Pope Francis's daily homilies 

A Christian Should Live in Perpetual Peace, Says Francis
At Thursday's Morning Mass, Reflects on Wonder, Consolation

VATICAN CITY, April 04, 2013 - Francis celebrated his usual morning Mass today at Domus Sanctae Marthae, drawing from the Gospel passage from Luke to reflect on peace, which he said is a gift that "is not sold and we do not buy."

Drawing from the first reading, he said that the disciples who were witnesses of the lame man's healing and now see Jesus, “are a bit out of themselves, but not because of some mental illness: outside themselves because of their awe."

But what is this awe? “It is something," said the Holy Father, “that drives us out of ourselves, for joy: this is great, it is very great. This is not mere enthusiasm: even fans in a stadium are enthusiastic when their team wins, right? No, this is not some enthusiasm, it is something more profound: it is the wonder that comes when we find ourselves with Jesus."

This astonishment, the Holy Father explained, is the beginning “of the habitual state of the Christian." Certainly, he noted, we cannot live forever in wonder, but this is condition is the beginning which allows a “mark to be left on the soul and spiritual consolation." Actually, the condition of being a Christian should be one of spiritual consolation, notwithstanding problems, pains, sickness.

"The last step of consolation," the Pontiff said, “is peace: one begins with awe, and the minor tone of this wonder, of this consolation, is peace." The Christian, even in the most painful trials, never loses “the peace and the presence of Jesus” and with “a little courage," we are able to say to the Lord: “Lord, give me this grace that is the sign of the encounter with you: spiritual consolation”; and, above all, he emphasized, “never lose peace." We look to the Lord, who “suffered so upon the Cross, but he never lost peace. Peace, this peace, is not our own: it is not sold and we do not buy it." It is a gift of God for which we must beg.

Peace is like “the final step of this spiritual consolation, which begins with a joyful wonder." Wherefore, we must not “trick ourselves with our or others' fantasies, which lead us to believe that these fantasies are reality." In truth, it is more Christian “to believe that reality may not be so pretty."

The Pope ended by asking for the grace of spiritual consolation and of peace, which “begins with this joyful wonder in the encounter with Jesus Christ."

The first reading for today's Mass is Acts 3:11-26, which begins: As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?

The Gospel for today's Mass is Luke 24:35-48, which includes: While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

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Pope Francis: Sometimes We Need Tears

VATICAN CITY, April 04, 2013 - During the Wednesday morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis reflected on tears as "glasses to see Jesus."

A group of policemen of the Vatican gendarmerie was among the congregation for the early morning Mass.

During the homily, the Holy Father referred to the day's Gospel, which recounts Mary Magdalene’s meeting with the Risen One. The Pope mentioned her previous condition of “sinful woman,” who is redeemed by anointing Jesus’ feet and drying them with her hair.

Mary Magdalene is the emblem of an “abused woman also held in contempt by those who thought themselves just," before Jesus forgave her many sins, as she “loved much.”

The new object of love of the repentant sinner is Jesus himself, whose death dismayed her as it meant "the failure of all her hopes.” Thus she bursts out crying, as is normal for one who mourns.

“Sometimes in our life tears are the glasses to see Jesus,” said Pope Francis. And it was in fact with her weeping, then, that Mary Magdalene transmitted this message: “I have seen the Lord.”

The grief of this woman, whose life was changed by her personal encounter with Jesus, is the grief of us all, in our “darkest moments.”

Hence it is right, the Pope said, to ask ourselves: “Have we had that goodness of tears that prepare our eyes to look at, to see the Lord?"

One can weep for many reasons, he continued: “out of goodness, for our sins, for graces, out of joy” and, like Magdalene, we can also ask the Lord for the “beautiful grace” of tears to prepare ourselves to see Him.

To see the Lord, does not mean to perceive Him with our sight but “within our heart,” explained the Holy Father. Only in this way can we give the witness of our life: “I live this way because I have seen the Lord."

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Pope: If We Can Resist Gossip, We Make Big Step Forward
Francis Preaches Today on Building New Life of Baptism

VATICAN CITY, April 09, 2013  - At morning Mass today in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Francis said one way to make a step forward in developing the new life of baptism is by rejecting the temptation to gossip.

The Holy Father's customary morning Mass today was attended by staff from the Vatican medical services and office staff of the Vatican City Government.

"The first Christian community is a timeless model for the Christian community of today, because they were of one heart and one soul, through the Holy Spirit who had brought them into a 'new life,'" the Pontiff said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel passage that recounts the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, who did not immediately grasp how a man can be "born again." Through the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, we are born into the new life we have received in Baptism. However, he added, this is a life that has to be developed; it does not come automatically.

"We have to do all we can to ensure that our life develops into new life," the Pope said, acknowledging that this can be "a laborious journey," but reminding that it depends chiefly on the Holy Spirit, as well as our ability to be "open to his breath."

And this, the Pope pointed out, is exactly what happened to the early Christians. They had "new life," which was expressed in their living with one heart and one soul. They had, he said, "that unity, that unanimity, that harmony of feeling of love, mutual love."

Francis said that this needs to be rediscovered today, observing, for example, that the aspect of "meekness in the community," is a somewhat forgotten virtue. Meekness is stigmatized, it has "many enemies," the first of which is gossip.

"When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others -- these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me -- these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community."

"These struggles always exist," the Pope warned, "in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends." But it is the Spirit who brings us into new life, making us meek and charitable.

The Holy Father then outlined the correct behavior for a Christian.

First, "do not judge anyone" because "the only Judge is the Lord." Then "keep quiet" and if you have something to say, say it to the people involved, to those "who can remedy the situation," but "not to the entire neighborhood."

"If, by the grace of the Holy Spirit," concluded Pope Francis, "we succeed in never gossiping, it will be a great step forward" and "will do us all good."

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Francis: We Don't Save Ourselves
Pope at Morning Mass Warns Against False Securities

VATICAN CITY, April 10, 2013  - Pope Francis spoke today at morning Mass about salvation that comes from God alone.

As customary, the Holy Father celebrated morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Today, Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Angelo Comastri concelebrated.

"The Lord saves us by His love: not with a letter, nor with a decree, but with his love," the Pope said in the homily, as reported by Vatican Radio. And salvation, is "the recovery of that dignity, which we have lost,” the dignity of being children of God.

This is a dignity that grows, said Pope Francis, “until our final encounter with Him,” adding, “this is the way of salvation, and this is beautiful."

The Pontiff said that "we are men and women of hope," people who have been "saved by love."

The problem, he explained, is that sometimes we want to save ourselves, “and we believe we can do it,” for example basing our security on money -- and we think: “I have money, I am secure, [I have it] all, there are no worries, I have dignity: the dignity of a rich person.”

"This,” said Pope Francis, “is not enough."

"Think of the parable of the Gospel, of the man who had the full granary, who said, ‘I’ll make another to get more, and then I’ll sleep soundly,’ and the Lord says, 'You fool! This evening you will die.' That salvation is wrong, it is a temporary salvation, it is also apparent salvation.”

The Holy Father went on to say that, at other times, “We think we save ourselves with vanity, with pride,” that, “We believe ourselves powerful ...,” and that “we mask our poverty, our sins, with vanity, with pride ... Even that ends,” he said.

"True salvation is in the dignity that God gives back to us in the hope that Christ has given us at Easter," he affirmed.

“Let's make today an act of faith,” said Pope Francis, “[Let us say]: Lord, I believe. I believe in Your love. I believe that Your love has saved me. I believe that Your love has given me the dignity that I had not. I believe that Your love gives me hope.”

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Freedom Is in Obedience, Says Francis
Reflects at This Morning's Mass on Discernment

VATICAN CITY, April 11, 2013 - Obedience is the path to freedom, Francis said in his homily at this morning's Mass.

In the customary early morning Mass celebrated at his residence, Domus Sanctae Marthae, Francis today spoke of obeying God and discerning his will, Vatican Radio reported.

"To obey God,” said Pope Francis, “is to listen to Him, to have an open heart, to go on the road that God shows us.”

"This is what makes us free," he added.

Francis also spoke of the difficulties that often accompany our efforts to discern the true voice of God speaking to us. He said, “In our lives we hear things that do not come from Jesus,” adding, “our weaknesses at times lead us on [the wrong] road.”

Nevertheless, God does not leave us to our devices. He does not abandon us to our weakness and sinfulness. “It is precisely the Holy Spirit,” he said, “who gives us the strength to go forward.”

"He sends His spirit without measure, [in order that we might] hear Jesus,” and walk in His way," Francis reflected.

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Francis: 'Give Time to Time'
Says God Works in History, Not With a Magic Wand

VATICAN CITY, April 12, 2013 - Drawing from the advice given to the Sanhedrin by the Pharisee Gamaliel, Pope Francis said today that it is a good idea to "give time to time."

The Pope celebrated his customary early morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae today, reflecting on the passage from the First Reading, Acts 5:34-42.

In that reading, Gamaliel advises the chief priests and Sanhedrin to allow the works of the first Christians to run their course: "So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men [the Apostles], and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God."

In his homily, Pope Francis observed that "give time to time” is “wise advice also for our life, because time is God’s messenger. God saves us in time, not in the moment.”

"The Lord saves us in history, in our own personal history," he continued, as reported by the Vatican Publishing House, whose staff attended the Mass. "The Lord does not work as a fairy with a magic wand.”

The Pontiff then described “triumphalism” as “a great temptation in Christian life, of which not even the Apostles were immune."

"Triumphalism is not of the Lord,” who lived “humbly," the Pope said. "The Lord teaches us that in life everything is not magic, that triumphalism is not Christian.”

Instead, the Pope spoke of a “grace that we must ask for,” which “is that of perseverance: to persevere in the way of the Lord, to the end, every day.”

One proceeds on the way “with difficulty, with effort, with so much joy.” Hence the invocation is "that the Lord save us from triumphalist fantasies.”

The homily ended with this phrase: to walk every day “in the presence of God: that is the way of the Lord. Let’s go on that one!”

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Francis Condemns Calumny as Work of Satan
At Morning Mass, Pope Remembers Martyrs

By Staff

VATICAN CITY, April 15, 2013  - Drawing from the First Reading account of Stephen, the first martyr, being dragged before the Sanhedrin, Pope Francis today strongly condemned the sin of calumny.

At his customary morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Holy Father noted that Stephen was accused of "false witness," and that his enemies chose "the path of calumny."

Vatican Radio reported on the Holy Father's homily, noting that Francis described calumny as worse than sin and a direct expression of Satan.

"We are all sinners; all of us. We all commit sins. But calumny is something else. It is of course a sin, too, but it is something more. Calumny aims to destroy the work of God, and calumny comes from a very evil thing: it is born of hatred. And hate is the work of Satan. Calumny destroys the work of God in people, in their souls. Calumny uses lies to get ahead. And let us be in no doubt, eh?: Where there is calumny, there is Satan himself," he said.

The Holy Father then noted the contrast of Stephen's behavior, who did not return falsehood with falsehood.

"He does not want to go that way to save himself. He looks to the Lord and obeys the law," being in the peace and truth of Christ. And that, Pope Francis said, “is what happens in the history of the Church."

"But the age of martyrs is not yet over, even today we can say, in truth, that the Church has more martyrs now than during the first centuries," he continued. "The Church has many men and women who are maligned through calumny, who are persecuted, who are killed in hatred of Jesus, in hatred of the faith: some are killed because they teach the catechism, others are killed because they wear the cross ... Today, in many countries, they are maligned, they are persecuted ... they are our brothers and sisters who are suffering today, in this age of the martyrs."

And again Pope Francis repeated, “The age of martyrs is not yet over, the Church has more martyrs now than during the first centuries."

He said this age of “such great spiritual turmoil” reminds him of an ancient Russian icon that depicts Our Lady covering the people of God with her mantle: "We pray to Our Lady to protect us, and in times of spiritual turbulence the safest place is under the mantle of Our Lady. She is the mother who takes care of the Church. And in this time of martyrs, she is the protagonist, the protagonist of protection: She is the Mother. (...) Let us state with faith: Mother, the Church is under your protection: Care for the Church."

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Francis: We Must Submit to the Holy Spirit
Pope at Daily Mass Encourages Individuals, Whole Church

VATICAN CITY, April 17, 2013  - Francis says there is still much of the Second Vatican Council awaiting to be assimilated because there is a desire to "tame the Holy Spirit."

The Pope said this Tuesday during his homily at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, as Vatican Radio reported.

The Pontiff's reflections were drawn from the First Reading, which related Stephen's accusation that his persecutors were resisting the Holy Spirit.

"The Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward," Francis said.

He warned that we want "to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong.”

"That’s because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it’s what gives us the strength to go forward” but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar," Francis reflected.

The Pope said there is still a temptation to resist the Holy Spirit, even as adoration of the Third Person of the Trinity has increased.

He suggested one example of this temptation to resist the Spirit is the incomplete reception of Vatican II, a council which was "a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit."

Fifty years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked.

The answer is “no,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope said the same thing happens in our personal lives. “The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.”

"Submit to the Holy Spirit,” he exhorted, “which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.”

Babysitter

In today's homily, Francis spoke about evangelization, as L'Osservatore Romano reported.

Already known for his use of imagery in preaching, the Pope offered an image this morning of a Church as a "babysitter."

The Church cannot be merely “a babysitter who takes care of the child just to get him to sleep." That would make her a "slumbering Church," he said.

Instead, the members of the Church, the baptized, must evangelize.

"When we do this the Church becomes a mother who generates children," he said, capable of bring Christ to the world.

"Let us ask the Lord,” he concluded, “for the grace to become baptized persons who are brave and sure that the Holy Spirit who is in us, received at baptism, always moves us to proclaim Jesus Christ with our life, our testimony and even with our words."

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Preaching the Gospel with 'Magnanimity and Humility'
Pontiff Reflects on the Evangelization During Daily Mass Homily

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, April 25, 2013  - Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of St. Mark during his daily Morning Mass at the Casa Sanctae Marthae, emphasizing on the need for Christians to proclaim the Gospel as commanded by Christ.

According to Vatican Radio, members of the Secretariate of the Synod of Bishops, who were accompanied by the Secretary General, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, were present at the liturgy. Also present were a group of police from the Vatican Gendarmerie.

Referring to the Gospel of St. Mark that describes the Ascension of Christ, Pope Francis spoke on the command given to the disciples to preach the Gospel “to the end of the world.”

“Go all over the world. The horizon ... great horizon... And as you can see, this is the mission of the Church. The Church continues to preach this to everyone, all over the world. But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus,” the Pope said.

“So they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted with them'. The Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel. This is the magnanimity that Christians should have. A pusillanimous Christian is incomprehensible: this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards!"

The Holy Father also focused on the First Letter of St. Peter, which he said “defines the style of Christian preaching as one of humility.”

"The style of evangelical preaching should have this attitude: humility, service, charity, brotherly love. 'But ... Lord, we must conquer the world!'. That word, conquer, doesn't work. We must preach in the world. The Christian must not be like soldiers who when they win the battle make a clean sweep of everything.”

The Christian, the Pope continued, "proclaims the Gospel with his witness, rather than with words. And with a dual disposition, as St. Thomas Aquinas says: a great soul that is not afraid of great things, that moves forward towards infinite horizons, and the humility to take into account the small things.”

Pope Francis said that this dual disposition between great and small things is the path proceeded by Christian missionary activity.

The Holy Father concluded his homily but encouraging those present to “go forth with this magnanimity and humility” which accompanied the disciples during their mission in preaching the Gospel.

“The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus,” the Pope said. “But there is first the Cross. Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church but in this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility.”

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Pope Francis: Prepare Your Hearts For the Heavenly Homeland
Pontiff Reflects on Christs Words to Disciples During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, April 26, 2013  - Staff members from the Vatican Typography, the Vatican Labor Office and Vatican State Police attended the daily Mass celebrated by Pope Francis this morning at Domus Sanctae Marthae. During his homily, the Holy Father spoke on the St. John’s Gospel of Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Pope Francis reflected on the beauty of Christ’s words of farewell which he said were “really from the heart.”

“He knows that his disciples are sad, because they realize that things are not going well,” the Pope said. “He says: Do not let your hearts be troubled. And he starts to talk like that, just like a friend, even with the attitude of a pastor. I say, the music in the words of Jesus is how the pastor should behave, like a shepherd with his sheep, right?”

The Holy Father also reflected on the meaning Jesus’s promise to prepare a dwelling place for the disciples in Heaven, “the definitive homeland.”. To prepare a place, the Pope said, “means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance - our chance - to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk.”

The Eyes of the Soul

Pope Francis stated that Christ not only wishes to prepare a place, but also to prepare our eyes to be able to see the world around us through what he described as “the eyes of the soul”

“Our eyes, the eyes of our soul they need, they have to be prepared to contemplate the beautiful face of Jesus,” the Pope said. “Our hearing must be prepared in order to hear the beautiful things, the beautiful words. Above all our hearts must be prepared: prepared for love, to love more.”

To prepare us for this new vision, he continued, the Lord prepares our hearts “with trials, with consolations, with tribulations, with good things.”

"The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation,” the Pope said. “Sometimes the Lord has to do it quickly, as he did with the good thief. He only had a few minutes to prepare him and he did it. But the normal run of things goes this way, no? In preparing our heart, eyes, hearing to arrive in this homeland. Because that is our homeland.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on those attending the Mass to not look at this preparation for Heaven as an alienation but as an opportunity to prepare our hearts for the unfathomable beauty that awaits all.

"Preparing for heaven means beginning to greet him from afar. This is not alienation: this is the truth, this is allowing Jesus to prepare our hearts, our eyes for the beauty that is so great. It is the path of beauty and the path to the homeland. "

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Pope Francis: A Worldly Church Is A Weak Church
Pontiff Emphasizes Importance of Constant Prayer In Overcoming Evil

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, April 30, 2013  - During morning Mass today, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of entrusting the Church to God through constant prayer. The Holy Father celebrated Mass with staff from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

The Pope said that while with our work we can safeguard the Church, what the Lord Lord does is much more important. “He is the only One who can look into the face of evil and overcome it.,” the Pope said. “If we do not want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world.”

“Here the question arises: do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord's Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church. It' s yours. Your Church is [made up of] our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart.”

While it is easy to pray to the Lord when we need something, Pope Francis said that it is fundamental that we pray for all who have “received the same Baptism.”

"Entrust the Church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the Church grow. It is also an act of faith. We can do nothing, we are poor servants - all of us - of the Church,” Pope Francis said. “It is He who keeps her going and holds her and makes her grow , makes her holy, defends and protects her from the prince of this world and what he wants the Church to become, in short more and more worldly. This is the greatest danger!”

The 76 year old Pontiff warned that a worldly Church, with the spirit of the world within herself, the Church becomes weak, “a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross. She cannot transmit this if she is worldly.”

The Holy Father called on the faithful to entrust the Church, the elderly, the sick, the children and the youth to God in the midst of tribulations. Doing so, he continued, “He will give us, in the midst of tribulations, the peace that only He can give.”

“This peace which the world cannot give, that peace that cannot be bought, that peace which is a true gift of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his Church,” the Holy Father said. “Entrust all this to the Lord, guard your Church in tribulation, so she does not lose faith, so she does not lose hope.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily asking the Lord to give all faithful the strength to not lose faith and hope. “Entrusting the Church to the Lord,” he said, “will do us and the Church good. It will give us great peace [and although] it will not rid us of our tribulations, it will make us stronger in our sufferings.”

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Pope: 'The Church Must Be Courageous'
Emphasizes Importance of Transmitting the Faith During Mass With Swiss Guard

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, May 03, 2013  - During his daily morning Mass today, Pope Francis reflected on the duty of all Christians to pass on the faith. The Mass was attended by the Pontifical Swiss Guard along with their commander, Daniel Rudolf Anrig. Concelebrating with the Pope was Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Addressing the Swiss Guard, Pope Francis greeted them and thanking them for their service which he called “a beautiful testimony of fidelity to the Church and love for the Pope.” The Swiss Guard will be commemorate the Last Stand of 1527 on May 6th where they will also swear in new recruits. The celebration will remember the countless Swiss Guards who died protecting Pope Clement during the Sacking of Rome.

Contemplating on the readings of the day, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of passing on the gift of faith by all Christians with their lives. The fundamental faith, he said, “is faith in the Risen Jesus, in Jesus who has forgiven our sins through His death and reconciled us with the Father.”

"Transmitting this requires us to be courageous: the courage of transmitting the faith. A sometimes simple courage,” the Pope said.

“I remember - excuse me - a personal story: as a child every Good Friday my grandmother took us to the Procession of Candles and at the end of the procession came the recumbent Christ and my grandmother made us kneel down and told us children, 'Look he is dead, but tomorrow he will be Risen! '. That is how the faith entered: faith in Christ Crucified and Risen. In the history of the Church there have been many, many people who have wanted to blur this strong certainty and speak of a spiritual resurrection. No, Christ is alive.”

The Holy Father went on to say that Christ asks of us the courage to not only proclaim His Resurrection, but also the courage to pray and ask Christ when we are in need.

“We must have the courage to go to Jesus and ask him: 'But you said this, do it! Make the faith grow, make evangelization move forward, help me to solve this problem,” the Pope said. “Do we have this courage in prayer? Or do we pray a little, when we can, spending a bit' of time in prayer? But that courage, that parresia (boldness) even in prayer.”

Drawing the examples of Abraham and Moses who had the courage to negotiate on behalf of others, the Holy Father said that such courage was needed in the Church today.

"When the Church loses courage, the Church enters into a lukewarm atmosphere. The lukewarm, lukewarm Christians, without courage,” he said. “That hurts the Church so much, because this tepid atmosphere draws you inside, and problems arise among us; we no longer have the [...] courage to pray towards heaven, or the courage to proclaim the Gospel. We are lukewarm.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily saying that despite the fact that we may have courage to be involved in our jealousies, envy, careers in order to selfishly move forward, such courage is not good for the Church.

The Church, he said, “must be courageous! We all have to be courageous in prayer, in challenging Jesus!.”

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Pontiff Celebrates Mass With Argentine Journalists
Invites Faithful to See the Wounds of Jesus in Those Less Fortunate

By H. Sergio Mora

VATICAN CITY, May 13, 2013  - On Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated his daily Mass in Saint Martha’s residence. At the end of the celebration, he greeted 11 Argentine journalists and their families, all residents in Rome, as correspondents of local newspaper offices , among them ANSA, Clarin, CNN, La Nacion, La7, Notimex and ZENIT.

Also in attendance was the Argentine ambassador to the Holy See, Juan Pablo Cafiero and his wife. Father Antonio Pelayo, correspondent of an Argentine publication and former director of the Foreign Press Association of Italy, concelebrated with the Holy Father.

Journalist Cristina Tacchini of ANSA gave the Pope a poncho from his native Argentina. The children of correspondent Elisabetta Pique showed the Pontiff drawings they made of his person, which accentuated the Pope’s affection. In fact, the presence of journalists’ children was also felt during the Mass, when at the beginning of Mass a little girl stammered “Francis, Francis.”

After greeting the journalists and their families, and saying a few words to them, the Pontiff kept repeating: “Pray for me.”

Pope Francis was also given a book of photographs of northern Italy, where his parents came from, a letter asking for prayers for Uruguayan Father Mauricio Silva, who disappeared in 1977, and a list of sick people in need of prayers. He was also given a huge soccer boot with the signatures of Brazilian players.

In his homily, always serene and conversational, Francis invited those attending to come out of themselves, and to do so by remembering Jesus’ wounds and by recognizing them in needy brothers, the sick, the ignorant, the poor and the exploited.

He quoted the Gospel of the day that invites to “pray to the Father in Jesus’ name.” He said that the prayer that may sometimes bore us “is always inside us, as a thought that comes and goes.” “True prayer,” he said, “is to go out to the Father in the name of Jesus, an exodus from ourselves,” which occurs “with the intercession of Jesus who shows His wounds to the Father. “

The Holy Father added that of all the lacerations that Jesus suffered in the Passion, He only took his wounds with Him. “Which is the school where one learns to know Jesus’ wounds, His priestly wounds of intercession?” He answered indicating: “If we do not come out of ourselves and go to those wounds, we will never learn the freedom that takes us to the other exit from ourselves.”

Because there are two ways to go out. “The first to Jesus’ wounds and the second to the wounds of our brothers and sisters.” Words that are confirmed in John’s Gospel. “Truly, truly I say to you, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give to you.”

“The door is open: in going to the Father, Jesus left the door open. Not because He “forgot to close it” but because “He Himself is the door.”

Pope Francis asked for prayer “with the courage of the one who makes us know that Jesus is before the Father,” and with the “humility to recognize and see the wounds of Jesus in needy brothers.”

“May the Lord give us the freedom to enter into the sanctuary where He is priest and intercedes for us, and what we ask the Father in His name, will be given to us. But we also pray that He will give us the courage to go to that other sanctuary, which are the wounds of our needy brothers and sisters, who suffer, who carry the cross and who have yet to conquer, as Jesus conquered,” concluded the Pope.

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2013-05-15

Pope Francis at Mass: bishops and priests need prayers of faithful

Pray for priests and bishops, that they might not give in to the temptations of money and vanity, but serve the people of God. This was Pope Francis’ exhortation to the faithful at Mass this morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican, at which there was a group of Vatican Radio staff. Listen: 

Pope Francis’ homily took its starting point from the passage in the Acts of the Apostles, in which Paul exhorts the elders of the Church of Ephesus to watch over themselves and all the flock, to be attentive shepherds, and guard against the “ravenous wolves” that would feed on the fold. “One of the ‘most beautiful pages of the New Testament’,” said Pope Francis, “[the episode] is full of tenderness, of pastoral love,” from which emerges a picture, “[of] the beautiful relationship of the bishop with his people.” Bishops and priests, he explained, are at the service of others, to preserve, build and defend the people of God. Theirs is, “a relationship of protection and love between God and the pastor and the pastor and the people”:

"In the [final analysis], a bishop is not a bishop for himself. He is for the people, and a priest is not a priest for himself. He, [too], is for the people: to serve [them], to nurture them, to shepherd them, that are his flock – in order to defend them from the wolves. It is beautiful to think this! When the bishop does this, there is a good relationship with the people, such as Paul the bishop did with his people, no? And when the priest [builds] that good relationship with the people, it gives us a love: a love [unites] them, a true love, and the Church becomes united.”

Pope Francis went on to describe the relationship of the bishop and the priest with the people as a existential and sacramental. “We [bishops and priests] need your prayers,” he said, “for, even the bishop and the priest may be tempted.” Bishops and priests should pray much, proclaim Jesus Christ Risen, and “boldly preach the message of salvation.” However, he said, “We are men and we are sinners,” and, “we are tempted.”:

"St. Augustine, commenting on the prophet Ezekiel, speaks of two [temptations]: wealth, which can become greed, and vanity. He says, ‘When the bishop, the priest takes advantage of the sheep for himself, the dynamic changes: it is not the priest, the bishop, for the people - but the priest and the bishop who take from the people.’ St. Augustine says, ‘He takes the meat from the sheep to eat [it], he takes advantage; he makes deals and is attached to money; he becomes greedy and even sometimes practices simony. Perhaps he takes advantage of the wool for vanity, in order to vaunt himself.’”

So , the Pope observes, “when a priest, a bishop goes after money, the people do not love him – and that's a sign. But he ends badly.” St. Paul reminds us that he worked with his hands. “He did not have a bank account, he worked, and when a bishop, a priest goes on the road to vanity, he enters into the spirit of careerism – and this hurts the Church very much – [and] ends up being ridiculous: he boasts, he is pleased to be seen, all powerful – and the people do not like that!” “Pray for us,” the Pope repeated, “that we might be poor, that we might be humble, meek, in the service of the people.” Finally, he suggested to the faithful that they read Acts 20:28-30, where Paul says, “Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.":

“Read this fine passage, and while reading it, pray, pray for us bishops and priests. We have such need in order to stay faithful, to be men who watch over the flock and also over ourselves, who make the vigil their own, that their heart be always turned to [the Lord’s] flock. [Pray] also that the Lord might defend us from temptation, because if we go on the road to riches, if we go on the road to vanity, we become wolves and not shepherds. Pray for this, read this and pray. So be it.”

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2013-05-16

Pope at Mass: An Apostolic nuisance

(Vatican Radio) Saint Paul was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Thursday morning, and in particular his talent at ‘being a nuisance’, at unsettling people who had grown too comfortable in their faith and imbuing them with that Apostolic zeal that is necessary for the Church to move forward. Emer McCarthy reports:

Pope Francis said that Apostolic zeal, implies "an element of madness, but of spiritual madness, of healthy madness” and proclaiming Christ has its consequences, which can often result in persecution. Nonetheless, stated the Pope, we must not be ‘backseat Christians’ cozy in our comfort zones.

Drawing inspiration from the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 22, where Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin, Pope Francis pointed out that the life of the Apostle to the Gentiles was one of "persecution", but that this did not discourage him. The fate of Paul, he stressed, "is a fate with many crosses, but he keeps going, he looks to the Lord and keeps going":

"Paul is a nuisance: he is a man who, with his preaching, his work, his attitude irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable, it threatens our comfort zones – even Christian comfort zones, right? It irritates us. The Lord always wants us to move forward, forward, forward ... not to take refuge in a quiet life or in cozy structures, no?... And Paul, in preaching of the Lord, was a nuisance. But he had deep within him that most Christian of attitudes: Apostolic zeal. He had its apostolic zeal. He was not a man of compromise. No! The truth: forward! The proclamation of Jesus Christ, forward! ".

Pope Francis noted that St. Paul was a "fiery" individual, but this fire was not limited to his character. It was the fire of his zeal for the Lord, who accompanied the Saint in his ‘pitched battles’. Indeed, continued the Pope, it was the Lord who led him "onwards," to bear witness in Jerusalem and in Rome:

"By the way, I like the fact that the Lord has cared for this diocese, even since then ... We are privileged! And Apostolic zeal is not an enthusiasm for power, for possession. It is something that comes from within, that the Lord wants from us: Christian with Apostolic Zeal. And where does this Apostolic Zeal come from? It comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Paul found Jesus Christ, he encountered Jesus Christ, but not with an intellectual, scientific knowledge – which is important, because it helps us - but with that first knowledge, that of the heart, of a personal encounter. "

Pope Francis continued, this is what pushes Paul to keep going, "to always proclaim Jesus". "He was always in trouble, not in trouble for troubles’ sake, but for Jesus, proclaiming Jesus "this is the consequence". Apostolic zeal, the Pope stressed, can only be understood "in an atmosphere of love." Apostolic zeal, implies "an element of madness, but of spiritual madness, of healthy madness”. Paul "had this healthy madness."

The Pope invited all those present to pray to the Holy Spirit for this Apostolic zeal that is not only the preserve of missionaries. Even in the Church, he warned, there are "lukewarm Christians" who "do not feel like moving forward":

"There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal. Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when thin are too quiet in the Church the grace to go out to the outskirts of life. The Church has so much need of this! Not only in distant lands, in the young churches, among people who do not know Jesus Christ, but here in the cities, in our cities, they need this proclamation of Jesus Christ. So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord. Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage!'

 Thursday Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Peter Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso, president and secretary of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace. It was attended by Council staff and staff from Vatican Radio.

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Reflects on the Life and Humility of St. Peter During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, May 17, 2013  - In his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae this morning, Pope Francis reflected on the love of Christ and the power it has in redeeming one’s sins. Among those attending the Mass were employees of the Vatican Museums.

The Holy Father spoke on the Gospel which relates the encounter Christ had with Peter, asking him three times if Peter loved Him.

“It is a dialogue of love between the Lord and his disciple, one that retraces the whole history of Peter’s meetings with Jesus, from Peter’s first calling and invitation to follow the Lord, to his receiving the name of Cephas the Rock and with the name, his peculiar mission, which was there, even if Peter understood nothing of it [at the time],” Pope Francis said.

Continuing to speak on the various encounters Peter had with Jesus during his ministry, the Holy Father said that Christ was maturing Peter’s heart and soul while “helping Peter to grow in love.”

“So Peter, when he heard Jesus three times ask him, Simon, son of John, do you love me? was ashamed, because he remembered the time when, three times, he said he did not know the Lord,” the Holy Father said.

“Peter was saddened that, for a third time, Jesus asked him, Do you love me? This pain, this shame, great man, this Peter [and] a sinner, a sinner. The Lord makes him feel that he is a sinner makes us all feel that we are sinners. The problem is not that we are sinners: the problem is not repenting of sin, not being ashamed of what we have done. That's the problem. And Peter has this shame, this humility, no? The sin, the sin of Peter, is a fact that, with a heart as great as the heart Peter had, brings him to a new encounter with Jesus: to the joy of forgiveness.”

The 76 year old Pontiff went on to say that Christ, in asking St. Peter to feed His sheep, kept His promise of establishing Peter as the rock where he built His Church. Despite Peter being a sinner, he was not corrupt.

“I once knew of a priest,” Pope Francis recalled, “a good parish pastor who worked well. He was appointed bishop, and he was ashamed because he did not feel worthy, he had a spiritual torment. And he went to the confessor. The confessor heard him and said, But do not worry. If after the [mess Peter made of things], they made him Pope, then you go ahead! . The point is that this is how the Lord is. Thats the way He is. The Lord makes us mature with many meetings with Him, even with our weaknesses, when we recognize [them], with our sins.”

Pope Francis went on to say that St. Peter, in allowing himself to be shaped by his encounters with Christ, had given a model for all Christians to follow. Peter, the Pope said, “ is great, not because he is good, but because he has a nobility of heart, which brings him to tears, leads him to this pain, this shame - and also to take up his work of shepherding the flock.”

Concluding his homily, the Holy Father invited those present at the Mass to follow the example of St. Peter, who allowed himself to be purified and matured through his encounters with Christ.

“More than this, it is important that we let ourselves encounter the Lord: He always seeks us, He is always near us. Many times, though, we look the other way because we do not want to talk with the Lord or allow ourselves to encounter the Lord. Meeting the Lord [is important], but more importantly, let us be met by the Lord: this is a grace. This is the grace that Peter teaches us,” the Pope said.

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Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013    At this morning’s morning Mass in the Vatican guest house, the pope elaborated on that theme, saying that “doing good” is a principle that provides a meeting ground between Christians and non-Christians – even atheists.

"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class!” the pope said.

His words should challenge all Catholics, but especially those who want to use identity politics to rule out cooperation and communication with those who do not share the church’s beliefs.

Pope Francis began his reflection with the Gospel account of Christ’s disciples trying to stop a man from outside their group from doing good. Vatican Radio reports on what the pope went on to say:

“They complain … ‘If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.’ And Jesus corrects them: ‘Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.’”

The disciples, Pope Francis explained, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.”

“This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon. The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”

"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this person is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him.”

“Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

“Doing good” the pope said, is not a matter of faith. “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

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Explanatory Note on the Meaning of 'Salvation' in Francis' Daily Homily of May 22
Reflections on Atheists, Christians, and Who Will Be Saved

By Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, May 23, 2013 - I have received numerous calls and messages throughout the day yesterday and again today regarding Pope Francis’ daily homily in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae on Wednesday May 22, 2013. The homily was inspired by the passage in the Gospel of Mark (9:38-40) in which the disciples tell Jesus that they tried to stop someone from driving out demons because he was not one of their party. Jesus rebukes them saying: “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”


In one section of his homily, Pope Francis stated: "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Your questions can be summed up under three categories:

1) How can atheists be saved?

2) Is Pope Francis describing some kind of “anonymous Christianity” at work in the world today?

3) What are the implications of the Pope’s homily for daily living?

I have prepared some brief thoughts and responses to these questions. They flow from my own theological studies, from five years living in the Middle East, in a Christian minority in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt as well as working in Interreligious dialogue with Jews and Muslims for many years. I have also had much to do with atheists and agnostics on secular university campuses in Canada.

1) Always keep in mind the audience and context of Pope Francis’ daily homilies. He is first and foremost a seasoned pastor and preacher who has much experience in reaching people. His words are not spoken in the context of a theological faculty or academy nor in interreligious dialogue or debate. He speaks in the context of the Mass, offering reflections on the Word of God. He is speaking to other Catholics and religious leaders. His knowledge, rooted in deep, Catholic theology and tradition are able to be expressed in a language that everyone can understand and appropriate. This is not a gift given to every pastor and theologian! Is it any wonder why so many people are drawn to Pope Francis’ words? Is it any wonder why so many ... read daily homilies of a Pope, discuss them and raise questions about what they read?

2) Pope Francis has no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation through his homily or scriptural reflection when he stated that “God has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!” Consider these sections of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that offer the Church’s teaching on who will be “saved” and how.

135. How will Christ judge the living and the dead?

Christ will judge with the power he has gained as the Redeemer of the world who came to bring salvation to all. The secrets of hearts will be brought to light as well as the conduct of each one toward God and toward his neighbor. Everyone, according to how he has lived, will either be filled with life or damned for eternity. In this way, “the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13) will come about in which “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

152. What does it mean to say that the Church is the universal sacrament of salvation?

This means that she is the sign and instrument both of the reconciliation and communion of all of humanity with God and of the unity of the entire human race.

162. Where does the one Church of Christ subsist?

The one Church of Christ, as a society constituted and organized in the world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him. Only through this Church can one obtain the fullness of the means of salvation since the Lord has entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone whose head is Peter.

166. Why is the Church called “Catholic”?

The Church is catholic, that is universal, insofar as Christ is present in her: “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch). The Church proclaims the fullness and the totality of the faith; she bears and administers the fullness of the means of salvation; she is sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race.

171. What is the meaning of the affirmation “Outside the Church there is no salvation”?

This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.

3) The scriptures tell us expressly that God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4); the covenant of peace which God made with Noah after the flood has never been abrogated: on the contrary, the Son of God himself has sealed it with the authority of his self-sacrificing love embracing all people. Pope Francis warns Catholics not to demonize those who are not members of the church, and he specifically defended atheists, saying that building walls against non-Catholics leads to “killing in the name of God.

4) The great German Jesuit theolgian, Fr. Karl Rahner introduced the idea of “anonymous Christian” into theological reflection. Through this concept, offered to Christians, Rahner said that God desires all people to be saved, and cannot possibly consign all non-Christians to hell. Secondly, Jesus Christ is God’s only means of salvation. This must mean that the non-Christians who end up in heaven must have received the grace of Christ without their realising it. Hence the term – ‘anonymous Christian’.

What is meant by this thesis of the anonymous Christian is also taught in “Lumen Gentium,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II (no.16). According to this document those who have not yet received the gospel and this without any fault of their own are given the possibility of eternal salvation...God ‘in the unknown ways’ of his grace can give the faith without which there is no salvation even to those who have not yet heard the preaching of the gospel

Catholics do not adopt the attitude of religious relativism which regards all religions as on the whole equally justifiable, and the confusion and disorder among them as relatively unimportant. God truly and effectively wills all people to be saved. Catholics believe that it is only in Jesus Christ that this salvation is conferred, and through Christianity and the one Church that it must be mediated to all people.

5) There is always a risk in interreligious dialogue or dialogue with atheists and agnostics today that reduces all discussions to mere politeness and irrelevance. Dialogue does not mean compromise. There can and must be dialogue today: dialogue in genuine freedom and not merely in that ‘toleration’ and co-existence where one puts up with one’s opponent merely because one does not have the power to destroy him. This dialogue must of course be conducted with a loving attitude. The Christian knows that love alone is the highest light of knowledge and that what St Paul says about love must therefore be valid of dialogue.

6) A non-Christian may reject a Christian’s presentation of the gospel of Christ. That however, does not necessarily mean that the person has truly rejected Christ and God. Rejection of Christianity may not mean the rejection of Christ. For if a given individual rejects the Christianity brought to him through the Church’s preaching, even then we are still never in any position to decide whether this rejection as it exists in the concrete signifies a grave fault or an act of faithfulness to one’s own conscience. We can never say with ultimate certainty whether a non-Christian who has rejected Christianity and who, in spite of a certain encounter with Christianity, does not become a Christian, is still following the temporary path mapped out for his own salvation which is leading him to an encounter with God, or whether he has now entered upon the way of perdition.

8) The Scriptures teach that God regards the love shown to a neighbor as love shown to Himself. Therefore the loving relationship between a person and his or her neighbor indicates a loving relationship between that person and God. This is not to say that the non-Christian is able to perform these acts of neighborly love without the help of God. Rather these acts of love are in fact evidence of God’s activity in the person.

9) As Christians, we believe that God is always reaching out to humanity in love. This means that every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin; one can only lose their salvation through serious personal sin of their own account.

In the mind of Pope Francis, especially expressed in his homily of May 22, “Doing good” is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the “culture of encounter” that is the foundation of peace.

Finally, I encourage you to read the final section of Pope John Paul II’s masterful address to the 50thGeneral Assembly of the United Nations Organization in New York City on October 5, 1995.

17. As a Christian, my hope and trust are centered on Jesus Christ, the two thousandth anniversary of whose birth will be celebrated at the coming of the new millennium. We Christians believe that in his Death and Resurrection were fully revealed God's love and his care for all creation. Jesus Christ is for us God made man, and made a part of the history of humanity. Precisely for this reason, Christian hope for the world and its future extends to every human person. Because of the radiant humanity of Christ, nothing genuinely human fails to touch the hearts of Christians. Faith in Christ does not impel us to intolerance. On the contrary, it obliges us to engage others in a respectful dialogue. Love of Christ does not distract us from interest in others, but rather invites us to responsibility for them, to the exclusion of no one and indeed, if anything, with a special concern for the weakest and the suffering. Thus, as we approach the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ, the Church asks only to be able to propose respectfully this message of salvation, and to be able to promote, in charity and service, the solidarity of the entire human family.

Ladies and Gentlemen! I come before you, as did my predecessor Pope Paul VI exactly thirty years ago, not as one who exercises temporal power — these are his words — nor as a religious leader seeking special privileges for his community. I come before you as a witness: a witness to human dignity, a witness to hope, a witness to the conviction that the destiny of all nations lies in the hands of a merciful Providence.

18. We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The "answer" to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social "model" on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty. And the "soul" of the civilization of love is the culture of freedom: the freedom of individuals and the freedom of nations, lived in self-giving solidarity and responsibility.

We must not be afraid of the future. We must not be afraid of man. It is no accident that we are here. Each and every human person has been created in the "image and likeness" of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God's grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.

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May 24, 2013.  During Friday's morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta Chapel, the Pope explained that Christians need to be patient when faced with difficulties. He encouraged them to respond with love and forgiveness even when it's challenging.


POPE FRANCIS
“To suffer is to accept life's difficulties and carry them with strength. That way the difficulty does not drag us down. To carry it with strength: this is a Christian virtue! Saint Paul says several times: Suffer, endure. This means do not let yourselves be overcome by difficulties. This means that a Christian has the strength to not give up, to carry difficulties with strength. Carry them, but carry them with strength. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one has the urge to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we’ll do what we can but no more.’ But no, it is a grace to suffer. In difficulties, we must ask for this grace, in difficulty.”

Since it was the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and a group from China also attended the Mass.

