfy his desire for plentitude. And Jesus intuits this desire that the youth carries in his heart; thus his answer becomes an intense gaze, full of tenderness and care. 

The Gospel says, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him" (v. 21). He realized that he was a good youth. But Jesus also understands the weak point of his interlocutor and makes him a concrete proposal: to give everything he has to the poor and follow him. But this youth has a heart divided between two lords: God and money, and he goes away sad. This shows us that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist. Thus, in the end, the initial impulse felt by the youth vanishes in the unhappiness of an [invitation to] follow that fails.

In the second scene, the Evangelist focuses on Jesus’ eyes and this time, it involves a thoughtful gaze, one of warning. He says: "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'" (v. 23). Faced with the amazement of his disciples, who ask, "Then who can be saved?" (v. 26), Jesus responds with a gaze of encouragement — this is the third gaze — and says, salvation, yes, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God" (v. 27). 

If we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we can overcome all of the obstacles that impede us from following him on the path of faith. To entrust oneself to the Lord. He will give us the strength; he will give us salvation; he will accompany us along the journey.

And thus we have arrived to the third scene, that of Jesus’ solemn declaration: I assure you that he who leaves everything to follow me will have eternal life in the age to come and a hundred times more now in this present age (cf. v. 29-30). 

This "hundred times more" is made up of the things that are first possessed and then left, but which are found infinitely multiplied. We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving. About which Jesus said, "There is more joy in giving than receiving."

The youth did not allow himself to be conquered by the loving gaze of Jesus and thus he wasn’t able to change. Only in welcoming with humble gratitude the Lord’s love do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life, that is authentic and luminous. 

And I ask you, youth, boys and girls, who are here in the Plaza, have you perceived Jesus’ gaze upon you? How do you want to respond to him? Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?

The Virgin Mary helps us to open our hearts to the love of Jesus, to the gaze of Jesus, the only one who can quench our thirst for happiness.

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Pope's Angelus Address

"I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that afflicts the Holy Land."

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City, October 18, 2015

Below is a  translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square, following the Canonization Mass for four Blesseds:

***
Dear brothers and sisters,

I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that afflicts the Holy Land. In this moment, there is a need for much courage and much fortitude to say no to the hatred and revenge and to make gestures of peace. For this, we pray, that God reinforces in all governments and citizens the courage to oppose violence and to take concrete steps to thaw [the situation]. In the current context of the Middle East, it is, more than ever, crucial that there would be peace in the Holy Land: this we ask God and the good of humanity.

At the end of this celebration, I wish to greet all of you who have come to pay homage to the new Saints, especially the official delegations of Italy, Spain and France.

I greet the faithful of the dioceses of Lodi and Cremona, as well as the Daughters of the Oratory. The example of St. Vincent Grossi supports the commitment for Christian education of new generations.

I greet the pilgrims who have come from Spain, especially from Seville, and the Sisters of the Company of the Cross. The testimony of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception helps us to live in solidarity with and closeness to the most needy.

I greet the faithful from France, especially from Bayeux, Lisieux and Sées: we entrust our joys, hopes and difficulties of French families and of all around the world to the intercession of the spouses and now Saints, Ludovico Martin and Maria Azelia Guérin.

I thank the cardinals, bishops, priests, consecrated persons, as well as families, church groups and associations.

And now we turn ourselves to the Virgin Mary with filial love.

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Pope's Angelus Address

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square:

***

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This morning, with the Holy Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family ended. I invite everyone to give thanks to God for these three weeks of intense work, animated by prayer and a spirit of true communion. It was tiring, but it was a true gift of God, which will definitely carry forward much fruit.

The word "synod" means "to walk together." And that which we experienced was the experience of the Church on this journey, having set out especially with families of God's holy people throughout the world. For this reason, the Word of God that comes to us today in the prophecy of Jeremiah struck me. He says this, "Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng." He says this. And the prophet adds: "They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water,
on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a Father to Israel" (Jm 31: 8-9). 

This Word of God tells us that the first wants to walk together with us, to have a "synod" with us; it is He, our Father. His "dream," always and forever, is to form a people, to bring them together, leading them toward the land of freedom and peace. And this people is made up of families: there is the 'mothers and those with child'; it is a people that as they walk, send life forward, with God's blessing.

It is a people that does not exclude the poor and the disadvantaged, but rather, includes them: 'among them, the blind and the lame'  - says the Lord. It is a family of families, in which those who struggle are not marginalized and left behind, but manage to keep up with the others, because this people walks along with those who are 'last'; as one does in families, and how the Lord has taught us, becoming poor with the poor, small with the smallest, and ultimately, with those who were 'last.' He has not done this to exclude the rich, the great, and those who could be considered 'first,' but because this is the only way to save them too, to save everyone, with the small, excluded and the 'last.'

I confess that this prophecy of people on their journey, I also compared with images of refugees marching on the streets of Europe, a dramatic reality of our times. God says to them: "They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water." Even those families who are suffering the most, who have been uprooted from their lands, were present with us in the Synod, in our prayers and in our work, through the voices of some of their pastors present in the Assembly. These people are in search of dignity, these families looking for peace are still with us, the Church does not abandon them, because they are part of the people that God wants to free from slavery and lead to freedom.

Therefore, this Word of God reflects the experience of synodality, which we have experienced. May the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, help us also to implement the signs emerging in a style of fraternal communion.

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Pope's Angelus Address

Vatican City, November 02, 2015

Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address Sunday at noon on the Feast of All Saints:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and happy feast!

In today’s celebration, the Feast of All Saints, we feel the reality of the Communion of Saints to be particularly alive, namely our great family, made up of all the members of the Church, be it those of us who are still pilgrims on earth, be it those – immensely more – who have already left it and have gone to Heaven. We are all united, and this is called “Communion of Saints,” namely the community of all the baptized.

In the liturgy, the Book of Revelation recalls an essential characteristic of the saints and says this: they are persons that belong totally to God. It presents them as a multitude of “elect,” clothed in white and marked by the "seal of God” (cf. 7:2-4.9-14). Through this last particular, underscored with allegorical language, [it says] that the saints belong to God in a full and exclusive way; they are His property. And what does it mean to bear the seal of God in one’s life and in one’s person? The Apostle John also says: it means that, in Jesus Christ, we have become truly children of God (cf. 1 John 3:1-3).

Are we aware of this great gift? We are all children of God! Do we remember that in Baptism we received the “seal” of our Heavenly Father and became His children? To say it simply: we bear God’s surname, our surname is God, because we are children of God. Here is the root of the vocation to holiness! And the saints we remember today are precisely those who lived in the grace of their Baptism, they kept the “seal” intact, behaving as children of God, seeking to imitate Jesus, and now they have reached their goal because they finally “see God as he really is.”

A second characteristic proper to the saints is that they are examples to imitate. Let's pay attention: not only those who are canonized, but, so to speak, the “next door” Saints who, with the grace of God made the effort to practice the Gospel in the ordinariness of their life. We have also met these Saints; perhaps we had one in our family, or among our friends and acquaintances. We must be thankful to them and above all we must be thankful to God who has given them to us, who has put them close to us, as living and infectious examples of the way of living and of dying in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and to His Gospel. How many good people we have known and know, and we say: “But this person is a Saint!,” we say it; it comes spontaneously. These are the next door Saints, those not canonized but who live with us.

To imitate their gestures of love and mercy is somewhat like perpetuating their presence in this world. And, in fact, those evangelical gestures are the only ones that resist the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, a generous help, time spent listening, a visit, a good word, a smile ...These gestures might seem insignificant to our eyes, but in God’s eyes they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us to trust more in God’s grace, to walk with speed on the way of holiness. We entrust to our Mother our daily endeavor, and we pray to her also for our dead in the profound hope of meeting again one day, all together, in the glorious communion of Heaven.

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Angelus Address: On the Poor Widow's Offering

Rome, November 08, 2015

Here is a working translation of the address Pope Francis gave today in St. Peter's Square before and after praying the midday Angelus. The translation is provided by Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, English-language assistant for the Vatican press office.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning... on such a beautiful, sunny day!  

The Gospel passage of this Sunday is composed of two parts: one that describes how not to be followers of Christ; the other proposes an ideal model of a Christian. Let's start first: what not to do. In the first part, Jesus criticizes the scribes, teachers of the law, for three defects that occur in their lifestyle: pride, greed and hypocrisy. They like to "receive greetings in the marketplaces, have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets" (Mark 12:38-39). But under such solemn appearances they are hiding falsehood and injustice .