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Pope at Mass: Following Christ is not a career, it is the way of the Cross

2013-05-28

We should not reduce the proclamation of Jesus to being a mere cultural ‘gloss’ or ‘veneer’, it must go ‘straight to the heart’ and change us. Moreover, following Jesus ‘does not mean more power’, it is not a ‘career’ because His way is that of the Cross. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass Tuesday in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence. Emer McCarthy reports:

What is our reward in following you? Pope Francis began with the question Peter puts to Jesus. A question, he said, which in the end concerns the life of every Christian. Jesus says that those who follow Him will have "many good things" but "with persecution." The path of the Lord, he continued, "is a road of humility, a road that ends in the Cross." That is why, he added, "there will always be difficulties," "persecution." There will always be, "because He travelled this road before" us. The Pope warned that "when a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful - something is wrong." It leads us to think that he or she is "a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness." The Pope noted this "is a temptation particular to Christians":

"Following Jesus, yes, but up to a certain point: following Jesus because of culture: I am a Christian, I have this culture ... But without the necessity of true discipleship of Jesus, the necessity to travel this His road. If you follow Jesus as a cultural proposal, then you are using this road to get higher up, to have more power. And the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors and then many rulers and many people, no? And even some - I will not say a lot, but some - priests, bishops, no? Some say that there are many ... but they are those who think that following Jesus is a career. "

The Pope recalled that at one time, "in the literature of two centuries ago," it would sometimes be stated that someone "from the time he was a child wanted a career in the church." Here the Pope reiterated that "many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead." But this "is not the spirit". Instead it is Peter’s attitude when he speaks to Jesus about careers and Jesus answers: "Yes, I will give everything with persecution." "You cannot remove the Cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there." Yet, Pope Francis warned, this does not mean that Christians must hurt themselves. The Christian "follows Jesus out of love and when you follow Jesus out of love, the devil’s envy does many things." The "spirit of the world will not tolerate this, does not tolerate this witness":

"Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? 'Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others ...'. The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours, in adoration ... Never! It reduces Christian activity to doing social good. As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity. The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and change us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution. "

Pope Francis said those who leave their home, their family to follow Jesus, receive a hundred times as much "already now in this age." A hundred times together with persecution. And this should not be forgotten:

"Following Jesus is just that: going with Him out of love, behind Him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did. Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that He has revealed to us and that He has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us. So be it".

Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Msgr. José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. It was attended by a group of priests from the Council and staff from the Vatican Power Station and Technical Laboratory of the Governorate of Vatican carpentry, accompanied by Engineer Pier Carlo Cuscianna, Director of Technical Services of the Governorate.

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May 29, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta chapel, Pope Francis warned about the dangers of having a Church that only seeks success or triumphs.  He said following the Cross, which to society may appear to be a failure, is actually the true path of love. He said:

 “Triumphalism in the Church, impedes the Church. Triumphalism among Christians, impedes Christians. A triumphalist, half-way Church that is a Church that is content with what it is or has, well sorted , well organized with all its offices, everything in order, everything perfect no? Efficient. But a Church that denies its martyrs, because it does not know that martyrs are needed for the journey towards the Cross. A Church that only thinks about triumphs, successes, does not know the rule of Jesus: the rule of triumph through failure, human failure, the failure of the Cross. And this is a temptation that we all have.”

“I remember once, I was in a dark moment in my spiritual life and I asked a favor from the Lord. Then I went to preach the annual spiritual retreat to nuns and on the last day they made their confession. One elderly nun, over 80 years of age, but with clear, bright eyes came to confession: she was a woman of God. In the end I saw that she really was a woman of God so I said ‘ Sister, as penance, pray for me, because I need a grace, OK? If you ask the Lord for this grace on my behalf, I am sure to receive it'. She stopped for a moment, as if in prayer, and said, 'Of course the Lord will grant you this grace, but do not be deceived: in His own divine manner’. This did me a lot of good. To hear that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but in His own divine way. And this is the divine way to the very end. The divine way involves the Cross, not out of masochism: no, no! Out of love. For love, to the very end.”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace that we may not be a half-way Church, a triumphalist Church, of great successes, but a humble Church, that walks with decision, just like Jesus. Forward, forward, forward. With a heart open to the will of the Father, just like Jesus. We ask for this grace”.

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Fr. Lombardi's Statement on Questions Regarding Pope's Daily Homilies

By Fr. Federico Lombardi

VATICAN CITY, May 29, 2013  - The very great interest aroused by the Pope’s brief homilies in the course of the Masses celebrated every morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, poses and continues to pose often the question from different parts on the possibility to access such celebrations or such homilies fully and not through the syntheses published every day by Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano.

The question is understandable and has been taken several times into consideration and made the object of profound reflection, and merits a clear answer. First of all, it is necessary to keep in mind the character that the Holy Father himself attributes to the morning celebration of the Mass at Saint Martha’s.

It is a Mass with the presence of not a small group of faithful (generally more than 50 people) but whose character of familiarity the Pope intends to preserve. Because of this, despite the requests received, he has asked explicitly that it not be transmitted live on video or audio.

As regards to the homilies, they are not given on the basis of a written text, but spontaneously, in Italian, a language the Pope knows very well, but it isn’t his mother tongue. Hence, an “integral” publication would necessarily entail a transcription and a rewriting of the text on several points, given that the written form is different from the oral, which in this case is the original form chosen intentionally by the Holy Father. In short, there would have to be a revision by the Holy Father himself, but the result would be clearly “something else,” which is not what the Holy Father intends to do every morning.

After careful reflection, therefore, it was decided that the best way to make the richness of the Pope’s homilies accessible to a wider public, without altering their nature, is to publish an ample synthesis, rich also in original quoted phrases that reflect the genuine flavor of the Pope’s expressions. It is what L’Osservatore Romano is committed to doing every day, whereas Vatican Radio, on the basis of its characteristic nature, offers a briefer synthesis, but accompanied also with some passages of the original recorded audio, as well as CTV which offers a video-clip corresponding to one of the inserted audios published by Vatican Radio.

It is necessary to insist on the fact that, in the whole of the Pope’s activity, the difference is carefully preserved between the various situations and celebrations, as well as the different levels of commitment of his pronouncements. Thus, on the occasion of public celebrations or activities of the Pope, broadcast live on television or radio, the homilies or addresses are transcribed and published in full. On the occasion of more familiar and private celebrations, the specific character of the situation is respected, of the spontaneity and familiarity of the Holy Father’s expressions. Hence the chosen solution respects first of all the will of the Pope and the nature of the morning celebration and at the same time it enables a wide public to access the principal messages that the Holy Father offers the faithful also in this circumstance.

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2013-06-03 Pope Francis in his homily for Mass Monday morning in at the Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis: the corrupt harm the Church; the saints are a light for all

Sinners, the corrupt, and saints: Pope Francis focused on these three groups in his homily for Mass Monday morning in at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said the corrupt do great harm to the Church because they are worshipers of themselves; the saints, on the other hand, do great good, they are lights in the Church.

What happens when we want to become the owners of the vineyard? The parable of the wicked tenants in Monday's Gospel reading provided the starting point for Pope Francis’ homily, which focused on “the three models of Christians in the Church: sinners, corrupt persons; and the saints.” The Pope noted that “there is no need to talk too much about sinners, because we are all sinners." "We recognize this from the inside,” he continued, “and we know what a sinner is. If any one of us does not feel that way, he should make a visit to a spiritual doctor” because “something is wrong.” The parable, however, presents us with another figure, the figure of those who want “to take possession of the vineyard, and who have lost the relationship with the Master of the vineyard,” a Master who, “has called us with love, who protects us, but who then gives us freedom.” Those who would take possession of the vineyard, “think they are strong, they think they are independent of God”:

“These, slowly, slipped on that autonomy, that independence in their relationship with God: ‘We don’t need that Master, who shouldn’t come and disturb us!’ And we go forward with this. These are the corrupt! These were sinners like all of us, but they have taken a step beyond that, as if they were confirmed in their sin: they don’t need God! But it only seems so, for in their genetic code there is this relationship with God. And since they can’t deny this, they make a special god: they themselves are god. They are corrupt.”

“This is a danger for us, too,” he added. In the “Christian communities,” he said, the corrupt think only of their own group: “Good, good. It’s about us - they think - but, in fact, ‘they are only out for themselves”:

“Judas [was the first]: from a greedy sinner, he ended in corruption. The road of autonomy is a dangerous road: the corrupt are very forgetful, have forgotten this love, with which the Lord made the vineyard, has made them! They severed the relationship with this love! And they become worshipers of themselves. How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption.”

The Pope spoke also of the saints, remembering that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bd Pope John XXIII, “a model of holiness.” In the day's Gospel, he added, the saints are those who “go to collect the rent” on the vineyard. “They know what is expected of them, but they must do it, and they do their duty”:

“The saints are those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard: the saints in the Church. Just as the corrupt do so much harm to the Church, the saints do so much good. The apostle John says of the corrupt that they are the antichrist, that they are among us, but they are not of us. About the saints, the Word of God tells us they are like light, ‘that they will be before the throne of God in adoration.’ Today we ask the Lord for the grace to understand that we are sinners, but truly sinners, not sinners broadly, but sinners with regard to this, that, and the other thing, concrete sins, with the concreteness of sin. The grace to not become corrupt: sinners, yes; corrupt, no! And the grace to walk in the paths of holiness. So be it.” 

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by a group of priests and collaborators from the Congregation, as well as a group of Gentlemen of His Holiness.

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June 4, 2013. During his daily Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis talked about hypocrisy. He explained a specific Gospel passage, where a group of Jews tries to talk Jesus into a trap.  The Pope said that hypocritical language is what  corrupt people normally use.

POPE FRANCIS

“Hypocrisy is the very language of corruption. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples, he says: 'let your language be: Yes, yes! No, no.' Hypocrisy is not a language of truth, because the truth is never given alone. Never! It is always given with love! There is no truth without love. Love is the first truth. If there is no love, there is no truth. These men want truth enslaved to their own interests. There is a love, of sorts: it is love of the self, love for themselves. That narcissist idolatry that leads them to betray others, that leads them to the abuse of trust.”

The Pope explained the importance of speaking clearly, of telling the truth without failing to be charitable with others and without trying to manipulate them.

POPE FRANCIS

“We all have some inner weakness and we like people to compliment us. We like that, we are all a bit vain, and these corrupt people know that and so they try to weaken us.  Let us think closely today: What is our language? Do we speak in truth, with love, or do we speak with in a 'sociable language': we are polite, we even say nice things, but we do not feel them? Let our language be evangelical brothers and sisters! These hypocrites that start out with flattery, adulation and all of that, will end up as false witnesses, accusing the very ones they had flattered. Let us ask the Lord today that our language be the language of the simple, the language of a child, the language of the children of God, the language of truth in love.”

 Let us think closely today: What is our language? Do we speak in truth, with love, or do we speak with in a 'sociable language': we are polite, we even say nice things, but we do not feel them? Let our language be evangelical brothers and sisters! These hypocrites that start out with flattery, adulation and all of that, will end up as false witnesses, accusing the very ones they had flattered. Let us ask the Lord today that our language be the language of the simple, the language of a child, the language of the children of God, the language of truth in love. "

“And the meekness that Jesus wants us to have, has nothing, has nothing of this adulation, this sickly sweet way of going on. Nothing! Meekness is simple, it is like that of a child. And a child is not hypocritical, because it is not corrupt. When Jesus says to us: 'Let your speech be' Yes is yes! No, is no! 'with the soul of a child', he means the exact opposite to the speech of these people.” 

The Mass was con-celebrated by the Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia and was attended by a group of Vatican Library employees.

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Pope Francis at Mass: 2013-06-05

Lamenting one’s suffering to God is not a sin, but a prayer of the heart that reaches the Lord: this was Pope Francis’ reflection at Mass Wednesday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence at the Vatican, with the presence of some members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Among others, the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera; Archbishop Joseph DiNoia, secretary of the same Congregation; and Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Library. Listen:   

The story of Tobit and Sarah, reported in the first reading of the day, was the focus of the Pope’s homily: Two just people who live dramatic situations. The first is blinded despite his performing good works, even risking his life, and the second marries seven men in turn, each of whom dies before their wedding night. Both, in their great sorrow, pray to God to let them die. “They are people in extreme situations,” explained Pope Francis, “and they seek a way out.” He said, “They complain,” but, “they do not blaspheme.”:

“To lament before God is not a sin. A priest I know once said to a woman who lamented to God about her misfortune: ‘But, madam, that is a form of prayer. Go ahead [with it].’ The Lord hears, He listens to our complaints. Think of the greats, of Job, when in chapter III (he says): ‘Cursed be the day I came into the world,’ and Jeremiah, in the twentieth chapter: ‘Cursed be the day’ – they complain even cursing, not the Lord, but the situation, right? It is only human.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the many people who live borderline cases: malnourished children, refugees, the terminally ill. He went on to observe that, in the Gospel of the day, there are the Sadducees who present to Jesus the difficult case of a woman, who is the widow of seven men. Their question, however, was not posed with sincerity:

“The Sadducees were talking about this woman as if she were a laboratory, all aseptic - hers was an [abstract] moral [problem]. When we think of the people who suffer so much, do we think of them as though they were an [abstract moral conundrum], pure ideas, ‘but in this case ... this case ...’, or do we think about them with our hearts, with our flesh, too? I do not like it when people speak about tough situations in an academic and not a human manner, sometimes with statistics ... and that’s it. In the Church there are many people in this situation.”

The Pope said that in these cases, we must do what Jesus says, pray:

“Pray for them. They must come into my heart, they must be a [cause of] restlessness for me: my brother is suffering, my sister suffers. Here [is] the mystery of the communion of saints: pray to the Lord, ‘But, Lord, look at that person: he cries, he is suffering. Pray, let me say, with the flesh: that our flesh pray. Not with ideas. Praying with the heart.”

And the prayers of Tobit and Sarah, which they offer up to the Lord even despite their asking to die, give us hope, because they are accepted by God in His own way, who does not let them die, but heals Tobit and finally gives a husband to Sara. Prayer, he explained, always reaches God, [so long as] it is prayer from the heart.” Instead, “when it is [an abstract exercise], such as that the Sadducees were discussing, never reaches him, because it never goes out of ourselves: we do not care. It is an intellectual game.” In conclusion, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for those who live dramatic situations and who suffer as much as Jesus on the cross, who cry, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” Let us pray - he concluded – “so that our prayer reaches [heaven] and let it be [a source of] hope for all of us.”

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Pope Reflects on the Science of God's Tenderness :  Celebrates Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 07, 2013  - On the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis reflected on the love of Christ during his homily at morning Mass today. The Mass, which took place in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, was concelebrated by the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, and Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Msgr. Sergio Pagano. It was attended by employees of the Vatican Secret Archives.

Contemplating on the solemnity, the Holy Father said to those present that Christ loved us not only with His words, but with His deeds and his life. The Pope also reflected on the words of St. Ignatius who said that the love of Jesus manifests itself more in deeds than in words and that it is especially more giving than receiving.

These two criteria are like the pillars of true love, Pope Francis said. [The Good Shepherd] knows his sheep by name because His is not an abstract or general love: it is love towards everyone.

"A God who draws near out of love, the Holy Father continued, walks with His people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word, present in the poor, He is present, walking with us. And this is closeness: the shepherd close to his flock, close to his sheep, whom he knows, one by one."

Pope Francis also drew examples of Gods love from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, which emphasizes caring for the sheep that are lost, wounded and sick. The Holy Father spoke of the tenderness of God to all.

The Lord knows that beautiful science of caresses, the tenderness of God. He does not love us with words. He comes close - closeness - and gives us His love with tenderness. Closeness and tenderness! The Lord loves us in these two ways, He draws near and gives all His love even in the smallest things: with tenderness. And this is a powerful love, because closeness and tenderness reveal the strength of Gods love.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on those present to not only love others the way God love us, but more importantly, to let ourselves be loved by God.

"This may sound like heresy, but it is the greatest truth! It is more difficult to let God love us, than to love Him! the Pope exclaimed.

The best way to love Him in return is to open our hearts and let Him love us. Let Him draw close to us and feel Him close to us. This is really very difficult: letting ourselves be loved by Him. And that is perhaps what we need to ask today in the Mass: 'Lord, I want to love You, but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of letting myself be loved by You, to feel You close and feel Your tenderness! May the Lord give us this grace."

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2013-06-08   Pope at Mass: Learning from Mary to keep the Word of God

Like Mary, we must learn to receive and keep the Word of God safe in our hearts. Marking the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary at morning Mass Saturday, Pope Francis pointed out that Mary assimilated the Word of God into her life, by meditating it and pondering what message the Lord had for her through His Word. This, he said is what safekeeping means.

Pope Francis developed his homily around the two themes of astonishment and safekeeping, starting from the Gospel of the day Luke chapter 2. It recounts the astonishment of the teachers in the Temple listening to Jesus and Mary’s keeping the Word of God safe in her heart. Astonishment, the Pope observed, "is more than joy: it is a moment in which the Word of God comes, is sown in our hearts. " But, he warned, "we cannot always live in wonder", this should be “kept in our hearts” throughout our lives. And this is precisely what Mary does, when she is "astonished" and keeps the "Word of God" in her heart:

"Keeping the Word of God: what does this mean? Do I receive the Word, and then take a bottle and put the word into the bottle and keep it there? No. Keeping the Word of God means that our heart opens, it is open to that Word just like the earth opens to receive the seed. The Word of God is a seed and is sown. And Jesus told us what happens with the seeds: some fall along the path, and the birds come and eat them; this Word is not kept, these hearts do not know how to receive it”.

Others, he said, fall into a stony soil and the seed dies. Jesus says that they "do not know how to keep the Word of God because they are not constant: When a tribulation comes they forget." The Pope said that the Word of God can often fall into a soil that is unprepared, unkept, full of thorns. And he asked, what are the thorns? Jesus pointed them out when He spoke of '"attachment to riches, vices”. Pope Francis said “keeping the Word of God means constantly meditating on what this Word says to us and what happens in our life." And this “is what Mary did”, she “pondered and assimilated it". This, said Pope Francis, "is a truly great spiritual work":

“John Paul II said that, because of this work, Mary had a particular heaviness in her heart, she had a fatigued heart. But this is not the same as tired, it is fatigue, this comes from effort. This is the effort of keeping the Word of God : the work of trying to find out what this means at this moment, what the Lord wants to say to me at this time, this situation of questioning the [meaning of ]the Word of God is how we understand. This is reading our life with the Word of God and this is what it means to keep it in our hearts".

Pope Francis added that memory also safeguards God's Word. “It helps us to preserve it, to remember everything the Lord has done in my life". He continued : “it reminds us of all the wonders of salvation in His people and in my heart. Memory safeguards the Word of God. " The Pope concluded his homily urging everyone to think "about how to keep the Word of God in our hearts, how to safeguard this astonishment, so that it is not eaten by the birds, suffocated by vices":

"We would do well to ask ourselves: 'With the things that happen in life, I ask myself the question: what is the Lord saying to me with His Word, right now?'. This is called keeping the Word of God, because the Word of God is precisely the message that the Lord gives us in every moment. Let us safeguard it with this: safeguard it with our memory. And safeguard it with our hope. We ask the Lord for the grace to receive the Word of God and keep it, and also the grace to have a heart that is fatigued in this effort. So be it. "

Saturday morning Mass was attended by staff from Caritas Internationalis, accompanied by the secretary general, Michel Roy. 

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June 11, 2013. During his morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on how the Apostles went about their preaching. He said they didn't worry about material wealth. Instead, they had faith that God would grant them His gifts.

POPE FRANCIS

Despite the challenges, Pope Francis explained that Christians must carry on with the work of the Church. He said the best way to make this happen is through a spirit of poverty. 

 “Evangelical preaching flows from gratuitousness, from the wonder of the coming salvation: that which I have freely received I must freely give. This is what they were like at the beginning. St. Peter did not have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch a fish and find a coin inside it, so that he could pay. Philip, when he met Queen Candace’s finance minister, did not think, 'Ah, good, let’s set up an organization to support the Gospel ...' No! He did not strike a ‘deal’ with him: he preached, baptized and left.”

“Everything is grace. Everything. And what are the signs of when an apostle lives this gratuity? There are so many, but I will underline only two: First, poverty. The proclamation of the Gospel must follow the path of poverty. The testimony of this poverty: I have no wealth, my wealth is the gift I received, God: this gratuity is our wealth! And this poverty saves us from becoming managers, entrepreneurs ... The works of the Church must be brought forward, and some are a little complex, but with a heart of poverty, not with the heart of an investment broker or an entrepreneur…

“These are the two signs that mark an apostle who lives this gratuity: poverty and the ability to praise the Lord. And when we find apostles who want to build a rich Church and a Church without the gratuitousness of praise, the Church becomes old, the Church becomes an NGO, the Church becomes lifeless. Today we ask the Lord for the grace to acknowledge this generosity: 'Freely you have received, freely give'. It's about recognizing this gratuity, this gift of God . Let us keep preaching the Gospel in this way.”

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June 12, 2013.   During his daily Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained that the Beatitudes are God's 'new law' for mankind. The Pope also added that it is the Holy Spirit who helps humanity meet the will of God. But, he explained that mankind fears the Lord's will, and sometimes it's tempted to take a step backwards.


POPE FRANCIS
“This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are 'safer' going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward, which gives us this trust - as Paul says - which is more demanding because Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law”. It is more demanding! But it does not give us that human security. We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation.”

The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and attended by employees of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

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Celebrates Mass In Spanish For the First Time In His Papacy

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2013  - For the first time since his election to the papacy, Pope Francis celebrated morning Mass in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae in his native Spanish. Present at the Mass were the men and women who work in the Argentine embassies and consulates in Italy as well as staff from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of St. Matthew where Jesus says to his disciples, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Those words, the Holy Father noted, were said by Christ shortly after he proclaimed the Beatitudes. The Pope also said that those who wish to enter Christian life, will have “greater demands made of them than others.”

“Jesus mentions some of these demands, Pope Francis said, in particular the problem of bad relations among brethren.”

“If our heart harbors bad feelings towards our brothers something is not working and we must convert, we must change." The Pope went on to say that anger towards our brethren is an insult, as well as something “almost deadly.”

“In the Latin tradition, there is a wonderful creativity in inventing epithets. But, when this epithet is friendly this is fine, the problem is when there is another kind of epithet, when the mechanism of insult comes into play, which is a form of denigration of others."

“There is no need to go to a psychologist to know that when we denigrates another person it is because we are unable to grow up and need to belittle others, to feel more important,” the Holy Father continued. “This is an ugly mechanism".

The Pope noted that to speak ill of another or to belittle one another is a natural aggression, similar to that of Cain towards Abel, repeats itself throughout history not because we are bad, but because “we are weak and sinners.”

“That's why it is much easier to resolve a situation with an insult, with slander, defamation instead of resolving it with good means,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by warning those present to ask God for the grace to “watch what we say about others.”

It is a small penance but it bears a lot of fruit,” the Pope said. “Sometimes, we go hungry and think, What a pity I didn't taste the fruit of a tasty comment against another person. But that hunger bears fruit in the long run is good for us."

"That is why," Pope Francis concluded, "we ask the Lord for this grace: to adapt our lives "to this new law, which is the law of meekness, the law of love, the law of peace, and at least 'prune' our tongues a little, prune the comments that we make of others and outbursts that lead us to an easy anger or insult. May the Lord grant us all this grace".

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June 14, 2013.  When it comes to actually understanding and transmitting Christianity, Pope Francis said humility is needed. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, he explained that recognizing one's weakness and sinfulness is key. As an example, he said that even St. Paul, never forgot his past nor his sins.
POPE FRANCIS
"Brothers, we have a treasure: that of Jesus Christ the Savior. The Cross of Jesus Christ, this treasure of which we pride ourselves - but we have it in a clay vessel. Let us vaunt also our ‘handbook’ of our sins. Thus is the dialogue Christian and Catholic: concrete, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is concrete. Jesus Christ has not saved us with an idea, an intellectual program, no. He saved with His flesh, with the concreteness of flesh. He is lowered, made man, made flesh until the end. This is a gift that we can only understand, only receive, in earthen vessels."
Among those attending the Mass, were members of the Congregation for the Clergy and also several priests. The Pope reminded the clergy, that as priests, they need to be humble to successfully transmit the message of the Gospel.
“Paul has spoken many times. It's kind of like a refrain of his sins right? He says, 'But I tell you this: I've been a persecutor of the Church, I've been a persecutor.' He always comes back to recognize his sins. He feels sinful. But, even then he doesn't say, 'I was a sinner, but now I am Holy.' No! He says, 'Even now, there's a thorn of Satan in my flesh.' He shows us his own weakness, his own sins. He is a sinner who accepts Jesus Christ, who dialogues with Jesus Christ.”
This is the model of humility for us priests – for us priests, too. If we only pride ourselves on our [service record] and nothing more, we end up going the wrong way. We cannot proclaim Jesus Christ the Savior, if we do not feel Him present and at work deep down. We have to be humble, but with real humility, from head to toe: 'I am a sinner for this, for this, for this', as Paul did: 'I persecuted the Church, " - as he did, [recognizing ourselves] concrete sinners: not sinners with that [kind of ] humility, which seems more a put-on face, no? Oh no, strong humility.
The humility of the priest, the humility of a Christian is concrete, for which, therefore, if a Christian fails, to make this confession to himself and to the Church, then something is wrong," and the first thing to fail will be our ability "understand the beauty of salvation that Jesus brings us.
Brothers, we have a treasure: that of Jesus Christ the Savior. The Cross of Jesus Christ, this treasure of which we pride ourselves - but we have it in a clay vessel. Let us vaunt also our ‘handbook’ of our sins. Thus is the dialogue Christian and Catholic: concrete, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is concrete. Jesus Christ has not saved us with an idea, an intellectual program, no. He saved with His flesh, with the concreteness of flesh. He is lowered, made man, made flesh until the end. This is a gift that we can only understand, only receive, in earthen vessels.
The Samaritan woman, as well, who met Jesus and after speaking to him told her countrymen first of her sin and then about having met the Lord, behaved in a similar way to Paul. I believe that this woman is in heaven, for sure," because, as the Italian author Alessandro Manzoni once said, 'I have never found that the Lord began a miracle without finishing it well' and this miracle that He began definitely ended well in heaven.”

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2013-06-17    This was the focus of Pope Francis’s message during Mass on Monday morning at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Pope also affirmed that the righteousness of Jesus exceeds the righteousness of the scribes, that it is superior to the “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” kind of justice.

Amongst those present at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Cardinal Attilio Nicora, was a group of collaborators of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority and a group of Vatican Museums collaborators accompanied by the Museum administrative director, Fr Paolo Nicolini. The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Tagle, was also present.

“If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also”. Pope Francis focused his homily on Jesus’ earth-shaking words to his disciples. The slap of the cheek – he said - has become a classic take used by some to laugh about Christians. In life, he explained, everyday logic teaches us to “fight to defend our place” and if we receive a slap “we react and return two slaps in order to defend ourselves”. On the other hand, the Pope said, when I advise parents to scold their children I always say: “never slap their cheek”, because “the cheek is dignity”. And Jesus, he continued, after the slap on the cheek goes further and invites us to hand over our coat as well, to undress ourselves completely.

The righteousness that He brings – the Pope affirmed – is another kind of justice that is totally different from “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. It’s another justice. This is clear when St. Paul speaks of Christians as “people who have nothing in themselves but possess all things in Christ”. So, Christian security is exactly this “all” that is in Christ. “All” - he added – is Jesus Christ. Other things are “nothing” for a Christian. Instead, the Pope warned, “for the spirit of the world “all” means things: riches, vanities”, it means “to be well placed in society” where “Jesus is nothing”. Thus, if a Christian can walk 100 kilometres when he is asked to walk 10, “it’s because for him or for her this is “nothing”. And with serenity, “he or she can give his or her coat when asked for his or her tunic”. This is the secret of Christian benevolence that always goes together with meekness”: it is “all”, it is Jesus Christ:

“A Christian is a person who opens up his or her heart with this spirit of benevolence, because he or she has “all”: Jesus Christ. The other things are “nothing”. Some are good, they have a purpose, but in the moment of choice he or she always chooses “all”, with that meekness, that Christian meekness that is the sign of Jesus’ disciples: meekness and benevolence. To live like this is not easy, because you really do receive slaps! And on both cheeks! But a Christian is meek, a Christian is benevolent: he or she opens up his or her heart. Sometimes we come across these Christians with little hearts, with shrunken hearts…. This is not Christianity: this is selfishness, masked as Christianity”.

“A true Christian” – the Pope continued – “knows how to solve this bi-polar opposition, this tension that exists between “all” and “nothing”, just as Jesus has taught us: “First search for God’s Kingdom and its justice, the rest comes afterwards”.

“God’s Kingdom is “all”, the other is secondary. And all Christian errors, all the Church’s errors, all our errors stem from when we say “nothing” is “all”, and to “all” we say it does not count… Following Jesus is not easy, but it’s not difficult either, because on the path of love the Lord does things in such a way that we can go forward; it is the Lord himself who opens up our heart”.

This is what we must pray for – the Pope said – “when we are confronted with the choice of the slap, the coat, the 100 kilometres”, we must pray the Lord to “open up our heart” so that “we are benevolent and meek” . We must pray so that we do not “fight for small things, for the “nothings” of daily life”.

“When one takes on an option for “nothing”, it is from that option that conflicts arise in families, in friendships, between friends, in society. Conflicts that end in war: for “nothing”! “Nothing” is always the seed of wars. Because it is the seed of selfishness. “All” is Jesus. Let us ask the Lord to open up our heart, to make us humble, meek and benevolent because we have “all” in Him; and let’s ask him to help us avoid creating everyday problems stemming from “nothing”.

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June 18, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican,  Pope Francis explained that Christians must learn to love their enemies.  The Pope said that even though it's difficult to forgive someone who harms us, revenge is never the answer. Pope Francis stressed that forgiving someone can often seem diminishing.  But forgiveness, he said, is the true basis of harmony and understanding.   

 “We too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy ... we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us! We leave this to the cloistered nuns, who are holy, we leave this for some holy soul, but this is not right for everyday life. But it must be right! Jesus says: 'No, we must do this! Because otherwise you will be like the tax collectors, like pagans. Not Christians.”

“Pray! This is what Jesus advises us:' Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray! '. And say to God: 'Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love '. Let me just ask this question and let each of us answer it in our own heart: 'Do I pray for my enemies? Do I pray for those who do not love me? 'If we say' yes', I will say, 'Go on, pray more, you are on the right path! If the answer is' no ', the Lord says:' Poor thing. You too are an enemy of others! '. Pray that the Lord may change the hearts of those. We could say: 'But this person really wronged me', or they have done bad things and this impoverishes people, impoverishes humanity. And following this line of thought we want to take revenge or that eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

“With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others. Just as the poverty of Jesus became the grace of salvation for all of us, great wealth ... Let us think today at Mass, let us think of our enemies those who do not wish us well: it would be nice if we offered the Mass for them: Jesus, Jesus' sacrifice, for them, for those who do not love us. And for us too, so that the Lord teaches us this wisdom which is so hard, but so beautiful, because it makes us look like the Father, like our Father: it brings out the sun for everyone, good and bad. It makes us more like the Son, Jesus, who in his humiliation became poor to enrich us, with his poverty.”


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June 19, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, concelebrated also by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Pope Francis described  hypocrisy as a 'sin against the Holy Spirit.' Many people, the Pope said, brag about themselves as they fast or pray. But that, he explained is just a 'dead-end street.'

“Jesus says: ‘You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to others.’ They are ethicists without goodness, they do not know what goodness is. But they are ethicists, aren’t they? ‘You have to do this, and this, and this . . .’ They fill you with precepts, but without goodness. And those are some of the phylacteries, of the tassels they lengthen, so many things, to make a pretence of being majestic, perfect, they have no sense of beauty. They have no sense of beauty. They achieve only the beauty of a museum. They are intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness, the bearers of museum beauty. These are the hypocrites that Jesus rebukes so strongly.”

“The Lord speaks about fasting, about prayer, about almsgiving: the three pillars of Christian piety, of interior conversion, that the Church proposes to us all in Lent. There are even hypocrites along this path, who make a show of fasting, of giving alms, of praying. I think that when hypocrisy reaches this point in the relation with God, we are coming very close to the sin against the Holy Spirit. These do not know beauty, they do not know love, these do not know the truth: they are small, cowardly.”

“But all of us also have grace, the grace that comes from Jesus Christ: the grace of joy; the grace of magnanimity, of largesse. Hypocrites do not know what joy is, what largesse is, what magnanimity is.”

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June 20, 2013. The 'Our Father' prayer was the focus of the Pope's homily during his daily Mass at the Vatican. Pope Francis said that prayer is not some kind of magic spell. He explained that it's about putting one's trust in God. He alone, said the Pope, understands one's needs. 

The Pope's Mass was also celebrated by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and was attended, among others, by a group of Vatican Museums employees.

PARTIAL HOMILY

 “To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic God? That’s quite normal these days, is it not? ... praying to the cosmic God, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a rather light culture ... You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, 'Father '. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language.”

“We have a Father. He is very close to us, eh! He embraces us ... All these worries, concerns that we have, let's leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: Our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say 'Father' to Him.”

“No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray. This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. 'Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot'. It’s true, I understand. 'I cannot say our, because he did this to me and this ...' I cannot! 'They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them'. It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say 'Father' and how to say 'our'. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say 'Father' and to be able to say 'our', and thus make peace with all our enemies.”

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June 21, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis explained that God gave people 'a restless heart' that is always seeking treasures. But, he said it's easy to get lured in by 'fake treasures' that don't bring true happiness.

POPE FRANCIS

“The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a one that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord. Our hearts becomes restless for things that simply don’t work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . . To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled. If it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Let’s think about that. What do I have? A tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing.  This restlessness of the heart is always there. It's important to address it.”

The Pope then explained that real treasures are the ones, that don't disappear after death. He then jokingly said,  “I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession. But there is a treasure we can take with us.”

“The treasures we have given to others, that we take with us. And that will be our merit – in quotation marks, but it is our ‘merit’ of Jesus Christ in us! And that we must bring with us. And that is what the Lord lets us bring. Love, charity, service, patience, goodness, tenderness are very beautiful treasures: these we bring with us. The other things, no.

So, as the Gospel assures us, the treasure that has value in God’s sight is that which in this life is accumulated in heaven. But Jesus, Pope Francis says, goes a step further: He joins the treasure to the “heart,” He creates a relationship between the two terms. This, he adds, is because we have “a restless heart,” which the Lord made this way to seek Him out: The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a treasure that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord, our heart becomes restless for things that simply don’t work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . .

To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled: it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Let’s think about that. What do I have: a tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing? This restlessness of the heart always has to be cured.”

“Jesus speaks about the “eye,” a symbol “of the intentions of the heart” that are reflected in the body: a “heart that loves” makes the body luminous; a “wicked heart” makes it dark. “Our ability to judge things depends on this contrast between light and darkness, as is shown also by the fact that from a “heart of stone . . . attached to worldly treasures, to “selfish treasure,” can also become a treasure “of hatred,” come wars . . . Instead through the intercession of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church remembers today – let us ask for the grace of “a new heart . . . a heart of flesh.

All these pieces of the heart that are of stone, may the Lord make them human, with that restlessness, with that good anxiety to go forward, seeking Him and allowing ourselves to be sought by Him. That the Lord might change our hearts! And so He will save us. He will save us from the treasures that cannot help us in the encounter with Him, in service to others, and also will give us the light to understand and judge according to the true treasure: His truth. May the Lord change our heart in order to seek the true treasure and so become people of light, and not of darkness.”

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Pontiff Reflects on Asking God for the Grace of a Heart of Flesh

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2013  - Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask God for the grace of a heart that knows how to love during his morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae. Concelebrating the Mass was Cardinal Francis Coccopalmerio, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative texts, along with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta and auxiliary Bishop José Aparecido Gonzalves de Almeida, secretary and undersecretary respectively of the Council.

Members of the Council were in attendance as well as personnel from the Fabric of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, led by Msgr. James Ceretto, as well as employees of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The search for the only treasure that you can take with you into the next life is the purpose of a Christian. It is this purpose that Jesus explains to His disciples, in the passage quoted in the Gospel of Matthew: Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. But, he says, we must be careful not to be confused about true richness. There are risky treasures that threaten to seduce us, but must be left behind, treasures gathered in life that are destroyed by death. The Pope said, with a hint of irony: I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession. But there is a treasure we can take with us, a treasure that no one can take away, not those things you've kept for yourself, but those you have given to others:

The treasures we have given to others, that we take with us. And that will be our merit in quotation marks, but it is our merit of Jesus Christ in us! And that we must bring with us. And that is what the Lord lets us bring. Love, charity, service, patience, goodness, tenderness are very beautiful treasures: these we bring with us. The other things, no.

So, as the Gospel assures us, the treasure that has value in God's sight is that which in this life is accumulated in heaven. But Jesus, Pope Francis says, goes a step further: He joins the treasure to the heart, He creates a relationship between the two terms. This, he adds, is because we have a restless heart, which the Lord made this way to seek Him out:

“The Lord has made us restless to seek Him, to find Him, to grow. But if the treasure is a treasure that is not close to the Lord, that is not from the Lord, our heart becomes restless for things that simply don't work, for these treasures . . . So many people, even we ourselves, are restless . . . To have this, to arrive at this in the end, our heart is tired, it is never filled: it gets tired, it becomes sluggish, it becomes a heart without love. The weariness of the heart. Lets think about that. What do I have: a tired heart, that only wants to settle itself, three, four things, a good bank account, this or that thing? This restlessness of the heart always has to be cured.”

At this point, Pope Francis continues, Jesus speaks about the eye, a symbol of the intentions of the heart that are reflected in the body: a heart that loves makes the body luminous; a wicked heart makes it dark. Our ability to judge things, the Pope says, depends on this contrast between light and darkness, as is shown also by the fact that from a heart of stone . . . attached to worldly treasures, to selfish treasure, can also become a treasure of hatred, come wars . . . Instead this was the final prayer of the Pope through the intercession of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church remembers today let us ask for the grace of a new heart . . . a heart of flesh.”

“All these pieces of the heart that are of stone, may the Lord make them human, with that restlessness, with that good anxiety to go forward, seeking Him and allowing ourselves to be sought by Him. That the Lord might change our hearts! And so He will save us. He will save us from the treasures that cannot help us in the encounter with Him, in service to others, and also will give us the light to understand and judge according to the true treasure: His truth. May the Lord change our heart in order to seek the true treasure and so become people of light, and not of darkness.”

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2013-06-22   Pope Francis: serve the Word of God, not the idolatry of riches and worldly cares

The riches and the cares of the world “choke the Word of God,” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope pointed out that our life is set on three pillars: election, covenant, and promise, adding that we must trust the Father in living in the present without worrying about what will happen.

“No one can serve two masters.” Pope Francis began his homily with the words of Christ in today’s Gospel, where He focuses on the theme of riches and cares. Jesus, the Pope said, “has a clear idea on this subject”: they are “the riches and cares of the world” that choke the Word of God, they are the thorns spoken of in the Parable of the Sower, that choke the seed that has fallen on the ground:

“The riches and cares of the world choke the Word of God and do not allow it to grow. And the Word dies, because it is not cared for: it is choked. In that case you serve riches or you serve cares, but you don’t serve the Word of God. And this also has a temporal sense, because the Parable is somewhat constructed – the discourse of Jesus in the Parable – in time, is it not? Don’t worry about tomorrow, about what you will do tomorrow. . . . And also the Parable of the Sower is built on time: he sows, then the rain comes and it grows. Simply, we remove from time.”

The Pope emphasised that our life is founded on three pillars: the past, the present and the future. The pillar of the past, he explained, “is that of the election of the Lord.” Every one of us can say “the Lord has chosen me, has loved me,” “He has said to me ‘come’,” and with Baptism “he has chosen me to go along a road, the Christian road.” The future, on the other hand, concerns “walking towards a promise”, the Lord “has made us a promise.” Finally, the present “is our response to the God Who is so good that He has chosen me.” The Pope said, “He makes a promise, he proposes a covenant with me, and I make a covenant with Him.” So these are the three pillars: “election, covenant, and promise”:

“The three pillars of the whole story of the Salvation. But when our heart enters into what Jesus explains to us, it takes away time: it takes away the past, it takes away the future, and one is confused in the present. For one who is attached to riches, neither the past nor the future is important; he has everything here. Wealth is an idol. I don’t need a past, a promise, an election: nothing. He who is worried about what will happen, takes away his relation with the future – “but can one do this?” – and the future becomes futuristic, but no, it doesn’t direct you to any promise: you remain confused, you remain alone.”

This is why Jesus tells us we must either follow the Kingdom of God or the riches and cares of the world. The Pope said with Baptism “we are chosen in love” by Him, we have “a Father that has sent us along a road.” And so “even the future is joyful,” because “we are walking towards a promise.” The Lord “is faithful, He does not disappoint” and so we too are called to do “what we can” without disappointment, “without forgetting that we have a Father who chose us in the past.” Riches and cares, he warned, are the two things “that make us forget our past,” that make us live as if we didn’t have a Father. And even our present is a present that doesn’t work”:

“Forgetting the past, not accepting the present, disfiguring the future: that’s what riches and cares do. The Lord tells us: “But be calm! Seek the Kingdom of God, and everything else will come.’ Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to fool ourselves with worries, with the idolatry of riches, and to always remember that we have a Father Who has chosen us; to remember that this Father promises us a good thing, which is walking towards that promise; and having courage to take the present as it comes. Let us ask this grace from the Lord.”

The Holy Father concelebrated Mass with Bishop Arturo González of Santa Clara in Cuba and others. Employees of the Vatican Museums were in attendance at the liturgy.

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2013-06-23     This morning, Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. About 40 apostolic nuncios, who remained in the Vatican after the Pope’s meeting with them on Friday, were present. Commenting on the Sunday Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus asks the Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?”, the Pope underlined that we need to respond to Jesus from the heart, inspired by our veneration for him and from the rock of his love.

In Luke, Jesus asks: “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter responds: “The Christ of God”. The question that Jesus asks in the Gospel of Luke is relevant to us 2,000 years later and cuts straight to the heart, said Pope Francis in his homily, to which we must respond with the humility of a sinner, beyond all ready-made answers.

“We, even we, who are apostles and servants of the Lord need to respond because the Lord asks us: ‘What do you think of me?’ He does it, eh? He does it many times! ‘What do you think of me?’ says the Lord. And we cannot do that which cannot be well understood. ‘But, you are the anointed one! Yes, I read it’. With Jesus, we cannot speak of him as an historic figure, a figure of history. Jesus is living in front of us. This question is asked by a living person. And we have to respond from the heart.”

We are called again today by Jesus to carry out the radical choice made by the Apostles, a total choice, in the logic of “all or nothing”, a journey for which we must be enlightened by a “special grace” to carry out, living always on the solid base of veneration and love for Jesus.

“Veneration and love for his Holy Name. Certainty that he set us on a rock – the rock of his love. And from this love, we give you the answer, we give the answer. And when Jesus asks these questions – ‘Who am I for you?’ – we need to think of this: I was set on the rock of his love. He leads me. I must respond firmly on that rock and under his leadership.”

“Who am I for you?” Jesus asks us. Sometimes we are ashamed to respond to his question, underlined the Pope, because we know that something in us is not right, we are sinners. But it is exactly in this moment that we should trust in his love and respond with that sense of truth, as Peter did on Lake Tabor: “Lord, you know everything”. It is exactly in the moment that we feel like sinners, the Lord loves us a lot, said the Pope. And just as he put Peter, the fisherman, at the head of his Church, so, too, will the Lord do something good with us.

“He is the greatest, he is the greatest! And when we say, from veneration and from love, secure, secure on the rock of his love and guidance: ‘You are the anointed one’, this will do us much good and it will make us move forward with certainty and pick up the cross daily, which is heavy at times. Let us go forward like this, with joy, and asking for this grace: grant to your people, Father, to always live in veneration and love for your Holy Name! And with the certainty that you never deprive of your guidance those whom you have set on the rock of your love!”

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June 24th, 2013   On June 24th, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. John the Baptist. During his daily Mass at the Vatican, the Pope explained that the Church must be like St. John, who is described in the Gospel as 'a voice crying out in the desert.'

POPE FRANCIS
“The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of His Word, of her husband, who is the Truth. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest on Earth. This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself.”
The Pope said that even though St. John could have gained fame and honor, since he was considered by some to be the Messiah, he chose a humiliating death and was faithful to the Lord until the end.

“John seems to be nothing. That is John’s vocation: he negates himself. And when we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful - all believed that he was the Messiah - when we contemplate this life, how it is nullified to the point of the darkness of a prison, we behold a great mystery. We do not know what John’s last days were like. We do not know. We only know that he was killed, his head was put on a platter, as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I don’t think you can lower yourself much more than this, negate yourself much more. That was the end that John met.”
“The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word, her husband, who is the Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest on Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. But I think he never did that. He showed the way, he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret. Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church.”
“This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself. Today in prayer we asked for the grace of joy, we asked the Lord to cheer this Church in her service to the Word, to be the voice of this Word, preach this Word. We ask for the grace, the dignity of John, with no ideas of their own, without a Gospel taken as property, only one Church that indicates the Word, and this even to martyrdom. So be it!”

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June 25, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis explained that God never leaves His people alone and that no-one is ever a Christian by chance. As an example, the Pope talked a reading from the Book of Genesis, where Abram discusses division on earth. The Pope also added that if people know God accompanies them, it makes it easier for them to face difficulties with optimism.

PARTIAL HOMILY

 “Abraham departed his land carrying a promise: his entire journey is a going toward this promise. The way he walked his path is a model for how we ought to walk our own. God called Abraham, a single person, and that one person makes an entire people. If we go to the Book of Genesis, to the beginning, to the creation, we find that God creates the stars, creates the plants, creates the animals, creates the these and the that’s and the others ... But He creates Man in the singular, one. God always speaks in the singular to us, because He has created in his image and likeness. And God speaks in the singular. He spoke to Abraham and gave him a promise and invited him to come out of his land. We Christians have been called one-by-one: none of us is Christian by pure chance. No one.”

“God accompanies us, God calls us by name, God promises us we will have a line of heirs. This is something of  'the surety' of being a Christian. It is not a coincidence, it is a calling - a calling that keeps us going. Being a Christian is a calling of love, friendship, a calling to become a child of God, brother of Jesus, to become fruitful in the transmission of this calling to others, to become instruments of this call. There are so many problems, so many problems, there are difficult times, Jesus had many of His own! But always with that confidence: ‘The Lord has called me. The Lord is like me. The Lord has made me a promise”

“Someone will say, ‘Father, I am a sinner’, but we all are, as everyone knows. The problem is: sinners, go forward with the Lord, go forward with that promise that He has made us, with the promise of fruitfulness, and tell others, recount to others others that the Lord is with us, that the Lord has chosen us and that He does not leave us alone, not ever! That certainty of the Christian will do us good. May the Lord give us, all of us, this desire to move forward, which Abram had, in the midst of all his problems: to go forward with the confidence that He who called me, who promised me so many beautiful things, is with me.”

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Pope Francis Reflects on the Joy of Fatherhood
Also Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgis Priestly Ordination

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2013 - Pope Francis reflected today on the joy of fatherhood during his homily at morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae today. Concelebrating at the Mass was Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, who celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The innate desire to be a father, he said, is ingrained in all men, even priests, in giving their lives and protecting their spiritual children. However, when one lacks this desire, something is missing. “All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate,” the Pope said. “Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life… For us, it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers."

Contemplating on the reading from the book of Genesis, which recounts God’s promise to Abram to give him descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven, the Pope expressed his admiration for Abram, who defending the sacrifice of animals, which was the seal of God’s covenant with him.

"It moves me to picture this ninety year old man with a stick in his hand", defending his sacrifice,” the Holy Father said. "It makes me think of a father defending his family, his children. A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father.”

“The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it’s like an incomplete life: a life that stops half way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: 'Father, Father, Father ...'. They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood."

Directing his words towards Cardinal De Giorgi, the Holy Father compared the prelates 60 years of priestly ministry to that of a father. "I do not know what our dear Salvatore did," but "I'm sure that he was a father." "And this is a sign," he said while pointing to the priests from Palermo who were present. “Now it's up to you” he said, adding: every tree "bears its own fruit, and if it is good, the fruit must be good, right?". So, the Pope concluded lightheartedly , "do not let him look bad ..."

Pope Francis concluded his homily thanking God for the grace of fatherhood in the Church which “is passed from father to son.”

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June 27, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about what it truly means to be a Christian.  He said there are many people who claim to be Christians, but don't really live out their faith. The Pope said, there are two main categories: Those who try to separate Christianity from Christ and those who live out their faith rigidly and without joy. 

POPE FRANCIS

 “In the history of the Church there have been two classes of Christians: Christians of words - those" Lord, Lord, Lord "- and Christians of action, in truth. There has always been the temptation to live our Christianity not on the rock that is Christ. The only one who gives us the freedom to say 'Father' to God is Christ, our rock. He is the only one who sustains us in difficult times, no? As Jesus said: the rain falls, rivers overflow, winds blow, but the rock is safe, words, the words take flight, they are not needed. But this is the temptation of these Christians of words, of a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And this has happened and is happening today in the Church: being Christians without Christ.

And this temptation exists today. Superficial Christians who believe, yes, God, yes Christ, but not ‘everywhere’: Jesus Christ is not the one who gives them their foundation. They are the modern gnostics. The temptation of gnosticism. A 'liquid' Christianity. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the Christian life should be taken so seriously that they end up confusing solidity, firmness, with rigidity. They are rigid! This think that being Christian means being in perpetual mourning.

They do not know  what the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, do not have the freedom of Christians. To put it simply ‘they have no joy.

The former have a ‘superficial’ happiness. The others live in perpetual state of mourning, but do not know what Christian joy is. They do not know how to enjoy the life that Jesus gives us, for they know not to talk to Jesus. They do not feel that they rest on Jesus, with that firmness which the presence of Jesus gives. And they not only have no joy, they have no freedom either. They are the slaves of superficiality, of this life widespread, and the slaves of rigidity, they are not free. The Holy Spirit has no place in their lives,. It is the Spirit who gives us the freedom! Today, the Lord calls us to build our Christian life on Him, the rock, the One who gives us freedom, the One who sends us the Spirit, that keeps us going with joy, on His journey, following His proposals."

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June 28, 2013. During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about patience. He called on Christians to trust God and His mysterious ways.

Sometimes God intervenes in one's life immediately, he explained, but other times, the virtue of patience is needed. 

POPE FRANCIS

“The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. We too have to show patience: He has it! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of our life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal Himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives - that's for sure! - But often we do not see this. This calls for our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, also has a lot of patience with us.'”

Before ending, he highlighted that just like the Lord is patient, Christians too, have to show patience with God's intervention.

"The Lord always chooses His way to enter into our lives. Often He does so slowly, so much so, we are in danger of losing our 'patience', a little. But Lord, when? 'And we pray, we pray ... And He doesn’t intervene in our lives. Other times, when we think of what the Lord has promised us, that it such a huge thing, we don’t believe it, we are a little skeptical, like Abraham – and we smile a little to ourselves ... This is what it says in the First Reading, Abraham hid his face and smiled ... A bit 'of skepticism:' What? Me? I am almost a hundred years old, I will have a son and my wife at 90 will have a son? '.

How often, when the Lord does not intervene, does not perform, does not do what we want Him to do, do we become impatient or skeptical?

But He does not, He cannot for skeptics. The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. Not only do we have to have patience: He has! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal Himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives - that's for sure! - But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, He also has a lot of patience with us.

Jesus on the Cross, heard them challenging him: 'Come down, come down! Come '. Patience until the end, because He has patience with us. He always enters, He is involved with us, but He does so in His own way and when He thinks it's best. He tells us exactly what He told Abraham: Walk in my presence and be blameless', be above reproach, this is exactly the right word. Walk in my presence and try to be above reproach. This is the journey with the Lord and He intervenes, but we have to wait, wait for the moment, walking always in His presence and trying to be beyond reproach. We ask this grace from the Lord, to always walk in His presence, trying to be blameless'. 

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2013-07-02    Pope at Mass: Courage in spite of our weaknesses

Christians are called to be courageous in their weakness. We must recognize that we are weak and that, at times, we have to flee from sin without nostalgia, without looking back. We must not let temptation or fear keep us from God. Instead we must learn that ‘he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day!’ This was the lesson at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass on Tuesday.

Acting with hesitancy, always looking back, being afraid to turn to the Lord, the grace of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis took his cue from the daily readings to dwell on four "possible attitudes in conflict situations, in difficult situations." The first attitude is that of the "slowness" of Lot. He decided to leave the city before it was destroyed, but he does so slowly. The angel tells him to run away, but he carries within an '"inability to detach himself from evil and sin." The Pope noted that we want to go out, we are determined, "but there is something that pulls us back," and so Lot begins to negotiate even with the angel.

"It’s so hard to cut ties with a sinful situation. It is hard! Even in a temptation, it's hard! But the voice of God tells us this word: 'Escape! You cannot fight there, because the fire, the sulfur will kill you. Escape!' St. Therese of the Child Jesus taught us that sometimes, in some temptations, the only solution is to escape and not be ashamed to escape; to recognize that we are weak and we have to escape. And our popular wisdom, in its simplicity, says as much, somewhat ironically: 'he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.' Escaping to go forward along the path of Jesus."

The Pope continued that the angel then says "do not look back," to escape and keep your eyes faced forward. Here, he said, is some advice on how to overcome our nostalgia of sin. Think of the People of God in the desert, he stressed: "They had everything, promises, everything." And yet "they were nostalgic for the onions of Egypt" and this "longing made them forget that they ate those onions on the table of slavery." There was the "longing to go back, to return." And the advice of the angel, the Pope observed, "is wise: Do not look back! Move ahead!" We must not do as Lot's wife, we must "leave behind all nostalgia, because there is also the temptation of curiosity."

"Faced with sin, we must escape without any nostalgia. Curiosity does not help, it hurts! 'But, in this sinful world, what can we do? What is this sin like? I would like to know . . . ' No, do not! This curiosity will hurt you! Run away and do not look back! We are weak, all of us, and we must defend ourselves. The third situation is on the boat: it is fear. When there is great upheaval at sea, the boat was covered with the waves. 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' they say. Fear! Even that is a temptation of the devil: to be afraid to move forward on the path of the Lord.”

There is a temptation that says it is "better to stay here," where I'm safe. "But this – warned the Pope - is the slavery of Egypt." "I fear moving forward - the Pope said - I'm afraid of where the Lord will bring me.” Fear, however, "is not a good counselor." Jesus, he added, "so many times, said: 'Do not be afraid.' Fear does not help us." The fourth attitude "is the grace of the Holy Spirit." When Jesus calms the agitated sea, the disciples on the boat are filled with awe. "Faced with sin, nostalgia, fear," he said, we must always turn to the Lord.

"Looking to the Lord, contemplating the Lord. This gifts us the beautiful wonder of a new encounter with the Lord. 'Lord, I am being tempted: I want to stay in this situation of sin, Lord, I am curious to know about these things, Lord, I'm afraid.' And they looked to the Lord: 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' And wonder at a new encounter with Jesus followed. We must not be naive nor lukewarm Christians, but brave, courageous. We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. Do not be afraid and always look to the Lord! ".

Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and was attended by a group of priests and employees of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and a group from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

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July 03, 2013.   During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis focused on sin. In his homily, the Pope explained that when faced with it, Christians are tempted to harbor their grief. Rather, the Pope said, people should be courageous, flee from sin and ask the Lord for guidance.

The Mass was concelebrated by Portuguese Cardinal Manuel Monteiro De Castro, the Vatican's Major Penitentiary.

 “It’s so hard to cut ties with a sinful situation. It is hard! Even in a temptation, it's hard! But the voice of God tells us this word: 'Escape! You cannot fight there, because the fire, the sulfur will kill you. Escape!' St. Therese of the Child Jesus taught us that sometimes, in some temptations, the only solution is to escape and not be ashamed to escape; to recognize that we are weak and we have to escape. And our popular wisdom, in its simplicity, says as much, somewhat ironically: 'he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.' Escaping to go forward along the path of Jesus.”

“Faced with sin, we must escape without any nostalgia. Curiosity does not help, it hurts! 'But, in this sinful world, what can we do? What is this sin like? I would like to know . . . ' No, do not! This curiosity will hurt you! Run away and do not look back! We are weak, all of us, and we must defend ourselves. The third situation is on the boat: it is fear. When there is great upheaval at sea, the boat was covered with the waves. 'Save us, Lord,we are lost!' they say. Fear! Even that is a temptation of the devil: to be afraid to move forward on the path of the Lord.”

“Looking to the Lord, contemplating the Lord. This gifts us the beautiful wonder of a new encounter with the Lord. 'Lord, I am being tempted: I want to stay in this situation of sin, Lord, I am curious to know about these things, Lord, I'm afraid.' And they looked to the Lord: 'Save us, Lord, we are lost!' And wonder at a new encounter with Jesus followed. We must not be naive nor lukewarm Christians, but brave, courageous. We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. Do not be afraid and always look to the Lord!”

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July 03, 2013.     During one of his last public Masses before starting his summer vacation, the Pope reflected on the life of St. Thomas, whose feast day is celebrated on Wednesday. He explained that the apostle was full of doubts, before seeing Jesus Resurrected and directly touching His wounds. To encounter God, the Pope said,  it's necessary, to kiss the wounds of Jesus through those who are hungry, poor, sick and incarcerated.

The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who announced Pope Francis' election to the world back in March.

 “He was stubborn. But the Lord wanted exactly that, a stubborn person to make us understand something greater. Thomas saw the Lord, was invited to put his finger into the wounds left by the nails; to put his hand in His side and he did not say, 'It's true: the Lord is risen'. No! He went further. He said: 'God'. The first of the disciples who makes the confession of the divinity of Christ after the Resurrection. And he worshiped Him”

“In the history of the Church there have been some mistakes made on the path towards God. Some have believed that the Living God, the God of Christians can be found on the path of meditation, indeed that we can reach higher through meditation. That's dangerous! How many are lost on that path, never to return. Yes perhaps they arrive at knowledge of God, but not of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. They do not arrive at that. It is the path of the Gnostics, no? They are good, they work, but it is not the right path. It’s very complicated and does not lead to a safe harbor.”

“We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress - the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. 'Oh, great! Let's set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help '. That's important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed.”

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July 04, 2013.   During his daily Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis reflected on a Gospel from St. Mark, where a disabled person is healed by Jesus. While explaining the miracle, the Pope said, the issue isn't the miracle itself, but God's power to forgive sins. By doing so, he explained, the Lord makes us His true children, granting freedom and courage.

The Pope's Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Placidus Toppo, the archbishop of Ranchi in India.

 “This reconciliation is the re-creation of the world: this is the most profound mission of Jesus. The redemption of all of us sinners; and Jesus does this not with words, not with gestures, not walking along the street. No! He does it with His flesh! It is He Himself, God who became one of us, a man, to heal us from within, [He came] to us sinners.”

“This is the greatest miracle. And what does Jesus accomplish with this? He make us sons, with the liberty of sons. Because of what Jesus has done, we can say ‘Father.’ [If He had not done so] we would never have been able to say this: ‘Father!’ And to say ‘Father’ with so good and so beautiful an attitude, with liberty! This is the great miracle of Jesus. We, who were slaves of sin – He has made us all free, He has healed us at the very core of our existence. We would do well to think about this, and to think how beautiful it is to be children, and how beautiful this ‘liberty of children’ is, because the child is in the house, and Jesus has opened the doors of the house to us . . . Now we are in the house!”

“That is the root of our courage: I am free, I am a child . . . The Father loves me, and I love the Father! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to truly understand this work of His, what God has done in Him: God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, entrusting to us the word of reconciliation and the grace of bearing this word of reconciliation onward, forcefully, with the liberty of children. We are saved in Jesus Christ! And no one can take from us this ‘identity card.’ This is how I identify myself: as a child of God! What a beautiful identity! Civil status: we are free! Amen.”

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July 6, 2013    On the day his first encyclical was being presented in a conference at the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. While reflecting upon the Gospel's passage about the calling of St. Matthew, the Pope said that Jesus wasn't concerned with those who believed. Rather, he sought sinners and even feasted with them, and never deprived anyone of His forgiveness.  

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, celebrated Mass with the Pope on the national feast day of Venezuela.

 “Matthew feels stunned; he hears Jesus’ invitation: ‘Follow me! Follow me!’ At that moment, this man is full of joy but he’s also doubtful because he’s also very attached to money. It just took a moment – and we see how (the artist) Caravaggio was able to capture it: that man who was looking, but also, with his hands, was taking the money. Only a moment in which Matthew says yes, leaves everything and goes with the Lord. It is the moment of mercy received and accepted: ‘Yes I’m coming with you!’ And it is the first moment of the meeting, a profound spiritual experience.” 

“This work must be nurtured with the memory of that first encounter, of that feast. And this is not one moment: up to the end of life. Memory. Memory of what? Of those events! Of that encounter with Jesus who has changed my life! Who had mercy! Who was so good to me and who told me also: ‘invite your friends who are sinners so we can have a feast!’ That memory gives Matthew strength and to all of them to forge ahead. ‘The Lord has changed my life! I met the Lord!’ Remember always. It is like blowing on the embers of that memory, no? Blowing to keep the fire alive, always.” 

“And Jesus, continuing this habit, feasts with the sinners and offers forgiveness to sinners. ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.’ Those who consider themselves righteous, they can cook in their own stew! He came for us sinners and this is beautiful. Let us be regarded by Jesus’ mercy; let us celebrate and remember this salvation!”

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2013-07-06   Pope Francis: the Holy Spirit renews our lives      In his Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said being Christian “does not mean doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit.” The Pope emphasised that even in the life of the Church there are “ancient structures” to be renewed without fear.

“New wine in new wineskins.” In his homily, Pope Francis dwelt on the renewal that Jesus brings. “The doctrine of the law,” he noted, “is enriched, renewed with Jesus . . . Jesus makes all things new.” He said Jesus brings a “true renewal of the law, the same law, but more mature, renewed.” He explained that what Jesus requires of us is greater than the requirements of the law. The law allows us to hate our enemy; Jesus, on the other hand, tells us to pray for him. This, then, is “the Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches”: a renewal above all “in our heart.” We think that “being Christian means doing this, or doing that; but it is not so:  

“Being Christian means allowing oneself to be renewed by Jesus in this new life. ‘I am a good Christian, I go to Mass every Sunday from 11 til noon, I do this, I do that’. . . as if it were a collection. But the Christian life is not a collage of things. It is a harmonious whole, harmonious, and the Holy Spirit does it! He renews all things: He renews our heart, our life, and makes us live differently, but in a way that takes up the whole of our life. You cannot be a Christian of pieces, a part time Christian. Being a part-time Christian simply doesn’t work! The whole, everything, full-time. The Spirit accomplishes this renewal. Being Christian ultimately means, not doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit – or, to use the words of Jesus, becoming new wine.” 

The newness of the Gospel, he continued, is really new, “but in the same law that comes in the history of Salvation.” And this newness, he said, “goes beyond us,” it renews us and “renews the structures.” This is why Jesus says that new wineskins are necessary for new wine:  

“In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures . . . It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons. The Church has always done this! From the very first moment, we remember the first theological battle: was it necessary to carry out all of the Jewish practices in order to be Christian? No! They said no! The gentiles could enter as they are: gentiles . . . Entering into the Church and receiving Baptism. A first renewal of the structures. . . . And so the Church always goes forward, giving space to the Holy Spirit that renews these structures, structures of the churches. Don’t be afraid of that! Don’t be afraid of the newness of the Gospel! Don’t be afraid of the newness that the Holy Spirit works in us! Don’t be afraid of the renewal of structures!” 

The Church, he said, “is free: the Holy Spirit carries her forward.” The Gospel teaches this: “the liberty to always find the newness of the Gospel in us, in our life, and even in our structures.” The Pope then re-iterated the importance of the “freedom to choose new wineskins for this newness.” He added that the Christian is free, “with that liberty” that Jesus gives us. A Christian “is not a slave of habits, of structures. . . . The Spirit carries [the Christian] forward.” The Pope then recalled that on the day of Pentecost, the Madonna was there with the disciples:  

“And where the mother is, the children are safe! All of them! Let us ask for the grace of not being afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of not being afraid of the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings, of not being afraid to let go of the passing structures that imprison us. If we are afraid, we know that the Mother is with us. And like children who are a little afraid, let us go to her – and she, as the ancient antiphon says, – ‘will protect us with her cloak, with her motherly protection.’ Amen. 

A group of Swiss Guard recruits took part in Saturday's liturgy, the last group to take part in the Pope's daily Mass before the summer break.

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At Mass in Santa Marta, Speaks Against Weapon of Gossip, Badmouthing

VATICAN CITY, September 02, 2013  - Pope Francis today resumed celebrations of Mass with Vatican employees in the Casa Santa Marta, drawing from today's readings to preach against gossip.

"Where there is God there is no hatred, envy or jealousy, and there is no gossip that can kill," the Pope said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

The liturgy today presents Luke's account of Jesus' meeting with the people of Nazareth.

When Jesus told them they lacked faith, they became furious, "rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong" (Luke 4:16-30)

Thus, the Holy Father pointed out, a situation that had started off with admiration was to end with a crime: Their jealousy and envy led them to want to kill Jesus.

"This kind of thing happens every day in our hearts, in our communities," the Holy Father observed. And he proposed the example of when someone new enters a community, on the first day, he said, people speak well of him; on the second not so well; and from the third on, gossip and badmouthing starts to spread and they end up "skinning him."

We are used to gossip, he continued, "but how many times our communities, even our families have become a hell in which we criminally kill our brother with words."

A community, a family, the Pontiff said, can be destroyed by envy that sows evil in the heart and causes one to speak badly of the other.

In these days, Pope Francis added, days in which we are speaking so often of peace, we see the victims of weapons, but we must also reflect on our daily weapons: “badmouthing and gossip."

“So that there is peace in a community, in a family, in a country, in the world, we must be with the Lord," he said. "And where the Lord is, there is no envy, there is no criminality, there is no hatred, and there are no jealousies. There is brotherhood. Let this be our prayer to the Lord: never kill your neighbor with words."

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World's Light Is Artificial, Jesus' Light Is Peace, Reflects Pope
At Mass in Santa Marta, Encourages Discernment

VATICAN CITY, September 03, 2013 - Pope Francis says the "light" the world offers us is strong -- like a firework of a camera flash -- but that it is also artificial. The light of Jesus, instead, is mild and quiet, like the light of Christmas night. It is the light of peace.

The Holy Father offered this reflection today at his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

His reflection was drawn from the first reading, from 1 Thessalonians, which states, "For all of you are children of the light and children of the day."

"Where Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, and love," the Pope said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

Christian identity, the Holy Father said, is an identity of light, not of darkness.”

This Light, he observed, is not well-liked by the world. But Jesus came precisely to save us from sin: “His light saves us from the darkness.” On the other hand, he continued, today “one might think that there is the possibility” of having the light “with so many scientific things, and so many of the things of humanity”:

“You can know everything, you can have knowledge of all things and this light on things. But the light of Jesus is something else. It is not a light of ignorance, no! It’s a light of wisdom and sagacity, but it is something other than the light of the world. The light that the world offers us is an artificial light, strong, perhaps (though that of Jesus is stronger, eh!), strong like a firework, like a flash of photography. Instead, the light of Jesus is a mild light, it is a quiet light, it is a light of peace, it’s like the light on Christmas night: without pretense.”

It is, the Pope said, a light that “offers and gives peace.” The light of Jesus, he continued, “doesn’t put on a show. It’s a light that comes into the heart.” However, he warned, “it’s true that many times the devil comes dressed as an angel of light: he likes to imitate Jesus and do good, he speaks to us quietly, as he spoke to Jesus after the fast in the desert.” That’s why we should ask the Lord for “the wisdom of discernment to understand when it is Jesus who gives us the light, and when it is the devil, disguised as an angel of light.”

“How many believe they are living in the light and they are in darkness, but they don’t realize it? What is the light like that Jesus offers us? The light of Jesus can be known because it is a humble light, it is not a light that imposes itself: it is humble. It’s a meek light, with the strength of meekness. It’s a light that speaks to the heart, and also a light that offers you the Cross. If we, in our inner light are meek, if we hear the voice of Jesus in the heart and look on the Cross without fear: that is the light of Jesus.”

But if, on the other hand, a light comes that “makes you arrogant,” he warned, a light that “brings you to look on others from on high” to despise others, “that leads you to pride” – that is not the light of Jesus: it’s the light of the devil, disguised as Jesus, as an angel of light.” The Pope pointed out the way to distinguish the true light from the false: “Wherever Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, love, and the Cross.” The light of Jesus “is beautiful and does so much good.”

In today’s Gospel, he concluded, Jesus cast out the devil and the people are lost in fear before a word that casts out unclean spirits:

“Jesus doesn’t need an army to cast out the demons, He has no need of pride, no need of force, of arrogance. ‘What is there about His word? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ This is a humble word, meek, with so much love; it is a word that accompanies us in the moments of the Cross. Let us ask the Lord to give us today the grace of His Light, and to teach us to distinguish when the light is from Him, and when it is an artificial light, made by the enemy to deceive us.”

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Pope Francis: 'Christ is the One Bridegroom'
Reflects on Christ's Union With the Church During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, September 06, 2013 - This morning in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis reflected on joy of being Christian and the image of Christ’s union with the Church in the Sacrament of Marriage during morning Mass.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of the day, which recalled Christ’s response to the Pharisees and scribes who complained of Jesus’ disciples who ate and drank compared to John the Baptist’s disciples often fasted.

“When the bridegroom is present, there can be no fasting, no sadness,” the Holy Father stressed. The Pope stated that Christ’s example of marriage was to mirror the relationship and union He has with the Church.

“I think that precisely this is the most profound reason for which the Church has such great care for the Sacrament of Marriage and calls it ‘great sacrament’ – for it is truly the image of the union of Christ with His Church,” Pope Francis told the faithful present.

The Pope went on to speak of joy is the the fundamental aspect of Christian. The example of marriage conjures up two attitudes that Christians should have, the first of them being joy. “The Christian is fundamentally joyful,” the Pope said. “For this reason, at the end of the Gospel, when they bring the wine, when he speaks of wine, it makes me think of the wedding at Cana – and for this reason Jesus works His miracle – this is why Our Lady, when she realized that there was no more wine… but if there is no wine there is no party ... imagining that the wedding feast might therefore end with the drinking of tea or juice: it would not do ... it is a feast, and Our Lady asks for the miracle. Such is the Christian life. The Christian life has this joyfulness of spirit, a joyfulness of heart. “

“[To be sure],” he continued, “there are truly moments of crucifixion, moments of pain – but there is ever that profound peace of joy, because Christian life is lived as a celebration, like the nuptial union of Christ with the Church.”

Pope Francis said that the second attitude is recognizing Christ as the One Bridegroom. “He is, always faithful, and asks fidelity of us,” Pope Francis said. “This is why when we desire, to have a little party of our own, which is not that great feast, it does not do. He went on to say that the Lord tells us that we cannot serve two masters: one either serves God, or the world.”

“This is the second Christian attitude: to recognize Jesus as the whole, the center, the totality. But we will always be tempted to cast this newness of the Gospel, this new wine, into old attitudes ... It is sin, we are all sinners. Only recognise it: ‘This is a sin.’ Do not say this goes with this. No! The old wineskins cannot hold the new wine. This is the novelty of the Gospel. Jesus is the bridegroom, the bridegroom who weds the Church, the groom who loves the Church, who gives his life for the Church. Jesus is the one who makes this wedding feast! Jesus asks us the joy of festivity, the joy of being Christians. He also asks of us the all: it’s all Him. If we have something that is not of Him, repent, ask for forgiveness and move on. May the Lord give us, to all of us, the grace always to have this joy, as if we were attending a wedding. And also have this faithfulness to the only bridegroom, who is the Lord,” the Holy Father concluded.

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2013-09-09    Christian hope is Jesus personified (daily Mass)

 (Vatican Radio) The virtue of hope, perhaps less understood than those of faith and charity, should never be confused with human optimism which is more a state of mind. For a Christian, hope is Jesus personified in the Eucharist and in the Word. That’s the essence of what Pope Francis said at this morning’s daily mass at the Vatican guesthouse Santa Marta.

Hope is a gift from Jesus; hope is Jesus himself and bears his name, Pope Francis said in his homily. But it’s not the kind of hope that you find in a person who usually looks at “a half full glass” – that’s simply “optimism” and “optimism is a human attitude that depends on many things.”

Recalling the Gospel reading in which Jesus heals a man with a paralyzed hand and is criticized by the scribes and Pharisees, Pope Francis observed that through his miracle, Jesus shows them how their’s “is not the way of liberty.” “Liberty and hope,” the Pope said, “go together: where there is no hope, there can be no liberty.” And, the Pope said that with that gesture, Jesus shows us the power of renewal through Him.

“Jesus, hope, renews everything. He’s a constant miracle." Christ, the Pope said, embodies this “miracle of renewal” in the Church, “in my life, your life, in our life.” “Christ is the reason for our hope,” he said, “and this hope does not delude.”

The Holy Father also had a word for his fellow clergy. Noting that it’s “a little sad” when “one finds a priest without hope,” Pope Francis said it is beautiful to find one who arrives at the end of life “not with optimism, but with hope.” “This priest, he continued, is linked to Jesus Christ and the people of God need us priests to give them this sign of hope, living this hope in Jesus who renews all.”

And he pointed to the Madonna’s great hope in her son, as an example for all to follow. Even in her darkest hour, he said, she had “That hope: She had it. It’s that hope that renews all.” 

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Pope Francis Reflects on Announcing Christ Without Fear
Warns of Dangers of Triumphalism During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, September 10, 2013  - During his homily at Mass this morning in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis stressed the calling of all Christians to announce Jesus Christ without fear, shame and especially without triumphalism.

The Holy Father also warned of one becoming a Christian without the experience of the Resurrection in their lives while emphasizing that Christ must always be at the center of one’s hope and life.

“There are so many Christians without Resurrection, Christians without the Risen Christ: they accompany Jesus to the tomb, they weep, they wish him well, but it ends there,” the Pope said.

“Thinking of this attitude of Christians without the Risen Christ, I have found three types, but there are so many: the fearful, fearful Christians; the ashamed, those who are ashamed; and the triumphalistic. These three have not met with the Risen Christ! The fearful: those who on the morning of the Resurrection, those of Emmaus, who leave, who are afraid.”

The Holy Father recalled the Apostles who closed themselves in the Cenacle for fear of the Jews. “The fearful are like this: they fear to think of the Resurrection.”

Then there are the Christians who are ashamed to “confess that Christ is risen.”

“To confess that Christ is risen, is a bit embarrassing in this world that goes forward in science. These Christians are embarrassed to say that Christ, with his flesh, with his wounds, is risen.”

Finally, there are those Christians who deep inside do not believe in the Risen One and wish to make a more majestic resurrection than the true one. These are the triumphalistic Christians. " They do not know the meaning of the word ' triumph 'so they just say “triumphalism”, because they have such an inferiority complex and want to do this …” the Pope said.

When we see these Christians, with so many triumphailistic attitudes, in their lives, in their speaking and in their pastoral, in the Liturgy, so many things like that, it is because deeply they don’t profoundly in the Risen One. And He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won.”

"This, the Holy Father concluded, is the message that Paul gives to us " Christ "is everything," he is totality and hope, "because he is the Bridegroom , the Winner".

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2013-09-13   Pope: there is no such thing as innocent gossip

He who speaks ill of his neighbor is a hypocrite who lacks the courage to look to his own shortcomings. Speaking during his homily at morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis focused on the fact that gossip has a “criminal” side to it, because every time we speak ill of our brothers, we imitate Caine’s homicidal gesture.

The seed of Pope Francis’ homily on Friday was Jesus’s thought provoking query when he asked: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” After having spoken about humility – he said – Jesus speaks to us of its opposite: “of that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbor when one becomes a “judge” of his brother”. In this context – the Pope points out – Jesus uses a strong word: “hypocrite”.

“Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings. The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness”.

And so – Pope Francis continued – every time we judge our brothers in our hearts – or worse still when we speak ill of them with others, we are Christian murderers:

“A Christian murderer…. It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord. And there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. And every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Caine, the first murderer in History”:

And the Pope added that in this time in history when there is much talk of war and so many pleas for peace, “a gesture of conversion on our own behalf is necessary”. “Gossip – he warned – always has a criminal side to it. There is no such thing as innocent gossip”. And quoting St. James the Apostle, the Pope said the tongue is to be used to praise God, “but when we use our tongue to speak ill of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill God”, “the image of God in our brother”. Some may say – the Pope commented – that there are persons who deserve being gossiped about. But it is not so:

“Go and pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to that person who may be able to seek remedy for the problem. But don’t tell everyone! Paul had been a sinner, and he says of himself: I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man. But I have been mercifully treated”. Perhaps none of us are blasphemer – perhaps… But if we ever gossip we are certainly persecutors and violent. We ask for grace so that we and the entire Church may convert from the crime of gossip to love, to humility, to meekness, to docility, to the generosity of love towards our neighbor”.

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Pope Francis: Approach mystery of the Cross with prayer and tears (14th Sept. 2013)

At the Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope Francis said the mystery of the Cross is a great mystery for mankind, a mystery that can only be approached in prayer and in tears.

In his homily, the Pope said that it is in the mystery of the Cross that we find the story of mankind and the story of God, synthesised by the Fathers of the Church in the comparison between the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in Paradise, and the tree of the Cross:

“The one tree has wrought so much evil, the other tree has brought us to salvation, to health. This is the course of the humanity’s story: a journey to find Jesus Christ the Redeemer, who gives His life for love. God, in fact, has not sent the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. This tree of the Cross save us, all of us, from the consequences of that other tree, where self-sufficiency, arrogance, the pride of us wanting to know all things according to our own mentality, according to our own criteria, and also according to that presumption of being and becoming the only judges of the world. This is the story of mankind: from one tree to the other.”

In the Cross there is the “story of God,” the Pope continued, because we can say that God has a story.” In fact, “He has chosen to take up our story and to journey with us,” becoming man, assuming the condition of a slave and making Himself obedient even to death on a Cross:

“God takes this course for love! There’s no other explanation: love alone does this. Today we look upon the Cross, the story of mankind and the story of God. We look upon this Cross, where you can try that honey of aloe, that bitter honey, that bitter sweetness of the sacrifice of Jesus. But this mystery is so great, and we cannot by ourselves look well upon this mystery, not so much to understand – yes, to understand – but to feel deeply the salvation of this mystery. First of all the mystery of the Cross. It can only be understood, a little bit, by kneeling, in prayer, but also through tears: they are the tears that bring us close to this mystery.”

“Without weeping, heartfelt weeping,” Pope Francis emphasized, we can never understand this mystery. It is “the cry of the penitent, the cry of the brother and the sister who are looking upon so much human misery” and looking on Jesus, but “kneeling and weeping” and “never alone, never alone!”

“In order to enter into this mystery, which is not a labyrinth but resembles one a little bit, we need the Mother, the mother’s hand. That she, Mary, will make us understand how great and humble this mystery is; how sweet as honey and how bitter as aloe. That she will be the one who accompanies us on this journey, which no one can take if not ourselves. Each one of us must take it! With the mother, weeping and on our knees.”

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September 16, 2013. Pope Francis explained during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta the traits of good governance. He also asked all Christians not to disengage from politics. During his homily, the Pope asked world leaders to ask themselves two questions.  

“You can’t govern without loving the people and without humility! And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good. The man or woman who governs – who loves his people is a humble man or woman.” 

“None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern. . . .’ No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well, and I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability. Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands, eh? We all have to give something!” 

“‘A good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.’ That’s not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern. But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer! That’s what Paul says: “Pray for all people, and for the king and for all in authority.” “But Father, that person is wicked, he should go to hell. . . .” Pray for him, pray for her, that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble.” A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian! “But Father, how will I pray for that person, a person who has problems. . . .” “Pray that that person might convert!”

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September 17, 2013. During his morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis compared the Church to a widowed mother who protects her children.

 “Our reconciliation with the Lord does not end with the dialogue 'You, me and the priest who pardons me. No! It ends when He leads us to our Mother. That's a true reconciliation, because there is no path of life, there is no forgiveness, there is no reconciliation outside the Mother Church. So, seeing this poor widow, all these things come to me somewhat randomly - But I see in this widow the icon of the widowhood of the Church who is on a journey to find her Groom. I get the urge to ask the Lord for the grace of always being confident of our mother, who defends us, teaches us, helps us grow and teaches us to speak her dialect.”

The Pope then added that the Church, like any other mother, should live the joys and trials of her children. Doing the opposite, he said, would indicate that something is wrong.

“Jesus has, 'the capacity to suffer with us, to be close to our sufferings and make them His own. Jesus had great compassion for this widow who had now lost her son.

“The Bridegroom is gone and she walks in history, hoping to find him, to meet with Him – and she will be His true bride. In the meantime she - the Church - is alone! The Lord is nowhere to be seen. She has a certain dimension of widowhood ... and that makes me makes me think of the widowhood of the Church. This courageous Church, which defends her children, like the widow who went to the corrupt judge to and eventually won. Our Mother Church is courageous! She has the courage of a woman who knows that her children are her own, and must defend them and bring them to the meeting with her Spouse.

“This dimension of widowhood of the Church, who is journeying through history, hoping to meet, to find her Husband… Our Mother the Church is thus! She is a Church that, when she is faithful, knows how to cry. When the Church does not cry, something is not right. She weeps for her children, and prays! A Church that goes forward and does rear her children, gives them strength and accompanies them until the final farewell in order to leave them in the hands of her Spouse, who at the end will come to encounter her. This is our Mother Church! I see her in this weeping widow. And what does the Lord say to the Church? “Do not cry. I am with you, I’ll take you, I’ll wait for you there, in the wedding, the last nuptials, those of the Lamb. Stop [your tears]: this son of yours was dead, now he lives. This is the dialogue of the Lord with the Church. She defends the children, but when she sees that the children are dead, she crys, and the Lord says to her: ‘I am with you and your son is with me.’ As he told the boy at Naim to get up from his deathbed, many times Jesus also tells us to get up, when we are dead because of sin and we are going to ask for forgiveness.”

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September 20, 2013. The evils of idolizing money: This was the focus of the Pope's daily morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta. He explained that the desire of making money at all costs corrupts the heart. He also added that Jesus clearly warned humanity about this.
EXTRACT OF POPE'S HOMILY
Money sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion and conflict. It drives to idle words and pointless discussions. It also corrupts the mind of some people that see religion as a source of profit. 'I am Catholic, I go to Mass, everyone thinks well of me... But underneath I have my businesses. I worship money'. And here we have the word we usually find in newspapers: 'Men of corrupted minds'. Money corrupts us! There's no way out.”
“We can never serve God and money at the same time. It is not possible: either one or the other. This is not Communism. It is the true Gospel! They are the Lord's words. While money begins by offering a sense of well being. Then you feel important and vanity comes. We read in the Psalm. This vanity is useless, but still you think you are important. And after vanity comes pride. Those are the three steps: wealth, vanity and pride.”

“But, Father, I read the Ten Commandments and they say nothing about the evils of money. Against which Commandment do you sin when you do something for money? Against the first one! You worship a false idol. And this is the reason: because money becomes an idol and you worship it. And that's why Jesus tells us that you cannot serve money and the living God: either one or the other. The early Fathers of the Church, in the 3rd Century, around the year 200 or 300, put it in a very blunt way, calling money 'the dung of the devil'. An so it is. Because turns us into idolatrous, fills our thoughts with pride and leads us away from our faith.”

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September 24: Pope Francis: God Never Abandons Us

Reflects on the Greatness and Humility of God During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, September 24, - During his morning homily at Casa Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis reflected on the humility and love of God, who always awaits us. The Sacrament of the Eucharist he said is “not a magic rite but an encounter with Jesus, who accompanies us in life.”

The Holy Father quoted the psalm of the day, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” to confirm the presence of the Lord in our lives. “In the history of the People of God, there are beautiful moments that give us joy and there are also ugly moments of pain, of martyrdom, of sin,” the Pope said.

“Be it in ugly time, be in beautiful times, one thing remains the same: the Lord is there, He never abandons His people,” he continued. “Because the Lord, in the day of sin, of the first sin, made a decision, He made a choice: to make History with his people. And God, who does not have a History because he is eternal, wished to make history, to walk close to His people. Even more so: to become one of us and like one of us, to walk with us, in Jesus.”

The Pope went on to say that God not only showed his greatness, but his humility as well, despite their sins or turning towards other idols. This humility is also manifested in Jesus Christ.

“Humility. God always waits. God is next to us, God walks with us, He is humble: he always waits for us. Jesus always waits for us. This is the humility of God. And the Church sings with joy of this humility of God who accompanies us, as we have done with the Psalm. ‘Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord’: let us go with joy because he accompanies, He is with us. And the Lord Jesus, also in our personal life accompanies us: with the Sacraments. The Sacrament is not a magic rite: it is an encounter with Jesus Christ, we meet with the Lord. And He is next to us and accompanies us.”

The Holy Spirit as well, accompanies us and teaches us what we don’t know, in our hearts, the Pope continued. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are our companions in the path of life. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for the grace to let God “write our history.”

Weekday Mass Sept 26: Jesus Cannot Be Known in 'First Class'

Reflects on Knowing Christ During Homily at Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, September 26, 2013 - “Jesus can not be known in “first class” but in everyday life.” This was the central message of Pope Francis’ homily today at morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae. In order to fully understand Christ, one must speak the three languages that are necessary to know him: that of “the mind, heart, and action.”

Reflecting on Gospel of the day which related Herod’s question as to who was Christ, the Holy Father stated that it is the same question posed by all who encounter Jesus. “It is a question,” he noted, “that can be made out of curiosity or for security.” He noted that in the Gospel some are afraid of Jesus because his teachings may lead to a political conflict with the Romans.

“One may wonder, ‘Who is this that makes so many problems?’ the Pope said, “because really, Jesus makes problems.”

“You can not know Jesus without having problems. And I dare say: If you want to have a problem, go towards the path to know Jesus. Not one [problem], you will have many. But it is the path to know Jesus! You can not know Jesus in first class! Jesus is known through the daily paths walked every day. You cannot know Jesus in tranquility, not even in the library.”

Although pointing out that one can study and essentially know Jesus through Catechism and through “the beauty of the history of salvation, but it its not enough to understand Jesus through the mind.

“It is necessary to know Him in dialogue with Him, talking with Him, in prayer, kneeling. If you do not pray, if you do not talk with Jesus, you do not know Him. You know things about Jesus, but it does not go with that knowledge that your heart gives in prayer.  To know Jesus with the mind, in the study of the Catechism; to know Jesus with the heart, in prayer, in dialogue with Him. This help us immensely, but it is not sufficient. There is a third path to know Jesus: it is following [Him]; to go with Him, to walk with Him.

The Holy Father stressed that in communicating with Christ in these three “languages” one can truly know Him

“When so many people, including us, ask this question: ‘Who is this?’, the Word of God says, ‘You want to know who he is? Read what the Church tells you about Him, talk to Him in prayer, and walk on the path with Him. Thus, you may know who this man is,” Pope Francis concluded.