While strutting around in public, they use their authority – as Jesus says - to "devour widows' houses" (v.40), who were considered, along with orphans and foreigners, to be the people most vulnerable and least protected. Finally, Jesus says that the scribes, "pray for a long time to be seen" (v. 40). There is a risk that these attitudes exist even in our day. For example when prayer is separated from justice, because we cannot worship God and cause harm to the poor. Or when one claims to love God, and instead offers God one’s vainglory, to one’s own advantage.

The second part of the Gospel follows this line of thought. The scene is set in the temple of Jerusalem, precisely in the place where people threw coins as offerings. There are many rich people who pay a lot of money, and there is a poor woman - a widow - just contributing two mites, two small coins. Jesus observes the woman carefully and calls the attention of the disciples to this sharp, contrasting scene.

The rich have given with great show what for them was superfluous, while the widow, with discretion and humility, gave - Jesus says - "all she had to live" (v. 44); for this – Jesus says – she gave the most of all. Because of her extreme poverty, she could have offered a single coin for the temple and kept the other for herself. But she does not want to just give half to God; she deprived herself of everything. In her poverty she understood that having God, she has everything; she feels totally loved by Him and in turn loves Him totally. What a beautiful example this old woman offers us!   

Today Jesus also tells us that the measurement is not the quantity but the fullness. There is a difference. It is not a question of the wallet, but of the heart. There are heart diseases that lower the heart to the portfolio. To love God "with all your heart" means to trust Him, to trust in His providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return. Faced with the needs of others, we are called to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the necessary time, not only what remains extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or our own group.

Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the teaching chair and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even in the bewilderment of the disciples. Through the intercession of Mary, the poor woman who gave her life to God for us, ask for the gift of a poor heart, but rich in generosity that is happy and free.

[Praying of the Angelus:]

[Following the Angelus address, the Pope spoke these words about the recent leaking of documents:]

Dear brothers and Sisters,

I know that many of you have been upset by the news circulating in recent days concerning the Holy See’s confidential documents that were taken and published. For this reason I want to tell you, first of all, that stealing those documents was a crime. It’s a deplorable act that does not help. I personally had asked for that study to be carried out and both I and my advisers were well acquainted with (the contents of) those documents and steps have been taken that have started to bear fruit, some of them even visible.

Therefore I wish to reassure you that this sad event certainly does not deter me from the reform project that we are carrying out, together with my advisers and with the support of all of you.  Yes, with the support of the whole Church because the Church renews itself with prayer and the daily holiness of each baptized person.

I therefore thank you and ask you to continue to pray for the Pope and the Church, without getting upset or troubled but proceeding with faith and hope.

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Angelus Address: On Today and the End Times

Rome, November 15, 2015

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:

The Gospel of this second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year proposes to us some of Jesus’ words about the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfillment of the reign of God.

It is the preaching that Jesus gave in Jerusalem before his last Passover. It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes. “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

Still, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The central nucleus around which the words of Jesus turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time. Our final goal is an encounter with the Risen Lord.

I would like to ask how many of you think about this: “There will be a day in which I encounter the Lord face to face.” And this is our goal, our encounter. We do not await a time or a place; rather we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather that we find ourselves prepared. It’s also not about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things.

We are called to live the present building our future with serenity and trust in God. The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of approaching summer, teaches that the perspective of the end doesn't distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look toward our current days with an outlook of hope.

Hope: this virtue that is so hard to live. The smallest of the virtues, but the strongest. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory,” and this will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world. 

The Lord Jesus is not only the destination point of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives. That’s why when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always to lead us back to the present.

He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he counters fatalism. He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us so much.

He wants to direct his disciples of every age away from curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and concentrate their attention on the today of history. 

I would like to ask you — but don’t answer out loud; each one answer to himself — how many are there among us who read the horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with us. That is better and will serve us better.

This presence of Jesus calls us, yes, to anticipation and vigilance that excludes both impatience and lethargy, [both] the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and worldliness. In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every type. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us. His word alone remains as light that looks upon and steadies our journey. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We only have to look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our lives, and persevere with joy in his love.

[Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters, I want to express my profound sorrow over the terrorist attacks that bloodied France on Friday night, resulting in numerous victims.

To the president of the Republic of France and all of its citizens, I express my deepest sorrow. I feel particularly close to the families of those who lost their lives and the wounded.

Such barbarity leaves us stunned and makes us question how the heart of man could come up with and carry out such horrific acts, which have shattered not only France, but the whole world.

In the face of such intolerable acts, we cannot cease condemning this unspeakable attack on the dignity of the human person. 

I want to vigorously reaffirm that the path of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity. And that to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy. 

I invite you to join in my prayer: let us entrust the defenseless victims of this tragedy to the mercy of God. Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, plant in the hearts of all thoughts of wisdom and resolutions of peace. 

We ask her to protect us and to watch over the beloved French nation, the eldest daughter of the Church, all of Europe and the whole world.

Let us pray in silence for a moment and then, a Hail Mary …

[Hail Mary]

Yesterday in Tres Puntas, in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, Fr. Francisco de Paula Victor was beatified. He was a Brazilian priest of African origin, the son of a slave. A generous parish priest, dedicated to catechesis and administering the sacraments, he was particularly distinguished by his great humility.

May his extraordinary testimony be a model for so many priests, called to be humble servants of the people of God. 

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Jesus as King

Rome, November 22, 2015

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, on this solemnity of Christ the King and also the feast of St. Cecilia.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. And the Gospel of today brings us to contemplate Jesus as he was presented before Pilate as the king of a kingdom that “is not of this world.” This doesn’t mean that Christ is the king of another world, but that he is a different kind of king; but he is king in this world. 

We have here a contraposition of two types of logic. The worldly logic bases itself on ambition, competition, combat with the weapons of fear, of bribery, of the manipulation of consciences. On the other hand, the logic of the Gospel, that is, the logic of Jesus, is expressed in humility and gratitude. It is affirmed silently but effectively with the force of truth. The kingdoms of this world sometimes are sustained by arrogance, rivalries, oppression; the reign of Christ is a “kingdom of justice, of love and of peace.”

Jesus has revealed himself as a king. When? In the event of the cross. One who looks at the cross cannot help but see the surprising gratuitousness of love. But someone could say, “But Father, that was a failure!” It is precisely in the failure of sin that sin is a failure. In the failure of human ambitions, there is the triumph of the cross, there is the gratuitousness of love. In the failure of the cross, love is seen. And a love that is gratuitous, that Jesus gives us. 

To speak of power and strength, for the Christian, means to make reference to the power of the cross, and the strength of Jesus’ love: a love that remains firm and complete, even when faced with rejection, and which is shown as the fulfillment of a life poured out in the total surrender of itself for the benefit of humanity. On Calvary, the passers-by and the leaders made fun of Jesus nailed to the cross and they challenged him: “Save yourself by coming down from the cross. Save yourself.”

But paradoxically the truth of Jesus is precisely that [challenge] hurled at him with irony by his adversaries: “He can’t save himself!” If Jesus would have come down from the cross, he would have given in to the temptations of the prince of the world. Instead, he cannot save himself precisely so as to be able to save the others, because in fact he has given his life for us, for each one of us. To say “Jesus has given his life for the world” is true. But it is more beautiful to say, “Jesus has given his life for me.” 

And today, in this Square, let each one of us say in his heart: “He has given his life for me, to be able to save each one of us from our sins.”

And who has understood this? One of the criminals who was crucified with him understood it well, the one called the “good thief,” who pleads with him, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” But this was a criminal, a corrupt person, and he was there in fact, because he was condemned to death for all of the brutalities that he had committed in his life. But in Jesus’ way of behaving, in his meekness, he has seen love. The majesty of Jesus doesn’t oppress us, but rather frees us from our weaknesses and miseries, encouraging us to walk the path of the good, of reconciliation and of pardon. Let us look at the cross of Jesus, let us look at the “good thief,” and say together what the good thief said: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Together: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And to ask Jesus, when we feel that we are weak, that we are sinners, defeated, that he would look at us, and tell him: “You are there. Don’t forget me.”