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Weekday Mass Sept. 27: A Christian is One Who Bears Humiliation With 'Patience and Joy'

Reflects on the Nature of Christ in the Midst of Suffering During Daily Mass

VATICAN CITY, September 27, 2013 - During his homily at morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis  emphasized the importance of carrying within oneself the joy and patience of Christian faith even in difficult and humiliating circumstances.

The question raised in the Gospel of Luke, which recounted Peter’s profession of faith when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”, is also asked to us, the Pope told the faithful.

“Who do you say that I am? Who is the author of this phrase; a good prophet, a good teacher, one who who makes your heart feel good?” All of those descriptions may be true, the Holy Father continued, “but it does not end there.”

“It was the Holy Spirit who touched the heart of Peter to say who Jesus was. If he is the Christ, the Son of the living God, it is a mystery, right? Who could explain that [...] but the [Holy Spirit] told him. And if each one of us, in your own prayer, looking at the Tabernacle, and says to the Lord: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, firstly, they cannot say it on their own, it must be the Holy Spirit who says it in them. And, secondly, prepare yourself, because He will respond saying: “It is true.”

The Pope recalled that despite Peter’s profession of faith, the Gospel of St. Matthew recounts that later on, when Christ announces his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Peter tells Christ that “this shall never happen.”

Peter, Pope Francis said, “is scared, is scandalized; no more and no less than so many Christians who say ‘This will never happen! I will follow you until here.’ It is a way to follow Jesus to know him until a certain point.

“And this is the temptation of spiritual well-being. We have everything: we have the Church, we have Jesus Christ, the Sacraments, the Virgin Mary, everything, a nice work for the Kingdom of Heaven, we are good, everyone. Because at least we need to think this, because if we think the contrary, it is sin! But it is not enough to have spiritual well-being until a certain point. Like that young man who was rich: he wanted to go with Jesus, but until a certain point. What is missing is this last anointing of the Christian, to be a true Christian: the anointing of the Cross, the anointing of humiliation. He humiliated himself until death, death to everything. This is the touchstone, the verification of our Christian reality. Am I a Christian of a well-being culture? Am I a Christian that accompanies the Lord to the Cross? The sign is one’s ability to bear humiliation.

The Holy Father went on to say that many Christians are “blocked” by this scandal of the cross, and instead, complain when they suffer any wrongs, thus, behaving in a way that is contrary to the nature of Christ. A Christian is recognized by their capacity to bear humiliations “with joy and patience”.

There are two paths that Christians may follow, the Pope concluded. Either a Christian who only cares for their own well-being to assure a place in Heaven or “a Christian close to Jesus, on the path of Jesus.”

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Weekday Mass 28th September, 2013.

Gossip is a “forbidden language” in the Vatican, because it is a language that generates evil. This was a main focus of Pope Francis’ homily at a special Mass celebrated in the Lourdes Grotto of the Vatican Gardens on Saturday morning for the Vatican’s Corps of Gendarmes – the police force tasked with maintaining order and security within the walls of Vatican City.

Pope Francis said, “I ask you not only to defend [the gates], the doors, the windows of the Vatican,” - a necessary and important work as well - but to defend “as your patron saint Saint Michael,” the doors of the hearts of those who work in the Vatican , where temptation “enters” exactly as elsewhere :

“There is a temptation – I would like to say it is thus for everyone , even for me , for everyone – a temptation that the devil likes very much: that against unity, when hidden dangers work directly against the unity of those who live and work in the Vatican – and the devil tries to create internal war, a kind of civil war and spiritual, is it not? It is a war that is not waged with the weapons that we recognize: it is a war waged with the tongue.”

"We ask St. Michael to help us in this war : never speak ill of each other, never open your ears to gossip. And if [one hears] someone gossiping, stop him! [Say] , ‘Here there can be none of that: walk out of St. Anne’s Gate. Go outside and talk there! Here you cannot!’ That’s it, isn’t it? The good seed yes: speak well of one another , yes, but [do not sow the poison seed] of gossip.”

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Weekday Mass October 1, 2013:  Council of Cardinals Concelebrates with Pope Francis

Expresses Hope That Church Will "Give a Beautiful Witness to the People"

VATICAN CITY, October 01, 2013 - This morning, Pope Francis celebrated morning Mass with the Council of Cardinals who are convening today for the first of three meetings. The council, which was created on April 13th, will assist the Pope in the governance of the Church as well as to draw up a project for the revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on the Roman Curia.

During his homily, the Holy Father expressed his hope that the meetings of the Council will make all more humble and more trusting in God. Thus the Church “might be able to a beautiful witness to people.

The Gospel of the day recounted Jesus’ rebuke of James and John, who wished to “call down fire from heaven” in response to those who did not welcome them. The Holy Father told those present that the “path of vengeance” is not the path of a Christian. Reflecting on the St. Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast day is today, the Holy Father said that her life calls all to “think about this spirit of humility, of tenderness, of bounty.”

“It is a spirit that the Lord wants from all of us. Where, then, is the power that brings us to this spirit? It is found in love, in charity, in the awareness that we are in the hands of the Father,” the Pope said.

With this awareness, he continued, one will not want “to call down fire from Heaven.”

“Another spirit comes, that of that charity that suffers all, pardons all, that does not boast, that is humble, that doesn’t seek itself. Someone could say — and there are some philosophers that thing this way — that this is a humiliation of the majesty of man, of the greatness of man. This is sterile! The Church has wisely made this saint, humble, small, trusting in God, meek: she has made her the Patron of Missions.”

Pope Francis went on to say that the strength of the Gospel is found precisely in the humiliation of Jesus, “in the humility of the child that is guided by the love and the tenderness of the Father.”

“The Church, Benedict XVI told us, does not grow through proselytism, it grows through attraction, through witness. And when the people see this witness of humility, of meekness, of mildness, they feel the need that the Prophet Zechariah spoke of: ‘We want to come with you.’ The people feel that need in the face of the witness of charity, of this humble charity, without bullying, not sufficient, humble. Worship and serve!”

The witness that comes from charity, which is to worship God and serve others, is what makes the Church grow. For this reason, he exclaimed, St. Therese of the Child Jesus “was named Patron of the Mission, because of her example which makes the people say ‘we want to come with you!”

Concluding his homily, the Holy Father mentioned the meeting of the Council of Cardinals. “Today, here in the Vatican, begins the meeting with the Cardinal consulters, who are concelebrating the Mass,” Pope Francis said.

“Let us ask the Lord that our work today will make us all more humble, more meek, more patient, more trusting in God, so that the Church can give a beautiful witness to the people, and seeing the People of God, seeing the Church, they might feel the desire to come with us.”

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October 10, 2013. During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the famous words of Jesus: 'Ask and you shall receive.' He said Christians should be direct and bold in their prayers, adding that God helps those who ask for His help. He also said that for prayers to be answered, they must be said with courage.   

 “The Lord says: ‘For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’ But you have to ask, seek, and knock.

Do we get ourselves involved in prayer? Do we know to knock at the heart of God? In the Gospel Jesus says, If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? This, the Pope said, is a great thing.

When we pray courageously, the Lord gives us the grace, but He also gives us Himself in the grace: the Holy Spirit, that is, Himself! The Lord never gives or sends a grace by mail: never! He brings it Himself! What we ask for is a little bit like  . . . it is the envelope that grace is wrapped in. But the true grace is Him, Who comes to bring it to me. It’s Him. Our prayer, if it is courageous, receives what it asks for, but also that which is more important: the Lord.

In the Gospel, some people receive the grace and then go away: of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only once returned to thank him. Even the blind man of Jericho found the Lord in the healing, and praised God. But we must pray “with the courage of faith

We ask for a grace, but we don’t dare say, 'But come Yourself to bring it to me.' We know that a grace is always brought by Him: It is He Himself who comes and brings it to us. Let us not embarrass ourselves by taking the grace and not recognizing Him who brings it to us, Him who gives it to us: The Lord. That the Lord may give us the grace of giving us Himself, always, in every grace. And that we might recognize Him, and that we might praise Him as did the sick people in the Gospel who were healed. So that, in that grace, we might find the Lord."

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October 11, 2013. During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about the dangers of temptation. He explained that Christians should guard their hearts and minds. He also said they must be watchful of the devil's deceitful tactics.    

POPE FRANCIS

 “There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness’. They do not read this, no? It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter, as if to say: ‘All of these (people) were not possessed; they were mentally ill’. No! The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”

“And we can ask ourselves the question: Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well? But if you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come. But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil. Vigilance! Three criteria! Do not confuse the truth. Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”

“Be vigilant because the devil's strategy is this: ‘You became Christian. Advance in your faith. The devil will leave you alone. He will leave you at peace. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, he will come back.' Today's Gospel begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! St. Peter said ‘It's like a fierce lion that circles us’. It is like that. ‘Some may say, but, Father, you're too old fashioned. You're frightening us with these things…’ No, it's not me! It is the Gospel! And these are not lies: it is the Word of the Lord! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let's not do business with the devil! He wants to come back home, to take possession… Don't accept relativism, be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”

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October 14, 2013. During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about hypocrisy. He warned about showing off an attitude of perfect piety, while at the same time ignoring the needy. He called this attitude the 'Jonah Syndrome.'   

POPE FRANCIS

“The 'Jonah Syndrome' leads to hypocrisy, self sufficiency. An attitude of unpolluted, perfect Christians who say: 'We do this and that, we follow the Commandments and everything.' This is a serious illness. On the contrary, the Sign of Jonah shows us God's mercy through Jesus who died and Resurrected for us and for our Salvation.”

Pope Francis also said that good works don't have lasting value if they are not carried out in the name of God's love.

“The Pope recalling Monday’s Gospel reading from Luke centred his homily on the “Sign of Jonah” and how Jesus speaks of a “ wicked generation”. The Pope explained that Jesus with these words was not referring to the people who followed him with love but he was pin pointing the doctors of the Church that tried to test him and make him fall into a trap.

Pope Francis went on the say that the Pharisees asked for signs but Jesus answered by saying that he alone will give the “Sign of Jonah” just like Jonah himself became a sign to the Ninevites. The Holy Father said that these people suffer from, what he called “The Jonah Syndrome” and Jesus calls them hypocrites because they have " an attitude of perfect piety ," which looks at the doctrine of salvation but does not care for "poor people."

"The Pope continued by saying that the “Sign of Jonah”, is the sign of truth that gives us the confidence to be saved by the blood of Christ. How many Christians are there, stressed Pope Francis, that think they will be saved only for the works they perform.

"The works, added the Pope are necessary, but they are a consequence, a response to the merciful love that saves us. These works without merciful love mean nothing. The 'Jonah Syndrome' underlined the Holy Father is work without this love. The Pope concluded by saying that we should take advantage of Monday’s liturgy to ask ourselves and make a choice. What do I prefer? The Sign of Jonah or The Syndrome of Jonah?"

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Pope Francis: 'Love of God and Neighbor Heals You of Idolatry and Hypocrisy'
Reflects on the Idolatry of Self During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 15, 2013  - Love of God and neighbor are necessary in defending oneself from the sin of idolatry and hypocrisy. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning during Mass in the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta.

St. Paul’s first reading spoke of those who “although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.”

“While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes,” St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans states.

This idolatry, the Pope said, “stifles the truth of faith which reveals the justice of God.”

“But since we all need to worship - because we have the stamp of God within us - when we do not worship God, we adore creatures. And this is the passage from faith to idolatry. They, the idolaters, have no excuse: having known God, they did not glorify nor gave thanks to God. And what is the path of the idolater? It says it clearly: ‘they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.’ The selfishness of their own thought, the omnipotent thought, that which I think is true: I think the truth, I make the truth with my thoughts.”

Although Saint Paul’s words referred to the physical adoration of statues of various creatures, Pope Francis said that in today’s world, idolatry has taken a new form not only to those outside of the Church but even within.

“Even today, there are so many idols and today there are many idolaters, so many who think themselves wise. But even among us, among Christians! I am not speaking of them, I respect them, those who are not Christian. But among us - let us speak like family - those who believe themselves wise, that know everything.”

“And they have become fools,” he continued, “and changed the glory of God who is incorruptible with an image: my own self, my ideas, my comfort. This is not just something historical - even today in the streets there are idols. All of us have some form of hidden idol. We may ask ourselves in front of God: what is my hidden idol? That which occupies the place of God!”

The Holy Father also drew a parallel between the Paul’s discourse on idolatry and Christ’s words on hypocrisy in today’s Gospel. Saint Luke’s Gospel recalled Jesus rebuke of the Pharisee who was scandalized that Jesus did not “observe the prescribed washing before the meal”

“Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil,” Jesus replied in the Gospel. “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Jesus’ response, the Pope said, calls on the Pharisee, as well as all of us ,to not judge by appearances but to go straight to the truth.

“A plate is a plate, but what is most important is what is in the plate: the meal,” the Holy Father said. “But if you are vain, if you are a careerist, if you are ambitious, if you are a person who always boasts about yourself or who likes to brag, because you think yourself perfect, give a bit of alms and that will heal you of your hypocrisy.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that the true path that Christ calls us to fight against idolatry and hypocrisy is to love both God above all else and neighbor.

“It is so simple, yet very difficult! This can only be done through grace. Let us ask for this grace,” Pope Francis said.

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Pope Francis: 'Becoming A Disciple of Ideology Closes the Door to Faith'
Warns of the Dangers of Ideological Thought in Christianity During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 17, 2013  - During his homily at Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned of the danger of “becoming a disciple of ideology” which he said can lead one to lose their faith. The Holy Father based his homily on today’s Gospel which recounts Christ’s warning to the scholars of the law.

“When we go down the path and find in front of us a closed Church, we feel strange because a closed Church is not understood,” the Pope said. “The Lord who is inside cannot come out.” This image of the closed Church, he explained, is given by Jesus in today’s Gospel. The Holy Father also explained why many Christians fall into this “attitude of ‘key in pocket’ and closed door.”

“Faith passes, so to speak, through an alembic (distillery) and becomes an ideology. And ideology does not convene. In ideology there is no Jesus: his tenderness, love, meekness. And ideologies are always rigid,” the Pope said.

“In every sense: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology, they have lost the faith: they are no more a disciple of Jesus, they are a disciple of this attitude of thought, of this…” And for this reason Jesus says to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge’. The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these closed the door with so many requirements.”

The Holy Father continued his homily saying that ideology within the Church only serves to alienate people. “These Christian ideologies are a grave sickness!” he exclaimed. However, he noted, this sickness is not something that is relatively new, but spoken of by the apostles, particularly St. John, during the time of the early Church.

“Christians who lose the faith and prefer ideology become rigid, moralists, ethicists, but without goodness. But this may be the question, no? Why does a Christian become that way? What happens in the heart of that Christian, that priest, of that bishop, of that Pope, that makes them that way. It is simply one thing: that Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you will always close the door.”

Emphasizing the importance of prayer in Christian life, the 76 year old pontiff, saying that without it, a Christian witness becomes a witness full of pride. Ideological Christians, he said, become proud, sure of themselves and lacking humility. The Holy Father however made the distinction of true prayer and the mere recitation of prayers, a distinction made by Christ who rebuked the doctors of the law who prayed so as to be seen. “It is one thing to pray and another to recite prayers,” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask the Lord for several graces in avoiding this ideological path. “First, to not cease to pray, to not lose faith, to remain humble. So that we will not become closed, which closes the path to the Lord.”

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Francis Calls Faithful to Visit Retired Priests, Nuns
Notes Difficult Final Years for 3 Biblical Figures

VATICAN CITY, October 18, 2013 - At his daily Morning Mass today, Pope Francis reflected on the final years of three biblical figures: Moses, St John the Baptist and St Paul. He drew from their examples to make an exhortation to remember the elderly, especially retires priests and nuns.

Vatican Radio reported about the homily for the Pope's daily Mass. The Holy Father looked at the vigor and enthusiasm displayed by the young Moses, St John the Baptist and St Paul at the beginning of their apostolate and compared it with the solitude and anguish they endured at the end of their lives.

The Pope said Paul “has a joyful and enthusiastic beginning” but is not spared a decline in his later years, and it was a similar situation with Moses and St John the Baptist.

“Moses, when young," he continued, was “the courageous leader of the People of God who fought against his enemies” to save his people. But at the end of his life, “he is alone on Mount Nebo, looking at the promised land” but unable to enter it.

Turning to the later life of St. John the Baptist, the Pope noted that Jesus' cousin had to struggle with an anguish that tormented him and “finished under the power of a weak, corrupt and drunken ruler who in turn was under the power of an adulteress’ jealousy and the capricious wishes of a dancer.”

St. Paul, the Pope said, also faced similar trials at the end of his life and in his letters spoke of all those who had abandoned him and who had denounced his preaching. But as he went on to stress, Paul wrote that “the Lord was close to him and gave him the strength to complete his mission of announcing the Gospel.”

Pope Francis said these later-life challenges of these three figures reminded him of "the shrines of holiness which are the nursing homes of elderly priests and religious sisters.”

“Bearing the burden of solitude, these priests and sisters are waiting for the Lord to knock at the door of their hearts” and he urged the faithful not to forget them and to visit them.

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October 21, 2013. Pope Francis focused his homily at Casa Santa Marta on greed, which destroys people as well as families, he said. The Pope added that money can bring about many good things, but only when people are not attached to it.   

 The Pope went on to say that choosing poverty for poverty's sake is no good either. Poverty is only good, he concluded, as an instrument to worship only God, instead of “golden idols.” 

 “This is a day-to-day problem. How many families have we seen destroyed by the problem of money? Brother against brother, father against son. This is the first result that this attitude of being attached to money does: it destroys! When a person is attached to money, he destroys himself, he destroys the family. Money destroys! It does, doesn’t it? It binds you. Money serves to bring about many good things, so many works for human development, but when your heart is attached in this way, it destroys you.” 

“That’s what does harm: greed in my relationship with money. Having more, having more, having more... It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not money, but the attitude, what we call greed. Then too this greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. It destroys you, it makes you sick. And in the end – this is the most important thing – greed is an instrument of idolatry because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us. Saint Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, who was rich, made Himself poor to enrich us. That is the path of God: humility, to lower oneself in order to serve. Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: You, who are a poor human, make yourself God for vanity’s sake. It is idolatry!” 

“The Lord teaches us which is the path: not the path of poverty for poverty’s sake. No! It is the way of poverty as an instrument, so that God may be God, so that He will be the only Lord! Not the golden idols! And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world, to advance humanity, to help, to help others. Today may the Word of the Lord remain in our hearts: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

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Pope Francis: Sinners Are Closest to the Heart of Jesus
Pontiff Reflects on God's Overabundance of Grace and Mercy During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 22, 2013  - A sinner is closest to the heart of Jesus because He is close to those in need of healing. This was is the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father focused his homily, which centered on the mercy of God, on three major points: contemplation, closeness, and abundance.

Reflecting on St Paul's Letter to the Romans, the Holy Father stated that the mystery of God cannot be understood through intelligence alone, but also through contemplation and prayer.

“When intelligence wants to explain a mystery, it always - always! - becomes crazy!,” the Pope said. “And that is how it happened in the History of the Church. Contemplation: intelligence, heart, kneeling, prayer...all together, to enter into the mystery. That is the first word that perhaps will help us.”

The Holy Father went on to explain that Paul’s assertion that through one man sin entered and through one man salvation entered signifies the closeness of God to us. The Pope compared the action of God to an infirmary, where the Lord comes to heal us, involving himself in our lives and “meddles in our misery.” In order to come closer to us, he continued, God made himself man.

“A man has made sin, a man comes to heal it. Closeness. God does not save us only through a decree, a law; He saves us with tenderness, He saves with caresses, He saves us with His life, for us,” the Pope said.

The third word, abundance, referred to St. Paul’s words which state that “when sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.” God, he said, in coming close to us to heal our wounds, gave man an overabundance of grace and love. From such abundance, we can see Jesus’ preference for sinners.

“Maybe some of us don’t like to say this, but those who are closest to the heart of Jesus, are the biggest sinners, because He looks for them, he calls to all: ‘Come, come!’ And when they ask for an explanation, he says: ‘But, those who have good health do not need a doctor; I have come to heal, to save,’” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that to fight against the “ugly sin” of distrusting God who loves sinners, it is important to reflect on His contemplation, closeness and abundance. “He is a God who always win with his overabundance of grace, with His tenderness, with His wealth of mercy,” the Pope said.

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Pope Francis: The Path to Sanctification Must Be Taken Seriously
Reflects on the Mystery of Redemption During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 24, 2013- In his homily this morning in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father stressed the need for Christians that are on the path of sanctification and not ‘halfway Christians.’ Pope Francis reflected on the first reading from the Letter to the Romans, which centered on the mystery of our redemption.

Saint Paul, he said, explains redemption “with the logic of before and after: before Jesus and after Jesus.” Life before Christ is rubbish where as life after Christ is a new creation.

“We are remade in Christ! That which Christ has done in us is a recreation: the blood of Christ has recreated us. It is a second creation!” the Pope exclaimed.

“If at first all our life, our body, our soul, our habits were on the path of sin, of iniquity, after this recreation we should make the effort to walk on the path of justice, of sanctification. Use this word: holiness. All of us have been baptized: in that moment, our parents - when we were babies - in our name, made the Act of Faith: ‘ I believe in Jesus Christ”, who has forgiven us our sins.’”

The Pope went on to say that this faith in Jesus Christ should be brought forward in our way of life. In living out this recreation, one can bring forward the first sanctification received in Baptism. With our weaknesses, sins, and imperfections, the Holy Father said that through them, one can choose a life on or away from the path of holiness.

“If one says “‘My life is like this; I believe in Jesus Christ, but I live like I want’... No, that does not sanctify you; that is wrong! It is a contradiction!,” the Pope exclaimed. “But if you say: ‘Lord, you have strength, give me faith! You can heal me!. And in the Sacrament of Reconciliation you are healed, yes, even our imperfections are of use in this way of sanctification. But this is always: before and after.”

Drawing again from St. Paul’s letter, the Holy Father explained that before the Act of Faith we were on the path of injustice, but after it, we are placed on the path of sanctification. However, in order to continue on this path, one must take it seriously.

“Without this awareness of before and after that Paul speaks of, our Christianity does not help anyone! And more so: it goes on the path of hypocrisy,” the Pope said.

“‘I call myself Christian, but I live like a pagan! Sometimes we say ‘halfway Christians’ who do not take this seriously. We are holy, justified, sanctified by the blood of Christ: take this sanctification and bring it forward!”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to “let go of all that distances us from Jesus Christ”.

The question that we should then ask ourselves today is if we want to live this Christianity seriously, if we want to bring forward this recreation,” the Holy Father said.

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By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 25, 2013  - The Holy Father reflected on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the forgiveness of God during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

Pope Francis commented on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, a reading where Paul professes that “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Paul’s acknowledgement of his condition as a “slave” to sin is the manifestation of all Christians’ struggle in “the life of faith.”

“This is the struggle of Christians,” Pope Francis said. “It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle.”

“We always seek a way of justification: ‘But yes, we are all sinners.’ But we say it like that, don’t we? This says it dramatically: it is our struggle. And if we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness. Because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force. But more important here is that, to find the way out, Paul confesses his sin to the community, his tendency to sin. He doesn’t hide it.”

The Holy Father stressed the importance of confessing one's sins with “concreteness”. Some prefer to “confess to God” so as to have no contact with anyone, while Paul confesses his weakness to his brothers face to face. Others, he continued, will go to confession but say “so many up-in-the-air things, that they don’t have anything concrete.” In confessing such a way, is the “same as not doing it.”

“Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing’”, the Holy Father said.

The 76 year old Pontiff went on to say that through concreteness, honesty and the “sincere ability” to feel shame for one’s sins can bring one to discover the depth of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The approach to confessing one’s sins should be that of little children, who “have that wisdom.”

“When a child comes to confess, he never says something general. ‘But father, I did this and I did that to my aunt, another time I said this word’ and they say the word. But they are concrete, eh? They have that simplicity of the truth. And we always have the tendency to hide the reality of our failings,” the Pope said.

To feel shame in the moment of confessing one’s sins in the presence of God is a grace, he concluded. This “grace of shame” is the same grace exhibited by St. Peter.

“We think of Peter when, after the miracle of Jesus on the lake, [he said] ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner.’ He is ashamed of his sins in the presence of the sanctity of Jesus,” the Pope said.

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Pope Francis: Christ Paid the Price for Our Justification

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 28, 2013 - Christ, who intercedes for us to the Father, shows his wounds as the price of our justification. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today.

In today’s Gospel, which recounted Christ going up to the mountain to pray before choosing the twelve apostles, the Holy Father highlighted the three different rapports that Jesus has: with the Father, with his Apostles and with the people. It is Christ who intercedes for us, who prays for us and who has justified us.

“Jesus is not a spirit! Jesus is a person, He is a man, with flesh like ours, but in glory. Jesus has the wounds on His hands, His feet, on His side and when He prays, He shows the Father the price of justification, and prays for us, as if He is saying, ‘Father, that these may not be lost,’” the Holy Father said.

The Holy Father said that Christ is like our brother, a man like one of us, who is the first who prays for us to God. After denying Christ, he said, Peter realized that Christ’s words were true and that He knew Christ prayed for him. Thus, he was able to weep and repent. Pope Francis invited the faithful to also come to this realization that Christ continuously prays for us.

“He prays for me; He prays for all of us and prays courageously because he shows the Father the price of our justice: His wounds,” the Pope said. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited those gathered to contemplate on this aspect of Christ and to thank God for having “a brother who prays with us, who prays for us, who intercedes for us.”

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Pope Francis Reflects on the Nature of Hope

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, October 29, 2013 - During his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of hope, saying that it is not optimism but rather “an eager expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God.” The Holy Father drew his words from the first reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

The Pope emphasized that hope does not disappoint, it is secure. However, the Holy Father clarified to have hope does not meant to be optimistic. “Hope is not an optimism, it is not the capacity to see things with a good spirit and go forward. No, that is optimism, it is not hope. Nor is hope a positive attitude in front of things,” the Pope said. “This is good! But it is not hope.”

“It is not easy to understand what is hope. It is said that it is the most humble of the three virtues, because it is hidden in life. Faith is seen, is felt, it is known what it is. Charity can be one, it is known what it is. But what is hope? What is this attitude of hope? To approach this a bit, we can say firstly that hope is a risk, it is a risky virtue, it is a virtue, as Saint Paul says, ‘of an eager expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God.’ It is not an illusion.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that the early Christians depicted hope as an anchor that is fixed on the shore of the afterlife. The goal of a Christian is to walk towards this anchor. The Holy Father then asked those present to contemplate on where are they anchored in there own lives.

“Are we anchored just beyond the shore of that ocean far away or are we anchored in an artificial lagoon, that we have made ourselves, with our rules, our behaviors, our schedules, our clericalism, our ecclesiastical attitudes, not ecclesial? Are we anchored there? All comfortable, all secure That is not hope.”

Another image of this hope the Holy Father said that St. Paul indicates is that of going into labor. Hope, he stressed, is within this “dynamic of giving life.” The fruits of this labor, however, are unseen. The Holy Father compared this image of St. Paul to the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I think of Mary, a young girl, when after hearing that she was a mother, her attitude changes and she goes, she helps and sings that hymn of praise,” the Pope said.

“When a woman becomes pregnant, she is a woman, but she is never (only) just a woman: she is a mother. And hope is something like this. It changes our attitude: it is us, but we are not ourselves; it is us, looking over there, anchored over there.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis addressed a group of Mexican priests who were present at the Mass celebrating their 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. “Ask Our Lady, Mother of hope, that your years be years of hope, to live as priests of hope,” he said to them.

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Holy Father says Church is not only for good people but a "feast of unity"

VATICAN CITY, November 05, 2013 Pope Francis’ morning homily, Nov. 5:

At the heart of Christianity is an invitation to the Lord’s feast. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta this morning. The Pope said that the Church is “not only for good people;” the invitation to be a part of it concerns everyone. And he added that, at the Lord’s feast we must “participate fully” and with everyone; we can’t pick and choose. Christians, he said, can’t be content with simply being on the guest list – not participating fully is like not joining in.

The readings of the day, the Pope said, the identity of the Christian. He emphasized that “first of all, the Christian essence is an invitation: we only become Christians if we are invited.” It is a “free invitation” from God to participate. You can’t pay to get into the feast, he warned: “either you are invited or you can’t come in.” If “in our conscience,” he said, “we don’t have this certainty of being invited” then “we haven’t understood what a Christian is”.

“A Christian is one who is invited. Invited to what? To a shop? To take a walk? The Lord wants to tell us something more: You are invited to join in the feast, to the joy of being saved, to the joy of being redeemed, to the joy of sharing life with Christ. This is a joy! You are called to a party! A feast is a gathering of people who talk, laugh, celebrate, are happy together. I have never seen anyone party on their own. That would be boring, no? Opening the bottle of wine . . . That’s not a feast, it’s something else. You have to party with others, with the family, with friends, with those who’ve been invited, as I was invited. Being Christian means belonging, belonging to this body, to the people that have been invited to the feast: this is Christian belonging.”

Turning to the Letter to the Romans, the Pope then affirmed that this feast is a “feast of unity.” He underlined the fact that all are invited, “the good and the bad.” And the first to be invited are the marginalized:

“The Church is not the Church only for good people. Do we want to describe who belongs to the Church, to this feast? The sinners. All of us sinners are invited. At this point there is a community that has diverse gifts: one has the gift of prophecy, another of ministry, who teaching. . . We all have qualities and strengths. But each of us brings to the feast a common gift. Each of us is called to participate fully in the feast. Christian existence cannot be understood without this participation. ‘I go to the feast, but I don’t go beyond the antechamber, because I want to be only with the three or four people that I familiar with. . .’ You can’t do this in the Church! You either participate fully or you remain outside. You can’t pick and choose: the Church is for everyone, beginning with those I’ve already mentioned, the most marginalized. It is everyone’s Church!”

Speaking about the parable in which Jesus said some who were invited began to make excuses, Pope Francis said: “They don’t accept the invitation! They say ‘yes,’ but their actions say ‘no.’” These people, he said, “are Christians who are content to be on the guest list: chosen Christians.” But, he warned, this is not sufficient, because if you don’t participate you are not a Christian. “You were on the list,” he said, but this isn’t enough for salvation! This is the Church: to enter into the Church is a grace; to enter into the Church is an invitation.” And this right, he added, cannot be purchased. “To enter into the Church,” he added, “is to become part of a community, the community of the Church. To enter into the Church is to participate in all the virtues, the qualities that the Lord has given us in our service of one for the other.” Pope Francis continued, “To enter into the Church means to be responsible for those things that the Lord asks of us.” Ultimately, he said, “to enter into the Church is to enter into this People of God, in its journey towards eternity.” No one, he warned, is the protagonist of the Church: but we have ONE,” who has done everything. God “is the protagonist!” We are his followers . . . and “he who does not follow Him is the one who excuses himself” and does not go to the feast:

The Lord is very generous. The Lord opens all doors. The Lord also understands those who say to Him, ‘No, Lord, I don’t want to go to you.’ He understands and is waiting for them, because He is merciful. But the Lord does not like those who say ‘yes’ and do the opposite; who pretend to thank Him for all the good things; who have good manners, but go their own way and do not follow the way of the Lord: those who always excuse themselves, those who do not know joy, who don’t experience the joy of belonging. Let us ask the Lord for this grace of understanding: how beautiful it is to be invited to the feast, how beautiful it is to take part in it and to share one’s qualities, how beautiful it is to be with Him and how wrong it is to dither between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ to say ‘yes,’ but to be satisfied merely with being a nominal Christian.

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November 7, 2013     During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the lost sheep. He explained that God has a 'loving weakness' for those who are lost. He also added that once the sheep go back home, they should not be judged by the flock, but rather welcomed as 'one of their own.'   

 “God does not like to lose. He is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches. He is a God who searches: He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep. The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, but the life of the sinner. God loves us. Some will say, 'but I'm a sinner, I've done this, and that.' But God says, I love you anyway. I will go out and search for you and bring you home. This is our God!” 

The Pope also talked about hypocrisy. He explained that those who criticized Jesus mistakenly thought that being religious was about being well mannered and pretending to be polite.

He replies to this murmuring with a joyful parable. The words ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ appear in this short text four times: three times joy, and once happiness. “And you” – it’s as if he were saying – “you are scandalized by this, but my Father rejoices”. That is the most profound message of this story: the joy of God, a God who doesn’t like to lose. God is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches. He is a God who searches: He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep.”

“He can’t stand losing one of His own. And this is the prayer of Jesus, too, on Holy Thursday: “Father, may none get lost, of those You have given to me”. He is a God who walks around searching for us, and has a certain loving weakness for those who are furthest away, who are lost. He goes and searches for them. And how does he search? He searches until the end, like the shepherd who goes out into the darkness, searching, until he finds the sheep. Or like the woman, when she loses a coin, who lights a lamp and sweeps the house, and searches carefully. That’s how God searches. “I won’t lose this son, he’s mine! And I don’t want to lose him.” This is our Father: he always comes searching for us.” 

“The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, but the life of the sinner. And how far from this were those who murmured against Jesus, how far from the heart of God! They didn’t know Him. They thought that being religious, being good people meant always being well-mannered and polite, and often pretending to be polite, right? This is the hypocrisy of the murmuring. But the joy of God the Father, in fact, is love. He loves us. “But I’m a sinner, I’ve done this and that and the other!” “But I love you anyway, and I go out searching for you, and I bring you home.” This is our Father. Let’s reflect on this.”

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Pope Francis: 'Corrupt Christians Do Much Harm to the Church'

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, November 11, 2013 - During his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, the Holy Father warned of those who pretend to be Christian while calling on the faithful to recognize themselves as sinners so as not to be corrupt.

Drawing from today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Pope Francis underlined Christ’s example in forgiving a repentant sinner. However, Jesus also gives a word of warning to those who are a cause of scandal. “What is the difference between sinning and scandalizing?” the Holy Father asked.

“The difference is that one who sins and repents, asks forgiveness, feels weak, feels like a son of God, humbles himself, and asks for salvation from Jesus. But the other who scandalizes, what is it that scandalizes? That he does not repent. He continues to sin, but pretends to be a Christian: the double life. And the double life of a Christian does much harm, so much harm. ‘But I am a benefactor of the Church! I put my hand in my pocket and I give to the Church.’ But with the other hand, he robs: the State, the poor...he steals. He is unjust. This is the double life. And this merits - says Jesus, not myself - that a millstone be placed around his neck and thrown to the sea. He does not speak of forgiveness here.”

The one who scandalizes deceives, he continued, and where there is deception, there is no Spirit of God. The Holy Father stated that such is the difference between one who is a sinner and one who is corrupt. One who is corrupt will continue to lead a double life while a repentant sinner will admit his weakness and will go to the Lord.

“And we should call ourselves sinners, yes, everyone, here!, we all are. Corrupt, no. One who is corrupt is fixed on a state of sufficiency, he does not know what is humility,” the Pope said. “Jesus, to these corrupt ones, says: ‘Their beauty is of ‘whitewashed sepulchres’, that appear beautiful, on the exterior, but within are full of dead bones and decay. And a Christian who boasts about being a Christian, but does not live the Christian life, is one of these corrupt ones.”

“We all know one person,” he continued, “who is in this situation and how much damage they do to the Church! Corrupt Christians, corrupt priests...How much harm they do to the Church! Because they do not live in the spirit of the Gospel, but in the spirit of worldliness.”

Pope Francis stressed to those present that entering into this worldliness can take one to live a double life, calling the life one who is corrupt as a “varnished decay.” Concluding his homily, the Holy Father noted the beauty of Christ’s example who called on his disciples to forgive those who are repentant.

“That is what [Jesus] does with sinners. He does not tire of forgiving, only on the condition of not living this double life, to go to Him repentant: ‘Forgive me, Lord, I am a sinner!’. ‘Go forward, go forward,: I know.’ And such is the Lord. Let us ask today the grace of the Holy Spirit that flees from every deception, let us ask the grace to recognize ourselves sinners: we are sinners. Sinners, yes. Corrupt, no.”

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Pope Francis: Elderly Are Treasure of Society

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, November 19, 2013  - During Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis called on the faithful to care for grandparents, for without them there is no future.

The Holy Father drew his homily from today’s first reading from the book of Maccabees, which spoke of the elderly Eleazar, who chose martyrdom instead of betraying his faith.

“By manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws,” Eleazar says before his death.The Holy Father noted Eleazar’s decision to die in order to leave an example to the youth, saying that in front of the choice between apostasy and fidelity, he does not doubt.

“[There is] the coherence of this man, the coherence of his faith, but also the responsibility of leaving a noble heritage, a true heritage,” the Pope said. “We live in a time when the elderly do not count. It's awful to say, but they are discarded. Because they are a nuisance to us. The elderly are those who carry history, that carry doctrine, that carry the faith and give it to us as an inheritance. They are like a good vintage wine who have this strength from within to give us a noble heritage.”

The Holy Father recalled a short story he heard as a child. The story relates to a family, consisting of a father, mother, the children and the grandfather, gathered around the table. The father, annoyed by the grandfather who would dirty himself while eating, suggests buying a separate table to isolate the grandfather. When the father returns home one day, he finds his son playing with wood. The father asks his child what he was doing with the wood, to which the child replied, “To make a table for you father, when you become old like grandpa.”

“This story has done me so much good, all my life,” the Pope said. “Grandparents are a treasure.”

“The Letter to the Hebrews, the 13th chapter says: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The memory of our ancestors brings us to the imitation of faith.”

The Holy Father went on to say that the knowledge that the elderly bare is an inheritance that all should received. “A people that does not care for its grandparents, a people that does not respect their grandparents, does not have a future, because they do not have a memory, they have lost their memory,” he stressed.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to remember those elderly who live in retirement homes, especially those who are abandoned by their families. The elderly, he said, are the treasure of our society. The Holy Father prayed for all grandparents “who many times had a heroic role in the transmission of faith in times of persecution.”

“The fourth commandment: it is the only one that promises something in return. It is the commandment of mercy - to be merciful with our ancestors. Let us ask today for the grace from the old Saints - Simeon, Anne, Policarpo and Eleazar - so many old Saints: let us ask for the grace to take care of, to listen and venerate our ancestors, our grandparents.” 

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Pope Francis: Churches Should Be True Places of Adoration and Praise

 

VATICAN CITY, November 22, 2013 - The Temple is not only a place of liturgical rites and song, but above all a place of adoration, Pope Francis stressed at Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning.

Reflecting on today's first reading from the Book of Maccabees, which referred to the rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabeus, the Holy Father said that the role of the Temple was to be a place of reference for the community, for the people of God.

"The Temple is the place where the community goes to pray, to praise the Lord, to give thanks, but above all to adore: the Lord is adored in the Temple," he said. "And this is the most important point. This is also true for liturgical ceremonies: in this liturgical ceremony, what is most important? The songs, the rites - they are all beautiful? Adoration is most important: the whole community together look at the

altar where the sacrifice is celebrated and adore."

However, Pope Francis noted, Christians may have lost the importance of this sense of adoration. Citing the Gospel, where Christ expels vendors from the Temple, the Holy Father asked whether our temples are truly places of adoration.

"Saint Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, he said. I am a temple. The Spirit of God is in me. And he also tells us: Do not sadden the Spirit of the Lord that is within you! And also here, perhaps we cannot speak of adoration, but of a type of adoration that is the heart that looks for the Spirit of the Lord within oneself and knows that God is within him, that the Holy Spirit is within him. He listens and follows it."

Just as it was mentioned in the first reading, the Holy Father said that the temples of our bodies must also be purified with prayer, penance, and with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thus, the physical and spiritual temples can be true places of adoration and praise to God.

"And when the joy of the Temple is spoken of, it speaks of this: the whole community in adoration, in prayer, in thanksgiving, in praise," Pope Francis concluded. "Me, in prayer with the Lord, who is inside of me because I am a temple. I am listening, I am available. May the Lord grant us this true sense of the Temple, so that we may go forward in our lives of adoration and listening to the Word of God." (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis Invites Faithful to Make Definitive Choices of Faith

VATICAN CITY, November 25, 2013 - To trust in God even in the most dire circumstances was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

The first reading from the Book of Daniel spoke of the young men in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar while the Gospel recalled the widow who gave all she had to the Temple. Both figures, the Pope said, are examples of choosing the Lord in precarious situations.  

“Both of them - the widow and the young person - have risked. In their risk they chose the Lord, with a great heart, without personal interest, without pettiness,” the Holy Father said.

“They did not have a petty attitude. The Lord, the Lord is everything. The Lord is God and they entrusted themselves to the Lord. And they did not do this through a - if you permit me to say - fanatical strength. ‘We should do this, Lord’, no!

“There is another thing,” he continued, “they entrusted themselves, because they knew that the Lord is faithful. They entrusted themselves on that faithfulness that is always there, because the Lord cannot change Himself, he can’t: He is always faithful, He cannot be unfaithful, He cannot deny himself.

The Pope noted that in the history of the Church, there appear men and women, old and young, who made the same choice as the two figures in today’s readings. Their example is an encouragement for all the faithful “to offer the Church everything we have, our whole livelihood.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed for all who make definitive choices of faith every day. “Let us ask the Lord for the grace of courage, the courage to go on with our Christian lives, in everyday life and in the most extreme situations,” he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Time Belongs to God

VATICAN CITY, November 26, 2013  - Despite that many times we feel we our masters of time, only Jesus Christ is the master of time. Pope Francis stressed this point during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

Referring to today’s Gospel, which recalls Christ’s words on the end of time, the Holy Father called on the faithful to ask for the grace of discernment and prayer to live this moment: and for hope in this time.

“In this road towards the end of our path, of each one of us and also of all humanity, the Lord advises us two things, two things that are different, they are different according to how we live, because it is different to live in the moment and different to live in time,” the Pope said.

The Holy Father stated that those who feel that are masters of time are deceived. “Time,” he exclaimed, “belongs to God!”

Christ’s warning that many will come in his name saying “The time has come”, requires Christians to have two virtues in order to live this moment: prayer and discernment.

“To know the true signs, to know the path that I should take in this moment, the gift of discernment and prayer is necessary to do it well,” he said. “Prayer and discernment for the moment; hope for time.”

Concluding his homily, the Holy Father affirmed that a true Christian lives moment after moment with prayer and discernment, but also lives with hope.

“The Lord give us the grace to walk with wisdom, this is something we must do with prayer and discernment, and he gives us hope with which to live our lives within his greater design,” he said.

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Pope: Intelligence is a gift

The Christian conforms his way of thinking to God’s, and for this reason rejects ways of thinking that are weak and restricted.

This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Sanctae Martha.

The Lord taught his disciples to be attentive to the signs of the times, signs which the Pharisees failed to comprehend.

The Pope said that, in order to understand the signs of the times, a Christian must think not only with his head, but also with his heart and spirit. Otherwise, he cannot understand the “way of God in history”:

“In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him. At Emmaus he says: ‘How foolish and slow of heart’. ‘How foolish and slow of heart’… He who does not understand the things of God is such a person. The Lord wants us to understand what happens, what happens in my heart, what happens in my life, what happens in the world, in history… What is the meaning of what is happening now? These are the signs of the times! On the other hand, the spirit of the world gives us other propositions, because the spirit of the world does not want a community: it wants a mob, thoughtless, without freedom.”

While the spirit of the world wants us to take a “restricted path,” Saint Paul warns that the “spirit of the world treats us as thought we lack the ability to think for ourselves; it treats us like people who are not free”:

“Restricted thought, equal thought, weak thought, a thought so widespread. The spirit of the world does not want us to ask ourselves before God: ‘But why, why this other, why did this happen?’. Or it also offers a prêt-à-porter [‘ready to wear’] way of thinking, according to personal taste: ‘I think as I like!’. This is okay, they say…. But what the spirit of the world does not want is what Jesus asks of us: free thought, the thought of a man and a women who are part of the people of God, and salvation is exactly this! Think of the prophets… ‘You were not my people, now I say my people’: so says the Lord. And this is salvation: to make us people, God’s people, to have freedom.”

Pope Francis added that Jesus asks us “to think freely… in order to understand what happens.” The truth is that “we are not alone! We need the Lord’s help”. We need to “understand the signs of the times”: the Holy Spirit, he said, “gives us this present, a gift: the intelligence to understand”:

"What path does the Lord want? Always with the spirit of intelligence with which to understand the signs of the times. It is beautiful to ask the Lord for this grace, who sends us this spirit of intelligence, in order that we avoid weak thought, we do not have a restricted thought and we do not have a thought according to personal preference: we only have a thought according to God. With this thought, which is a thought of the mind, of heart, and of soul. With this thought, which is the gift of the Spirit, [we] look for the meaning of things, and to understand the signs of the time well."

The Pope concluded: This is therefore the grace for which we must ask the Lord: “the ability which gives us the spirit” to “understand the signs of the time.”

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Pope Francis: "We Cannot Think of Church Without Joy"

VATICAN CITY, December 03, 2013 - During his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis told the faithful that the Church should always be joyful as Jesus was.

Commenting on the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, which spoke of the peace that the Messiah will bring, the Holy Father said that it gives a glimpse into the joyful soul of Jesus. The Church, he said, is called to transmit this joy to all.

“We are not so used to thinking of Jesus smiling, joyful,” he said. “Jesus was full of joy - full of joy. In that intimacy with his Father: ‘He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father.’ It is the inner mystery of Jesus, that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is His inner joy, his interior joy that he gives to us.”

Christian joy, he continued, is the same joy of Christ. Christ also wants His spouse, the Church, to have that same joy.

“We cannot think of a Church without joy and the joy of the Church is this: announcing the name of Jesus. To say: ‘He is the Lord’, the Pope said. “‘My spouse is the Lord. It is God.’ He saves us, He walks with us.’ And that is the joy of the Church, who in this joy of a wife becomes a mother.”

Speaking on today’s Gospel, which recalls Jesus praising God for revealing Himself not to the wise but to the little ones, the Pope said that Christ’s prayer is a “dogmatic declaration” on the peace and joy that comes from praying and evangelizing.

"May the Lord give us all this joy, this joy of Jesus, praising the Father in the Spirit. This joy of our mother Church in evangelizing, in announcing Her Spouse,” the Pope concluded.

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Pope Francis: Christian Words Without Christ Hurt, Are a Deception

VATICAN CITY, December 05, 2013  - During his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned against those who do not practice what they preach, saying they damage not only themselves but others.

Commenting on Jesus’ parable of the man who built his house on rock, the Holy Father explained that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for knowing the commandments, but not implementing them in their lives.

They are "good words," he said, but if they are not put into practice "not only do they not serve us, but they hurt, they deceive us, they make us believe that we have a beautiful home, but without a foundation.”

The “Eternal Rock” mentioned in the first reading from Isaiah is Jesus Christ, he said. “It is a strong word, it gives life, you can go forward, you can withstand all attacks if this word has its roots in Jesus Christ.”

“A Christian word,” he continued, “that does not have its vital roots in the life of one person, in Jesus Christ, is a Christian word without Christ! And Christian words without Christ deceive, they hurt! An English writer once said, speaking on heresies, that heresy is a truth, a word, one truth that has become crazy. When Christian words are without Christ, they start to go towards the path of madness.”

The Holy Father also warned that Christian words without Christ lead to vanity and pride. The Lord calls us to build our lives upon Him, the true Rock, he said.

Concluding his homily, the Pope called on the faithful to make an examination of conscience in order to understand if our words and actions follow Jesus Christ.

"May the Lord give us this grace of humility to say words with Jesus Christ, founded on Jesus Christ,” he said.

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Pope Calls on Faithful to "Annoy" God in Prayer
Reflects on Praying with Insistence During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, December 06, 2013  - To pray with insistence “is a bit like annoying God”, Pope Francis said in his homily at Casa Santa Marta. However, praying in such a way it shows a complete trust that God will fulfill your needs.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of Matthew which recalls the two blind men who followed him calling out, “Son of David, have pity on us.” Jesus himself, he said, “taught us how to pray like the annoying friend who begs for food a midnight.”

“Maybe this sounds strange, the Pope said, but praying is a bit like annoying God so that he listens to us.  But, the Lord says: like the friend at midnight, or the widow before the judge… And this was also done by those lepers who approached him: “If you want to, you can heal us!’”

“They did it with a certain confidence. This is how Jesus teaches us how to pray. When we pray, we think sometimes: ‘ But, yes, I say this need, a tell the Lord one, two, three times, but not with much strength. Then I tire of asking Him and I forget to ask him.’ These cried to Him and they did not tire of crying. Jesus tells us: ‘Ask’, but he also says: ‘Knock on the door’, and he who knocks on the door makes noise, disturbs, annoys.”

The Holy Father went on to say that although this persistence may seem annoying, it is also a sign of unwavering trust, just as the blind men. These two attitudes are vital in prayer, he stressed: to be needy and to be certain.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on their own prayers and if they have these two attitudes. “Needy, because we tell ourselves the truth, and certain, so that we believe that the Lord can do that which we ask,” he said.

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In his homily at Casa Santa Marta 10th December, 2013, Pope Francis talked about God's tenderness. He said that God comforts each Christian with tenderness, and brings hope to their lives. But he also warned about the risks of losing hope.

Pope Francis ended his homily saying that God has never been afraid to approach humans with tenderness. In return, he asked Christians to never fear searching for God's comfort.

"He re-creates things. And the Church never tires of saying that this re-creation is more wonderful than the creation. The Lord re-creates more wonderfully. And so He visits His people: re-creating, with that power. And the people of God always had this idea, this thought, that the Lord will come to visit them. We remember the last word of Joseph to his brothers: "When the Lord will visit you, you must take my bones with you.” The Lord will visit His people. It is the hope of Israel. But He will visit them with this consolation.”

"And the consolation is this drawing all things, not once, but many times, with the universe and also with us.” This "drawing of the Lord,” the Pope said, has two dimensions that it is important to emphasize. "When the Lord approaches,” he said, "He gives us hope; the Lord draws us with hope. He always opens a door. Always.” When the Lord approaches, the Pope repeated, "he doesn’t close doors, He opens [them].” The Lord "in His nearness gives us hope, this hope that is a true strength in the Christian life. It is a grace, it is a gift”

"When a Christian forgets hope — or worse, loses hope — his life is senseless. It’s as if his life hit a wall: there’s nothing. But the Lord comforts us and draws us forward with hope. And He does it with a special closeness to each one, because the Lord comforts His people and comforts each one of us. It’s beautiful how today’s reading ends: ‘Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.’ That image of carrying the lambs in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care: that is tenderness. The Lord comforts us with tenderness.”

"God who is powerful "is not afraid of tenderness. He becomes tender, becomes a child, becomes small.” In the Gospel, he noted, Jesus says the same: "In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” In the eyes of the Lord, he added, "each one of us is very, very important. And He gives with tenderness.” And so He makes us "go forward, giving us hope.” This, he said again, "was the principle work of Jesus” in the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension: to comfort the disciples, to be close to them and give them consolation”.

"He was close to them and gave hope, He approached with tenderness. But we think of the tenderness He had with the Apostles, with Mary Magdalene, with those of Emmaus. He approached with tenderness: "Give me something to eat.” With Thomas: "Put your finger here.” The Lord is always this way. This is the consolation of the Lord. May the Lord give to all of us the grace to not be afraid of the consolation of the Lord, to be open: ask for it, seek it, because it is a consolation that will give us hope, and make us feel the tenderness of God the Father.”

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Pope Francis: The Lord Comforts Us with Tenderness

VATICAN CITY, December 10, 2013  - The Lord brings consolation even in moments where we forget, or worse, lose hope, Pope Francis said during his homily today at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

Reflecting on the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Holy Father noted God’s approach in the reading which was to comfort the people of Israel. In this peace, the Lord accomplishes a re-creation that “is more wonderful than the creation.”

“He visits His people: re-creating, with that power. And the people of God always had this idea, this thought, that the Lord will come to visit them,” the Pope said. “We remember the last word of Joseph to his brothers: ‘When the Lord will visit you, you must take my bones with you.’ The Lord will visit His people. It is the hope of Israel. But He will visit them with this consolation.”

This consolation, he said, brings the grace of hope which is the true strength of Christian life. “When a Christian forgets hope - or worse, loses hope - his life is senseless,” the Pope said. The Holy Father went on to say that God brings hope with a “special closeness” in order to truly comfort his people.

“It’s beautiful how today’s reading ends: ‘Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.’ That image of carrying the lambs in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care: that is tenderness. The Lord comforts us with tenderness,” the Pope said.

Commenting on the Gospel, which recalled Jesus’ parable of the shepherd searching for the lost sheep, the 76 year old Pontiff said that it in God’s eyes, each one of us is very important. The main mission of Jesus in the days between his Resurrection and Ascension was to comfort the disciples.

“He was close to them and gave hope, He approached with tenderness. But we think of the tenderness He had with the Apostles, with Mary Magdalene, with those of Emmaus,” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis asked that the Lord give all the grace to be open to the consolation of the Lord which brings us hope.

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Pope Francis: Be Silent to Know God's Tenderness

VATICAN CITY, December 12, 2013  - Pope Francis has said that in preparing for Christmas, we would do well to take a moment of silence to listen to God who speaks to us with the tenderness of a father and of a mother.

In his homily this morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father referred to the first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, stressing the importance of recognizing not only  “what the Lord says” but “how He says it.”

God speaks to as a father or a mother speaks to their children, he said. “When the child has a bad dream, he wakes up, cries . . . the father goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I’m here.’ That’s how the Lord speaks to us. ‘Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you maggot Israel’ (Isaiah 41,13).”

“The Lord has this way of speaking to us: He is near,” he continued. “When we look at a father or a mother who speaks to their little child, we see that they become little and speak with a voice of a child and with the manners of children.”

Someone looking in from the outside would think it “ridiculous!”, he said.  “They become smaller, right there, no? Because the love of a father and a mother needs to be close. I say this word: to lower themselves to the world of the child. If the father and mother spoke to them normally, the child would still understand; but they want to take up the manner of speaking of the child. They come close, they become children. And so it is with the Lord.”

The Greek theologians, Pope Francis recalled, explained this attitude of God with a somewhat difficult word: “synkatábasi” or “the condescension of God who comes down to make Himself one of us.”

“And so, the father and the mother also say ridiculous things to the child: ‘Ah, my love, my toy . . .’ and all these things. And the Lord says this too, ‘you worm Jacob,’ ‘you are like a worm to me, a tiny little thing, but I love you so much.’”

“This is the language of the Lord, the language of the love of a father, of a mother,” the Pope stressed. “The word of the Lord? Yes, we understand what He tells us. But we also see how He says it. And we must do what the Lord does, do what He says and do it as He says it: with love, with tenderness, with that condescension towards the brethren.”

Pope Francis referred to Elijah’s encounter with God, when the Lord came to him as “a sweet breeze” (cf. 1 Kings 19,11ff), or, as it says in the original text, “a sound of silence”. That is how the Lord draws near, with that resonance of silence that is proper to love. Without making a spectacle.” And “He becomes small in order to make me strong; He goes to death, with that condescendence, so that I might live”:

“This is the music of the language of the Lord, and we, in the preparation for Christmas, ought to hear it - it would do us so much good,” the Holy Father said in closing.

“Normally, Christmas seems to be a very noisy holiday: it would do us good to have a little silence and to hear these words of love, these words of such nearness, these words of tenderness . . . ‘You are a worm, but I love you so much.’ [Let us pray] for this, and to be silent in this time in which, as it says in the preface, we are watchful in waiting.”

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Pope Francis: Sad Christians Are Afraid of the Freedom of the Holy Spirit
Reflects on Those Who Reject Preaching

VATICAN CITY, December 13, 2013  - During his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis said that Christians who seem “allergic” to preaching are, in fact, afraid of opening the door to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Father drew his homily from today’s Gospel where Jesus compares the generation to unhappy children who always refuse the invitation of others to sing or dance.

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners,’” the Gospel says.

These people, the Pope explained are “not open to the Word of God” and use the excuse that it is not the message but the messenger that is the problem.

“And they, the people of that time, preferred to find refuge in a more elaborate religion: in moral precepts, like that group of Pharisees; in political compromise, like the Sadducees; in social revolution, like the zealots; in gnostic spirituality like the Essenes. They were with their well cleaned system, well-done. But the preacher, no!” he said.

“Even Jesus reminds them: ‘Your fathers did the same to the prophets’. The people of God have a certain allergy to preachers of the Word: the prophets, they persecuted them, killed them.”

Comparing to today’s world, the Holy Father said that there are Christians who are like the ones spoken of by Jesus and are “afraid of the freedom of the Holy Spirit that comes through preaching.” The scandal of preaching, he continued, “that ends in the scandal of the Cross.”

“It is scandalizing that God speaks through men with limitations, sinful men: it scandalizes! And even more scandalizing that God speaks to us and saves us through a man that says that He is the Son of God but ends up like a criminal. That scandalizes,” the Pope said.

Preaching comes to warn you, to teach and even to correct you, he went on to say, and that is precisely the freedom that comes from it. Sad Christians who dismiss preaching, are in fact afraid of opening the door to the Holy Spirit.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed for them as well as for all so “that we may not become sad Christians. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis Invites Residence Personnel To Morning Mass on His Birthday
Four Homeless People Also in Attendance at Mass

VATICAN CITY, December 17, 2013  - Celebrating his 77th birthday today, Pope Francis invited the personnel of his residence at Casa Santa Marta to his daily morning Mass.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, concelebrated with the Holy Father. Also present was Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who sent wellwishes to the Pope from the Secretariat of State.

The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel of the day, which recounted the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Though some may think that the passage reads like a telephone directory, Pope Francis said that it raises an important argument.

“It is pure history, because God, as Pope St. Leo said, God has sent his Son,” the Holy Father said. “And Jesus is consubstantial to the Father, God, but also consubstantial to the Mother, a woman. And this is that consubstantiality of the Mother. God has made Himself history. God has wished to make himself history. He is with us. He has walked the path with us.”

After the sin of Adam and Eve in Paradise, he continued, God decided to begin this path through history with us, beginning with Abraham. God has wished to make this history with us, a history that has both holiness and sin. The list of people in the genealogy of Christ contains not only saints, but also “high level sinners - sinners,” he noted, “who have not responded to everything that God thought for them."

"Let us think of Solomon, so great, so intelligent, and he ends up poor, there, where he didn’t know his own name! But God was with him. This is beautiful, no?,“ he said.

“God is consubstantial with us. He makes history with us. And more: when God wants to say who he is, he says ‘I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob.’ But what is the last name of God? It is us, each one of us. He takes from us our name, to make it his last name. ‘I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Pedro, of Marietta, of Armony, of Marisa, of Simone, of everyone!’ From us he takes his last name. The last name of God is each and every one of us.”

The Pope went on to say that God, in his humility, patience and love, has allowed us to write this history of grace and sin, yet always present with us. God’s joy, he said, is to share his life with us.

“As Christmas approaches,” he concluded, “you come to think: 'if He has made His history with us, if He has taken his last name from us, if He let us write His history, let us at least let Him write our history.’ And this is a Christmas greeting for all of us. That the Lord writes your history and that you let Him write it.”

After the Mass, Pope Francis greeted all who attended the Mass. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner to His Holiness, presented four homeless people who live nearby the Vatican to the Holy Father. All present wished the Pope a happy birthday and shortly after the Mass, joined him for breakfast. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Humility is Necessary In Order to Be Fruitful

VATICAN CITY, December 19, 2013 - In order to be fruitful, one must have the humility to recognize one's aridness in order for God to act.

This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

Today’s readings, which both recount God giving the gift of life to barren women, are a testament to God giving us life in our own sterility. “From the impossibility to give life, life comes,” he said.

“The Lord intervenes in the life of this woman to tell us: ‘I am able to give life’, the Pope said. “Even in the prophets there is the image of the desert, the deserted earth incapable of making a tree grow, a fruit, to make anything grow. ‘But the desert will be like a forest - the Prophets say - it will be great, it will flourish.’ But can the desert flourish? Yes. Can the sterile woman give life? Yes. That promise of the Lord: I can! I can, from the dryness, from your dryness, make life grow, salvation! From aridity I can make fruit grow!”

The intervention of God, he continued, is what makes us fruitful and takes us on the road of sanctity, not our own strength or will. The Holy Father highlighted two things necessary for the Lord to act.

“First: [we must] recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life. Recognize this. Second, to ask: ‘Lord, I want to be fruitful. I want my life to give life, that my faith be fruitful and go forward and I can give it to others.’ ‘Lord I am sterile. I can’t. You can. I am a desert. I can’t. You Can.’”

Pope Francis went on to say that this time before the Christmas celebration is an appropriate time to ask God for this grace. However, there is one essential element to this prayer to the Lord: humility.

“Humility is necessary for fertility,” the Pope said.The humility to tell the Lord: ‘Lord, I am sterile, I am a desert’ and repeat in these days that beautiful antiphon that the Church makes us pray: ‘Oh Son of David, oh Adonai, oh Wisdom - today - oh root of Jesse, oh Emmanuel, come give us life, come save us, because only You can. I alone can’t!’

This humility, the Pope concluded, will prepare us to receive the grace “to flourish, to give fruit and to give life.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Christian Love is Concrete
Reflects on the Nature of True Love During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, January 09, 2014  - Christian love is not that of a soap opera but rather, characterized by its concreteness. This was the emphasis of Pope Francis’ homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father began his homily by reflecting on the first reading from St. John’s first letter which states that “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” This experience of “us in God and God in us”, he noted, is the fundamental characteristic of Christian life.

“To not remain in the spirit of the world, to not remain in superficiality, to not remain in idolatry, to not remain in vanity. No, no: remain in the Lord,” the Pope said. “And He reciprocates this: He remains in us. But, first, He remains in us. Many times we send him away and we cannot remain in Him. It is the Spirit that remains.”

Regarding John’s description of love, the Holy Father told the faithful present that this love is not what is depicted in soap operas. Christian love is known for one specific quality: its concreteness.

“Love is concrete,” he said.  “When this concreteness is not there, one can live a Christianity of illusions, because it is not understood well where is the center of Jesus’ message. This love does not become concrete: it is a love of illusions, like this illusion that the disciples had when, seeing Jesus, they thought he was a ghost.”

Commenting on the Gospel, which recalls Jesus walking on the water towards his disciples. The disbelief of the disciples who at first thought Christ was a ghost, he noted, is born from a hardness of heart. Despite the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves which happened before, they still were surprised.

“If you have a hardened heart, you cannot love and you think love is something that is imagined. No, love is concrete,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by explaining the two fundamental criteria for this concrete love: to love with works and not words and the importance of giving rather than receiving.

“He who loves gives,” the Pope said. [He] gives life, gives of himself to God and to others. Instead he who does not love, who is selfish, always looks to receive, always looks to have things, to have advantages. Remain with an open heart, not like that one of the disciples, who was closed, who did not understand anything, remain in God and God remains in us; remain in love.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Everything is Possible Through Faith
During Morning Mass, Pontiff Reflects on the Power of Faith To Overcome the World

VATICAN CITY, January 10, 2014  - In his homily during morning Mass today, Pope Francis said that in order for the faith to make all things possible, one must entrust himself or herself completely to God.

The Holy Father began his homily by reflecting on the first reading from the apostle John. The reading says that one who is faithful to God and his commandments “overcomes the world."

"This victory over the world," the Pope stressed, "is faith."

"On God’s part, [it is] the Holy Spirit who makes this [abiding, this victory] possible through faith,” he said. “For our part, faith: it is powerful! The strength of faith has overcome the world! Our faith can do everything! It is victory! It would be beautiful to repeat this, even to ourselves, because we are often [as] Christians defeated.”

“The Church is full of defeated Christians who do not believe in this - that faith is the victory - who do not live this faith, because if you do not live this faith, there is defeat, the world wins, the prince of this world.”

Reflecting on Christ’s healing of the hemorrhagic woman, the Caananite woman and the blind man, the Pope noted that all three shared a common trait: faith and trust in God. The two aspects of this faith are confessing and trusting.

“Faith means confessing God – the God who revealed Himself to us, from the time of our fathers down to the present: the God of history,” he said. “This we recite each day in the Creed – but it is one thing to recite the Creed heartily, and another [merely] to parrot it, no? I believe, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe – but do I believe what I am saying? Is this a true confession of faith or is it something I say somehow by rote, because it is [the thing to say]? Do I believe only halfway?”

“Confess the Faith!” the Pope exclaimed. “All of it, not part of it! Safeguard this faith, as it came to us, by way of tradition: the whole Faith! And how may I know that I confess the Faith well? There is a sign: he, who confesses the faith well – the whole Faith – has the capacity to worship God.”

Regarding the aspect of trusting in God, the 77 year old Pontiff said that entrusting oneself to God leads to hope. “Just as the confession of faith leads us to the worship and praise of God, so trust in God leads us to an attitude of hope.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to truly entrust themselves to God and believe in confessing one’s faith. In doing so, he said, ”we shall be Christian victors- and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: the true priest and his relation to Christ     2014-01-11

At his daily Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke about the priesthood. A true priest, he said, anointed by God for His people, has a close relationship with Jesus. When that relationship is missing, the priest becomes “smarmy,” [unctuous, It: unctuoso] an idolater, a worshiper of the “god Narcissus.”

Pope Francis’ homily was entirely dedicated to the priesthood. Commenting on the passage from first letter of St. John, where the Apostle says that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of Jesus, the Pope asks about the relationship of priests with Jesus, because “the strength of a priest is in this relationship.” When Jesus was growing in popularity, the Pope said, “He went to the Father,” He retreated “to a deserted place to pray.” This is a kind of “touchstone for priests” he said: whether or not we seek to find Jesus. “What is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? Is it a living relationship, from the disciple to the Master, from brother to brother, from the poor man to God, or is it a somewhat artificial relationship... that does not come from the heart?”

“We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction. In his life, no: essentially he has it... but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy. And how damaging to the Church are smarmy priests! Those who put their strength in artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude... in a cutesy language... But how often do we hear it said with sorrow: ‘This is a butterfly-priest,’ because they are always vain... [This kind of priest] does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ! He has lost the unction: he is smarmy.”

“We priests have so many limits. We are sinners, all. But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer – prayer of intercession, prayer of adoration – we are good priests, even though we are sinners. But if we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. And so [we see] all these figures... priest-wheeler dealers, priest-tycoons... But the priest who adores Jesus Christ, the priest who talks with Jesus Christ, the priest who seeks Jesus Christ and who is allowed to seek Jesus Christ: this is the centre of our life. If that is not there, we lose everything. And what will we give to the people?”

“Our relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship of anointing for the people,” Pope Francis said, “grows in us priests” more and more each day:

“But it is good to find priests who have given their lives as priests, truly, of whom the people say: “Yes, he’s difficult, he’s this or that... But he is a priest! And people know! On the other hand, when people see priest idolaters, so to speak, priests who instead of having Jesus have little idols... worshippers of the god Narcissus... When people see [priests like this] they say ‘poor guy!’ The relationship with Jesus Christ saves us from worldliness and idolatry that makes us smarmy, preserves us in the anointing [we have received]. And today, this is my hope for you who have been kind enough to come here to concelebrate with me: Even if you lose everything in life, don’t lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!”

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Pope Francis: Uniform Worldliness Brings Us to Reject the Word of God
Calls on Faithful to Reject Temptation of Misunderstood Sense of Normality

VATICAN CITY, January 17, 2014 - A misunderstood sense of normality can lead us to forget the Word of God, causing us to live as if God did not exist.

This was the central point of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The first reading from the book of Samuel recalled the Israelites asking Samuel to appoint a king over them in order to be like other nations. This temptation to want to be “normal” instead of being “children of God”, the Pope said, brings us to a “uniform worldliness”.

“In that moment the people rejected God: they not only not listen to the Word of God, but reject it,” he said. “They reject the Lord of love, they reject the election and look for the path of worldliness.”

The Holy Father said that even now, this temptation of uniform worldliness exists, where many reject the Word of God for whatever is in style. “Apostasy is precisely the sin of breaking with the Lord, but it is clear: apostasy can be seen clearly. This is more dangerous, worldliness, because it is more subtle,” he said.

While acknowledging that a Christian should be a “normal” person, the Pope said that there are values that a Christian cannot obtain on his own. To resist the temptation of being “normal” in the worldly sense, is to resist the temptation of “considering oneself as a victim of an inferiority complex.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to join in prayer so that God may grant “the grace to overcome our selfishness: 'the selfishness to do my own thing, the way I want.'”

“Let us ask for the grace to overcome it and let us ask for the grace of spiritual docility, that is to open the heart to the Word of God to not do as our brothers have done, who have closed their hearts because they were distant from God and for a long time did not listen or understand the Word of God,” he said.

“May the Lord give us the grace of an open heart to receive the Word of God and to always meditate on it. And from there to take the true road.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Christian Freedom Means to Be Docile to the Word of God
Reflects on the 'Surprises' That Come From God During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, January 20, 2014 - In order to obtain true Christian freedom, one must be docile to discern and obey the Word of God. This was central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

“The Word of God is living and efficacious, it discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart,” the Holy Father began. This Word, however, comes not to tell us what we want to hear, but rather it comes with a newness because God is a “God of surprises.”

“The Gospel is new. The Revelation is new. Our God is a God who always does new things and asks from us this docility to his newness,” he said.

The Pope spoke in regards to today’s Gospel, in which Jesus responds to complaints that his disciples do not fast as the disciples of John and the Pharisees. “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” was Jesus’ response. The Holy Father observed that the surprising response from Christ, in which He says that “new wine is poured into fresh wineskins”, is very clear.

“God brings the wine, but it must be received with openness to this newness. And this is called docility. We may ask ourselves: am I docile to the Word of God or do I always do what I believe to be the Word of God? Or do I pass the Word of God through an alembic (i.e. distillery) and in the end it is another thing in respect to what God wants to do?”

Drawing from the first reading, in which King Saul disobeys God’s command, he said it is a call for us to adapt to the newness of the Word of God.

“Saul, the chosen one of God, anointed by God, had forgotten that God is one of surprises and newness. He had forgotten, he was closed in his thoughts, in his schemes, and so he reasoned humanly,” the Pope said.

In the reading, rather than destroying all that belonged to the Amalekites, Saul chose to keep the sheep and oxen as a sacrifice to God. The prophet Samuel then reproaches Saul for, what Pope Francis called, “taking over the Word of God.”

“The rebellion, to not obey the Word of God, is a sin of divination,” he said. “Stubbornness, the non-docility to do what you want and not what God wants, is a sin of idolatry.” The reading, he continued, brings us to contemplate on what exactly is Christian freedom and Christian obedience.

“Christian freedom and Christian obedience are the docility to the Word of God, and to have the courage to become new wineskins, for this new wine that continuously comes,” he said. 

“This courage to discern always: to discern, I say, not relativize. To always discern what the Spirit is doing in my heart, what the Spirit wants in my heart, where the Spirit is taking me in my heart. And obey. Discern and obey.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask for the grace to be docile to the Word of God, a Word that “discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: God Always Chooses the Little Ones
Reflects on the Nature of Humility and the Love of God During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, January 21, 2014  - In his homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that in order to dialogue with the greatness of the Lord, one must safeguard and embrace our “smallness”.

The Holy Father underlined the personal relationship that God shares with his people.

The dialogue between God and his people, he said, is not a dialogue between an all-powerful being with one large group of people. Rather, it is an individual relationship he shares with his people, one by one. This relationship is evidenced in the story of Creation.

“The story of creation is an image that makes us see this: it is the same Lord who with his hands, handcrafts man and gives his a name: ‘Your name is Adam’”, he said.

“And so begins that relationship between God and the person. And there is another thing, there is a relationship between God and us little ones: God, the great, and us little ones. God, when he must choose a person, as well as his people, always chooses the little ones.”

In choosing Israel because it was the least powerful among the peoples of the world, Pope Francis continued, the Lord shows His preference for the little ones. Reflecting on the first reading, which recounted the anointing of David as king of Israel, the Holy Father focused on God choosing based on a man’s heart and not his stature. “God chooses David, the smallest, who was disregarded by his father,” he said.

“All of us through Baptism have been elected by the Lord. We are all elected. He has chosen us one by one. He has given us a name and looks at us. There is a dialogue, because that is how the Lord loves. Even David later becomes king and made a mistake. He maybe made many, but the Bible tells us of two big mistakes, two mistakes that really fall heavy. What did David do? He humiliated himself. He returned to his smallness and said: ‘I am a sinner’. And he asked for forgiveness and did penance.”

David’s smallness is also reflected after committing his second mistake, when he recognizes his sin and asks the Lord to punish him rather than the people. “David guarded his smallness, with repentance, with prayer, with weeping,” the Pope observed. This, he stressed, is the sign of true Christian faithfulness.

“Christian faithfulness, our faithfulness, is to simply guard our smallness, so that we can dialogue with the Lord. To guard our smallness,” the Pope said.  

“For this reason humility, meekness, and gentleness are so important in the life of the Christian, because it is a container of smallness which the Lord likes to see. And there will always be a dialogue between our smallness and the greatness of the Lord.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of David and the Virgin Mary so that the Lord may “give us the grace to guard our smallness before Him.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Jealousy and Envy Opens the Door to Evil

VATICAN CITY, January 23, 2014 - Jealousy and envy are the gateways to bitterness and gossip that sow division within the Christian community. This was the central point of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta

The Holy Father drew his reflection from the first reading, which spoke on Saul’s jealousy of David. The joy of victory was transformed into sadness and jealousy after David receives praise for his victory over the Philistines.

That jealousy that overcomes Saul, the Pope said, is the same “worm of jealousy and envy” that took over Cain. And just like Cain, Saul decides to kill David.

“Saul, instead of praising God as the women of Israel did for this victory, prefers to close in himself, in regret and to cook his feelings in the broth of bitterness,” the Holy Father said.

“Jealousy leads to murder. Envy leads to murder. It was this door, the door of envy, through which the devil entered the world. The Bible says: ‘Through the envy of the devil, evil entered the world.’ Jealousy and envy open the doors to all evil things. It also divides the community. A Christian community, when some of its members suffers, from envy, jealousy, it ends up divided: one against the other. This is a powerful poison. It is a poison that we find in the first pages of the Bible with Cain.”

The Holy Father went on to say that there are two distinct reactions in a person struck with jealousy and envy: bitterness and gossip. A bitter person, he said, does not know joy, only concerned with what they do not have. The second attitude, gossip, leads one to debase others because “they cannot tolerate that anyone has anything.”

“Gossip divides the community, they destroy the community. They are the weapons of the devil,” the Pope stressed.

“A person that is under the influence of envy and jealousy kills, as the Apostle John says: ‘He who hates his brother is a murderer. An envious person, a jealous person, begins to hate his brother.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed that this seed of jealousy mmay not be sown in Christian communities.

“It is a great grace, the grace to not fall in sadness, in being resentful, in jealousy and in envy,” the Pope said.

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Building Bridges Instead of Walls
Pontiff Reflects on the Fruits of Meekness and Humility During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, January 24, 2014  - Meekness and humility are crucial to fostering dialogue. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning. Through these virtues, the Pope said, one follows the example left by Christ who humbled himself until the end.

The first reading today recalled King Saul’s persecution of David. Although David had an opportunity to kill David, he chose the path that leads to dialogue and makes peace.

“Meekness is necessary in order to dialogue, without shouting,” the Pope said. “It is also necessary to think of the other person has something more than me, and David thought of this: ‘He is the anointed one of the Lord, and is more important than me.’ Humility, meekness. In order to dialogue, it is necessary to do that which we ask for today in prayer, at the beginning of Mass: to do everything for everyone.”

Even though dialogue is difficult, the Holy Father said that it is worse to “create a bridge” with an adversary while holding a growing anger in one’s heart. A Christian, however, has the example of David and Jesus who through an act of humility, conquers hate.

“Jesus has done it: he humbled himself until the end, he has shown us the way,” the Pope said. “And it is necessary that too much time doesn’t pass. When there is a problem, as soon as possible, in the moment in which it can be done, after the storm has passed, come together to dialogue, because time makes the wall grow, the weeds grow and impede the growth of the grain. And when the walls grow, reconciliation is very difficult. It is very difficult!”

Echoing sentiments he expressed several times, the 77 year old Pontiff said that there is no problem if “a few plates fly”, whether in the family or in a community. The important thing is to look for peace as soon as possible. The Holy Father also emphasized that it is better to build a bridge rather than a wall, like the Berlin Wall that divided Germany for so many years. “Even in our hearts, it is possible to become like Berlin and build up a wall against others.”

“I am afraid of these walls, the walls that grow everyday and encourage resentments and hate,” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to follow the example of David who chose the path of dialogue with humility, meekness, and sweetness.

“Today”, he said, “we can ask Saint Francis de Sales, doctor of sweetness, that he give all of us the grace to build bridges with the other. No more walls.”

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Pope Francis: Pray for Our Bishops and Priests Who Serve the Lord
Reflects on the Grace of Anointing During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, January 27, 2014  - Bishops and priests are not chosen just to run an organization but rather are the anointed ones chosen by the Lord to serve His people. This was Pope Francis reflection during his homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father began by commenting on the first reading which recounts Davids anointing as King of Israel. Without it, the Pope said, David would have been a mere political organizer. "The anointing allows for the Spirit of the Lord to descend upon David. This is precisely the difference anointing makes," the Pope said.

"The bishops are elected not only to conduct an organization, which is called the particular Church. They are anointed: they have the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. All the bishops are sinners, everyone. Still, we are anointed."

"It is in this anointing that a particular Church has its strength. Because they take part [in the bishops mission of service] priests are anointed, as well."

The Holy Father continued his homily saying that the anointing brings priests and bishops closer to the Lord, allowing them to live in the service of their people. It is impossible to understand or explain, however, that the Church can continue on human strength alone.

"We in history know but a small part - though how many holy bishops, how many priests, how many holy priests have given their lives in the service of the diocese, the parish how many people have received the power of faith, the power of love, hope [itself] from these anonymous pastors? We do not know. There are so many."

While acknowledging that people may read negative news about bishops and priests who have done things contrary to the Gospel, the Holy Father asked the faithful to ponder on how often good news about their works are reported.

"Tell me, though: do the papers carry news of what great charity so many priests, so many priests in so many parishes of the city and the countryside, perform? Of the great work they do in carrying their people forward?," he asked. "No? This is not news."

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis exhorted those present to reflect on the anointing of King David, which calls us to pray for our brave, holy, good, faithful bishops and priests, and pray for them. "We are here today thanks to them." (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Praise Is Not Just for Charismatics
In Homily, Warns Against Rejecting Those Who Praise Spontaneously, Without Following 'Formal Attitudes'

VATICAN CITY, January 28, 2014 - During his homily today at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on praising God through prayer - an act, he said, that makes us fruitful.

The Holy Father drew his homily from the first reading of the day: the 2nd book of Samuel. The reading recalled the return of the Ark of the Covenant where David danced with joy in the streets. Regarding this dance, the Holy Father said that “if we close ourselves in formality, our prayer becomes cold and sterile.”

“David’s prayer of praise brought him to leave all form of composure and to dance in front of the Lord with all his strength. This is the prayer of praise!” he exclaimed. While it is easy to ask God for something or even to give thanks to God, praising God is usually left to the side, he added.

“‘But, Father, this is for those of Renewal in the Spirit (the Charismatic movement), not for all Christians.’ No, the prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us!”, the Pope said.

“In Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy...This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because he is great! We tell Him beautiful things, because we like that He is like that. ‘But, Father, I am not capable...I should…’. But you’re capable of shouting when your team makes a goal and not capable of singing praise to the Lord, to go out a bit from your behavior to sing this? To praise God is totally free! Let us not ask, not give thanks: praise!”

The Holy Father went on to say that we should pray “with our whole heart” like David, who was so happy for the return of the Ark that “even his body prayed with that dance."

“A beautiful question that we can ask ourselves today is: ‘How is my prayer of praise going?” the Pope asked. “Do I know how to praise the Lord? Do I know how to praise the Lord or when I pray the Gloria or pray the Holy Holy Holy, do I do it only with my mouth and not with all my heart?’ What does David tell me, dancing here? When David enters the city, he begins another thing: a feast!”

The 77-year-old Pontiff also recalled the reaction of Michal, the daughter of King Saul, who reproached David for dancing in such a way.

“I ask myself how many times we reject good people in our heart, good people who praise the Lord as it comes to them, spontaneously, because they are not cultured, they don’t follow formal attitudes? But, to reject! And the Bible says that Michal remained sterile for the rest of her life because of this! What does the Word of God want to say here? That joy, the prayer of praise, makes us fertile!”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis warned that those who are closed in a formality of “cold, measured prayer” will end like Michal: “sterile in their own formality.” The Holy Father invited the faithful to contemplate on the beauty of praying to God with praise.

“It would do us well to repeat the words of Psalm 23 which we have prayed today: ‘Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. The Lord strong and mighty, is the King of glory!” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: A Christian Without the Church is 'An Absurd Dichotomy'

VATICAN CITY, January 30, 2014  - A Christian without the Church is not understood, Pope Francis said during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

In a reflection on the importance of belonging to the Church, the Holy Father drew on the image of David in the first reading of the day, focussing on his relationship with God, which he compared to a father and a son. This relationship calls on us to reflect on our relationship with God and the Church.

“The Christian is not a baptized person that receives Baptism and then goes along his own way,” he said.

“The first fruit of Baptism is to make yourself belong to the Church, to the people of God. A Christian without a Church is not understood. And for this reason, the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to be with Christ at the edge of the Church. It can’t be done. It is an absurd dichotomy.”

Continuing on this sense of ecclesial belonging, the Pope highlighted three pillars, the first being humility. This humility is exemplified in the person of David.

“A person who is not humble, cannot hear the Church, they will hear what she likes, what he likes," the Pope continued. "And this humility is seen in David: ‘Who am I, Lord GOD, and who are the members of my house?’ - that realization that the history of salvation has not begun with me and will not finish when I die. No, it is all a history of salvation: I am coming, the Lord takes you, He makes you go forward and then calls you and the history continues. The history of the Church first began with us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people, that is going on the path of the Lord.”

The second pillar the Pope highlighted was faithfulness, which he noted is “connected with obedience.”

“Faithfulness to the Church: faithfulness to its teachings; faithfulness to the Creed; faithfulness to the doctrine, to guard this doctrine. Humility and faithfulness,” he said.

“Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we should transmit it as a gift, but not as something of our own: it is a received gift that we give. And in this transmission to be faithful. Because we have received and we should give a Gospel that is not ours, it is of Jesus, and we should - as He says - become masters of the Gospels, masters of the doctrine received, to use it to our liking.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that the third pillar, prayer for the Church is an important service that unites us to the universal Church.

“May the Lord help us to go on this path to deepen our belonging to the Church,” he said.

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Pope Francis: Loss of the Sense of Sin Leads to 'Christian Mediocrity'

VATICAN CITY, January 31, 2014  - Losing the sense of sin causes others to pay for our “Christian mediocrity.” This was the central point of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father reflected today on the first reading which spoke of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband, Uriah. David, he said, rather than seeing his adultery as a grave sin, sees it as a problem that needs to be resolved.

“This thing can happen to all of us,” he said. “We are all sinners and we are all tempted and temptation is our daily bread. If one of us said: ‘I never had a temptation’, either you’re a cherubim or a bit stupid, no?”

“Struggle is normal in life and the devil is never calm, he wants his victory. But the problem - the most serious problem in this passage - is not so much temptation and the sin against the 9th commandment, but how David behaves. And David here does not speak of sin, he speaks of a problem that he needs to resolve. This is a sign! When the Kingdom of God is lessened, when the Kingdom of God decreases, one of the signs is that the sense of sin is lost.”

The Holy Father went on to say that in praying the Our Father, we pray for God’s kingdom to come, meaning “thy Kingdom grow.” When the sense of sin is lost, so is the sense of the Kingdom of God lost. In its place, he said, “emerges a very powerful anthropological vision, in which ‘I can do anything.'”

“The power of man in place of the glory of God! This is the daily bread. For this [reason] the everyday prayer to God ‘Your kingdom come, your kingdom grow’ [is important], because salvation does not come from our cleverness, our astuteness, in our intelligence in doing business. Salvation comes from the grace of God and from the daily training that we do with this grace in Christian life.”

Referring to Pius XII’s assertion that “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin”, the Pope reflected on Uriah, who represents the innocent victims who suffer as consequence of our sins.

“I must confess, when I see these injustices, this human pride, also when I see the danger that would happen to me, the danger of losing the sense of sin, it does me well to think of the many Uriahs in history, the many Uriahs who even today suffer from our Christian mediocrity, when we lose the sense of sin, when we let the Kingdom of God fall.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to take a moment to “pray for ourselves so that the Lord give us always the grace to not lose the sense of sin, so that the Kingdom does not fall from within us.”

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Pope Francis: Have Complete Trust in God in Times of Trial
Reflects on Example of King David During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, February 03, 2014  - David, who in the midst of betrayal and persecution is not shaken in his faith in God, is an example to follow in moments of difficulty.

Pope Francis focused on the figure of the king of Israel during his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta today.

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the 2nd book of Samuel which recalled David fleeing from his son Absalom who betrayed him. Confronted by this betrayal, three attitudes arise in David.

“David, a man who governs, takes the reality as it is and knows that this war will be very hard and that many would be killed. Thus, he makes the choice to not let his people die,” he said.

“This is the first attitude. He does not use God nor his people to defend himself, and this means the love of a king for his God and his people. He is a sinful king - we know the story - but a king who also has this great love: he was so attached to his God and so attached to his people and uses neither God nor his people to defend himself.

"In awful times in life it may happen that in desperation man looks to defend himself in any way he can and even use God and use the people. Not him, his first attitude is this: to not use God and the people."

The second attitude, the Pope continued, is a "penitential attitude." While traveling up the mountain, with his face covered and barefoot, David cried knowing that he was not innocent and chooses penance over defending himself.

“This ascent to the mountain makes us think of that other ascent by Jesus. He was also in pain, barefoot, with the cross ascending the mountain. This is a penitential attitude. David accepts being in mourning and weeps.

"When something like this happens in our life, we look - it is an instinct that we have - to justify ourselves," the Pope continued. "David does not justify himself. He is a realist, he looks to save the ark of God, his people, and does penance on that path. He is great: a great sinner and a great saint. How do these two things go together? Only God knows!”

David’s third and final attitude is a complete trust in God. The Pope said that this is evidenced when David is cursed at and ridiculed by an enemy. Instead of choosing to have the man killed, David chooses to leave him be and to trust in God. “He knows that everything that happens, the Lord permits it,” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that David’s behavior in front of this tribulation can also help us, since we all pass through tribulation and difficulties.

“It is beautiful to listen to this and to see these three attitudes: a man that loves God, that loves his people and does not negotiate; a man that knows he is a sinner and does penance; a man who is sure of his God and trusts in Him,” the Pope said. “David is a saint and we venerate him as a saint. Let us ask him to teach us these attitudes in the difficult moments of life.”