Faced with so many lacerations in the world and too many wounds in the flesh of man, let us ask the Virgin Mary to sustain us in our commitment to imitate Jesus, our king, making his kingdom present with gestures of tenderness, of understanding, of mercy.

[Angelus]

Yesterday, in Barcelona, Federico de Berga and 25 companion martyrs were beatified. They were assassinated in Spain during the ferocious persecution against the Church in the century before this one. They were priests, professed youth awaiting ordination and lay brothers, belonging to the Capuchins. Let us entrust to their intercession the multitudes of our brothers and sisters who lamentably today, in various parts of the world, are persecuted because of their faith in Christ. 

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Angelus      December 6

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. December 6

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy places us in the school of John the Baptist, who preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christian.”

We can ask ourselves this and in this regard say, “we’re ok.” But that’s not true. Thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, good in every way, that we’re doing the right thing — precisely because of this presumption we must convert: from the supposition that, overall, things are going well like they are and we don’t need any conversion.

But let us ask: Is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have in us the same sentiments that Jesus had? Is it true that we feel as Christ felt? For example, when we suffer some evil or some affront, can we react without animosity and forgive from the heart those who ask us for forgiveness? How difficult it is to forgive, eh? How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes spontaneously, yes? Or when we are called to share joys and sadnesses, do we know how to truly cry with the one who cries and rejoice with the one who rejoices? Or when we should share our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? And in this way, we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not alright. We should always convert, to have the sentiments that Jesus had.

The voice of the Baptist still cries in humanity’s deserts of today, which are — what are the deserts of today? — they are the closed minds and the hardened hearts. And [his voice] calls us so that we ask ourselves if we actually are following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” It is a pressing invitation to open the heart and receive the salvation that God incessantly offers, almost stubbornly, because he wants us all to be free of the slavery of sin. But the text of the prophet amplifies this voice, pre-announcing that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without excluding anyone, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.” No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that’s what the Year of Mercy is for: to advance farther in this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus has taught us. God wants all mankind to be saved through the mediation of Jesus, the only mediator. 

Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who still do not know him. But this is not to proselytize. No. It is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” St. Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we draw close to him, how can we not feel a passion to make him known to those we find at work, at school, in our communities, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be disposed to beginning — or beginning again — a journey of faith if they were to find Christians who are in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we be and couldn’t we be these Christians? 

I leave you with this question: Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation? And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we should be courageous: make low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the valleys dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the pathways of our laziness and our comforts.

May we be aided in this by Our Lady — who is Mother and who knows how to do it — to bring down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone. Only Jesus can fulfill all the hopes of man!

[Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am following with close attention the work of the conference on climate underway in Paris. And a question I asked in Laudato Si’ comes again to my mind: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” For the good of our common home, of all of us and of the future generations, in Paris every effort should be directed toward mitigating the impact of climate change and, at the same time, to curb poverty and to bring human dignity to flourish. The two choices go together. Stop climate change and curb poverty so that human dignity flourishes. Let us pray so that the Holy Spirit enlightens all those who are called to make such important decisions and gives them the courage to always have the greater good of the human family as the criteria to guide their decisions. 

Tomorrow, we mark the 50th anniversary of a memorable event between Catholics and Orthodox. On Dec. 7, 1965, in the vigil of the conclusion of Vatican II, with a common declaration from Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, the sentences of excommunication exchanged between the Church of Rome and Constantinople in 1054 were eliminated. It is truly providential that this historic gesture of reconciliation, which created the conditions for a new dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics in love and truth, would be marked precisely at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy. There is no authentic path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, to God and between us, for the sin of division. Let us recall in our prayer the dear Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches and let us ask the Lord that relations between Catholics and Orthodox be always inspired by fraternal love. 

Yesterday in Chimbote, Peru, Conventual Franciscans Michael Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzałkowski were beatified. and Alessandro Dordi, a fidei donum priest assassinated in hatred of the faith in 1991. May these martyrs’ fidelity in following Jesus give all of us, especially Christians persecuted in different parts of the world, the strength to give testimony to the Gospel with courage.

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On God's Mercy Which Awaits Us, Pardons All

Vatican City, December 08, 2015

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address at noon today, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy:

* * 

Before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and Feast!

Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception makes us contemplate Our Lady who, by a singular privilege, was preserved from Original Sin from her conception. Although living in the world marked by sin, she was not touched by it: she is our Sister in suffering, but not in evil and in sin. In fact, evil was defeated in her even before grazing her, because God filled her with grace (cf. Luke 1:28). The Immaculate Conception means that Mary is the first saved by the Father’s infinite mercy, as the first fruit of the salvation that God wills to give, in Christ, every man and woman. Therefore, the Immaculate <Virgin> became the sublime icon of Divine Mercy that has conquered sin. And we, today, at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, want to look at this icon with confident love and contemplate her in all her splendor, imitating her faith.

In the Immaculate Conception of Mary we are invited to recognize the dawn of the new world, transformed by the saving work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The dawn of the new creation wrought by Divine Mercy. Therefore, the Virgin Mary, never contaminated by sin and always full of God, is Mother of a new humanity. She is mother of a recreated world.

To celebrate this feast implies two things: to receive God fully and His merciful grace in our life; to become in turn architects of mercy through a genuine evangelical journey. Therefore, the feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes the feast of us all if, with our daily “yes,” we are able to overcome our egoism and to render the lives of our brothers happier, to give them hope, drying tears and giving a bit of joy. In imitation of Mary, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first of all at those who are the privileged ones in Jesus’ eyes. They are those who He himself indicated: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36).

Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception has a specific message to communicate to us: it reminds us that in our life everything is gift, everything is mercy. May the Holy Virgin, first fruit of the saved, model of the Church, holy and immaculate Bride loved by the Lord, help us to rediscover always more divine mercy as the distinguishing mark of a Christian. It is the word-synthesis of the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of Christ’s face, that face that we recognize in the different aspects of His existence: when He goes to encounter all, when He cures the sick, when He sits at table with sinners, and especially when, nailed to the cross, He forgives. We see there the face of Divine Mercy. Let's not be afraid: let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God that waits for us and pardons everything. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy. Let's let ourselves be caressed by God: He is so good, the Lord, and He pardons everything.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take possession of our hearts and transform our whole life.

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Dec 13

 Below is a translation of Pope Francis' Angelus Address at noon today to St. Peter's Square on the Third Sunday of Advent, referred to as Gaudete Sunday:

***

Before the Angelus:

 Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

 In today's Gospel, there is a question posed three times: "What should we do?" (Lk 3,10.12.14).  Three categories of people raise it to John the Baptist: first, the crowd in general; second, the publicans, or tax collectors; and, third, some soldiers. Each of these groups questions the prophet on what must be done to implement the conversion that he is preaching. John's reply to the question of the crowd is sharing essential goods. He told the first group, the crowd, to share basic necessities, and therefore says: "Whoever has two cloaks, should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise" (v. 11 ). Then, he says to the second group, the tax collectors, stop collecting more than is prescribed. What does this mean? No 'kickbacks,' John the Baptist is clear. And to the third group, the soldiers, he says do not exhort anyone for anything, and be content with your pay (v. 14). There are the three answers to the three questions of these groups. Three answers to an identical path of conversion, which is manifested in concrete commitments to justice and solidarity. And 'the road that Jesus shows in all his preaching: the active path of love for the neighbor.

 From these warnings of John the Baptist, we understand what were the general trends of those who at that time held the power, in various forms. Things have not changed much. However, no group of people is excluded from the path of conversion for salvation, not even the tax collectors, considered sinners by definition: not even they are excluded from salvation. God does not exclude anyone from the chance to save themselves. He is - as it were - anxious to show mercy, to use it all, and welcome everyone into the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness.

 This question - 'What should we do?' - We feel to be even ours. Today's liturgy tells us, in the words of John, that is necessary to repent, we must change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity, sobriety: these are the essential values ​​of a life fully human and genuinely Christian. Repent! It sums up the message of John the Baptist. And the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent helps us to rediscover a special dimension of conversion: joy. Whoever converts and approaches the Lord, feels joy. The prophet Zephaniah tells us today: "Rejoice, daughter of Zion!" Turned to Jerusalem (Zeph 3:14); and the apostle Paul exhorted Christians in Philippi: "Rejoice always in the Lord" (Phil 4,4). Today, it takes courage to speak of joy, which, above all, requires faith! The world is beset by many problems, the future weighed down by uncertainties and fears. Yet, the Christian is a joyful person, and his joy is not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift from God that fills life. Our joy comes from knowing that "the Lord is near" (Phil 4.5), is close with His tenderness, His mercy, His forgiveness and His love.