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Pope Francis: Even God Weeps For His Children

VATICAN CITY, February 04, 2014 - In his homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that like David, God weeps for his children even if they are rebellious against him.

The Holy Father was reflecting on today's readings which presented the example of two fathers: David and Jairus, the head of the synagogue.

In the first reading, David weeps bitterly upon hearing the news of the death of his son Absalom. Although many were waiting for news of his army’s victory of Absalom, David was only interested in the fate of his son.

Upon hearing the news, the reading states, David went to the city gates and cried, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”

“This is the heart of a father, that never rejects his son. ‘He is a robber. He is a enemy. But he is my son!,’” the Pope said. “And he does not reject his paternity: he cries… David cries two times for a son: this time and the other [time] when the son of adultery was about to die. Even that time he fasted, did penance to save the life of his son. He was a father!”

Recalling the Gospel of the day, the Holy Father spoke of Jairus, the head of the synagogue who was unashamed in prostrating himself before Jesus and asking him to heal his daughter. The only important thing for Jairus and David, the Pope said, was their children and nothing else.

“It makes us think of the first thing we say to God, in the Creed: ‘I believe in God the Father.’ It makes us think of the paternity of God,” he said. “But God is like that. God is like that with us! ‘But, Father, God does not cry!’ How can he not! Let us remember Jesus, when he cried looking at Jerusalem. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How many times I wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers its chicks under its wing.’ God cries! Jesus has cried for us! And that cry of Jesus is that same figure of the cry of the Father, who wants everyone with him.”

Continuing his homily, the Holy Father said that this love of the father for his children is exemplified in many instances, one of which is Christ in the Mount of Olives. Jesus, who is in anguish, asks God “if it is possible, let this cup pass by me!” Shortly, after the angels come to comfort and strengthen him. “That is how our God is: He is a Father!” the Pope exclaimed. “A Father like that!”

The Pope went on to say that our paternity, whether it be the head of a family or the spiritual paternity of priests and bishops, should be the same. “The Father has an anointing that comes from the son: he cannot understand himself without his son! This is why he needs the son. He awaits him, he loves him, he looks for him, he forgives him, he wants him close, as close as a hen wants its chicks.”

Concluding his homily, the Pope invited the faithful to have the image of David and Jairus in mind.

“Their children were at risk: the son and the daughter. And with these two icons let us say: ‘I believe in God the Father…” And let us ask the Holy Spirit - because it is only Him, the Holy Spirit - to teach us to say ‘Abba, Father!’ It is a grace! To be able to say to God ‘Father!’ with the heart; it is a grace of the Holy Spirit. Ask for it to Him,” he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis Reflects on the Mystery of Death
Contemplates the Holy Death of King David During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, February 06, 2014 - During morning Mass today, Pope Francis reflected on the death of King David, inviting the faithful to ask for three graces: to die within the Church, to die with hope and to leave an inheritance of Christian witness.

Regarding the first of these graces, the Holy Father said that David died “within the womb of his people”. Despite his sins in life, David was never far from the chosen people of God. This example, he said, is one that we should follow.

“Sinners, yes, traitors no!” the Pope exclaimed. “And this is a grace: to remain till the end in the People of God. To have the grace of dying in the womb of the Church, within the womb of the People of God. And this is the first point that I wish to underline. Also for us to ask for the grace to die at home. To die at home, in the Church - this is a grace! This cannot be bought! It is a gift from God and we should ask Him: ‘Lord, give me the gift of dying at home, in the Church!’ Sinners yes, all of us, we all are! But traitors no! Corrupt no! ... And the Church is such a mother that She wants us even like that, many times dirty, but the Church cleans us: She is a mother!”

The Pope continued his reflection on the second grace: to die with hope. This hope is knowing that after death, something is awaiting us. This, he said, is a grace we should all ask for.

“Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus said that, in her last moments, in her soul there was a struggle and when she thought of the future, to what was waiting for her after death, in heaven, she heard a voice say: ‘But no, don’t be silly, darkness awaits you. The darkness of nothing is only waiting for you!’”, he recalled.

“It is the voice of the devil, of the demon, that did not want her to entrust herself to God. To die with hope and to die entrusting yourself to God! And to ask for this grace. But to entrust yourself to God begins now, in the small things in life, even in the big problems: entrust yourself always to the Lord! By getting into the habit of entrusting yourself to the Lord, hope grows. To die at home, to die with hope.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that a lasting inheritance of Christian witness is the final grace we should ask for.

“Take courage and be a man. Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways,” David said to his son Solomon before his death. The Holy Father stressed that this witness of Christian life is the inheritance left to us all by the Saints.

“Those are the three things that come to my heart when reading this passage on the death of David: ask for the grace to die at home, to die within the Church. Ask for the grace to die in hope, with hope, and ask for the grace to leave a beautiful inheritance, a human inheritance, an inheritance made with the witness of our Christian life. May Saint David give to all of us these three graces!” the Pope concluded. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Proclaim the Gospel with Humility
Contemplates the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

VATICAN CITY, February 07, 2014  - During his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on their own discipleship, especially in times of darkness.

The Holy Father drew his homily from today’s Gospel, which recalled the martyrdom of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod. John the Baptist, he said, was able to proclaim the Word of God in his brief life. In the end, however, his life is place at the hands of Herod’s court.

“When there is the court, it is possible to do everything: corruption, vices, crimes,” he said. “The courts favor these things. What did John do? First of all he proclaimed the Lord. He announced that the Savior was near, the Lord, that the Kingdom of God was at hand. And he did it with strength. And he baptized. He exhorted all to convert. He was a strong man. And he proclaimed Jesus Christ.”

The Pope reflected on St. John’s humility, who rather than taking “possession of the prophecy” and proclaim himself as the Messiah, he instead announces Jesus Christ. In another excerpt from the Gospel, for example, the Pharisees asked if he was the Messiah.

“In that moment of temptation, of vanity, he could’ve [shrugged] and say: “I don’t know…” with a false humility. Instead, he was clear: “No! I am not! Behind me is one who is stronger than me, who I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen the strap of His sandals.”

“He was a man of truth!”

John, he continued, also imitated the humility of Christ until the end, until his death. The Pope observed that John even died in the same style as Christ, who died “like a bandit, like a thief, like a criminal, on the cross.”

“A humiliating death. But even John had his own ‘Garden of Olives’, his anguish in jail, when he thought he was mistaken, and sends his disciples to Jesus: ‘is it you or was I mistaken and there is another?’ The darkness of the soul, that darkness that purifies like Jesus in the Garden of Olives. And Jesus responded to John like the Father responded to Jesus, by comforting.”

“That darkness,” he continued, “of the man of God, of the woman of God, I think in this moment of the dark night of the soul of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, no? Ah, the woman that the whole world praised, Nobel Prize! But she knew that in one moment of her life, a long [moment], there was only the darkness inside.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis urged those present to contemplate, in the light of St. John the Baptist’s life and death, on our own discipleship. “Do we proclaim Jesus Christ? Do we take advantage or not take advantage of our Christian condition as if it were a privilege? Are we going on the path of Jesus Christ? The path of humiliation, of humility, of lowering ourselves for service?” he asked.

“And if we find that we are not firm in this, we must ask ourselves: ‘But when was my encounter with Jesus Christ, that encounter that filled me with joy? And return to that encounter, to return to the first Galilee of the encounter. We all have one! Return there! To meet again with the Lord and go forward on this most beautiful path, in which He should increase and we should decrease.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis Calls on Faithful to Regain "Sense of the Sacred"
Says Eucharist is Opportunity to Enter Into the Mystery of God

VATICAN CITY, February 10, 2014 - In his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis invited the faithful to “enter into the mystery of God” in the Eucharist and rediscover the sense of the sacred.

Reflecting on today’s first reading, which recalled the manifestation of God in the form of a cloud at the temple during the reign of King Solomon, the Holy Father said that while God spoke through his people through the prophets and Scripture, the Lord speaks in a different manner through this theophany. This theophany occurs today through the liturgical celebration, particularly the Eucharist.

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation,” he stressed. “It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”

“We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”

The Pope went on to say that despite the importance of God’s presence in the liturgy, many often spend their time in Mass looking at the clock and “counting [down] the minutes.”

“This is not the attitude the liturgy requires of us: the liturgy is God’s time, God’s space, and we must place ourselves there, in God’s time, in God’s space, and not look at the clock,” he said.

“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery. However, someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta. It’s a tourist stop, right?’ All of you here, we are gathered here to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask the Lord to give them the “sense of the sacred” in order to distinguish between everyday devotions and the importance of the Eucharist.

“The Eucharistic celebration is something else,” he said. “In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control. Only He is the unique One, the glory, the power. He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Vanity Can Turn Believers to Idolatry
Reflects on Humility As a Path to Conversion

VATICAN CITY, February 13, 2014  - A pagan can become a believer through humility, just as a believer can lose the faith by following their own passions. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

Today’s readings presented examples of two distinct paths: one from idolatry to the living God; the other from the living God to idolatry. Beginning with the former, the Holy Father spoke about the Gospel which recalled the Canaanite woman who asks Jesus to free her daughter from demonic possession.

“Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,” was Christ's response. Jesus, the Pope explained, uses strong language to explain that he came first for the people of Israel. However, this woman responds not with her intelligence, but as a mother in need.

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps,” she replied.

“She was exposed to risk of making a fool of herself, but she insisted, and from paganism and idolatry she found health for her daughter and for herself, she found the living God,” the Pope said.

“This is the path of a person of good will, who looks for God and finds Him. The Lord blesses her. How many people go on this path and the Lord awaits them! But it is the same Holy Spirit that brings them forward on this path. Every day in the Church of the Lord there are people that go on this path, silently, to find the Lord, because they let themselves be taken forward by the Holy Spirit.”

However, the Pope continued, there is another path, the path that Solomon takes in the first reading. Solomon, although the wisest and powerful man in the world, was led by his weakness for women - pagan concubines who turned his heart towards idolatry. “These women weakened Solomon’s heart slowly, slowly. His heart did not remain intact with the Lord, like the heart of David, his father,” the Pope said.

“His heart is weakened, he is weakened and lost the faith. He lost the faith. The wisest man in the world let himself be taken by an indiscreet love, without discretion; he lets himself be taken by his passions. ‘But father, Solomon did not lose the faith, he believed in God and was capable of reciting the Bible!’ Yes, it's true, but having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed. You can recite the Creed and lose the faith.”

The Pope explained that like his father, Solomon was a sinner. But unlike his father, who was humble and asked for forgiveness, Solomon continued in his sins and became corrupt. Despite his wisdom, the David’s son allowed his vanity and passions to corrupt him. “It is in the heart where one loses faith,” the Holy Father said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to receive the Word of God with docility and humility, following the same path as the Canaanite woman.

“May the Word of God [that is] powerful, guard us on this path and and not allow us to end in corruption which takes us to idolatry,” he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: A True Christian Must be Like a Lamb
Reflects on the Identity of a Disciple During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, February 14, 2014  - “The first attitude of Christian identity is to walk, and to walk even if there are difficulties, to go over the difficulties.”

These are the words of Pope Francis this morning during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

Celebrating the Memorial of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Europe, the Holy Father reflected on the identity of a disciple. The Holy Father recalled the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles which recounted Paul and Barnabas’ visit to Antioch. The Holy Father said that the Christian is above all sent. “This means that the Christian is a disciple of the Lord that walks, that always goes forward,” he said.

“We cannot imagine a Christian who is still: a Christian who remains still is sick in their Christian identity, they have some kind of sickness in that identity,” the Pope said. “The Christian is a disciple to walk, to go.

"We heard it in the Psalm at the end," he added, "in the farewell of the Lord: ‘Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel.’ Go. Walk. Behold, the first attitude of Christian identity is to walk, and to walk even if there are difficulties, to go over the difficulties.”

The first reading, as well as the Gospel, exhorts us to go out to announce the Word to all people, good and bad, the Pope continued. He went on to explain the second aspect of Christian identity, saying that a Christian must always remain a lamb.

“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road,” Christ says to the 72 disciples in today’s Gospel.

“Like lambs...Don’t become wolves...Because, at times, temptation makes us think: ‘But this is difficult, these wolves are cunning and I will be even more cunning than them, eh? Lamb. Not a fool, but a lamb. Lamb. With Christian astuteness, but always a lamb. Because if you are a lamb, He defends you. But if you feel strong like a wolf, He does not defend you, He leaves you alone, and the wolves will eat you alive. Like a lamb.”

Reflecting on the final aspect of Christian identity, the Pope said that the “style” of the Christian is characterized by joy. “Christians are people who exult because they know the Lord and carry the Lord [with them].

“One cannot walk as a Christian without joy, one cannot walk as a lamb without joy,” the Holy Father said, adding that Christians who are constantly complaining and whining “are not doing any favors for the Lord or the Church.”

“This is not the style of the disciple,” he said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to proclaim the Gospel with the true style of Christian, with joy. Proclaiming with sadness or a sense of bitterness, he said, makes us "live a so-called Christianity without Christ.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Bear Life's Struggles with Patience
Reflects on the Virtues of Patience During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, February 17, 2014  - Those who carry the Church forward are the ones who bear with joyful patience the trials of everyday life. This was the sentiment expressed by Pope Francis this morning during his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope reflected on the first reading from the Letter of James, focusing on the apostle’s invitation to “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.”

This joy, the Holy Father said, means to bear with patience those trials in our lives that we don’t want but “makes us mature in life.” One who doesn’t bear with patience becomes like a capricious child, who is only fixated on what he wants. Another temptation, he warned, is the omnipotence to want something immediately, as exemplified by the Pharisees in the Gospel who asked for a sign.

“They confuse God’s course of action to that of a sorcerer,” the Pope said of the Pharisees. “And God does not act like a sorcerer, God has his way of going forward. The patience of God. He also has patience. Every time that we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we sing a hymn to the patience of God!”

“But the Lord, how he carries us on his back, with such patience, with such patience! Christian life should unfold on this music of patience because it was precisely the music of our fathers, of the people of God, those who believed the Word of God, who followed that the Lord had given to our father Abraham: ‘Walk before me and be without reproach.’”

However, the people of God, he noted, who have suffered so much and endured so much persecution, bear their burden with patience. This patience is what we should have.

“How patient is our people! Even now! When we go to parishes and we find those people that suffer, that have problems, that have a disabled child or a sickness, but go forward in their lives with patience.”

“They do not ask for signs, like these [mentioned] in the Gospel. They said: ‘Give us a sign!’ No, they do not ask, but they know how to read the signs of the times: they know that when the fig sprouts, that spring is coming; they know how to distinguish that. Instead, these impatient people in today’s Gospel, who wanted a sign, did not know how to read the signs of the times, and for this reason they did not recognize Jesus.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to follow the example of the people of God, whose holiness and patience in life’s difficulties “bring the Church forward.”

“May the Lord grant all of us the patience, the joyful patience, the patience of work, of peace, may he give us the patience of God, that which He has, and may He grant us the patience of our faithful people, who are so exemplary.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Temptation Prevents Us From Foresight
Reflects on the Nature of Temptation During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, February 18, 2014  - The Word of God is the only thing that allows us to resist temptation to sin. This was the central theme of Pope Francis' homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta today.

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the Apostle James which spoke of the nature of temptation. “Each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death,” the reading states.

Temptations, the Pope said, stem from our passions, and the interior wounds we carry from original sin. “It is curious, temptations have three characteristics”, the Pope said: it grows, it infects and it justifies itself. "It grows: it begins with tranquility, and grows,” he said. “Jesus Himself said this, when he spoke of the parable of the wheat and the darnel: the wheat grows, but also the darnel that was sowed by the enemy. And temptations grows: it grows, it grows...And if someone doesn’t stop it, it will surround everything.”

Describing it as “contagious”, the Holy Father warned that temptation closes us in an environment that is not easy to escape. The Gospel of the day was about Christ’s words to his disciples, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. The disciples, the Pope observed, did not have space, did not have time to listen since they were so closed in on their problem of not having bread.

“And so, when we are in temptation, we do not hear the Word of God: we do not hear it. We do not understand it,” he said. “And Jesus had to remind us of the multiplication of the loaves to make us leave that environment, because temptation closes us in, it cuts every capability of foresight, it closes us off every horizon, and it brings us to sin.”

“When we are in temptation, only the Word of God, the word of Jesus saves us. To listen to that Word that opens up for us that horizon. He is always willing to teach us to flee from temptation. And Jesus is great because he not only makes us flee from temptation, but gives us more confidence."

The Pope went on to say that this confidence is our greatest strength when we are tempted. While the devil tries to close us in, Christ comes to free us from that prison with his Word.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask God to be open to his Word which comes to save us from temptation.

"Let us ask the Lord that He may always, like he did with the disciples, with His patience, when we are in temptation, tell us: 'Stop, be calm. Remember what I have done with you in that time, in that time: remember. Raise your eyes, look at the horizon, don't close, don't be closed, go forward.' And this Word will save us from falling into sin in the moment of temptation." (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: 'To Know Jesus, One Must Follow Him'
Reflects on Peter as an Example of a True Disciple

VATICAN CITY, February 20, 2014  - Jesus cannot be known only by studying Him, but rather through following the path of a disciple. Pope Francis emphasized this during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel which recalled Peter’s profession of faith. “And [Jesus] asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘You are the Christ.’”, the Gospel of Mark states.

The Gospel later recounts Jesus’ rebuke of Peter when he protested against the prophecy of Christ’s death. The Holy Father said that Peter is a model of a true disciple filled with moments of both virtue and sin. To truly know Jesus, one cannot rely solely on studying Him, but to follow the path of a disciple.

“It seems that to respond to that question that we all feel in our heart: ‘Who is Jesus for us? - that which we learned, studied in catechism - is insufficient. It is important to study it and know it but it is insufficient,” the Holy Father said.  

“To know Jesus it is necessary to do the path that Peter did: after this humiliation, Peter has walked with Jesus, he has seen the miracles that Jesus has done, he has see His power, he caught a fish, found a coin, he has seen so many miracles of that kind. But, at a certain point, Peter denies Jesus, he betrays Jesus, and he learned that difficult science - more than science, wisdom - of tears, of weeping.”

This path of grace and sin, the Pope went on to say, is the fundamental difference between knowing Jesus and following Jesus. Only through following Him do we truly know Him.

“To follow Jesus with our virtue, also with our sins, but always following Jesus. The study of this is not necessary, rather a life of a disciple,” he stressed.

The Holy Father added that knowing Jesus is a gift from God, that can only be facilitated by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, he said, is not a trade unionist, but rather a great worker.

The Holy Spirit does this work of "explaining the mystery of Jesus and to give us this sense of Christ,” Pope Francis concluded. “Let us look at Jesus, Peter, the apostles and let us feel in our heart this question: ‘Who am I for you?’ And as a disciple, let us ask the Father to give us the knowledge of Christ in the Holy Spirit, to explain to us this mystery.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: 'War Destroys!'
Appeals for Peace in the World and in Families During Homily

VATICAN CITY, February 25, 2014  - Pope Francis appealed for peace today in his homily at Casa Santa Marta, saying that war only leaves innocent victims in its wake.

Drawing his reflection from the first reading of the Apostle James, the Holy Father called on Christians to not be accustomed to the scandal of war.

“Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war,” the Apostle James states.

The Pope told the faithful that we find news and images of wars around the world daily in the news, noting that “the spirit of war has taken a hold of us.”

“There are acts to commemorate the centenary of some Great War, millions dead...And everyone is scandalized!” he said. “But today it is the same! Instead of a great war, there are little wars everywhere, divided people...And to preserve one’s interest they kill, they kill each other.”

Recalling the story of Cain and Abel, the Holy Father said that while some may be scandalized about hearing one brother killing another, today millions of brothers kill each other. It has become such a frequent occurrence that we have become accustomed to it. While the First World War scandalized many, the Pope said that there is a great war occuring now, in various parts of the world that is “hidden” and it does not scandalize everyone. “So many die for a piece of land, for an ambition, for hate, for racial jealousy. Passion brings us to war, to the spirit of the world,” he said.

“Usually in front of a conflict,” he continued, “we find ourselves in a curious situation: to solve it, arguing, with the language of war. The language of peace doesn’t come first! And the consequences? Think of the starving children in the refugee camps...Think only of this: this is the fruit of the war! And if you want, think of the big banquet halls, of the feasts that are done by the owners of the arms industries, who manufacture weapons, the weapons end there. The child that is sick, starving, in a refugee camp and the great feasts, the good life of those who manufacture weapons.”

The 77 year old Pontiff went on to say that this “spirit of war” is not reduced to countries that are in conflict, but occur even in our own homes. “How many families are destroyed because the father, the mother are not capable of finding a path of peace and prefer war, to sue...War destroys!” he exclaimed.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for peace, something that in today’s world has been reduced to just a word. “May the Lord help us understand this and save us from getting used to news of war,” he said.

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Pope Francis: Christ's Healing Always Leads Us Home
Holy Father Reflects on Healing of Demoniac Boy in Casa Santa Marta Homily

VATICAN CITY, February 24, 2014  - Pope Francis spoke of Christian discipleship as abiding in Christ during his homily in the Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The healing of the demoniac boy in the Gospel according to St Mark was the principal focus of Pope Francis’ reflections.

“All the [noise and excitement created by the crowd gathered round the disciples, who had failed to liberate the boy], all the talk, ends in an act: Jesus lowers Himself [and] takes up the boy. These acts of Jesus make us think,” the Pope said.

“When He heals, when He goes among the crowds and heals a person, He never leaves that person alone,” he explained. “He is not a wizard, a sorcerer, a “healer” who goes and [plies his trade] and is on his way: everyone [he helps], he helps to return to his proper place – He leaves no one on the side of the road. These acts of Jesus are very beautiful, indeed."

Pope Francis went on to explain that such gestures are found throughout the Gospels: from the resurrection of Lazarus to the raising of the daughter of Jairus or of the widow’s son – as well as the lost sheep returned to the fold or the lost coin recovered by the woman. “Jesus,” said Pope Francis, “always makes sure we get safely home. He never leaves us alone along the way, because Jesus did not only come from Heaven. He is the Son of a People.”

“Jesus is the promise made to that People, which, beginning with Abraham, made its way toward the promise,” the Pope continued. “These gestures of Jesus teach us that every healing, every [act of] pardon, always helps us return to our People, which is the Church."

Jesus always forgives, he added, and his acts [of forgiveness] become “revolutionary” or “inexplicable” when they reach those who [seem to us to be too far gone], like Matthew the tax collector or his colleague, Zacchaeus.

Christ’s healing acts always lead people “home” – and thus it is impossible to understand Jesus without the People of God. “It is,” he said, “an absurdity to love Christ without the Church, to feel Christ but not the Church, to follow Christ from the outskirts of the Church.” “Christ and the Church are united,” he said. “Whenever Christ calls a person, He brings that person to the Church.” For this, said Pope Francis, “it is good [that a child] “come to be baptized in Church – Mother Church.”:

“And these, Jesus’ gestures of so much tenderness make us realize this: that our doctrine, let us say, or our following Christ, is not an idea. It is a constant abiding at home – and though each of us has the opportunity and the real experience of leaving home for a sin, a mistake - God knows - salvation [means] going home with Jesus in the Church. These are gestures of tenderness. One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church. Let us think on these acts of Jesus.”

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Pope Francis: Inconsistent Christians Cause Scandal
Reflects on What It Means to Bear Witness to Christ

VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2014  - “Christians that are not consistent are giving scandal.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass today at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation during the Mass.

A person who receives the Sacrament, he said, manifests a desire to be a Christian. In order to be Christian, one must bear witness to Jesus.

“A Christian is a person who thinks like a Christian, feels like a Christian and acts like a Christian. And this is consistency in the life of a Christian,” he said. However, the Holy Father noted if one of those aspects is missing, then “there’s a certain inconsistency.” Those who are inconsistent are the ones that do harm.

The Pope reflected on the first reading from the Apostle James who denounced people who claimed to be Christian but who swindled of their employees.

“Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts,” the reading states.

“If one hears this, someone might think: ‘But a communist has said this!’ the Pope exclaimed. “No, no, the Apostle James said it! It is the Word of the Lord. It’s inconsistent. And when there is no Christian consistency, and you live with this inconsistency, you’re giving scandal. And the Christians that are not consistent are giving scandal.”

The Holy Father also commented on the Gospel which recounted Christ’s warning to those who cause scandal. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,  it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea,” Christ says.

“An inconsistent Christian does so much harm. Scandal kills,” the Pope stressed. “So many times we’ve heard ‘But Father, I believe in God, but not in the Church, because you Christians say one thing and do another.’ And also, ‘I believe in God, but not in you.’ This is because of inconsistency.”

“If you find yourself in front of – imagine! - in front of an atheist,” the Pope continued, “and he tells you he doesn’t believe in God, you can read him a whole library, where it says that God exists and even proving that God exists, and he will not have faith. But if in the presence of this atheist you bear consistent witness of Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart. It will be your witness that that he will bring this restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works. It’s a grace that we all, the whole Church must ask for: ‘Lord, [grant] that we might be consistent.’”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray to live a consistent Christian life, which is a gift from God. If one does fall because of weakness, he said, ask for forgiveness.

“We are all sinners, all of us, but we all have the ability to ask for forgiveness. And He never gets tired of forgiving! Have the humility to ask for forgiveness: ‘Lord, I have not been consistent here. Forgive me!’” he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Casuistic Thought Is A Trap Against God and Us
Reflects on the Beauty of Love, Marriage and the Family During Homily

VATICAN CITY, February 28, 2014  - The use of unsound reasoning to answer moral questions, or casuistry, is a trap against us and God. Pope Francis stressed this during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father reflected on the nature of marriage, drawing from today’s Gospel from St. Mark which recalled Christ’s response to the Pharisees on the question of divorce. The Pharisees, he said, tried to take Jesus moral authority through the use of casuistry. “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” the Pharisees asked Jesus. Behind the casuistic thought of the Pharisees, “there is always a trap.”

“Jesus responded, asking them what the law said and explaining why Moses made that law that way,” the Pope explained. “But he doesn’t stop there: from casuistry He goes to the center of the problem and here he goes directly to the days of Creation.”

“This reference of the Lord is very beautiful: ‘From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”

The Pope went on to say that Christ refers to the “masterpiece of Creation”: man and woman. Describing between Adam and Eve as a “poetic moment”, the Holy Father said that Jesus confronts this casuistic thought with the initial plan of love by God.

“The Lord takes this love as the masterpiece of Creation to explain the love He has for his people,” the Holy Father said. “And [He goes] a step further: when Paul must explain the mystery of Christ, he does it in relation to, in reference to His Spouse, because Christ is married, Christ was married, He married the Church, his people.”

“Like the Father married the People of Israel, Christ married his people. This is the history of love, this is the history of the masterpiece of Creation! And in front of this journey of love, this icon, casuistry falls and becomes sorrow.”

When love fails between a man and woman, the Pope stressed the importance of accompanying those who suffer, not condemn them or “not be casuistic with their situation.”

In looking at God’s original plan of love, the Holy Father stressed that one begins to see the beauty of marriage, the beauty of family. This view should also bring us to come closer to “the brothers and sisters who in life have had the misfortune of a failure in love.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be attentive that love does not fail by recalling the image of the love of Christ to his spouse: the Church.

“Even here we should be attentive that love does not fail! To speak of a bachelor Christ: Christ married the Church!” he exclaimed. “And Christ cannot be understood without the Church and the Church cannot be understood without Christ. This is the great mystery of the masterpiece of Creation. May the Lord give us all the grace to understand and also the grace to never fall in this casuistic attitude of the Pharisees, of the doctors of the law.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Persecution is the Path of a Christian
The World Does Not Tolerate the Divinity of Christ, Pope Says in Morning Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 04, 2014  - In his homily on Tuesday morning in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis warned that the Cross is always on the road of a Christian, and that there are more Christian martyrs today than during the early days of the Church.

The Pope took as his cue the biblical account of where Peter asked Jesus what the disciples would receive in return for following him.

He said Peter probably thought that following Jesus would be a great commercial activity because Jesus is generous but, as Christ warned, whatever they would gain would always be accompanied by persecutions.

“It’s as if Jesus said: Yes, you have left everything and you will receive here on earth many things, but with persecutions!,” the Pope said. “Like a salad with the oil of persecution: always! This is what the Christian gains and this is the road for the person who wants to follow Jesus, because it’s the road that He himself trod. He was persecuted! It’s the road of humbling yourself. That’s what Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: ‘Jesus emptied himself and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross’. This is the reality of Christian life.”

Pope Francis went on to warn that the Cross is always present on the road of a Christian. “We will have many brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers in the Church, in the Christian community, but we also will have persecutions,” the Pope said.

“This is because the world does not tolerate the divinity of Christ. It doesn’t tolerate the proclamation of the Gospel. It does not tolerate the Beatitudes. And so we have persecutions with words, with insults, the things that they said about Christians in the early centuries, the condemnations, imprisonment.

“But we easily forget,” the Pope continued. “We think of the many Christians, 60 years ago, in the labour camps, in the camps of the Nazis, of the communists: So many of them! For being Christians! And even today. But [people say]: ‘today we are better educated and these things no longer exist’. Yes they do! And I tell you that today there are more martyrs than during the early times of the Church.”

Pope Francis pointed out that there are many brothers and sister nowadays who bear witness to Jesus and are persecuted. Some cannot even carry around a Bible.

“They are condemned for having a Bible,” he said. “They can’t wear a crucifix. And this is the road of Jesus. But it is a joyful road because our Lord never tests us beyond what we can bear.”

The Pope added: “Christian life is not a commercial advantage, it’s not making a career. It’s simply following Jesus! But when we follow, Jesus this happens. Let’s think about if we have within us the desire to be courageous in bearing witness to Jesus. And let’s spare a thought -- it will do us good – for the many brothers and sisters who today – today! – cannot pray together because they are persecuted. They cannot have the book of the Gospel or a Bible because they are persecuted.”

“Let’s think,” the Pope continued, “about those brothers who cannot go to Mass because it is forbidden and let’s ask ourselves if we are prepared to carry the Cross and suffer persecutions like Jesus did? It’s good for all of us to think about this,” the Pope concluded.

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Pope Francis: There is No Christian Without a Cross
Reflects on the Path of Humility During Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 06, 2014 - “Without the cross, there is no Christian,” Pope Francis said during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning. The Holy Father dedicated his homily to Luke’s Gospel which recalls Jesus’ requirements for following Him.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” Jesus says in the Gospel. The Pope explained that Christian life does not exist outside of this path.

“There is always this path that He has done first: the path of humility, also the path of humiliation, to destroy Himself, and then rise again,” the Pope said. “But, this is the path, the Christian style. Without the Cross, there is no Christian. The Christian style takes the cross of Jesus and goes forward. Not without the cross, not without Jesus.”

The Pope went on to say that this Christian style of denying oneself is meant to give life to others. It is the “style of humility, gentleness and meekness.”

“The book, The Imitation of Christ, gives us beautiful advice: ‘Love to be unknown and considered as nothing.’ It is Christian humility, that which Jesus did first,” the 77 year old Pontiff said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to embrace the joy that comes from giving one’s life. All other joys, he noted, allow one to gain the world but result in ultimately ruining one’s life.

“At the beginning of this Lent, let us ask the Lord to teach us this Christian style of service, of joy, of destruction of ourselves and of fruitfulness with Him, as He wants,” he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Don't Be Ashamed of Giving to the Suffering and Afflicted

VATICAN CITY, March 07, 2014  - “Are we ashamed to touch the flesh of our wounded or suffering brothers and sisters?”

This was one of the key questions posed by Pope Francis during his homily at the morning Mass on Friday at the Santa Marta residence.

The Pope stressed that a life of faith is closely linked to a life of charity, and Christians who do not practice the latter are hypocrites.

He reflected on the essential role of charity in the life of every Christian. Christianity, the Pope said, is not a repository of formal observances for people who put on a hypocritical good appearance to conceal their hearts empty of any charity. Rather, Christianity is showing the flesh of Jesus who bends down without shame in front of whoever is suffering.

This contrasts with the Pharisees who criticized Jesus and the disciples for not practicing the commandment to fast and who as, Doctors of the Law, transformed the observance of these commandments into a formality and transformed religious life into an ethic.

“Receiving from our Lord the love of a Father, receiving from our Lord the identity of a people and then transforming it into an ethic means we are refusing that gift of love,” the Pope explained. “These hypocritical people are good persons. They do all they should do. They seem good. But they are ethicists without goodness because they have lost the sense of belonging to a people! Our Lord gives us salvation through belonging to a people.”

True charity or fasting, the Pope added, means breaking the chains of evil, freeing the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, opening our houses to the homeless and clothing the naked.

“This is the charity or fasting that our Lord wants! Fasting that is concerned about the life of our brother, that is not ashamed – Isaiah said it himself – of the flesh of our brother,” Francis explained. “Our perfection, our holiness is linked with our people where we are chosen and become part. Our greatest act of holiness relates to the flesh of our brother and the flesh of Jesus Christ. Our act of holiness today, here at the altar, is not a hypocritical fasting: instead it means not being ashamed of the flesh of Christ which comes here today!

“This is the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ,” the Pope said. “It means going to share our bread with the hungry, taking care of the sick, the elderly, those who can’t give us anything in return: this is not being ashamed of the flesh!”

He said the most difficult charity (or fasting) is the sacrifice of goodness such as that practiced by the Good Samaritan who bent over the wounded man unlike the priest who hurried past, maybe out of fear of becoming infected. And this, the Pope said, is the question posed by the Church today: “Am I ashamed of the flesh of my brother and sister?"

“When I give alms, do I drop the coin without touching the hand (of the poor person, beggar)? And if by chance I do touch it, do I immediately withdraw it? When I give alms, do I look into the eyes of my brother, my sister? When I know a person is ill, do I go and visit that person? Do I greet him or her with affection? There’s a sign that possibly may help us, it’s a question: Am I capable of giving a caress or a hug to the sick, the elderly, the children, or have I lost sight of the meaning of a caress? These hypocrites were unable to give a caress. They had forgotten how to do it.”

“Don’t be ashamed of the flesh of our brother,” the Pope implored. “It’s our flesh! We will be judged by the way we behave towards this brother, this sister.”

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Pope Francis: Mercy Brings Us Peace
Reflects on the Nature of Forgiveness and Mercy During Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 17, 2014  - “Merciful men and women have an open heart," Pope Francis said in his homily today at Casa Santa Marta. "They always excuse the other and think of their own sins.” 

The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel of St. Luke, which recounts Jesus’ call to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The Pope said that his attitude is difficult since many times we are accustomed to judge others. “To be merciful, two attitudes are necessary,” he said. The first is the knowledge of oneself: to know that we have done many things that are not good, that we are sinners.” This, he continued, is only possible if we truly feel ashamed of our sins.”

“It is true, none of us have killed anyone, but [there are] many little things, many daily sins, of everyday… And when one thinks: ‘But what, what a small heart: I did this against the Lord! It is to be ashamed! To be ashamed before God and this shame is grace: it is the grace of being a sinner. ‘I am a sinner and I am ashamed before You and I ask You for forgiveness.’ It is simple, but it is difficult to say: ‘I have sinned.”

The Holy Father went on to say that many times, we justify ourselves by laying the blame on others. If one, instead, is truly repentant, one can give the same mercy that is received.

The second attitude in order to be merciful, the Pope continued, is the need to open one’s heart. A small heart, he said, “is selfish and incapable of mercy.”

“Open your heart! ‘But I am a sinner.’ ‘But look at what this person did, or that person...I haven’t done so much!’”, he said. “‘Who am I to judge him?’ This phrase: ‘Who am I to judge? Who am I to gossip on that one? Who am I to…? Who am I that has done the same or worse? An open heart!”

“And the Lord says it: ‘Do not judge lest you be judged! Do not condemn and you will not be condemned! Forgive and you will be forgiven? Give and you shall be given!’ This is generosity of heart! And what will be given to you? A good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. And the image of the people who would go to collect wheat with an apron and would widen the apron to receive more, more grain. If your heart is wide, large, you can receive more.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful present to widen their hearts, explaining that an open heart does not condemn, but rather, forgives and forgets.

“This is the path of mercy that we should ask for,” he said.  But if all of us, if all the people, persons, families, neighbourhoods, had this attitude, how much peace would there be in the world, this peace in our hearts! Because mercy brings us to peace. Always remember: ‘Who am I to judge?’ To be ashamed and to widen your heart. May the Lord give us this grace.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: "The Only One Who Justifies Us Is Jesus Christ"
In Morning Homily Warns Against Hypocrisy

VATICAN CITY, March 18, 2014 - In his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reflected on the Lenten season, calling it a time “to adjust one’s life.”

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah calls to conversion the “princes of Sodom” and “the people of Gomorrah," a calling, the Holy Father noted, that urges us to “change our lives” and to look after the “good of our souls.”

The Lord, he continued, is waiting for us to come close to him and forgive us. The Gospel, however, recalled Christ’s warning to not follow the example of hypocrites who do not practice what they preach.

“What do the hypocrites do? They wear masks, they put on the make-up of good [people]: they look holy, they pray looking towards heaven, making themselves be seen, they feel more righteous than others, they despise the others,” the Pope said.

“‘But - they say - I am very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family was and I [...] know this bishop, that cardinal, this priest...I am...’ They think themselves better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says: ‘No, not that’. No one is righteous by himself. We all have the need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ.”

The Pope called on the faithful to be close to the Lord in order to avoid becoming hypocrites. The way to do this, he said, is highlighted in the first reading.  

"'Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.' Care for your neighbour: the sick, the poor, those in need, those ignored. This is the touchstone. The hypocrites do not know how to do this, they can’t, because they are so full of themselves that they are blind to looking at others. When one walks a bit and comes close to the Lord, the light of the Lord makes them see these things and they go to help the brothers. This is the sign, this is the sign of conversion.”

Concluding his homily, the Holy Father encouraged those present to live the Lenten season as a time to change one’s life and come close to the Lord. Those who are far from the Him, he said, live in hypocrisy.

“The hypocrite has no need for the Lord, he is saved by himself, so he thinks, and disguises himself as a saint,” the Holy Father said. “The sign that we are close to the Lord is with penance, asking forgiveness, and that we take care of our brothers in need. May the Lord give us all light and courage: light to know what is going on within us and courage to convert, to come close to the Lord. It is beautiful to be close to the Lord.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Those Who Trust in Themselves Lose Their Identity
Calls on Faithful to Place Hope in God During Morning Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 20, 2014 - Those who trust in themselves, in others and in their riches will ultimately lose their identity and dignity as a human. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

“Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth,” the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah stated.

The Holy Father began his homily by contemplating on this passage from the Scripture, saying that a person who trusts only in those things is closed, without any hope of salvation. This is evidenced in the Gospel of Luke, which recalls Jesus’ parable of Lazarus. The Pope noted that while Lazarus has a name, the rich man does not.

“And this is the strongest curse of those who trust in themselves or in their strengths, in the possibilities of men and not in God: to lose their name? What is your name? This account number, in that bank. What is your name? This many properties, this many houses, this many...What is your name? The things we have, the idols,” the Pope said. A person’s trust in material goods, he went on to say, is what curses them.

“We all have this weakness, this frailty of placing our hopes in ourselves or in friends or only in human possibilities and we forget the Lord. And this takes us on the path of unhappiness.”

The Holy Father called on the faithful to take this time of Lent to reflect on where their trust is truly place. If one does realize that their trust is not in the Lord, there is hope. "Always in the end, there is a possibility," he said. "And this man, when he realized that he lost his name, he lost everything, everything, he raises his eyes and says one word: ‘Father’. And the answer of God is one word: ‘Son!’,” he said.

“If some of us in life, after placing so much trust in man and in ourselves, end up losing our name, losing this dignity, there is still the possibility to say this word that is more than magic. It is more, it is strong: ‘Father’. He always waits for us to open a door that we do not see and will say to us: ‘Son’.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask for the grace to trust solely in God and not on human strength. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Humility and Prayer Are Necessary to Obey God's Word
Morning Homily Calls On Faithful to Open Their Hearts to the Word of God

VATICAN CITY, March 21, 2014  - Humility and prayer are the two attitudes necessary to not twist the Word of God according to our own interests and desires. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father based his homily on the Gospel according to Matthew, which recalled Jesus parable’ of murderous tenants who kill their landowner’s son in order to rob his inheritance. The Pope said that the parable was directed to the Pharisees to show where “they had fallen into for not have their hearts opened to the Word of God.”

“They had taken over the Word of God,” he explained. “And the Word of God had become their word, a word according to their interests, their ideology, their theology...at their service. And each one interprets it according to their will, according to their own interests. This is the drama of these people. And to preserve this, they kill. This happened to Jesus.”

When the Pharisees fell into this line of interpretation of the Word of God, the Pope continued, it is difficult for the Holy Spirit to act. The Holy Spirit is essentially “trapped in the desires of each one of them.”  The Holy Father warned that we can do the same when we are not obedient to the Word of God.

“But there is a word that gives us hope. The Word of God is dead in the hearts of these people; it can also die in our hearts! But it doesn’t end, because it is alive in the hearts of the simple, of the humble, of the people of God,” he said.

“[The Pharisees] sought to capture him, but they feared the crowd of the people of God, because they considered him a prophet. That simple crowd - that followed behind Jesus, because that which Jesus said did good in their hearts, it warmed their hearts - these people were not mistaken: they did not use the Word of God for their own interests, they felt and looked to be a bit better.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis highlighted two essential attitudes in order to understand and obey the Word of God: humility and prayer.

“[The Pharisees] people did not pray. They had no need to pray. They felt secure, they felt strong, they felt like ‘gods’,” he noted.

“With humility and prayer, we go forward to listen to the Word of God and obey it. In the Church. Humility and prayer in the Church. And so, what happened to these people will not happen to us: we will not kill to defend the Word of God, that Word which we believe is the World of God, but it is a word that is totally altered by us.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Christian Humility Means to Recognize Oneself a Sinner
Calls on Faithful to Place Themselves on Margins to be Saved

VATICAN CITY, March 24, 2014  - Christian humility is telling the truth: ‘I am a sinner’. This was the theme of Pope Francis homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel from St. Luke.

In the Gospel, Jesus addressed the citizens of his hometown of Nazareth, saying: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Christ gives the example of the healing of the leper Naaman and the encounter of Elijah with the widow of Zarephath, two figures who accepted the prophets despite being outcasts.

“Lepers and widows in those days were the outcasts of society,” he said. “And yet, these two outcasts, welcomed the prophets and were saved, while the people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus because they felt so strong in their faith, so sure of their faithful observance of the Commandments, they felt they had no need for other salvation”.

Jesus, he explained, calls on worshippers at the synagogue that those who do not place themselves in the margins will not obtain salvation. “This is humility, the path of humility: to feel so marginalized that we need the Salvation of the Lord. He alone saves us, not our observance of the law. And they did not like this; they were angry and wanted to kill him.”

Drawing from the example of Naaman, who was angered at first when asked to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan, the Pope said that the Lord invites us in this season of Lent to choose the path of humility if we want to be healed.

"In her Canticle, Mary does not say she is happy because God was looking to her virginity, to her kindness or to her sweetness – all of them virtues that she possessed,” he said.

“No, because the Lord was looking to her humility, the humility of His servant, her smallness. This is what the Lord looks for. And we must take heed of this wisdom and put ourselves on the margins so that the Lord may find us. He will not find us at the center of our certainties. That is not where the Lord looks. He will find us on the margins, in our sins, in our mistakes, in our need for spiritual healing, for salvation; that is where the Lord will find us.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that Christian humility is not the virtue of saying ‘I am not important’, but rather the virtue of recognizing oneself as a sinner. “This is our truth,” he said.

“But there is another truth: God saves us. He saves us when we are on the margins; He does not save us in our certainties. Let us ask for the grace of having the wisdom to put ourselves on the margins, for the grace of humility, so that we may receive the Lord’s Salvation.”

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Pope Francis: 'Salvation Cannot Be Bought Or Sold, It Is a Gift'
Celebrates Solemnity of the Annunciation During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, March 25, 2014  - A humble heart, like that of Mary, is what is required to obtain salvation. Pope Francis emphasized this during his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Through her obedience, Mary loosened the knot of disobedience, caused by the pride of Adam and Eve that led them to disobey God. The Holy Father said that while sin entered among mankind, through “another man comes salvation.”

“This very long road will help all of us to have a more human heart, closer to God, not so proud, not so self-sufficient,” he said. "This road of recovery occurs in stages, a road of obedience and humility that leads to salvation."

“Salvation cannot be bought or sold: it’s a gift,” he said.

“It’s given to us, it’s free. We can’t be saved through ourselves: Salvation is a totally free gift. It’s not bought through the blood of bulls or goats. It can’t be bought. But in order to receive this salvation, we need a humble heart, a meek heart, an obedient heart. Like that of Mary. And the model for this road towards salvation is the same God, his Son, who didn’t consider being equal to God an advantage which cannot be abandoned. Paul said this.”

Inviting the faithful to follow this road of humility, the Pope said that through the blood of his son, who “became like one of us”, we are saved.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to look at the history of Adam, Eve, Mary and Jesus, a road distinguished by the presence of God “who walks alongside his people.”

“Let’s say: ‘Thank you. Thank you Lord because today you told us that you have given us salvation.’ Today is a day to give thanks to the Lord,” the Pope said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: God Never Tires of Forgiving Us
Reflects on the Mercy of the Lord During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, March 28, 2014 - God waits for us and never tires of forgiving us. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the prophet Hosea, which recalls God’s call to conversion and forgiveness for the people of Israel.

“Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the LORD,” the reading states.

These words, the Pope said, are an exhortation from a Father to a son. “With these words alone, we can pass many hours of prayer.”

“It is the heart of our Father, God is like this: he does not tire, he does not tire!” the Pope said. “And for so many centuries He has done this, with so many apostasies, so many apostasies of the people. And He always returns, because our God is a God who waits. From that afternoon in the earthly Paradise, Adam left Paradise with a penalty and a promise. And He is faithful, the Lord is faithful to his promise, because he cannot deny himself. He is faithful. And so he waits for all of us, along the history. He is the God that waits for us, always.”

The Pope turned his thoughts towards the parable of the Prodigal son, where the father upon seeing his son returning, runs to him and embraces him. Comparing the first reading and the parable, the Holy Father said that God is the same way, inviting those present to see for themselves the tenderness of God.”

“God waits and also God forgives,” the Pope said. “He is the God of mercy: he does not tire of forgiving us. It is we who are tired of asking for forgiveness, but He never gets tired. Seventy times seven; go forward with forgiveness. And from a business standpoint, the balance is negative. He always loses: he loses in the balance of things, but conquers in love.”

In doing so, God is the first who fulfills the commandment of love. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to seek the forgiveness of God, who celebrates a feast when one returns to Him.

“He will make a feast for you,” he said. “His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.’ The life of every person, of every man, of every woman, who has the courage to draw close to the Lord, will find the joy of the feast of God. So, may this word help us to think of our Father, the Father that waits for us always, who always forgives us and who feasts when we return.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Faith Puts Us on Path Toward God's Promise
At Morning Mass, Calls on Faithful to Resist 'Temptation to Stand Still'

VATICAN CITY, March 31, 2014) - Do we wander aimlessly in our lives without moving forward or are we walking on the path toward the promises of God? Pope Francis posed this question during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father reflected on three types of Christians: those who trust in the promises of God and follow Him throughout their lives, those whose life of faith is stagnant, and others who lives an “existential tourism.”

Recalling the first reading from Isaiah, the Pope noted that God always makes a promise, a promise of a new life full of joy, before asking anything. The essence of Christian life is to walk toward that promise. However, many times there exists the “temptation to stand still.”

“There are many Christians who stand still!” he exclaimed. “We have so many behind who have a weak hope. Yes, they believe that there will be Heaven and everything will go well. It’s good that they believe, but they do not look for it! They fulfill the commandments, the precepts: everything, everything….But they are standing still.”

“The Lord cannot make of them a leaven in his people, because they do not walk. And this is a problem: those who stand still. Then, there are others among them and us, who go the wrong way: we all sometimes have gone the wrong way, that we know. The problem is not going the wrong way; the problem is not turning back when one realizes that they have made a mistake.”

Focusing on the Gospel of St. John, the Holy Father stated that the royal official who does not doubt Christ’s power to heal his son, is the model of faith that all Christians should follow. But, also there are some who deceive themselves into thinking they are on the right path but are actually wandering.

“They are the wandering Christians, they wander around, wander around as if life was an existential tourism, without a goal, without taking the promises seriously. Those who wander around deceive themselves, because they say: ‘I walk!’.

"No, you don’t walk: you wander,” he said.

“Instead, the Lord asks us to not stop, to not go the wrong way and to not run around your whole life. To wander around your whole life. He asks us to guard the promises, to go forward with the promises like this man, like this man: that man who believed the word of Jesus! Faith puts us on the path toward the promises. Faith in the promises of God.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to take advantage of the Lenten season, a time to reflect on whether one is on the right path or wandering.

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to go on the path, to go on the way, but toward the promises,” he concluded. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Sloth and Formality Paralyze Apostolic Zeal
Reflects on Spiritual Illnesses That Negatively Impact the Church

VATICAN CITY, April 01, 2014 - In his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned of the damage that can be done by “anesthetized Christians” who have no apostolic zeal for the Gospel.

The Pope reflected on the Gospel of St. John, which recalled Jesus’ healing of a crippled man on the Sabbath. The Holy Father noted that the attitude of crippled man, resigned to his illness, and the Pharisees who criticized the healing on a Sabbath day, manifest two “spiritual illnesses”.

Regarding the first spiritual illness, the Pope said that today there are many Christians, as well as Catholics, who live their faith without enthusiasm, and at times, embittered.

“It is the sickness of sloth, of the laziness of Christians,” he said. “This attitude is paralyzing to apostolic zeal, makes Christians a people at a standstill, but not in the good sense of the word. They do not worry to go out to give the proclamation of the Gospel! Anesthetized people.”

Spiritual sloth, he went on to say, is sad since it causes Christians to have a negative outlook on life. These Christians who have no apostolic zeal, are useless and are not good for the Church. “This is the sin of sloth, which is against the apostolic zeal, against the desire to give the news of Jesus to others, that news that has been given freely,” he said.

The second spiritual illness, the Holy Father continued, is the sin of formality. This illness leaves no space for the grace of God to act. Those who live in this formality, he said, are “hypocritical Christians.”

“It was the Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God does not work on the Sabbath. They close the door to the grace of God. We have so many [like this] in the Church: we have so many! It is another sin,” he said.

These two attitudes must be known in order to defend ourselves from falling into that mentality. In front of these spiritual illnesses, he said, Jesus only asks if we wish to be healed.

“The two Christian words: “vuoi guarire?” (Do you want to be healed?),” the Pope said. “First He heals him, then says ‘sin no more.’ Words that are said with tenderness, with love.”

Pope Francis, concluding his homily, invited the faithful present to continue along the Christian path. This path of Apostolic zeal, he said, allows us “to be close to many people, wounded in this field hospital, and also many times wounded by men and women of the Church.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Prayer Changes Our Hearts
Reflects on Praying Freely Without Fear During Homily

VATICAN CITY, April 03, 2014  - Prayer must be free, insistent and with arguments.

This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father spoke about the relationship between God and Moses, which mirrors the life of prayer that one should have with God.

The first reading from the Book of Exodus recounts God’s wish to destroy the people for creating and worshipping the golden calf. Moses pleads with God to have mercy. The Holy Father said that Moses’ way of praying, fearlessly and freely, teaches us how to pray to God. Prayer, he noted, is “a negotiation with God.”

After Moses prayed to God for mercy for His people, God relented. But, the Holy Father asked, “who changed here? Has the Lord changed? I think not.”

"Moses is the one who has changed, because Moses believed that the Lord would do this. He believed that the Lord would have destroyed the people and he searches, he tries to remember, how good the Lord has been to His people, how he led them from slavery in Egypt and guided them with a promise,” the Pope said.

“With these arguments, he tries to convince God, but in doing so, he rediscovers the memory of his people, and God's mercy. This Moses, who was afraid, afraid that God would do this thing, in the end comes down from the mountain with something great in his heart: Our God is merciful. He knows how to forgive. He can go back on His decisions. He is a Father.”

The Pope went on to say that Moses rediscovers the mercy of God through prayer, thus changing his heart. This change allows us to understand God and to speak with him not with empty words but with our own personal reality.

Moses knew all of this - Pope Francis observes - "but he vaguely knew it. Instead he rediscovers it in prayer. This is what prayer does to us: it changes our heart".

“‘Look, Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that... What can you do? You cannot leave me like this!',” the Pope said. “This is prayer! Does this prayer take a long time? Yes, it takes time.”

The Holy Father also said that one’s prayer to God should be like that of Moses, who the Bible says prayed to God as a friend.

Prayer, he said, must be “free, insistent, with arguments, even rebuking the Lord a little: 'You promised me this but you didn’t do it... ', just like talking with a friend. Open your heart to this prayer.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would give all the invigorating grace of prayer.

"Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path," he said. (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: Proclaiming the Gospel Comes With Persecution
Reflects on the Price of Evangelization During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, April 04, 2014- Proclaiming the Gospel comes with a price, the price of persecution. The Holy Father focused on this aspect of evangelization during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

In a passage in the Book of Wisdom, the first reading in this morning's Mass, the wicked said among themselves: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training."

The Holy Father compared the first reading to the Gospel of St. John which recounted Christ being persecuted for preaching publicly. In the history of salvation, he said, “in the time of Israel, and even in the Church, the prophets have been persecuted.” The prophets, he continued, were persecuted for calling on those in power to return to the path of God.

“Jesus hid Himself, in these last days, because His time had not come yet; but He knew what His end would be, how His end would be,” he said. “And Jesus is persecuted from the beginning: we remember when, at the beginning of his preaching, he returns to his country, he goes to the synagogue and preaches. Immediately, after a great admiration, they begin [to say]: 'But we know where he’s from. He is one of us. With what authority does he come to teach us? Where has he studied?’ They disqualify him! It is the same discourse, no? ‘But we know where he is from! The Christ, instead, when he comes no one will know where He is from!’ To disqualify the Lord, to disqualify the prophet to take away his authority!”

Jesus, the Pope went on to say, was disqualified by those in power because He fought against those who “caged the Holy Spirit.” However, the history of persecution does not end with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many are persecuted for the faith not only from the outside, but also from within the Church. “When we read the lives of the Saints, how many misunderstandings, how many persecutions have the Saints suffered through, because they were prophets,” he said.

“Also many philosophers of the Church have been persecuted. I think of one, right now, in this moment, not so far from us, a man of good will, a true prophet, who with his books reproached the Church from straying from the path of the Lord,” the Pope recalled.

“He was summoned quickly, his books were put on the index [blacklisted], they removed him from his seat and thus this man’s life ends -- not too long ago. Some time has passed and today he is beatified! How is it that yesterday he was a heretic and today he is beatified? It is because yesterday those who had the power wanted to silence him, because they did not like what he said. Today the Church, that gives thanks to God and knows how to repent, says: ‘No, this man is good’. Even more, he is on the road to sainthood: he is beatified!”

The Pope also highlighted the persecution suffered by Catholics today in countries that prohibit religious freedom. “I dare say that perhaps that there are as much or many more martyrs today than in the early days, because in this worldly society, in this society that is a bit tranquil, that doesn’t want problems, they say the truth, they announce Jesus Christ,” he said.

“But there is a death penalty or prison for having the Gospel at home, to teach the Catechism, today, in some parts! One Catholic from these countries told me that they cannot pray together. It is forbidden! They can only pray alone and hidden. But they want to celebrate the Eucharist and how? They celebrate a birthday, they pretend to celebrate a birthday and there they celebrate the Eucharist, before the party. And - it has happened! - when the police arrive, everything is ‘Happiness, happiness. Happy Birthday’ and they continue with the feast. Then, when [the police] leave, they finish the Eucharist. That is what they must do, because it is prohibited to pray together. Today!”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis recalled the example of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci, one of the founding fathers of the Jesuit China Mission in the 17th century, who was often rejected or misunderstood. However, the Pope noted, “he obeyed like Jesus.”

There will always be persecutions, misunderstandings! But Jesus is Lord and this is the challenge and the Cross of our faith. May the Lord give us the grace to go on His path and, if it happens, even the cross of persecutions.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: God Forgives With a Caress
Reflects on Divine Mercy During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, April 07, 2014  - Through His divine mercy, God comes to caress and heal the wounds caused by sin. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel, which recalls the adulterous woman brought before Jesus by the Pharisees and scribes in order to trick Him and bring charges against Him.

“The scribes and Pharisees place this question to have a reason to accuse Him,” the Pope explained. “If Jesus said ‘Yes, yes, go ahead with the stoning,' they would have told the people: ‘But this is your master who is so good...Look what he has done to this poor woman!’ And if Jesus said: ‘No, poor woman! Forgive her!’ they would have said ‘he does not fulfill the law.’"

However, Christ’s response is very different from what they expected. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” Jesus says in the Gospel. The reading goes on to mention that those present left one by one, “beginning with the elders.”

“We can see that in the bank of Heaven, these had a good ‘bank account’ against them,” the Pope observed.

Regarding Jesus’ words to the woman, the Pope said that they go beyond forgiveness. While not denying the grave sin that is adultery, Jesus does not condemn her with the law. “This is the mystery of the mercy of Jesus,” the Holy Father said. The forgiveness of God, he noted, is what blots out sins, but mercy is the way God forgives.

“Jesus could have said: ‘I forgive you. Go!’, like He said to the paralytic man that they brought to Him from the ceiling: ‘Your sins are forgiven!'"

Rather, the Pope explained, “Here He says: ‘Go in peace!’ Jesus goes beyond. He advises her to sin no more. Here the merciful attitude of Jesus can be seen: He defends the sinner from her enemies; He defends the sinner from a just condemnation. Also us, how many of us, maybe should be in hell, how many of us? And that is the just condemnation...and He forgives even more. How? With this mercy!”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis compared the mercy of God to the rising sun, that fills everything it touches with light: the light of love.

"God does not forgive with a decree, but with a caress, caressing our wounds from sin,” he said. “And thus Jesus becomes the confessor: he does not humiliate, he doesn’t say ‘What have you done, tell me! And when did you do it? How did you do it? And who did you do it with?’ No! ‘Go, go and from now on, sin no more!’ The mercy of God is great, and the mercy of Jesus is great. Forgiving us, caressing us!” (J.A.E.)

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Pope Francis: "The Cross Is Not an Ornament"
Emphasizes During Morning Mass That Christianity Does Not Exist Without a Cross

VATICAN CITY, April 08, 2014  - “Christianity does not exist without a Cross,” noted Pope Francis during his morning Mass today in Casa Santa Marta. “There is no possibility to exit from our sins ourselves.” The Holy Father reiterated that the “cross is not an ornament to be put on an altar.” Rather, he emphasized it is the mystery of the love of God.

The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel reading from the book of John, which recalls when Jesus put the Pharisees on guard, saying to them: “You will die in your sins,” if “you do not believe that I am.”

Still discussing the Gospel, the Pope added that Jesus continued to say, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am.”

Pope Francis noted the significance of Jesus discussing in the Gospel how he would be lifted up and Jesus subsequently being raised up on the cross.

Pope Francis made a reference to the Apostle Paul’s words. Paul said, "It is His [God's] Son, who took upon Himself all of our sins, our arrogance, our security, our vanity, our desires to become like God."

He emphasized that it is impossible to have Christianity without the cross and the cross without Jesus Christ.

The Holy Father pointed out, "Christianity is not a philosophical doctrine, it is not a program for life to survive, to be educated, to make peace. These are consequences."

He clarified, "Christianity is a person, a person raised on the Cross, a person who annihilated himself to save us; was made sin.”

Francis said that the mystery of the cross is the recognition that our wounds, those due to sin, could only be healed by Jesus' wounds when he was made man and died on the cross for us.

Regarding the cross, the Pope reminded the faithful: "It is not an ornament, that we must always put in the churches, the altar there. It is a symbol that distinguishes us from others. The cross is the mystery, the mystery of God, who humbles himself.”

Finally, regarding sin, Pope Francis asked the faithful at the Mass: “Where is your sin ?” He joked that their response would be: “'But I do not know, I have so many here.’”

The Holy Father decided to help those present by answering for them: “No, your sin is there, on the cross.” He continued, “Jump to search for it there, in the wounds of the Lord, and thy sin shall be healed, your wounds will be healed, your sins will be forgiven.”

Concluding his homily, the Pope underscored that “the forgiveness that God gives us does not delete an account that we have with Him.” Rather, “the forgiveness that God gives us is the wounds of his Son on the Cross, lifted up on the Cross. He draws us to Him, so that we may heal.” (D.C.L.)

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Pope: Narrow Thinking Destroys Freedom of Conscience
Francis' Homily at Santa Marta Calls Faithful to Vigilance and Prayer

ROME, April 10, 2014  - The “dictatorship of a narrow line of thought” kills “people’s freedom, their freedom of conscience." This was the central point of Pope Francis’ homily during today's morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.


The Holy Father’s homily recalled the first reading of the day, explaining the end of Christ’s words to the Pharisees. Their mistake was detaching “the commandments from the heart of God", believing it was enough to keep the commandments. These commandments, said the Pope, “are not just a cold law,” but stem from a relationship of love, helping the faithful in their journey toward Christ. The Pharisees, he continued, do not understand “the path of hope”.

"This is the drama of the closed heart, the drama of the closed mind,” Pope Francis said, “and when the heart is closed, this heart closes the mind, and when the heart and mind are closed there is no place for God", but only a place for what we believe ought to be done.

"It is a closed way of thinking that is not open to dialogue,” the Pope continued, “to the possibility that there is something else, the possibility that God speaks to us, tells us about His journey, as he did to the prophets. These people did not listen to the prophets and did not listen to Jesus. It is something greater than a mere stubbornness. No, it is more: it is the idolatry of their own way of thinking. 'I think this, it has to be this way, and nothing more'. These people had a narrow line of thought and wanted to impose this way of thinking on the people of God, Jesus rebukes them for this: 'You burden the people with many commandments and you do not touch them with your finger'".

The theology of such people, the Pope continued, “becomes a slave to this pattern, this pattern of thought: a narrow line of thought".

"There is no possibility of dialogue, there is no possibility to open up to new things which God brings with the prophets. They killed the prophets, these people; they close the door to the promise of God. When this phenomenon of narrow thinking enters human history, how many misfortunes. We all saw in the last century, the dictatorships of narrow thought , which ended up killing a lot of people, but when they believed they were the overlords, no other form of though was allowed. This is the way they think”. 

"Even today,” he said, “there is the idolatry of a narrow line of thought".

"Today we have to think in this way and if you do not think in this way, you are not modern, you're not open or worse. Often rulers say : 'I have asked for aid, financial support for this' , ' But if you want this help, you have to think in this way and you have to pass this law, and this other law and this other law…' Even today there is a dictatorship of a narrow line of thought and this dictatorship is the same as these people: it takes up stones to stone the freedom of the people, the freedom of the people, their freedom of conscience, the relationship of the people with God. Today Jesus is Crucified once again”.

"Faced with this dictatorship,” said the Pope, the Lord’s exhortation “is always the same: be vigilant and pray.” He says not to be buy things that are not needed, but rather: “be humble and pray, that the Lord always gives us the freedom of an open heart, to receive his Word which is joy and promise and covenant! And with this covenant move forward!"

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Francis: Look Out, Because the Devil Is Present
Warns Against Being Naive or Thinking It's Old-Fashioned to Speak of Satan

VATICAN CITY, April 11, 2014  - Pope Francis said today during the homily of his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta that we are the victim of temptations because the devil doesn't want our holiness.

The subject of the Pope's homily was Satan, as Francis affirmed that Satan continues to exist today and it's naive to ignore him.

Francis also said that if we listen to the Gospel, we can fight against his temptations.

Francis acknowledged that the Christian life is one which involves constantly fighting against evil, just as this was true for Jesus' life. The Pope underscored that, as Christians, we struggle against the devil and resisting his temptations.

He said, "We too are tempted. We too are the target of attacks by the devil because the spirit of evil does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ. And what does the Spirit of Evil do, through his temptations, to distance us from the path of Jesus? The temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap. What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus?"

Francis then answered: "Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.” 

The Pope said Jesus's first temptation was "like a seduction."  He reflected on the devil telling Jesus to throw himself down from the temple to prove to the people that he was the Messiah. However, Jesus did not listen. So, the devil left, came back with others, and pressured Jesus again, but with greater persistence. The Pope highlighted how the greatness of the temptation had magnified. 

Continuing with his theme, the Pontiff said, "we have a temptation: it grows and infects others." He gave an example, saying "Let's look at gossip: I’m a bit envious of this or that person and at first I’m just envious inside and I need to share it and go to another person and say: “But have you seen that person?’.. and this gossip tries to grow and infects another and another… This is the way gossip works and all of us have been tempted to gossip! Maybe not one of you, if you’re a saint , but I too have been tempted to gossip! It’s a daily temptation. And it begins in this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water. It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself.”

Concluding his address, the Holy Father gave some advice to those present: “We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out, because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”  (D.C.L.)

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Pope: Don't Be Bat-Like Christians
Says Christians Should be Joyful Rather Than Sad or Fearful of the Risen Lord

VATICAN CITY, April 24, 2014 - Pope Francis said there are Christians who are afraid of the joy of Christ’s resurrection and who instead prefer sadness and staying in the shadows just like bats.

The importance of Christians being joyful, rather than sad or fearful, was the focus of the Pope's reflections during his homily at Thursday's Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta residence, Vatican Radio reports.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the risen Christ appearing before his disciples, Pope Francis began by noting how instead of rejoicing over his resurrection, the disciples were struck by fear instead of joy.

“This is a Christian’s disease. We’re afraid of joy. It’s better to think: Yes, yes, God exists, but He is there. Jesus has risen and He is there. Somewhat distant. We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humour we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.”

But, the Pope continued, Jesus through his resurrection, gives us joy, the joy of being Christians and following him closely, the joy of travelling on the path of the Beatitudes.
“So often, we are either upset by this joy or fearful or we think we have seen a ghost or believe that Jesus is just a way of behaving. ‘We are Christians and so we must behave like this.’ But where is Jesus? ‘No, Jesus is in Heaven.’ Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: ‘I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You’re near me. That You will never abandon me’? A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because – this is true – Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works.”

Pope Francis concluded by noting how many times we Christians are not joyful because we are afraid! We’re Christians who have been defeated by the Cross.

“In my country there is a saying that goes like this: ‘When you get burnt by boiling milk, later when you see a cow you start crying.’ These people were burnt by the drama of the Cross and said, ‘No, let’s stop here. He’s in Heaven: that’s all well and good. He is Risen but it’s better that he doesn’t come again because we couldn’t handle it.’ We ask the Lord to do for all of us what he did for the disciples who were afraid of joy: to open our minds: ‘He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures;’ Let him open our minds and help us understand that He is a living reality, that He has a body, that He is with us,that he accompanies us and that He has won. We ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid of joy.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: 3 Marks of a People Reborn
Francis at Casa Santa Marta Mass Says Devil Tries to Divide

ROME, April 29, 2014  - During the homily of his morning Mass at his residence today, Pope Francis proposed three marks of a "people reborn," which characterized the early Christian community.

At Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father said the Christian community should be characterized by interior unity, witness of Christ, and care of its members.

He spoke of the "rebirth from on high" in the Holy Spirit, who gave life to the first group of "new Christians" when "they still didn’t have that name."

"They had one heart and mind," the Pope said. "Peace. A community in peace. This means that in this community there was no room for gossip, envy, calumnies, defamation. Peace. Forgiveness: 'Love covered everything.'"

Francis stressed the importance of Christians' attitudes: "Are they meek, humble? Do they vie for power between each other in that community? Are there envious quarrels? Is there gossip? [Then] they are not on the path of Jesus Christ. This feature is so important, so important, because the devil always tries to divide us. He is the father of division."

Pope Francis recognized that problems existed even for the first Christians. 

He recalled "the infighting, the doctrinal struggles, power struggles." 

As an example of this he pointed to the widows who complained of a lack of assistance so that the Apostles "had to create deacons." 

Pope Francis proposed a reflection for today's Christian communities: "Does this community give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does this parish, this community, this diocese really believe that Jesus Christ is Risen?"

The Bishop of Rome said the third characteristic from which we can measure the life of a Christian community is "the poor."

"First, what's your attitude or the attitude of this community toward the poor?" he asked. "Second, is this community poor? Poor in heart, poor in spirit? Or does it place its trust in riches? In power?"

"Harmony, witness, poverty and care for the poor. This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus: This comes from above. Because the only one who can do this is the Holy Spirit," the Pope concluded. "This is the work of the Spirit. The Church is built up by the Spirit. The Spirit creates unity. The Spirit leads us to witness. The Spirit makes us poor, because He is our wealth and leads us to care for the poor."

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Pope: Church is Not Just School of Religion
In His Morning Homily, Francis Underlines Importance of Christian Witness

VATICAN CITY, May 06, 2014  - The Christian who does not witness to the faith becomes sterile.

This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope drew inspiration from the martyrdom of St. Stephen, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. The Church, he said, is "not a university of religion", but rather it's the people who follow Jesus. Only in this way, he added, is the Church both “fruitful and mother".

In his homily, Pope Francis traced the path that led to the death of the first martyr of the Church, a death that was the exact replica of Christ’s. He, too, like Jesus, had encountered “the jealousy of the leaders who were trying" to eliminate him. He, too, had "false witnesses", and suffered "rash judgment”.

Stephen warns his persecutors they are resisting the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had said, but these people "were uneasy, were not at peace in their hearts", the Pope said. These people, he added, had " hatred" in their heart. That is why, on hearing Stephen’s words, they were furious. "This hatred was sown in their hearts by the devil", the Pope added. "This is the devil’s hatred of Christ”.

The devil "who did what he wanted with Jesus Christ in his Passion now does the same" with Stephen. This "struggle between God and the devil" is clearly seen in martyrdom. “On the other hand, Jesus had told his disciples that they had to rejoice to be persecuted in his name: "To be persecuted, to be a martyr, to gives one's life for Jesus, is one of the Beatitudes". That is why, the Pope added, "the devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something". This is what he does with Stephen, but "he died like Jesus, forgiving".

"Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness," the Pope continued. "And so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life . You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a 'religion' of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ - and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”.

On Stephen’s death, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem". These people, the Pope observed, "felt strong and the devil provoked them to do this" and so "Christians scattered to the regions of Judea and Samaria". This persecution, the Pope noted, means that "the people spread far and wide" and wherever they went they explained the Gospel, gave testimony of Jesus, and so "mission of the Church" began. "So many converted, on hearing these people," the Pope said. One of the Fathers of the Church explained this by saying : "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians". With "their witness, they preach the faith".

"Witness, be it in everyday life, in difficulties, and even in persecution and death, always bears fruit," he said. "The Church is fruitful and a mother when she witnesses to Jesus Christ. Instead, when the Church closes in on itself, when it thinks of itself as a - so to speak - 'school of religion', with so many great ideas, with many beautiful temples, with many fine museums, with many beautiful things, but does not give witness, it becomes sterile. The Christian is the same. The Christian who does not bear witness is sterile, without giving the life he has received from Jesus Christ".

The Pope continued: "Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit", and "we cannot bear witness without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us". Pope Francis advised those present that in difficult times, where we have to choose the right path, where we have to say 'no' to a lot of things that maybe try to seduce us, "there is prayer to the Holy Spirit, and He makes us strong enough to take this path of witness".

"Today thinking about these two icons - Stephen, who dies, and the people, the Christians, fleeing, scattering far and wide because of the violent persecution - let us ask: How is my witness? Am I a Christian who witnesses to Jesus or am I a simple numerary in this sect? Am I fruitful because I bear witness, or sterile because unable to let the Holy Spirit lead me forward in my Christian vocation?"

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Pope Francis: The Church is Holy Despite Our Sins
Reflects on the Call to Holiness During Morning Mass

VATICAN CITY, May 09, 2014  - Although we are all sinners, we are called to give witness to the Church, which is Holy. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading which recalls the conversion of St. Paul in Damascus. Despite persecuting Christians, Christ chooses Paul to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. Despite his sins, the Pope said, St. Paul is called to proclaim the holiness of the Church.

“But how can it be holy if we are all in it?” the Pope asked. “We are all sinners, here. And the Church is holy! We are sinners, but She is holy. She is the Spouse of Jesus Christ and He loves Her, He sanctifies Her, He sanctifies her every day with His Eucharistic sacrifice, because He loves Her so much.”

“And we are sinners, but in a Holy Church. And we also sanctify ourselves with this belonging to the Church: we are children of the Church and the Mother Church sanctifies us, with its loves, with the Sacraments of her Spouse.”

The Holy Father explained that God chooses sinners to show that it is He who sanctifies. No one can sanctify themselves, nor is there a course or a requirement to live a life of extreme asceticism. Holiness,“ he said, “is a gift from Jesus to His Church and to show this He chooses people in which his work to sanctify is clearly seen.”

This is exemplified, he continued, in the Gospels where saints such as Matthew, who was considered “a traitor to his people”, Mary Magdalene, who Jesus freed from seven demons, and Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax collector. These and many others, the Pope said, followed the rule of sanctity: “our humiliation, so that the Lord may grow.”

This humiliation, he went on to say, changes St. Paul’s heart and he becomes like a child: “he obeys.” However, the Pope noted, St. Paul cannot be defined as a hero. St. Paul, who was known for preaching the Gospel, in the end is captured, imprisoned and beheaded. “The difference between heroes and saints is the witness, the imitation of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Many saints, especially the great saints, end their days humbly. The Pope recalled the final days of St. John Paul II, who was recently canonized.

“He could not speak, the great athlete of God, the great warrior of God ends this way: overcome by sickness, humbled like Jesus,” the Pope said. “This is the route of holiness of the greats. It is also the route of our sanctity. If we do not let our hearts be converted on this path of Jesus - to carry the cross every day, the ordinary cross, the simple cross - and let Jesus grow; if we do not go on this path, we will not be saints.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that in giving witness to Christ, we also give witness to His love for us. Although we are sinners, he said, “the Church is holy. It is the Spouse of Jesus.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope's Morning Homily: Holy Spirit Keeps Church Moving Forward
Paraclete Makes Church Go 'Beyond the Limits' and Shouldn't Be Obstructed

VATICAN CITY, May 12, 2014  - "Who are we to close the doors" to the Holy Spirit?

This was the question that Pope Francis repeated this morning during his homily at Mass at Casa Santa Marta, a homily dedicated to the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity. The Holy Spirit, he reiterated, is what makes the Church to go "beyond the limits, go ever forward."

The Spirit blows where it wills, but one of the most common temptations of those who have faith is to bar its path and drive it in one direction or another – a temptation that was not alien even in the early days of the Church, as the experience of Simon Peter in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows.

A community of pagans welcomes the proclamation of the Gospel and Peter is an eyewitness to the descent of the Holy Spirit on them. First, he hesitates to make contact with what he had always considered "unclean" and then he suffers harsh criticism from the Christians of Jerusalem, shocked by the fact that their leader had eaten with the "uncircumcised" and had even baptized them.

It’s a moment of internal crisis that Pope Francis recalls with a hint of irony:

"That was unthinkable. If, for example, an expedition of Martians were to come tomorrow, and some of them were to come to us, here... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says: 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen?"

Peter understands his error when a vision enlightens him to a fundamental truth: that which has been purified by God cannot be called "profane" by anyone, the Pope explains. And in narrating these facts to the crowd that criticized him, the Apostle calms them all with this statement: "If, then, God gave them the same gift He gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?"

"When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say: 'No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way'.

“And Peter in that first diocese - the first diocese was Antioch - makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit impediments?' A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never."

Again Pope Francis repeated: God has left the guidance of the Church "in the hands of the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit, he continued, “will teach us everything" as Jesus said, and "remind us what Jesus taught us": that the Holy Spirit “is the living presence of God in the Church.

“He keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond the limits, onwards. The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord sends us for this very reason. And He makes unthinkable choices, but unimaginable! To use a word of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that updates the Church. Really, he really updates it and keeps it going.

“And we Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said in closing. “Docility in this Spirit, who speaks to us in our heart, who speaks to us in all of life’s circumstances, who speaks to us in the Church's life, in Christian communities, who is always speaking to us."

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Pope's Morning Homily: Be Docile to the Holy Spirit
Warns Against Being Hard of Heart, 'Intellectual Aristocrats'

VATICAN CITY, May 13, 2014  - We cannot understand the things of God only with our heads, we need to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit too.

This was Pope Francis’ message at morning Mass Tuesday at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope also said that faith is a gift of God which we cannot receive if we live our lives “detached” from His people, the Church.

As usual, the Pope reflected on the readings offered by the liturgy of the day, which show us "two groups of people". In the First Reading, "there are those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose" following Stephen’s martyrdom. "They were dispersed with the seed of the Gospel," the Pope said, "and they carried it everywhere". At first, they only spoke to the Jews. Then, "almost naturally, some of them" who had come to Antioch, "began to speak to the Greeks". And so, slowly, "they opened the doors to the Greeks, to the pagans”. Once the news arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to Antioch "to carry out an inspection". He noticed that everyone “was happy" because "a large number of people was added to the Lord".

Pope Francis noted that these people did not say: “Let's go to the Jews first, then the Greeks, then pagans, then everyone. No! They allowed themselves to be carried by the Holy Spirit! They were docile to the Holy Spirit". And then, he said, "one thing leads to another" and "they end up opening the doors to everyone: to the pagans, who were considered unclean in the mentality of the time ... they opened the doors to everyone."

This, he stressed , "is the first group of people, those who are docile to the Holy Spirit". Sometimes, he added, "the Holy Spirit prompts us to do bold things, such as driving Philip to go and baptize" the Minister of Ethiopia, or "how he pushed Peter to go and baptize Cornelius".

"Other times, the Holy Spirit leads us gently and the virtue is in allowing ourselves to be carried by the Holy Spirit, in not resisting the Holy Spirit, in being docile to the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit works in the Church today, is acting in our lives today. Some of you may say: 'I have never seen him!'. But pay attention to what is happening, to what comes to your mind, to what comes in your heart. Good things? It is the Spirit that invites you to take that path. It takes docility! Docility to the Holy Spirit”.

The second group presented to us in the readings of the day is the "intellectuals, who came to Jesus in the temple: they are the doctors of the law."

Jesus, the Pope noted, has always had problems with them, "because they never arrived at understanding: they always came back to the same point, because they believed that religion was a thing of the mind, of laws". They saw it as a question of "fulfilling the commandments and nothing more. They cannot even imagine the existence of the Holy Spirit". The questioned Jesus , "they wanted to argue. Everything was about the mind, the intellect". "These people had no heart - he added -there is no love or beauty, there is no harmony" these people “only want explanations":

"And you give them their explanations and, not convinced, they return with more questions. This is their way: they spin round and round ... As they spun Jesus around throughout his life, until the time that they were able to take him and kill him! These people do not open their hearts to the Holy Spirit! They believe that the things of God can be understood only with the head, with ideas, with their own ideas. They are proud. They think they know everything. And what does not fit into their intelligence is not true. You can raise a dead man in front of them , but they do not believe".

Jesus "goes further" and says "something very strong": "You do not believe because you are not part of my sheep! You do not believe because you are not of the people of Israel. You have left the people. You are in intellectual aristocracy". This attitude, he warned, "closes the heart. They have denied their own people".

"These people had become detached from the people of God and therefore could not believe. Faith is a gift from God! But faith comes if you are in His people, if you are, right now, in the Church, if you are helped by the sacraments, brothers and sisters, by the assembly, if you believe that this Church is the People of God. These people had distanced themselves, they did not believe in the people of God, they only believed in their own things, and thus built a whole system of commandments that chased the people away: they chased people away and would not let them come into the Church, the people. They could not believe! This is the sin of resisting the Holy Spirit".

Pope Francis concluded by saying there are "two groups of people": those who are "gentle, sweet people, humble, open to the Holy Spirit", and the others "proud, self-sufficient, detached from the people, intellectual aristocrats, who closed their doors and resist the Holy Spirit".

"This is not just stubbornness", he said , "it is much more: it is having a hard heart! And this is more dangerous". "Let us ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit to move forward in life, to be creative, to be joyful, because the other people were not joyful". When "there is a lot of seriousness, the Spirit of God is lacking," he said. We ask, therefore, "for the grace of obedience and that the Holy Spirit will help us to defend ourselves from this other evil spirit of self-sufficiency, pride, arrogance, closure of the heart to the Holy Spirit".

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Pope's Morning Homily: A Christian Without the Church Is Purely Idealistic
Explains Nature of Authentic Christian Hope

VATICAN CITY, May 15, 2014 - A Christian is one who keeps the memory of his people, of their Journey and of the Church alive. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

The Holy Father began his homily by reflecting on the first reading which recalls Paul’s exhortation at the synagogue. In proclaiming the Gospel, the Pope noted, the apostles do not begin solely with Christ, but rather by recalling the history of the people of God.

Jesus, he said, “does not make sense without this history.” The Holy Father went on to say that a Christian without the Church is “purely idealistic.”

"But you cannot understand a Christian alone, just like you cannot understand Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ did not fall from the sky like a superhero who comes to save us. No. Jesus Christ has a history,” he said.

“And we can say, and it is true, that God has a history because He wanted to walk with us. And you cannot understand Jesus Christ without His history. So a Christian without history, without a Christian nation, a Christian without the Church is incomprehensible. It is a thing of the laboratory, an artificial thing, a thing that cannot give life".

The 77 year old Pontiff emphasized the importance of this dimension of history, saying that a “Christian is one who keeps the memory of the history of his people, who keeps the memory of his people’s journey, who keeps the memory of his Church.” This memory, he said, is that of a journey towards the fulfillment of a promise.

“And for this, a Christian in the Church is a man, a woman with hope: hope in the promise. It is not expectation: no, no! That’s something else: It is hope. Right, on we go! [Towards] that which does not disappoint,” he said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask God for the grace of memory that allows us to look forward with hope. In doing so, one follows the path towards God and renews the covenant with Him.

"It would do us good today,” he said, “to think about our Christian identity. Our Christian identity is belonging to a people: the Church. Without this, we are not Christians.”

“We entered the Church through baptism: there we are Christians. And for this reason, we should be in the habit of asking for the grace of memory, the memory of the journey that the people of God has made; also of personal memory: What God did for me, in my life, how has he made me walk ... Ask for the grace of hope, which is not optimism: no, no! It 's something else. And ask for the grace to renew the covenant with the Lord who has called us every day. May the Lord give us these three graces, which are necessary for the Christian identity.” (J.A.E.)

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Pope's Morning Homily: How to Get to Know Jesus
Francis Underlines Need for Prayer, Sacraments and Discipleship

VATICAN CITY, May 16, 2014 - Pope Francis has said studying Jesus is not enough to get to know him, we must also pray to him, celebrate him and imitate him.

This was the Pope’s core message at Mass on Friday in the Santa Marta residence.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the best way for us to get to know Jesus, describing it as the most important work in our lives. At the same time, he warned that studying or having ideas was not enough on its own to acquire that knowledge of Jesus.

“Ideas by themselves do not lead anywhere and those who pursue the path of their own ideas end up in a labyrinth from where they can’t get out again! It’s for this reason that heresies have existed from the very beginning of the Church. Heresies are this: trying to understand with our minds and with only our personal light who Jesus is. A great English writer wrote that a heresy is an idea that’s gone crazy. That’s right! When they are ideas by themselves they become crazy… This is not the right path!”

Pope Francis went on to explain that we need to open three doors in order to know Jesus.

“The first door is praying to Jesus. You must realize that studying without prayers is no use. We must pray to Jesus to get to know him better. The great theologians did their theology while kneeling. Pray to Jesus! By studying and praying we get a bit closer… But we’ll never know Jesus without praying. Never! Never!

“The second door is celebrating Jesus,” the Pope continued. “Prayer on its own is not enough, we need the joy of celebration. We must celebrate Jesus through his Sacraments, because these give us life, they give us strength, they nourish us, they comfort us, they forge an alliance with us, they give us a mission. Without celebrating the Sacraments, we’ll never get to know Jesus. This is what the Church is all about: celebration.

“The third door,” the Pope said, “is imitating Jesus. Take the Gospel, what did he do, how was his life, what did he tell us, what did he teach us and try to imitate him.

“Entering via these three doors,” the Pope went on, “means entering into the mystery of Jesus and it’s only in this way that we can get to know him and we mustn’t be afraid to do this.

“During the day, today, we can think about how the door leading to prayer is proceeding in our life: but prayer from the heart is not like that of a parrot! How is prayer of the heart? How is the Christian celebration in my life proceeding? And how is the imitation of Jesus in my life proceeding? How must I imitate him? Do you really not remember! The reason is because the Book of the Gospel is full of dust as it’s never opened! Take the Book of the Gospel, open it and you will discover how to imitate Jesus! Let’s think about how these three doors are positioned in our life and this will be of benefit to everybody.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Holy Spirit Gives Firmness of Heart
Highlights Jesus' 'Great Gift' That Offers Fortitude, Stability and Counsel

VATICAN CITY, May 19, 2014 - A Christian should have their heart fixed on the Holy Spirit, not a fickle heart that dances from one place to another.

This was Pope Francis’ message Monday morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope focused his homily on St. Paul, who was able to continuously evangelize because his heart was made firm by the Holy Spirit. What kind of heart do we have? That was the question at the center of Pope Francis homily based on the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which speaks of St Paul’s commitment to evangelization “his firm heart in continuous motion”.

The Apostle to the Gentiles is in Iconium, where they tried to kill him, but still he does not complain, the Pope recalled. He pushes ahead on to evangelize in the area of Lycaonia, and in the name of the Lord, heals a paralytic. On seeing this miracle, the pagans think Paul, and Barnabas who was accompanying him, are gods Zeus and Hermes descended upon the earth.

Paul "struggled to convince them that they were men,” the Pope said, adding that these "are the human trials that Paul experienced".

"We all have many of these, all of us; we are surrounded by many events that move us from one place to another. But we ask for the grace to have a fixed heart, like Paul, so as not to complain about the persecution.

“He went in search to another city. He began to preach there, to heal the sick, realizing that that man had enough faith to be healed. Then he calmed this excited people who wanted to make a sacrifice to him, and then proclaimed that there is only one God, with their own cultural language. One thing after another ... And this can only come from a steady heart".

The Pope asked: "Where was Paul 's heart that he was able to make so many changes in such a short time and meet these situations in an appropriate way?". In the Gospel , the Pope said, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, "will teach us all things" and "remind us of everything" that He had said.

St. Paul’s heart "is fixed in the Holy Spirit", this "gift that Jesus has sent us", the Pope said, and to find stability in our lives we must "go to Him. He is in our hearts, we received Him in Baptism". The Holy Spirit "gives us strength, gives us this steadiness to be able to move forward in life in the midst of many events".