 May the Virgin Mary help us to strengthen our faith, because we welcome the God of joy, the God of mercy, who always wants to live in the midst of her children. And our Mother teaches us to share tears with those who weep, but also to be able to share a smile.

 [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

 After the Angelus:

 The climate conference has just ended in Paris with the adoption of an agreement, being called historic by many. Its implementation will require a concerted commitment and generous dedication by all. Hoping that it gives special attention to the most vulnerable populations, we urge the international community to continue the path taken promptly, in a sign of solidarity that will become more and more active.

 Next Tuesday, December 15, the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade will begin in Nairobi. I turn to the countries that will participate, so that the decisions that will be taken into account the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable, as well as the legitimate aspirations of the least developed countries and the common good of the entire human family.

 In all the cathedrals of the world, the Holy Doors are opened, because the Jubilee of mercy can be fully lived in the particular churches. I hope that this time offers many strong incentives to become instruments of God's tenderness. As an expression of the works of mercy, "Doors of Mercy" are being opened in places of discomfort and alienation. In this regard, I greet the inmates of prisons around the world, especially those of the Padua prison, which today are spiritually united with us, at this time, to pray, and I thank them for the gift.

 I greet all of you, pilgrims who have come from Rome, Italy, from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet those from Warsaw and from Madrid. A special thought goes to the Foundation Dispensary Santa Marta in the Vatican: parents with their children, the volunteers and to the Daughters of Charity; thank you for your witness of solidarity and welcome! And I also greet the members of the Focolare Movement together with friends from some Islamic communities. Go on! Go forward with courage in your path of dialogue and fraternity, because we are all children of God!

 To all, I send cordial wishes for good Sunday and a good lunch. Do not forget, please, to pray for me. See you soon! 

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Angelus     The address Pope Francis gave today, December 20, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent highlights the person of Mary. We see her when, just after having conceived in faith the Son of God, she takes on the long trip from Nazareth of Galilee to the hill country of Judah, to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The Angel Gabriel had revealed to her that her relative, who did not have children and was already of advanced age, was in her sixth month of pregnancy (cf Lk 1:26-36). That’s why the Virgin, who carried within her an even greater gift and mystery, goes to see Elizabeth and stays with her for three months.

In the meeting between these two women, imagine, an elderly woman and a youth, it is the youth, Mary, who offers the first greeting. The Gospel tells us: “she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” And after this greeting, Elizabeth is astonished — don’t forget this word, this wonder — and cries out with these words: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (v. 43). And they embrace and kiss each other; these two women, the elderly one and the youth, are happy. Two pregnant women.

To celebrate Christmas well, we are called to spend time in the “places” of astonishment [wonder]. And what are these places of wonder in daily life? There are three.

The first place is “the other,” in whom we recognize a brother, because since the birth of Jesus, every face is marked with a similarity to the Son of God. Above all when it is the face of a poor person, because as a poor man, God entered the world and it was the poor, in the first place, that he allowed to approach him.

Another place of wonder - a place in which, if we look with faith, we feel wonder, is history. The second one. So many times we think we see it the right way, and instead we risk reading it backwards: It happens, for example, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be. The God of Christmas is rather a God who “shuffles the deck” – He likes to do it, eh? – As Mary sings in the Magnificat, it is the Lord who casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly, who fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty (Lk 1:52-53). This is the second surprise, the wonder of history.

The third place of wonder is the Church. To look on her with the wonder of faith means not just considering the Church only as a religious institution – which the Church is – but to feel that she is a mother who, despite her warts and wrinkles – we have so many! – lets the contours of the bride beloved of and purified by Christ the Lord shine through. A Church who knows how to recognize herself in the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church whereby the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be zealously defended; those who do this are erroneous. The Lord Jesus will always be the One who comes to meet her and who she knows how to await with trust and joy, giving a voice to the hopes of the world. The Church who calls to the Lord, “Come Lord Jesus.” The Mother Church who always has the doors open, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Even more, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek, with the smile of a Mother, all of those who are far away and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the wonder of Christmas. 

At Christmas, God gives us all of Himself by giving His one and only Son, who is all his joy – and it is only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, become the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that we can rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for His unpredictable surprise: may she help us to perceive the wonder, these three wonders: the other, history and the Church; so let it be with the birth of Jesus – the gift of gifts – the undeserved gift that brings us salvation, that it might also make us feel this wonder in meeting Jesus. We cannot have this wonder, however, we cannot meet Jesus, if we do not meet Him in the other, in history and in the Church.

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The Holy Father's Angelus Address on the Feast of the Holy Family:

***

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

How well these young people sing! How talented! [commenting on the young people singing Christmas songs in the Square]

In the climate of joy that it is Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family this Sunday. I think back to the great meeting in Philadelphia, last September; the many families encountered during my Apostolic Visit; and to those around the world. I would like to greet them all with affection and gratitude, especially in this time, in which the family is prone to misunderstandings and difficulties of various kinds that weaken it.

Today's Gospel invites families to capture the light of hope coming from the home of Nazareth, which has developed in the joy of Jesus' childhood, which - says St. Luke - 'advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man (2:52).' The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is for every believer, and especially for families, a true school of the Gospel. Here, we admire the fulfillment of God's plan to make the family a special community of life and love. Here, we learn that every Christian family is called to be a "domestic church," to give the light of the evangelical virtues and become a leaven for good in society. The typical features of the Holy Family are: meditation and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, spirit of sacrifice, work and solidarity.

By the example and witness of the Holy Family, each family can draw valuable guidance for the style and lifestyle choices, and can draw strength and wisdom for its everyday journey. Our Lady and Saint Joseph teach all to welcome children as a gift from God, to generate them and educate them, [which evidences] cooperating in a wonderful way in the Creator's work and giving the world, in every child, a new smile. It is in united families that children have their existence and live the experience of meaningful and effective free love, tenderness, mutual respect, mutual understanding, forgiveness and joy.

I want to focus especially on the joy. The joy that is experienced in the family is not something casual and accidental. It is a result of profound joy among people, [enjoying] the beauty of being together, supporting each other in the journey of life. But behind the joy, there is always the presence of God, His welcoming, gracious and patient love towards all. If the family does not open the door in the presence of God and His love, the family loses harmony, individualism prevails, and joy is shut out. Instead, the family that lives joy, the joy of life, the joy of faith, communicating spontaneously, is salt of the earth and light of the world, and is leaven for the whole society.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless and protect all families in the world, so they reign serenity and joy, justice and peace, which Christ was born to gift to humanity.

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The Holy Father's Angelus address on the Feast of St. Stephen.

* * *

Before the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen. The memory of the first martyr follows immediately after the Solemnity of Christmas. Yesterday, we contemplated the merciful love of God Who became flesh for us; Today, we see the coherent response of the disciple of Jesus, that gives life. Yesterday, the Savior was born on earth; now, His faithful witness is born to heaven. Yesterday like today, the darkness of refusing life appears, but the light of love that overcomes hatred and inaugurates a new world still shines stronger.

There is a particular aspect, in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which the story of St. Stephen is similar to that of the Lord. It is regarding his forgiveness before he was stoned to death. Nailed to the cross, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34); similarly St. Stephen fell to his knees and cried out: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them' "(Acts 7:60). Stephen is therefore a martyr, which means witness, because he does as Jesus; It is in fact true witness, those who behave like Him: those who pray, those who love, those who give, but especially those who forgive, because forgiveness, as the word implies, is the highest expression of giving.

But - we might ask - what is the point of forgiving? It's just a good deed or opens the way to results? Right in the martyrdom of Stephen, we find an answer. Among those from whom he begged forgiveness was a young man named Saul; he persecuted the Church and tried to destroy it (cf. Acts 8.3). Shortly after, Saul became Paul, the great saint, the Apostle of the Gentiles. He had been forgiven by St. Stephen. We can say that Paul was born by God's grace and by the forgiveness of Stephen.

Also, we are born from God's forgiveness. Not only in baptism, but every time we are forgiven our heart is reborn, it is regenerated. Each step forward in the life of faith is impressed with the early sign of Divine Mercy. Because only when we are loved, we can love ourselves. Remember, we will do well if we want to move forward in faith, but first of all we must receive God's forgiveness; [We must] meet the Father, Who is ready to forgive everything and always, and whose forgiving alone heals the heart and revives love. We must never tire of asking God's forgiveness, because only when we are forgiven, when we feel forgiven, we learn to forgive.

Forgiving, however, is not easy. It is always very difficult. How can we imitate Jesus? Where do we begin excusing the small or large wrongdoings we suffer every day? First of all, [we can do so] by prayer, as Stephen did. It starts from your heart: with prayer, we can deal with the resentment we feel, by entrusting those who have done evil to us to the mercy of God: "Lord, I ask you for him, I ask you for her..." Then it turns out that this inner struggle to forgive purifies from any evil and prayer and love set us free from the chains of the inner resentment. It is terrible to live in resentment! Every day we have the opportunity to train ourselves to forgive, to live this gesture which so greatly brings man closer to God. As our Heavenly Father, we too become merciful. Through forgiveness, we overcome evil with good, we transform hate into love and so we make the world cleaner.

To the Virgin Mary, we entrust those, unfortunately, many martyrs today, who are suffering persecution, like St. Stephen did, in the name of faith. We direct our prayer to her to receive and give forgiveness. To receive and give forgiveness.

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January 3, 2016: Pope Francis' Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter's Square: 

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Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!

The liturgy of today, the second Sunday after Christmas, presents to us the Prologue of the Gospel of Saint John, in which is proclaimed that “the Word” – that is, the creative Word of God – “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). That Word, which dwells in heaven, that is, in the dimension of God, came to earth so that we might listen and be able to know and touch with our hand the love of the Father. The Word of God is Himself the Only-begotten Son, made man, full of love and of faithfulness (cfr. Jn 1:14), Jesus Himself.

The Evangelist does not hide the dramatic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, emphasizing that the gift of the love of God is matched with the non-reception on the part of men. The Word is the light, and yet men have preferred the darkness; the Word came unto His own, but they did not receive Him (cfr. vv. 9-10); they closed the door in the face of the Son of God. It is the mystery of evil that insinuates [itself] into our lives, too, and that demands vigilance and care on our part so that it will not prevail. The book of Genesis says – in a good phrase that makes us understand this – it says that evil “lies in wait at our door” (cfr. Gn 4:7). Woe to us if we allow it to enter; it would then close our door to anyone else. Instead we are called to throw open the door of our heart to the Word of God, to Jesus, in order thus to become His children.

This solemn beginning of the Gospel was already proclaimed on: Christmas today; today it is proposed to us once more. It is the invitation of Holy Mother Church to welcome this Word of salvation, this mystery of light. If we welcome Him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful as He is. Especially in this Holy Year of Mercy, let us make sure that the Gospel becomes ever more incarnate in our own lives too. Drawing near to the Gospel, meditating on it and incarnating it in daily life is the best way to understand Jesus and bring Him to others. This is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: showing Jesus and giving Him to others; but to do that we have to know Him and have Him within us, as the Lord of our life. And He will defend us from evil, from the devil. He is always lying in wait by our door, and wants to enter.

With a renewed burst of filial abandonment, let us entrust ourselves once again to Mary: Let us contemplate the sweet image of the mother of Jesus and our mother in these days of the manger.

[Original Text: Italian]

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Pope Francis' Angelus Address in St. Peter's Square on the Solemnity of the Epiphany 2016:

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today’s Gospel, the story of the Magi, who came from the East to Bethlehem to adore the Messiah, confers on the feast of the Epiphany a universal breadth. And this is the breadth of the Church, which desires that all the peoples of the earth be able to meet Jesus, to experience His merciful love. This is the desire of the Church: that they find the mercy of Jesus, His love.

Jesus has just been born, He still does not know how to speak, and all peoples – represented by the Magi – can already meet Him, recognize Him and adore Him. The Magi say: “We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). Herod heard this as soon as the Magi arrived in Jerusalem. These Magi were prestigious men, of distant regions and different cultures, and they started towards the land of Israel to adore the King that was born. The Church has always seen in them the image of the whole of humanity, and with today’s celebration of the feast of the Epiphany, she wishes to indicate respectfully, to every man and woman of this world, the Child that was born for the salvation of all.

On Christmas Eve Jesus manifested Himself to the shepherds, humble men held in contempt – some say brigands --; they were the first to bring some warmth to that cold cave of Bethlehem. Now the Magi arrive from distant lands, also attracted mysteriously by that Child. The shepherds and the Magi are very different from one another; however, they have one thing in common: the heavens. The shepherds of Bethlehem went immediately to see Jesus, not because they were particularly good, but because they were watching in the night and, raising their eyes to the heavens, they saw a sign, they listened to its message and followed it. So, also, did the Magi: they scrutinized the heavens, they saw a new star, they interpreted the sign, and started out from afar. The shepherds and the Magi teach us that to meet Jesus it is necessary to be able to raise one’s gaze to the heavens, not to be withdrawn in oneself, in one’s egoism, but to have the heart and mind open to the horizon of God, who always surprises us, to be able to receive His messages, and to answer with promptness and generosity.

The Gospel says that, “on seeing the star” the Magi “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10). It is a great consolation for us also to see the star, that is, to feel guided and not abandoned to our fate. And the star is the Gospel, the Word of the Lord, as the Psalm says: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (119:105). This light leads us to Christ. Without listening to the Gospel, it is impossible to meet Him! In fact, the Magi, following the star, reached the place where Jesus was. And there “they saw the child with Mary his Mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.” (Matthew 2:11). The Magi’s experience exhorts us not to be content with mediocrity, not to “get by” somehow, but to seek the meaning of things, to scrutinize passionately the great mystery of life. And it teaches us not to be scandalized by littleness and poverty, but to recognize the majesty of humility, and to be able to kneel before it.

May the Virgin Mary, who received the Magi at Bethlehem, help us to raise our gaze from ourselves, to let ourselves be guided by the star of the Gospel to meet Jesus, and to be able to abase ourselves to adore Him. Thus we will be able to take to others a ray of His light, and to share with them the joy of the way.

[Original text: Italian]

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Pope Francis' Angelus address at noon on January 10 (Feast of the Baptism of the Lord) to the faithful in St. Peter's Square: 

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Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, and we thankfully remember our Baptism. In this context, this morning, I baptized 26 newborns: let's pray for them!

The Gospel presents Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River, in the midst of a marvelous, divine revelation. St. Luke writes: "After all the people had been baptized 
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”' (Lk 3: 21-22). In this way, Jesus is consecrated and manifested by the Father as Messiah, Savior, and liberator.

In this event - attested to by all four Gospels - the transition from the baptism of John the Baptist, based on the symbol of water, to the baptism of Jesus happens "in the Holy Spirit and fire" (Lk 3:16). The Holy Spirit, in fact, in the Christian Baptism is the principal architect: it is He who burns and destroys Original Sin, restoring to the baptized the beauty of divine grace; It is He who delivers us from the dominion of darkness, that is to say, of sin, and transfers us into the realm of light, that to say of love, truth and peace: this is the realm of light. Think of to what dignity Baptism elevates us! "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!" (1 Jn 3:1), says the Apostle John. This stupendous reality of being children of God involves a responsibility of following Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduce in ourselves His features: that meekness, humility, tenderness. And this is not easy, especially when all around us there is so much intolerance, arrogance, harshness. But with the strength that comes from the Holy Spirit, it is possible!

The Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our hearts to the truth, the whole truth. The Spirit pushes our life down a demanding path, but one joyous in charity and solidarity toward our brothers. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of God's forgiveness and pervades us with the invincible power of the Father's mercy. Do not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living presence and is life-giving in those who welcome Him, and prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy.

Today, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, we think of the day of our Baptism. All of us were baptized, thank you for this gift. And I make you a question: Which of you knows the date of your baptism? Certainly, not all of you. Therefore, I invite you to go and search for the date, asking, for example, your parents, your grandparents, your godparents, or going into the parish. It is very important to know, because it is a date to celebrate: it is the date of our rebirth as children of God. For this, homework for this week: go look for the date of my baptism. Celebrating that day means and reaffirms our attachment to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and new humanity, in which all are brothers.

The Virgin Mary, the first disciple of her Son, Jesus, helps us to live our Baptism with joy and apostolic zeal, receiving, every day, the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who makes us children of God.

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Pope Francis’ Angelus address today, January 17, at noon in St. Peter’s Square:

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Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents the miraculous event which took place in Cana, a village in Galilee, during a wedding party in which also Mary, Jesus, and His first disciples were present (cf. Jn 2,1-11). The mother, Mary, makes her Son notice that the wine ran out, and Jesus, after having said to her that His hour has not yet come, however, grants her request and gives the spouses the best wine of the entire celebration. The Evangelist notes that, “Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him”(v. 11).

Miracles, then, are extraordinary signs that accompany the preaching of the Good News, and are intended to arouse or strengthen the faith in Jesus. In the miracle at Cana, we can see an act of kindness on the part of Jesus to the newlyweds, a sign of God’s blessing on the marriage. The love between man and woman is therefore a good way to live the Gospel, that is, to go on with joy on the path of holiness.

But the miracle of Cana is not just about the bride and groom. Every human person is called to meet the Lord as the Bridegroom of his life. The Christian faith is a gift we receive in Baptism, which allows us to meet God. The faith [undergoes] times of joy and sorrow, light and darkness, as in any authentic experience of love. The story of the wedding at Cana invites us to rediscover that Jesus does not come to us as a judge ready to condemn our sins, nor as a commander that requires us to blindly follow His orders; He appears as the Savior of humanity, as brother, as our big brother, Son of the Father: as the One who responds to the expectations and promises of joy that dwell in the heart of each of us.

Therefore, we can ask ourselves: Do I really know the Lord like this? Do I feel Him next to me, in my life? Am I responding on the wavelength of that spousal love that He shows to all, to each human being? It is in realizing that Jesus searches us and invites us to make room for Him deep in our heart. And in this journey of faith, with Him, we are not left alone: ​​we have received the gift of the Blood of Christ. The large stone jars that Jesus filled with water to transform it into wine (v. 7) are a sign of the passage from the Old to the New Covenant: instead of water used for the purification ritual, we received the Blood of Jesus, poured in a sacramental way in the Eucharist and in a bloody way in the Passion and the Cross. The Sacraments, which flow from the Paschal Mystery, instill in us supernatural strength and allow us to enjoy the infinite mercy of God.

May the Virgin Mary, model of meditation on the words and gestures of the Lord, help us to rediscover faith with the beauty and richness of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, which makes present ever more the faithful love of God for us. So let us fall more and more in love with the Lord Jesus, our Spouse, and meet Him with lamps lit up with our joyous faith, and become ever more His witnesses in the world.

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January 24, 2016   Pope Francis’ Angelus address today  at noon in St. Peter’s Square:

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Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

In the Gospel of today, Luke the evangelist, before presenting the programmatic discourse of Jesus at Nazareth, briefly summarizes the work of evangelization. It is a work that He accomplishes with the power of the Holy Spirit: His word is original, because it reveals the sense of the Scripture; it is an authoritative word, because He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey (cf. Mk 1:27). Jesus is different from the teachers of His time. For example, Jesus didn’t open a school for the study of the Law, but went about everywhere to preach and teach: in the synagogues, in the streets, in the houses. Jesus also differs from John the Baptist, who proclaims the imminent judgement of God, while Jesus proclaims the forgiveness of God.

And now we enter, we imagine, into the synagogue of Nazareth, the village where Jesus lived until He was about thirty years old. What happened there is an important event, which delineates the mission of Jesus. He stood up to read the Holy Scripture. He opens the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and takes the passage where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Then, after a moment of silence full of expectation on the part of everyone, He says, to general amazement: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

To evangelize the poor: This is the mission of Jesus, according to what He Himself says; this is also the mission of the Church, and of every person baptized in the Church. To be Christian and to be a missionary is the same thing. To proclaim the Gospel, with words, and, even before that, with one’s life, is the principle end of the Christian community and of each of its members.

It is known that Jesus addresses the Good News to everyone, without excluding anyone; and yet, He privileges those who are furthest away, the suffering, the sick, those discarded by society.

But let us ask ourselves a question. What does it mean to evangelize the poor? It means above all being close to them, having the joy of serving them, freeing them from oppression, and all this in the name of and with the Spirit of Christ, because He is the Gospel of God, He is the Mercy of God, He is the liberation of God. It is He Who was made poor in order to enrich us with His poverty. The text of Isaiah, reinforced by some small adaptations introduced by Jesus, indicates that the messianic proclamation of the Kingdom of God that has come amongst us is addressed in a preferential way to the marginalized, to prisoners, to the oppressed.

Probably in the time of Jesus these people were not at the centre of the community of faith. And we can ask ourselves: today, in our parish communities, in the associations, in the movements, are we faithful to the program of Christ? Is the evangelization of the poor, bringing to them the good news, the priority? Be attentive: this isn’t about giving social assistance, much less about political activity. It has to do with the strength of the Gospel of God, Who converts hearts, heals the wounded, transforms human and social relationships according to the logic of love. The poor, in fact, are at the center of the Gospel.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of evangelizers, help us to feel strongly the hunger and thirst for the Gospel that exists in the world, especially in the heart and the flesh of the poor – and obtain for each and every one of us, the whole Christian community, to bear concrete witness to the mercy that Christ has given to us.

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Angelus  January 31, 2016    The address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The account of today’s Gospel brings us again, like last Sunday, to the synagogue of Nazareth, the town in Galilee where Jesus grew up as part of a family and where everyone knew him. He has returned for the first time after having gone out to begin his public life shortly before this, and he presents himself to the community, which is gathered together in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

He reads that passage from the Prophet Isaiah that speaks of the future Messiah, and at the end he declares, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21).

His fellow townspeople, at first surprised and admiring, afterward begin to question and to gossip among themselves and to say, why does this man who claims to be the Consecrated of the Lord not repeat here the works and miracles that he did in Capernaum and the other nearby towns? And Jesus then declares, “no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (v 24) and recalls the great prophets of the past, Elijah and Elisha, who worked miracles for the pagans in order to denounce the lack of faith of their people.

At this point, those present feel offended, they rise in indignation, drive Jesus out of the town and want to thrown him over a precipice. But Jesus, with the strength of his peace, “passed through the midst of them and went away” (v 30). His hour had not yet come.

This account of the Evangelist Luke is not simply the story of a fight within a community, like can sometimes happen in our neighborhoods, caused by envy and jealousies. Rather it brings to light a temptation that a religious person is always vulnerable to — all of us are vulnerable to it — and which we must decidedly avoid. What is this temptation? It is the temptation to think of religion as a human investment and consequently, to begin to “negotiate” with God, seeking our own interests. Instead, the true religion is about receiving the revelation of a God who is Father and who is concerned with each one of his creatures, also with the smallest and most significant in the eyes of man.

This is precisely what Jesus’ prophetic ministry consists of: announcing that no human condition can be a motive for exclusion — no human condition can be a motive for exclusion — from the heart of the Father, and that the only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges. The only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges, of not having protectors, of abandoning oneself in his hands.

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). The “today” proclaimed by Christ that day applies to every day; it resounds as well for us in this Square, reminding us of the present-day importance and necessity of the salvation brought by Jesus to humanity. God goes out to meet the men and women of all times and places in the concrete situations in which they find themselves. He also comes out to meet us. He is always the one who takes the first step. He comes to visit us with his mercy, to lift us from the dust of our sin. He comes to reach out his hand to lift us from the abyss in which we’ve fallen with our pride and he invites us to welcome the consoling truth of the Gospel and to walk along the paths of righteousness. He always comes to find us, to seek us.

Let’s go back to the synagogue. Certainly that day in the Nazareth synagogue, Mary, the Mother, was also there. We can imagine her heart pounding, a small anticipation of that which she would suffer beneath the Cross, seeing Jesus, there in the synagogue, first admired and then challenged, then insulted and later threatened with death. In her faith-filled heart, she guarded each thing. May she help us to turn from a god of miracles to the miracle of God, which is Jesus Christ.

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February 7, 2016   Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:

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Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel of this Sunday from St. Luke speaks of the call of Jesus’ first disciples (Lk 5:1-11). The event takes place in a context of everyday life: there are some fishermen on the shore of Lake Galilee, who, after working the night before without catching anything, are washing and putting their nets in order. Jesus went up into the boat of one of them, that of Simon called Peter, and asks him to put out a short distance from the shore and he begins to preach the Word of God to the crowds that had gathered.  When he finished speaking, he said to Peter to put out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch. Simon had already known Jesus and experienced the miraculous power of His word, and therefore, replied: “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”(v. 5). And this faith is not disappointed: in fact, they had caught such a great number of fish that their nets were tearing (cf. v. 6).

In the face of this extraordinary event, the fishermen are overcome with amazement. Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ feet, and said: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” It was a miraculous sign that convinced him that Jesus is not only a terrific teacher, Whose word is true and powerful, but that He is the Lord, the manifestation of God. And this close presence arouses in Peter’s a strong sense of his own pettiness and unworthiness. From a human point of view, one could think there should be distance between the sinner and the saint. In truth, his own sinful condition requires the Lord to not distance himself from him, the same way a doctor cannot create distance from he who is sick.

Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is reassuring and decisive: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” (v. 10). And again, the fisherman from Galilee, placing his trust in this word, leaves everything and follows Him, Who has become his Master and Lord. And James and John, companions of Simon Peter, did too. This is the logic that drives the mission of Jesus and the mission of the Church: to seek out, “fish” for men and women, to return the full dignity and freedom to all, through the forgiveness of sins. This is the essence of Christianity: to spread the regenerating and gratuitous love of God, with the attitude of acceptance and mercy to everyone, because everyone can meet the tenderness of God and have fullness of life. And here, in a particular way, I think of confessors. They are the first that are to give the mercy of God, following the example of Jesus, like how our two brother saints, Father Leopold [Mandic] and Father Pio, did.

Today’s Gospel challenges us: Do we really trust the Word of the Lord? Or do we let ourselves be discouraged by our failures? In this Holy Year of Mercy, we are called to comfort those who feel they are sinners and unworthy and downhearted for their mistakes, telling them the same words of Jesus: “Fear not.” The mercy of the father is greater than your sins. Don’t fear. It’s greater. Let’s pray that the the Virgin Mary helps us to understand more and more that being a disciple means to put our feet on the footprints left by the Master: they are the footprints of divine grace that regenerates life for all.

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Angelus Address: On the Trip to Mexico

“Like my predecessors, I also went to confirm the Mexican people in their faith, but at the same time to be confirmed. I have gathered my hands full of this gift so that it goes out as a benefit to the universal Church”

February 21, 2016

Here is a transcription and translation of Pope Francis’ address today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The apostolic trip that I took some days ago to Mexico was for all of us an experience of transfiguration. How so?

The Lord has shown us the light of his glory through the Body of the Church, of his holy people that lives in this land — a body so often wounded, a people so often oppressed, despised, violated in its dignity.

The various encounters we lived in Mexico were truly full of light: the light of a faith that transfigures faces and illumines our path.

The spiritual “center of gravity” of my pilgrimage was the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To remain in silence before the image of the Mother was my principal aim [in making the trip]. And I thank God that he has given me this opportunity. I have contemplated and I have allowed myself to be gazed upon by She who carries imprinted in her eyes the gaze of all of her children, gathering up the sorrows caused by violence, kidnapping, assassinations, the violence against so many poor people, against so many women.

Guadalupe is the marian sanctuary most visited in the world. From all of America, people go to pray there where the ‘Dark-skinned Virgin’ appeared to the Indian, St. Juan Diego, beginning the evangelization of the continent and its new civilization, a fruit of the encounter between diverse cultures.

This is precisely the inheritance that the Lord has entrusted to Mexico: to care for the richness of diversity, and at the same time, to manifest the harmony of a common faith: a sincere and robust faith, accompanied by a great force of vitality and humanity.

Like my predecessors, I also went to confirm the Mexican people in their faith, but at the same time to be confirmed. I have gathered my hands full of this gift so that it goes out as a benefit to the universal Church.

A luminous example of what I am saying was given by families: the Mexican families have received me with joy as a messenger of Christ, pastor of the whole Church. But at the same time, they have given me strong and clear testimonies, testimonies of a living faith, of faith that transfigures life, and this to edify all of the Christian families of the world. And the same can be said about the youth, the consecrated, the priests, the workers, the imprisoned.

Thus I give thanks to the Lord and to the Virgin of Guadalupe for the gift of this pilgrimage. I also thank the president of Mexico and the other civil authorities for their warm welcome. And I deeply thank my brothers in the episcopate and all of the people who in various ways collaborated.

We raise up praise, particular praise, to the Blessed Trinity for having wanted on this occasion to bring about in Cuba the encounter between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, our dear brother Kirill: an encounter much desired already by my predecessors. This event too is a prophetic light of resurrection, which the world today needs more than ever. The Holy Mother of God continues to guide us in the path of friendship and unity. And we pray to the Virgin of Kazan. Patriarch Kirill has given me an icon of the Virgin of Kazan. Let us pray together a Hail Mary:

[Hail Mary full of grace…] [Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters, tomorrow, Monday, an international conference begins in Rome that is titled “For a World Without the Death Penalty,” promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community.

I desire that this conference might give new strength to efforts to abolish the death penalty. An increasing strong opposition to the death penalty, even as an instrument of legitimate social defense, has developed in public opinion, and this is a sign of hope. In fact, modern societies have the ability to effectively control crime without definitively removing from the criminal the possibility of redeeming himself.

The issue lies in the context of a perspective on penal justice that is ever more conformed to the dignity of man and God’s design for man and for society. And also penal justice open to the hope of being reintegrated in society. The command “thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and refers to the guilty as well as the innocent.

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a good occasion to promote in the world a growing maturity in forms of respect for life and the dignity of each person. Because even a criminal has the inviolable right to life, a gift of God.

I make a call to the consciences of those who govern, so that they come to an international consensus aimed at abolishing the death penalty. And to those among them who are Catholic, that they carry out a gesture of courage, giving an example: that the death penalty not be applied in this Holy Year of Mercy.

All Christians and men and women of good will are called today to work for the abolition of the death penalty, but also for improving the conditions of prisons, in respect of human dignity and of those people deprived of freedom.

I give a cordial greeting to families, to the parish groups and associations, to all the pilgrims of Rome, of Italy, and of other countries. I greet the faithful of Seville, Cadiz, Ceuta, those of Trieste, Corato and Turin.

A special thought goes out to the Community of John XXIII, founded by Servant of God Oreste Benzi, which next Friday will sponsor along the streets of Rome a Via Crucis of solidarity and prayer for women who are victims of human trafficking.

Lent is a good time to travel a path of conversion that has mercy at its center. Because of this, I’ve decided to give to those who are here in the Plaza a “spiritual medicine” called “Misericordina.” We did this once before, but this one is better, it is “Misericordina-Plus”: a little box that has a rosary ring and a little image of the Merciful Jesus. Volunteers, including the poor, the homeless, refugees and also religious, will now distribute them. Receive this gift as a spiritual aid to spread pardon and fraternity, especially in this year of mercy. I wish all of you a good Sunday. And please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch, and until later!

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Angelus Text: It’s Never Too Late to Convert

“Have you thought about the patience of God?”

February 28, 2016

Here is the Pope’s address today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peters’ Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Every day, unfortunately, the newspapers report bad news: homicides, accidents, catastrophes… in the passage from today’s Gospel, Jesus refers to two tragic happenings of his day which had caused a stir: a cruel suppression carried out by Roman soldiers in the temple, and the collapse of the tower of Siloam in Jerusalem, which had resulted in 18 deaths (cf Luke 13:1-5).

Jesus is aware of the superstitious mentality of his listeners and he knows that they erroneously interpreted these types of event. In fact, they thought that, if those people had died in such a way, cruelly, it was a sign that God had punished them for some grave sin they had committed, as if saying “they deserved it.” And on the other hand, the fact of being saved from such a disgrace made them feel “good about themselves.” They deserved it; I’m fine.

Jesus clearly rejects this outlook, because God does not permit tragedies in order to punish sins, and he affirms that those poor victims were not worse than others. Instead, he invites his listeners to draw from these sad events a teaching that applies to everyone, because we are all sinners; in fact, he said to those who had questioned him, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (v 3).

Today too, seeing certain disgraces and sorrowful happenings, we can have the temptation to “unload” the responsibility on the victims, or even on God himself. But the Gospel invites us to reflect: What idea of God do we have? Are we truly convinced that God is like that, or isn’t that just our projection, a God made to “our image and likeness”?

Jesus, in contrast, invites us to change the heart, to make a radical switch on the path of our lives, abandoning compromises with evil — and that’s something we all do, eh? compromises with evil, hypocrisy … I think that nearly everyone has a bit of hypocrisy — to decidedly take up again the path of the Gospel. But again there is the temptation to justify ourselves. What should we convert from? Aren’t we basically good people? — How many times we have thought this: “But I’m basically good, I’m a good person” … and it’s not like that, eh? “Am I not a believer and even quite practicing?” And we think that that’s how we are justified.

Unfortunately, each of us very much resembles the tree that, over many years, has repeatedly shown that it’s sterile. But, fortunately for us, Jesus is like a farmer who, with limitless patience, still obtains a concession for the fruitless vine. “Sir, leave it for this year also … it may bear fruit in the future” (v 9).

A “year” of grace: the time of the ministry of Christ, the time of the Church before his glorious return, the time of our life, marked by a certain number of Lents, which are offered to us as occasions of repentance and salvation. A time of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The invincible patience of Jesus. Have you thought about the patience of God? Have you thought as well of his limitless concern for sinners? How it should lead us to impatience with ourselves! It’s never too late to convert. Never. Until the last moment, God’s patience awaits us.

Remember that little story from St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, when she prayed for that man who was condemned to death, a criminal, who did not want to receive the consolation of the Church. He rejected the priest, he didn’t want [forgiveness], he wanted to die like that. And she prayed, in the convent, and when that man was there, at the moment of being killed, he turned to the priest, took the crucifix and kissed it. The patience of God! He does the same with us, with all of us. How many times, we don’t know — we’ll know in heaven — but how many times we are there, there, and there, the Lord saves us. He saves us because he has great patience with us. And this is his mercy. It’s never too late to convert, but it’s urgent. It’s now! Let us begin today.

The Virgin Mary sustains us, so that we can open our hearts to the grace of God, to his mercy; and she helps us to never judge others, but rather to allow ourselves to be struck by daily misfortunes and to make a serious examination of our consciences and to repent.

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Returning With Loving Embrace

Mar 06, 2016 03:18 pm     Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, we find three parables of mercy: that of the sheep (vv. 4-7), that of the coin found (vv. 8-10), and the great parable of the prodigal son, or rather, the merciful father (vv. 11-32). Today, it would do us well for each of us to open the Gospel, this Chapter 15 of Luke, and read the three parables. Inside the Lenten itinerary, the Gospel presents to us this last parable of the merciful Father, featuring a father with his two sons. The story makes us understand some features of this father as a man always ready to forgive and to hope against hope. It affects primarily his tolerance before the younger son’s decision to leave home: he could resist, knowing that he is still immature, a young boy, or seek some lawyer to not give him his inheritance, still being alive. Instead, he allows him to leave, having predicted some possible risks. God works with us like this: He lets us be free, even to make mistakes, because in creating us, He has given us the great gift of freedom. It is for us to put it to good use. This gift of freedom that God gives us always amazes me!

But the separation from his son is only physical; for his father always carries him in his heart; confidently, he awaits his return; he scans the road in the hope of seeing him. And one day he sees him appear in the distance (cf. v. 20). But this means that this father, every day, climbed on the roof to see if his son came back! Then he is moved to see him, he runs toward him, embraces him, kisses him. How much tenderness! And this son had made big [errors]! But the father welcomes him so.

The same attitude the father also reserves for the eldest son, who has remained at home, and is now indignant and protests because he does not understand and does not share in all that goodwill toward his brother that had wronged. The father comes out also to meet this child and reminds him that they were always together, they share everything (v. 31), but you have to accept with joy your brother who has finally returned home. And this makes me think of something: When one feels they are a sinner, they feel like they are nothing, as I’ve heard someone say — many–: ‘Father, I am a little piece of dirt,’ and therefore, this is the moment to go to the Father. Instead, when one feels righteous– ‘I always did the right thing …’ —, equally, the Father comes to seek us, because this attitude of feeling ‘right,’ is evil: it is pride. It comes from the devil. The Father waits for those that recognize themselves sinners and goes to search those who feel themselves ‘right.’ This is our Father!

In this parable, you can also take a glimpse at a third child. A third child? ..Where? He’s hidden! And it is, ‘Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … (Phil 2: 6-7).’ This Son-Servant is Jesus!

He is ‘the extension of the arms and heart of the Father: He welcomed the prodigal Son and washed his dirty feet; He has prepared the feast for the feast of forgiveness. He, Jesus, teaches us to be “merciful as the Father.”

The figure of the Father in the parable reveals the heart of God. He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond all measure, always awaits our conversion every time we wrong; He awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without Him; He is always willing to open up His arms no matter what happened. As the Father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider them His children, even when they are lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to Him. He speaks to us so kindly when we believe we are right. The errors we commit, even if large, do not scratch away the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out afresh: He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being His children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Get up, go ahead!”

In this stretch of Lent that still separates us from Easter, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion. Let us reach by loving gaze of our Father and return to Him with all your heart, rejecting any compromise with sin. May the Virgin Mary accompany us until the regenerating embrace with Divine Mercy.

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ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Us Becoming New Creatures

Mar 13, 2016 03:18 pm         Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Lent (cf. Jn 8.1 to 11) is so beautiful, I really like to read it and re-read it. It presents the story of the adulterous woman, highlighting the theme of the mercy of God, Who never wants death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. The scene takes place in the area of the temple. Imagine [as if it were] there, in the Square [of St. Peter’s] Basilica. Jesus is teaching the people, and here comes some of the scribes and Pharisees, dragging before Him a woman caught in adultery. That woman is in the middle, between Jesus and the crowd (cf. v. 3), between the mercy of the Son of God and violence, the rage of her accusers. In fact, they have not come to the Master to ask for His opinion – for they were bad people – but to try to trap Him. In fact, if Jesus will follow the severity of the law, approving the stoning of the woman, He will lose His reputation for gentleness and kindness that so fascinates the people; if He wants to be merciful, He will have to go against the law, that He Himself said He did not want to destroy, but to make (cf. Mt 5:17). And Jesus is put in this situation.

Their bad intention is hiding under the question put to Jesus, “So what do you say?” (V. 5). Jesus does not answer, He is silent and makes a mysterious gesture: “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.” (v. 7). Maybe He was making a drawing, some say He was writing the sins of the Pharisees … anyway, he wrote, as if He were somewhere else. In this manner, He invites everyone to be calm, not to act out of impulsiveness, and to seek God’s justice. But those, who were bad, insist and expect an answer from Him. It seemed they had a thirst for blood. Then, Jesus looks up and says, ““Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v. 7). This response displaces the accusers, disarming them all, in the true sense of the word: all of them laid down their “weapons,” that is, the stones ready to be hurled, both those visibly against the woman, and those hiding that they were against Jesus. And as the Lord continues to draw on the earth, doing drawings, I do not know …, the accusers leave one after the other, with heads down, beginning with the oldest, more aware of not being without sin. How well it does to make us aware that we are sinners! When we speak badly of others – all things that we know well – do we have the courage to drop the stones on the ground that we have ready to throw at others, and think a bit about our sins!

Only the woman and Jesus remained there: misery and mercy, facing each other. And this, as often happens to us when we stop in front of the confessional, with shame, to make seen our misery and ask forgiveness! “Woman, where are they?” (V. 10), Jesus says to her. And just this fact, and His eyes full of mercy, full of love, to make that person feel – perhaps for the first time – that she has a dignity, that she is not her sin, but has the dignity of a person; that she can change her life, can exit from her bondage and walk in a new way.

Dear brothers and sisters, this woman represents all of us, that we are sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of His loyalty. And her experience is God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace that saves us from sin and death. He wrote in the ground, in the dust of which every human being is made (cf. Gen 2.7), God’s judgment: “I do not want you to die, but that you live.” God does not nail us to our sin, does not identify us with the wrongs we have committed. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed. He wants to free us, and wants that we want to be together with Him. He wants that our freedom is converted from evil to good, and this is possible – you can! – with His grace.

May the Virgin Mary help us to entrust ourselves fully to God’s mercy, to become new creatures.

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