Jesus points out "two things" of the Holy Spirit: that "He will teach you all things and will remind you of everything". That is exactly what happens with St. Paul: "he teaches and reminds him" of the "message of salvation". It is the Holy Spirit who gives him firmness of heart.

"With this example, we can ask ourselves today: What kind of heart do we have? Is it a fickle heart which like a dancer, like a butterfly flits from one to another…always in motion; Is it a heart that is scared by the vicissitudes of life, and is hiding and afraid to give witness to Jesus Christ; is it a brave heart or a heart that has so much fear and is always trying to hide? What does our heart care for? What treasure does our heart custody? Is my heart fixed upon creatures, the problems that we all have ? Is my heart fixed upon everyday gods or is it a heart fixed on the Holy Spirit? ".

Pope Francis said it would do us good to ask: "Where is the firmness of our hearts?" and to ask ourselves in the many every day events that we have -- at home, at work, with our children, with people who live with us, with work colleagues, with everyone: 'Do I let myself get carried away by these things or face these events with a fixed heart, that knows where it is?' The only one that gives firmness to our hearts is the Holy Spirit. It would do us good to think that we have this great gift that Jesus left us, the Spirit of fortitude, of counsel, who helps us to move forward in the midst, surrounded by every day trials.

“We should do this exercise today, ask how our heart is: Firm or not? And if it is firm, where does it dwell? In things or in the Holy Spirit? It would do us good! "

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Pope's Morning Homily: Look to the Holy Spirit for True Peace
Holy Father Warns Against Finding Solace in Money, Power, Vanity

VATICAN CITY, May 20, 2014  - Those who welcome the Holy Spirit will have a solid and endless peace, unlike those who choose to “superficially” trust in the tranquillity offered by money or power.

This was Pope Francis’ message in his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning in Casa Santa Marta.

Reflecting on the peace offered by things -- money , power , vanity -- and the peace in the Person of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father warned that the first is always in danger of vanishing. “Today you are rich and you are somebody, not tomorrow,” he said, adding that “no-one can take away the second because it is a definitive peace.”

The Pope’s homily, which centered on one of the greatest desires of mankind of all times, was inspired by a passage from the Gospel of John, in the liturgy of the day. Jesus is about to face the Passion and before he takes leave of the disciples, he announces: "My peace I give you".

It is a peace, the Pope said, which differs completely from the "peace that the world gives us" which is “somewhat superficial”, offering a “degree of calm, even a certain joy", but only "up to a certain point.

"For example, it offers us the peace of wealth: 'I am at peace because I have everything I need, everything organized for my whole life, I do not have to worry ... ',” the Pope reminded. “This is a peace that the world gives. Do not worry, you won’t have any problems because you have so much money ... the peace of wealth.

“And Jesus tells us not to trust this peace because, with great realism, he tells us: 'Look, there are thieves ... thieves can steal your wealth!' Money does not give you a definitive peace,” the Pope continued. “Just think, metal also rusts! What does it mean? A stock market crash and all your money is gone! It is not a secure peace: It is a superficial temporal peace".

Pope Francis also examined two other types of worldly peace. The first, the peace of "power", does not work either because “a coup can take it away". Think what happened to the "peace of Herod", the Pope said, when the Magi told him that the King of Israel was born. “That peace vanished immediately". Or the peace of "vanity", which Pope Francis termed an "peace of conjecture": today you are greatly appreciated and tomorrow you will be insulted, "like Jesus between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Instead, the peace that Jesus gives is of a completely different substance.

"The peace of Jesus is a Person, the Holy Spirit!,” Francis said. “On the same day of the Resurrection, He comes to the Upper Room and His greeting is: 'Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit'. This is the peace of Jesus: it is a Person, it is a great gift. And when the Holy Spirit is in our hearts, no one can remove His peace. No one! It is a definitive peace!

“So what is our task? To take custody of this peace. Safeguard it! It is a great peace, a peace that is not mine, it belongs to another Person who gives it to me, another Person who is in my heart and accompanies me all the days of my life. The Lord has given it to me".

This peace is received at Baptism and Confirmation, but above all "we receive it like a child who receives a gift", the Pope said, " without conditions, with an open heart". We must take custody of the Holy Spirit without “imprisoning Him”, asking for help from this "great gift" of God.

The Pope added: "If you have this peace of the Spirit, if you have the Holy Spirit within you, and you are aware of this, let not your heart be troubled. Be sure! Paul told us that we must first pass through many tribulations to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But we all, all of us, we have so many, everyone! Some bigger, some smaller ... 'But let not your heart be troubled', and this is the peace of Jesus. The presence of the Spirit that makes our heart be at peace. Not anesthetized, no! At peace! Aware, but at peace with the peace that only God's presence gives".

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Pope's Morning Homily: A Healthy Christian is a Joyful Christian
Says Holy Spirit Teaches Us to Love, Fills Us with Joy, and Gives Us Peace

VATICAN CITY, May 22, 2014  - A healthy Christian is a joyful Christian, even in times of sorrow and tribulation.

This was Pope Francis' reflection at Mass Thursday morning at Casa Santa Marta. During his homily the Pope returned to one of the recurrent themes of his pontificate to date - there is no such thing as a sad Christian – stressing that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to love and fills us with joy.

Pope Francis began by noting that before going to Heaven Jesus spoke of many things, but always dwelt on three key words: "Peace, love and joy." Regarding peace "He told us that He does not give us peace, in the same way as the world gives it to us". Instead, He gives us a "peace forever”.

Regarding love, Jesus frequently said “that the commandment was to love God and love your neighbor". The Pope noted that in Matthew 25, Jesus almost made a “protocol", “on which we will all be judged”. Then turning to the Gospel of the Day, Pope Francis added that in it, "Jesus says something new about love: ‘Do not just love, but remain in my love'".

"The Christian vocation is this: to remain in the love of God, that is, to breathe, to live of that oxygen, to live of that air. Remain in the love of God. And with this, He encapsulates the depth of His discourse on love and moves on. And what is His love like? 'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you'. It is a love that comes from the Father. The loving relationship between Him and the Father is also a relationship of love between Him and us. He asks us to remain in this love, which comes from the Father".

Pope Francis continued: "He gives us a peace that is not of the world. A love that is not of the world, that comes from the Father". Then the Pope focused on Christ’s exhortation: "Remain in my love". The sign that we "remain in the love of Jesus", he emphasized, "is keeping the commandments". It is not enough to just follow them. "When we remain in love", he said, "the Commandments follow on their own, out of love". Love, he reiterated, "leads us to naturally fulfil the Commandments. The root of love blossoms in the Commandments". And these are the common threads in a chain: "the Father, Jesus, and us".

Francis then turned his attention to joy, which he describes as “the sign” of a Christian. “A Christian without joy is either not a Christian or he is sick,” the Pope said. “There's no other type! He is not doing well health-wise! A healthy Christian is a joyful Christian. I once said that there are Christians with sour faces ... Always with these [long] faces! Some souls are also like this, this is bad! These are not Christians. A Christian without joy is not Christian. Joy is like the seal of a Christian. Even in pain, tribulations, even in persecutions".

The Pope recalled that people would say of the early martyrs that they went towards "martyrdom as if going to a wedding feast". This is the joy of a Christian, he said, " who safeguards peace and safeguards love”. Peace, love and joy , "three words that Jesus left us". Who gives us this peace, this love? Who, asked the Pope, "gives us joy? The Holy Spirit!".

The Holy Spirit is “the great forgotten in our lives! I would like to ask you - but I will not, eh! - to ask you: how many of you pray to the Holy Spirit? Don't raise your hand ... He is the great forgotten, the great forgotten! And He is the gift, the gift that gives us peace, that teaches us to love and fills us with joy. In prayer we asked the Lord: 'Guard your gift'. We asked for the grace that the Lord guard the Holy Spirit in us. May the Lord give us this grace to always guard the Holy Spirit in us, the Spirit who teaches us to love, fills us with joy, and gives us peace".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Christian Joy is Gift From God
Comes Through Suffering But Brings Hope and Peace

VATICAN CITY, May 30, 2014  - Pope Francis’ morning Mass homily at Casa Santa Marta was a hymn to Christian joy, which we cannot buy because it is a gift from God. 

The Pope likened this joy to that of a mother, embracing her baby after childbirth, because it is a joy “purified” by the suffering of labor.  The joy of Christians, he said, is a "joy in hope".

Pope Francis based his homily on the observation that St. Paul "was very brave", "because he had strength in the Lord”. Of course, he noted, sometimes even the Apostle to the Gentiles was afraid. "It happens to all of us in life, to have some ‘fear’ he added.  So much so, that sometimes one wonders whether "it would be better to keep a lower profile, to not be a little less Christian and seek a compromise with the world".

However, Paul knew that “neither the Jews, nor the Gentiles" liked what he did, but this didn’t stop him and in the end he endured hardship and persecution. The Pope said this should make us think about our fears.  Even Jesus in Gethsemane felt fear and anguish. And in his farewell speech to his disciples, he clearly says that "the world will rejoice" for their suffering, as was the case with the first martyrs in the Coliseum:

"We must tell the truth: Christian life is not just one big party. Not at all!,” he said. “We cry, we cry so many times: when we are sick; when we have a problem with our son, in the family, with our daughter, or wife, or husband; when we see that our salary does not reach the end of the month and we have a sick child; when we see that we cannot pay the mortgage on the house and we must somehow survive ... So many problems, we have so many. But Jesus tells us: 'Do not be afraid!'. 'Yes, you will be sad, cry and people will even rejoice, the people who are against you'".

"But,” he continued, “there is another sadness: the sadness that comes to all of us when we take the wrong road". When , "to put it simply", "we try to buy happiness, joy, [the happiness and joy] of the world, of sin. In the end there is a void within us, there is sadness". And this, he reiterated , "is the sadness of  the wrong sort of happiness". Christian joy, "is a joy in hope, which comes".

But the Pope said in times of trial “we do not see this. It is a joy that is purified by trials, our everyday trials: 'Your sorrow will turn to joy'. But it's hard to go to a sick person who is suffering greatly and say: 'Come on! Come on! Tomorrow you will have joy!' No, you cannot say this! We have to help them feel what Jesus made us feel. When we are in the dark, we do not see anything , 'I know, Lord, that this sorrow will turn to joy. I do not know how, but I know it!'. An act of faith in the Lord. An act of faith!".

To help us understand the sadness that turns to joy, Jesus takes the example of a woman in labor: "It’s true, women suffer a lot in childbirth,” the Pope said, “but then when she holds her child,  she forgets". What remains is "the joy of Jesus, a purified joy". That is "the joy that remains". The Pope acknowledged that this joy is "hidden in some moments of life, we do not feel it in bad times, but it comes later: a joy in hope". This, then, "is the message of the Church today: Do not be afraid!".

"Be courageous in suffering and remember that after, the Lord will come; after, joy will come, after the dark comes the sun. May the Lord give us all this joy in hope. And the sign that we have this joy in hope is peace. How many sick, who are at the end of life, in pain, have that peace of soul.

“This is the seed of joy, this is the joy of hope and peace,” the Pope said. “Do you have peace of soul in times of darkness, in times of trouble, in times of persecution, when everyone else rejoices at your suffering? Do you have peace? If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. May the Lord help us understand these things”.

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Pope's Morning Homily: Marriage Should Reflect Christ's Fruitful Love for His Church
Celebrates Mass with 15 Married Couples in Casa Santa Marta

VATICAN CITY, June 02, 2014 - Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning with a group of married couples at various stages in their life’s journey in attendance.

Reflecting on the readings of the day, the focus of the Holy Father’s homily were on the faithfulness, perseverance, and fruitfulness of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church – three characteristics that are also at the heart of Christian marriage.

Fifteen couples, celebrating between 25 and 60 years’ of marriage, were present at the Mass in Casa Santa Marta to give thanks to God for the milestones they’ve reached.

After the readings of the day, Pope Francis spoke about the three pillars of spousal relationship in the Christian vision of things: fidelity, perseverance, fruitfulness. The Holy Father said that Christ, Himself, is the model measure of these, which the Pope called the “three loves of Jesus”: for the Father, for His mother, and for the Church. “Great” is His love for the Church, said Pope Francis, adding, “Jesus married the Church for love.” She is, he said, “His bride: beautiful, holy, a sinner, He loves her all the same.” His way of loving set the three characteristics of this love in relief.

“It is a faithful love. It is a persevering love. He never tires of loving his Church. It is a fruitful love. It is a faithful love," the Pope said. "Jesus is the faithful one. St. Paul , in one of his Letters, says that, if you confess Christ, He will confess you, before the Father; if you deny Christ, He will deny you; even if you are not faithful to Christ, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny Himself! Fidelity is the essence of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ love in His Church is faithful. This faithfulness is like a light on marriage. The fidelity of love. Always.”

Always faithful, and also indefatigable in its perseverance – just like the love of Jesus for His Bride.

“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward," the Pope continued. "Perseverance in love, in good times and in difficult times, when there are problems: problems with the children, economic problems, problems here, problems there – but love perseveres, presses on, always trying to work things out, to save the family. Persevering: they get up every morning, the man and the woman, and carry the family forward.”

Then the Holy Father discussed the third characteristic: fruitfulness. The love of Jesus, he said, “makes the Church fruitful,” providing her with new children through Baptism, and the Church grows with this spousal fruitfulness.

“In a marriage, fertility can sometimes be put to the test when the children do not arrive, or are sick,” he said, and added that in such times of trial, there are couples who look to Jesus and draw on the power of fertility that Christ has with His Church.

There are also other things that Jesus does not like – such as marriages that are sterile by choice, ones in which the spouses "do not want children" or "want to remain without fertility.

"This culture of well-being from ten years ago convinced us: ‘It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free…it might be better – more comfortable – to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful, it does not do what Jesus does with his Church: He makes His Church fruitful.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Jesus Always Interceding For Us
Urges Faithful to Have Confidence in Jesus as First Advocate to the Father

VATICAN CITY, June 03, 2014  - Despite our many sins, Jesus always intercedes for us before the Father. He shows Him his wounds, through which we are saved. 

The daily readings at Mass at Casa Santa Marta Tuesday morning gave Pope Francis the opportunity to dwell on the power of intercessory prayer. The readings spoke of Jesus taking leave of his disciples and St. Paul taking leave of the Christian community to return to Jerusalem.

The people are saddened by St. Paul’s departure from Miletus as were the disciples when Jesus took his leave of them before "going to Gethsemane and beginning His Passion". The Pope noted that the Lord consoles them and "there is a small sentence of dismissal …that makes one think".

Jesus speaks to the Father in this discourse, and says, “I pray for them”, the Pope recounted. Jesus prays for us, he stressed, “as he had prayed for Peter and for Lazarus before the tomb."

“Jesus tells us: ‘You are all of the Father. And I pray for you before the Father.’ Jesus does not pray for the world, he prays for us, he prays for the Church,” Francis said.

"The apostle John, thinking about these things and speaking of us, who are great sinners, says, 'Do not sin, but if any of you do sin, know that we have an advocate before the Father, one who prays for us, defends us in front Father, justifies us'. I believe we should really think about this truth, about this reality: Jesus is praying for me right now. I can go on in life because I have an advocate who defends me and if I am guilty and I have so many sins ... he is a good defense attorney and will speak of me to the Father".

He is the “first advocate” and then sends the Paraclete, the Pope stressed, adding that when we encounter problems or needs in the parish, at home, in the family, we must ask Jesus to pray for us. The Pope then asked: “How does Jesus pray? I don’t believe he talks too much with the Father.

"He doesn’t talk: He loves. But there is one thing that Jesus does today, I'm certain he does this.  He shows his wounds to the Father, and Jesus, with his wounds, prays for us as if to say to the Father: 'But, Father, this is the price of these! Help them, protect them. They are your children whom I have saved with these'.

“Otherwise, why after the Resurrection did Jesus not have this glorious body, beautiful - with no bruises, no wounds from the scourging, everything nice? - but there were wounds. The Five Wounds. Why did Jesus want to bring them to heaven? Why? To pray for us. To show the price [he paid] to the Father: 'This is the price, now do not abandon them. Help them'".

"We must have this faith,” Pope Francis said, “that right now Jesus intercedes before the Father for us, for all of us". And when we pray, he added, we must not forget to ask Jesus to pray for us: "'Jesus, pray for me. Show the Father your wounds that are mine too, they are the wounds of my sin. They are the wounds of my problem at this moment in time'.

"Jesus the intercessor only has to show the Father his wounds. And this is happening today, at this very moment. Look at the words that Jesus said to Peter, 'Peter, I will pray for you that your faith may not fail'".

"We are confident that he is doing this for everyone,” the Pope said in closing. “We must have faith in this prayer of Jesus with his wounds before the Father."

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Pope's Morning Homily: Church is a Home, Not a Place to be Exploited
Urges Faithful to Cultivate "Real Sense of Belonging" in and to the Church

VATICAN CITY, June 05, 2014  - Pope Francis focused on the need to cultivate a real sense of belonging in and to the Church during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning.

He also spoke of three temptations into which people who call themselves Christians often fall: “uniformism”, “alternative-ism” and “exploitation-ism”.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day, which was from the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to St John, and contains Our Lord’s prayer for the unity of the Church, the Holy Father spoke of some people who seem to have “one foot inside" and one foot outside the Church, so that they reserve “the possibility of being in both places.”

The Holy Father said that such as these do not really feel that the Church is their own. He said that there are some groups that “rent the Church, but do not claim it as their home.” He identified three specific groups or kinds of Christians: he began with those who would have everyone be equal in the Church, whom he called “uniformists”.

“Uniformity, rigidity – these are hard. They do not have the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives. They confuse the Gospel that Jesus preached, with their doctrine of equality. Christ never wanted His Church to be so rigid – never – and such as these, because of their attitude, do not enter the Church. They call themselves Christians, Catholics, but their attitude drives them away from the Church.”

The second group or kind of Christian the Holy Father identified is made up of those who always have their own ideas about things – people who do not want to conform their minds to the mind of the Church.  The Pope called these, “alternativists”:

"[They] enter the Church, but with this idea, with that ideology, and so their membership in the Church is partial. They have one foot out of the Church. The Church is not their home, not their own, either. They rent the Church at some point. Such as these have been with us from the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel: think of the Gnostics, whom the Apostle John beats so roundly, right?  ‘We are ... yes, yes ... we are Catholics, but with these ideas - alternatives.’ They do not share that feeling of belonging to the Church.”

The third is made of those who call themselves Christians, but do not come from the heart of the Church. These are the “exploitationists” he said, “those who ‘seek the benefits’, and go to church, but for personal benefit, and end up doing business in the Church”:

“The businessmen. We know them well! They, too, have been there from the beginning: think of Simon Magus, or Ananias and Sapphira. They took advantage of the Church for their own profit. We see them in the parish or diocesan community, too, in religious congregations, among some benefactors of the Church – many, eh? They strut their stuff as benefactors of the Church, and at the end, behind the table, they do their business. These, too, do not feel the Church as a mother, as their own."

Pope Francis went on to consider that, in the Church, there are “many gifts, there is a great diversity of people and the gifts of the Spirit.” The Lord, Pope Francis said, tells us: “If you would enter the Church, do so out of love,” in order “to give all your heart and not to do business for profit.” The Church, he remarked, “is not a house to rent,” the Church “is a home to live in.”

The Pope recognized that this is not easy, because, “the temptations are many.” Nevertheless, he stressed, it is the Holy Spirit, who achieves unity in the Church, “unity in diversity, freedom, generosity.” This, he said is the Holy Spirit’s task. “The Holy Spirit,” he added, “makes harmony in the Church - unity in the Church is harmony.”

“We are all different,” he noted, “we are not the same, thank God.” Otherwise, "things would be hellish.” The Pope went on to say that all are called to be docile to the Holy Spirit and precisely this docility, the Pope said, “is the virtue that will save us from being rigid, from being alternativists, or exploitationists – or businessmen in the Church: being docile to the Holy Spirit.” It is precisely "this docility that transforms the Church from a rented house, into a home.”

Pope Francis concluded: “May the Lord send us the Holy Spirit and may the Spirit make this harmony in our communities: parish communities, diocesan communities, the communities of the [ecclesial] movements.

“Let it be the Spirit that achieves this harmony, for, as one of the Fathers of the Church said: the Spirit Himself is harmony.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Priests Must Be Pastors First, Scholars Second
Reminds Them Never to Forget Their "First Love"

VATICAN CITY, June 06, 2014  - Priests must be pastors first, scholars second, and they should never forget Christ, their "first love".  This was Pope Francis’ message to all men consecrated to God in the priesthood, at Friday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

"How is your first love?". That is, are they still as in love with you as the first day? Are they happy with you or do they ignore you? These are universal questions which we should all ask ourselves regularly, says Pope Francis. And not just couples, but priests, bishops too, in front of Jesus.  Because He asks us just as He one day asked Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me?".

The Pope began his homily reflecting on this dialogue in the Gospel, where Christ asks the first of the Apostles three times if he loves Him more than others: "This is the question I ask myself, my brother bishops and priests: how is your love today, the love of Jesus? Is it like first love? Am I as in love today as on the first day? Or does work and worries lead me to look at other things, and forget love a little? There are arguments in marriage. That's normal. When there is no love, there are no arguments: it breaks. Do I argue, with the Lord? This is a sign of love. This question that Jesus asks of Peter brings him to first love. Never forget your first love. Never".

In addition to this first aspect, says Pope Francis, there are three others to be considered in relation to a priest’s dialogue with Jesus. First of all – before study, before wanting to become "a scholar of of philosophy or theology – [a priest must be ] a "shepherd", as Jesus urged Peter: "Feed my sheep". The rest, says the Pope, comes "after":

"Feed. With theology, philosophy, with patrology, with what you study, but feed. Be the shepherd. For the Lord has called us to this. And the bishop's hands on our head is to be shepherds. This is a second question, is not it?The first is: 'How is your first love?'. This, the second: 'Am I a shepherd, or an employee of this NGO that is called the Church?'. There is a difference. Am I a shepherd? A  question that I have to ask myself, that bishops need to ask, even priests: all of us. Feed. Lead. Go forward".

Pope Francis continued,  there is no "glory" or "majesty” for the pastor consecrated to Jesus: "No, brother. You will end up in the most common, even humiliating circumstances: in bed, having to be fed, dressed ... useless, sick ... ". It is our destiny is "to end up like Him": Love that dies "as the seed of wheat, that will bear fruit. But I will not see it".

Finally, the fourth aspect, the "strongest word", with which Jesus concludes his conversation with Peter, "Follow me!".

"If we have lost the way or do not know how to respond to love, we do not know how to respond to being pastors, we do not know how to respond or we do not have the certainty that the Lord will not abandon us even in the worst moments of life, in sickness. He says, 'Follow me'. This is our certainty. In the footsteps of Jesus. On that path. 'Follow me”.

Pope Francis concludes, may the Lord give all of us priests and bishops "the grace to always find or remember our first love, to be pastors, not to be ashamed of ending up humiliated on a bed or even losing our faculties. And that He always give us the grace to follow Jesus, in the footsteps of Jesus: the grace to follow Him".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Beatitudes Are Practical Programme for Holiness
Encourages a Thorough Reading of Sermon on the Mount to Know How to Become a Good Christian

VATICAN CITY, June 09, 2014 - During his homily at Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope focused on the Beatitudes.

On the day following the historic meeting for peace in the Vatican with the Israeli and Palestinian Presidents, he called for the courage of meekness to defeat hatred.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day which focuses on the Beatitudes, Pope Francis described them as a “programme”, the “identity card of a Christian”. 

"If you ask yourself how to become a good Christian, this is where you can find Jesus’s answer, an answer," he said, "that points to an attitude that is currently very much against the tide: Blessed are the poor in spirit.

"Wealth," Francis pointed out "offers no guarantee, in fact when the heart is rich and self-satisfied, it has no place for the Word of God: “Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.

"The world tells us that happiness, joy and entertainment are the best things in life," he continued. "And it looks the other way when there are problems of disease or pain in the family. The world does not want to suffer, it prefers to ignore painful situations, to cover them up. Only the person who sees things as they are, and whose heart mourns, will be happy and will be comforted. Thanks to the consolation of Jesus, not to that of the world. Blessed are the meek in this world which is filled with wars, arguments, hatred. And Jesus says: no war, no hatred. Peace and meekness.”

Pope Francis continued saying “if you are meek in life, people will think you are not clever”. Let them think that, he said, “but you are meek because with this meekness you will inherit the Earth”.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. It is so easy, the Pope observed, to become part of the corrupt and referred to “that daily approach of ‘do ut des’. Everything is business”. How much injustice does that approach cause, he noted, and how many people suffer because of injustice. And Jesus says: “Blessed are they who fight against injustice. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy”. The merciful, the Pope said, are “those who forgive and understand the mistakes of others”. Jesus, he pointed out, does not say “blessed are they who seek revenge”.

“Blessed are they who forgive, who are merciful. Because we are all part of an army of people who have been forgiven! We have all been forgiven. That is why blessed is he who undertakes this path of forgiveness. Blessed are the pure of heart, they who have a simple, pure heart without dirt, a heart that knows how to love with purity. Blessed are peace-makers. But it is so common amongst us to be war-makers or perpetrators of misunderstandings! When I hear something from one person, and I go and say it to someone else in a second, enlarged, edition… the world of gossip. People who gossip, who do not make peace, are enemies of peace. They are not blessed”.

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness”. How many people, Pope Francis said, have been persecuted, “and continue to be persecuted simply for having fought for justice”. And recalling the Beatitudes, the Pope pointed out that they represent “a programme for life offered to us by Jesus”: “So simple and yet so difficult”. And he said: “if we are searching for more, Jesus gives us other indications” as written in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was ill and you cared for me,  I was in prison and you visited me”. With these two things – the Beatitudes and Matthew 25 – “one can live a holy, Christian life”.

“Few words, simple words, but practical for all," the Pope said in closing. "Because Christianity is a practical religion: it is not just to be imagined, it is to be practiced. If you have some time at home today, take the Gospel, Matthew’s Gospel, chapter five. At the beginning there are the Beatitudes; in chapter 25 the rest. And it will do you good to read them once, twice, three times. Read this programme for holiness. May the Lord give us the grace to understand his message”.

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Pope in Morning Homily Gives 3-Step Plan for Overcoming Conflict
Warns That Insulting a Brother Is Akin to Murder, Since Both Are Rooted in Hate

VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2014 - During his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis today proposed a three-step plan for overcoming conflict and living in fraternal communion with one's neighbor.

He addressed the question of how we ought to love one another, drawing from the Gospel reading of the day, which recounts the Lord’s conversation with His disciples about brotherly love (Mt 5:20-26).

The Pope first recommended a "criterion of realism: of sane realism."

"If you have something against another and you cannot fix it, look for a [compromise] solution - at least," he suggested.

The Pontiff acknowledged that a compromise might not be ideal but is at least a good thing and is "realism."

In order to save many things, in fact, “one must make a deal – and one takes a step, the other takes another step and at least there is peace: a very [imperfect] peace, but a peace agreement [nevertheless].” 

We face many difficult situations in life, and, “while we are on the road, we make compromises … and in this way we put a stop to hate and strife among us," Francis said.

He proposed a second criterion, coherence, meaning a recognition that "to speak ill of someone is to kill the other, because the act [of insulting] is rooted in hatred all the same.” 

It is to “kill” our neighbor in “a different way: with gossip, with calumny, with defamation. Jesus warns us: The one who calls his brother stupid is killing his brother, because the act is rooted in hate," Francis said. “In our day, we think that ‘not killing our brother’ means simply not actually murdering him – but no – not killing our brother means not [even] insulting him. The insult comes from the same root of the crime: hatred. If you do not hate, and you would not kill your enemy, your brother, then do not insult him either."

Finally, the Pope said, Jesus offers a third criterion, that of "fraternity rooted in sonship.” 

“If we must not kill our brother, it is because he is our brother, that is, because we have the same Father. I cannot go to the Father if I do not have peace with my brother," the Pontiff reflected.

“Do not talk to the Father if you are not at peace with your brother – if you do not have at least a compromise agreement," he insisted. "Do not talk to the Father without being at peace with your brother."

Summarizing, Pope Francis admitted that these three criteria are not easy to fulfill: "Three criteria: a criterion of realism; a criterion of coherence, meaning not to kill and not even to insult, because those who insult kill; and a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.

"One cannot talk to the Father if one cannot even speak to one’s brother – and this means overcoming the holier-than-thou attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees. This program is not easy, is it? Though, it is the way that Jesus tells us to keep going.

"Let us ask Him for the grace to move forward in peace among ourselves, with compromises, and always with coherence and in a spirit of fraternity rooted in sonship.”

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Pope's Morning Mass: God Prepares Us for Our Mission
Says God Leads Us Through Process to Ready Us for His Will

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2014 
When the Lord wants to entrust a mission to us, “He prepares us” to do it well. And our response should be based on prayer and fidelity. That was the main reflection offered by Pope Francis today during his homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

In his homily, Pope Francis took the story of Elijah from 1Kings as a model of the experience of every person of faith. 

The day’s liturgical passage shows Elijah on Mount Horeb receiving the invitation to come out of the cave in order to see the presence of the Lord. When the Lord passed, there was a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire, one after another – but the Lord was not present in any of them. Then there was a light breeze … and it was in the breeze, the Pope recalled, that Elijah recognized the passage of the Lord:

“But the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire, but in that whisper of a light breeze, in the peace, or, as the original says, -- the true original, a beautiful expression – it says: ‘The Lord was in a thread of silent sound’ [un filo di silenzio sonoro]. It seems to be a contradiction: He was in that thread of silent sound. Elijah knew how to discern where the Lord was, and the Lord prepared him with the gift of discernment. And then He gave him the mission.”

The mission God entrusted to Elijah was to anoint the new king of Israel and the new prophet called to succeed Elijah himself. 

Pope Francis drew attention in particular to the paternal sensitivity with which this task was entrusted to a man who, capable of strength and zeal in one moment, now seemed defeated. 

“The Lord,” the Pope said, “prepares the soul, prepares the heart, and He prepares it in the trial, He prepares it in obedience, He prepares it in perseverance.”

“When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, He prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah. And the most important part of this is not that he has encountered the Lord: no, no, this is well enough. What is important is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us. And this is the difference between the apostolic mission given us by the Lord, and a common task: ‘Ah, you have to complete this task, you have to do this or that…’ a human duty, honest, good… [But] when the Lord gives a mission, He always has us enter into a process, a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, a process of prayer."

And “the fidelity to this process,” Pope Francis continued, consists in “allowing ourselves to be led by the Lord.” 

In this case, with the help of God, Elijah overcame the fear kindled in him by the queen Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him:

“This queen was a wicked queen, and she killed her enemies. And he was afraid. But the Lord is more powerful. But it makes him understand that they, the great and the good, also need the help of the Lord and the preparation for the mission. We see this: he walks, obeys, suffers, discerns, prays… he finds the Lord. May the Lord give us the grace to allow ourselves to prepare every day the way of our life, so that we can bear witness to the salvation of Jesus.”

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When Clergy Are Corrupt, Uncatechized Suffer, Says Francis
States Materially, Spiritually Poor Bear Brunt of Political, Ecclesial Corruption

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2014  - The poor are the ones who end up paying for the damage wrought by the corruption of the powerful, says Pope Francis. And the only way to defeat the sin of corruption is service to others that purifies the heart.

The Pope made this observation today during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, drawing from the reading that recounted the story of Naboth, the owner of a vineyard that had been in his family for generations.

When King Ahab – whose names means “to widen his garden a bit,” – asks him to sell it, Naboth refuses because he does not intend to dispose of' the “inheritance of his fathers.” The King took the rejection very badly, so his wife Jezebel weaves a trap with the help of false witnesses, and Naboth is stoned to death. In the end, Jezebel delivers the desired vineyard to her husband, who takes the land calmly, “as though nothing had happened.”

Pope Francis said, “This story is continuously repeating itself,” among the ranks of those, who wield power, whether material, political or spiritual:

“In the newspapers we read many times: ‘Ah, that politician who got rich by magic has been brought into court. That business owner, who got rich by magic – that is, by exploiting his workers – has been dragged into court. We hear too much talk of a prelate who has become rich too, and left his pastoral duty to care for his power. So, the corrupt politicians, the corrupt businessmen and the corrupt clergy, are to be found everywhere – and we have to tell the truth: corruption is precisely the sin that the person with authority – whether political, economic or ecclesiastical – over others has most readily at hand. We are all tempted to corruption. It is a ‘handy’ sin, for, when one has authority, one feels powerful, one feels almost like God.”

The Holy Father went on to ask, “who pays the price for corruption?” and answers that it is, in fact, the poor who pay the price:

“If we talk of politically or economically corrupt people: who pays for [their corruption]? Think of the hospitals without medicine, the patients who did not receive care, the children without education. They are the modern Naboths, who pay the price for the corruption of the haughty. And who pays the price for the corruption of a prelate? The children pay, who cannot make the sign of the cross, who do not know the catechism, who are not cared for. The sick who are not visited, the imprisoned, who receive no spiritual attention. The poor pay. Corruption is paid by the poor: the materially poor and the spiritually poor."

Instead, says Pope Francis, “the only way to escape corruption, the only way to overcome the temptation to – the sin of – corruption, is service.” Because, he says, “corruption is pride, arrogance – and service humiliates you.” It is “humble charity to help others."

"Today, we offer the Mass for them – many, many of them – who are paying the price for corruption, bearing the cost of the lives of the corrupt. These martyrs of political corruption, economic corruption, and ecclesiastical corruption. We pray for them. May the Lord bring us closer to them. Surely He was very close to Naboth, in the moment he was stoned to death, as He was to Stephen. May the Lord be close and give strength [to those bearing the burden of corruption], so that they might go forward with their witness.”

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Francis at Morning Mass: Corrupt Must Repent
Says Christians Should Pray for Those Who Fall to This Sin, and to Avoid Temptation

VATICAN CITY, June 17, 2014  - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday, Pope Francis returned to the theme of corruption in the Church and in society, saying those who commit this crime must beg for God’s forgiveness.

Echoing his message from Monday's Mass, he reiterated that it is always the poor who pay the price for the corruption of others.

The liturgy of today continues with the story of King Ahab, who with the help of his wife Jezebel, had Naboth killed so as to be able to take possession of his land. In today's passage, King Ahab repents after receiving a warning from the Prophet Elijah.

When we embark on the path of corruption, the Pope said, we lose our humanity and sell ourselves, just as the prophet Elijah tells Ahab, I have found you "because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord's sight."

This is the definition of corruption, the Pope insisted, it’s a commodity that we buy and sell. 

Recalling yesterday’s homily in which he identified three areas of corruption – in politics, in business and in the Church – he said all three hurt the poor who always pay the price for the other’s gain. To all of these people, the Pope noted, God says clearly that he will bring disaster on them and their families. Corruption, he said irritates God and scandalizes people because it exploits, enslaves, even kills the vulnerable, but those who commit this crime are only focused on money and power.

The corrupt, the Pope said, are traitors who steal and kill, who exploit the innocent, but they do it at a distance with gloves on so that they do not have to get their hands dirty. 

These people, he said, are cursed by God, but just as Ahab tore his garments and fasted and humbled himself before the Lord, so the corrupt must repent and make amends for what they have done. 

Our duty as Christians, the Pope concluded, is to ask forgiveness from God for these people we read about in the papers, to pray for their conversion of heart and for the grace that we may never become corrupt ourselves.

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Francis Won't Celebrate Public Morning Mass During the Summer
Wednesday Audiences to Be Suspended in July

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2014  - The Vatican has announced that during the summer, Pope Franis won't celebrate a public morning Mass in his residence, the Casa Santa Marta.

The Vatican press office also announced that during the month of July, all Wednesday general audiences will be suspended. They will resume on the first Wednesday of August in the Vatican, taking place on 6, 20 and 27 August.

On Wednesday, 13 August, there will be no general audience as the Pope will travel to Korea (from 13 to 18 August).

The Angelus prayer will continue to take place in the Vatican every Sunday in July, except during the days of the Holy Father's absence during his trip to Korea (Sundays 15 and 17 August).

The morning mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae will be suspended during the summer, from early July until the end of August, and will resume at the beginning of September.

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Pope at Morning Mass: Delight in Treasures of Above
Says Christians Will Not Find Joy in Worldly Treasures

VATICAN CITY, June 20, 2014 - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis returned to the theme of how the faithful only will have true happiness when they accumulate spiritual treasures, and not those of this world.

He thus echoed his message from Thurday evening's homily at the Corpus Christi Mass. He reiterated that the things of this world will not bring happiness, as they end and decay, and leave faithful with nothing of true value.

The Holy Father reflected on the liturgy of today, in which Jesus warns his disciples against earthly treasures, saying: “'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven ... For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

In his homily, Francis warned against three elements in particular: money, vanity and power. Jesus asks us to keep our hearts free from these unnecessary elements, the Pope noted. They leave the faithful as “prisoners,”  “weighing down” and “binding” their hearts, he said.

He pointed out two types of hearts faithful can have: a "free heart" or a "slave's heart."

Francis said that a “free heart” makes one’s heart “feel light,” as "it shows us the path that leads to God," and is fulfilled in worshipping God and loving one’s neighbor. The Pontiff pleaded, “please, have a free heart! ... Only with a free heart can you have the treasures of heaven: love, patience, service to others, worship of God. These are the true riches, that cannot be stolen,” whereas the other, worldly riches “encumber” and “chain our hearts.”

A “slave’s heart," Francis said, "is not a bright heart: it will be dark," adding that “if we accumulate the treasures of the earth, we accumulate darkness.” He warned these treasures don’t give joy, but above all, rob our freedom.

The Argentine Pontiff went on to explain the evils of money, power, and vanity.

Money:

Despite money having the power to do much good, including providing for one’s family, he noted, it is dangerous because many become obsessed with it. “Do not build your life upon accumulating riches,” he warned.

Those consumed with investing, he noted as an example, will have nothing if the stock market crashes.

Vanity:

Vanity relates to one's desire for "prestige" and "to be seen,"having a prestige to be seen," he said, adding that Jesus "always condemned vanity."

Noting the lawyers of Scripture as an example of vanity, he said they fast, give alms, or pray, they do so just "to be seen."

The vanity, he reiterated, has "no use," as "it ends." Quoting St. Bernard, he said: "'Your beauty will end up being the meal of worms.'" 

Power:

Using the first reading to illustrate how power can suddenly disolve, the Pope noted the fall of the cruel Queen Athaliah, who reigned for seven years, and then was killed. “The power ends!" He cautioned:" How many great, proud men and women of power are finished in anonymity, in poverty or in prison."

Treasures of Heaven:

After cautioning the faithful, the Pope concluded with what the Lord asks us to accumulate: the “treasures of heaven,” not the elusive “treasures” of money, vanity, and power.

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Pope at Morning Mass: You Are Not God, Don't Judge
Says Judging Your Fellow Man Makes You a Hypocrite, Like the Devil

VATICAN CITY, June 23, 2014  - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis renounced those who judge others, calling them hypocrites and comparing them to Satan.

He who judges another puts himself in the role of God, the only judge, the Pope said. He went on to recall that if one hopes to one day have his offenses forgiven, then he must not judge others.

The Holy Father reflected on the liturgy of today, in which Jesus commanded his disciples to: “Stop judging, so that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Francis warned faithful not to usurp the role of judging. He said it's not any person’s responsibility and if one does try to judge his brother, he will be a “loser, because he will end up a victim of his own lack of mercy. This is what happens to a brother who judges."

Speaking on mercy, the Pope stressed that Jesus “never accuses,” rather he does the “opposite,” he defends.

Not only did God send Jesus to defend us, but also he sent the Holy Spirit to “defend our charges.”

“Who is the accuser?” of these charges, the Pontiff asked. He answered, “In the Bible, the 'accuser' is called the devil, Satan,” but he noted that although the devil accuses, “Jesus will judge, yes, at the end of the world, but in the meantime [he] intercedes for and defends” us.

“He who judges a brother is wrong and will eventually be judged the same way. God is "the sole judge" and whoever is judged can always rely on the defense of Jesus, his first defender, and also the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Ultimately, those who judge, said Pope Francis, “imitate the prince of this world," who waits in the background, ready to accuse.

The Holy Father concluded, “May the Lord give us the grace to imitate Jesus, the intercessor, advocate, lawyer,” for ourselves and others, and he warned the faithful not to imitate others who judge, for “in the end, it will destroy us." (D.C.L.)

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Pope at Morning Mass: Imitate John The Baptist
Says Jesus' Cousin Is a Model for All Christians

VATICAN CITY, June 24, 2014 - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis recalled that today is the feast of the Natiivity of St. John the Baptist. He said this cousin and precursor of Jesus should be a model for Christians to imitate.

In his homily, the Pope described John's vocation in three verbs: to prepare, to discern, and to diminish. 

Taking up the title of the martyr John the Baptist, "the greatest of the prophets," the Pope urged those present to learn from his example.

To Prepare:

Without taking any of the glory himself, John the Baptist, first and foremost, prepared the way for the Lord, the Pope said. For this reason, he added, people sought him out and followed him.

The Pontiff pointed out that when the "powerful preacher" was asked if he was the Messiah, he said in response that he was no more than a "voice" which had come “to prepare the way of the Lord.”

To Discern:

Pope Francis said that the second vocation of John the Baptist was to discern. He had to recognize the true Messiah from among the many "good people," and this he did.

When John saw Jesus passing by, he said to the disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." The disciples had overlooked Jesus. The next day, John repeated to them:“Look, this is God’s chosen one!” 

To Diminish:

The third vocation of John the Baptist, Pope Francis said, is the most difficult and was his vocation to diminish himself so that the Lord may grow in the hearts of others.

It's the most challenging of the three, Francis acknowledged, because Jesus behaved differently than John expected. Before dying in prison, John was filled with doubt and sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the chosen one.

Francis noted that John was humiliated in two ways: his death and in "the darkness of his doubts."

In spite of this, Francis continued, he remains a model for Christians today. He concluded telling those present that "we too must prepare the way of the Lord." Christians must live out these vocations: We must "discern the truth" and we must "diminish ourselves" so we can properly love the Lord. (D.C.L.)

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Pope at Morning Mass: Who Do You Follow?
Asks Whether You Turn to Jesus Who "Warms Hearts," Or To ''Those Consumed by Money, Power, Moralism"

VATICAN CITY, June 26, 2014 - At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reminded faithful that people followed Jesus since they recognized he was always truly a “good shepherd,” with a loving and merciful voice, and never was like his counterparts “who reduced the faith to moralism, pursued political liberation, or sought deals with power.”

The Pontiff asked those present to consider how Jesus won over the hearts of many. He stressed that Jesus "wasn’t a moralistic, quibbling Pharisee, or a Sadducee who made political deals with the powerful, or a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people," nor was he "a contemplative in a monastery."

"He was a pastor! A pastor who spoke the language of His people, Who understood, Who spoke the truth, the things of God."

"He spoke in such a way that the people loved the things of God. That’s why they followed Him," the Holy Father suggested.

Jesus, the Pope said, “was never far from the people, was never far from His Father.” Jesus “was so joined to the Father, He was one with the Father!” and also was “so very close to the people.” He “had this authority, and this is why the people followed Him.” Contemplating Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Pope said, it would be good for us to think about who we like to follow.

Before exporing this further, he turned to why Jesus was followed, saying the crowds followed Jesus not only because “they were astonished by His teaching,” but also because his words “brought wonder to their hearts, the wonder of finding something good, great.” Whereas, he added, others spoke, “but they did not reach the people.”

The Pope mentioned four groups of people that were speaking at the time of Jesus: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Revolutionaries, and the Essenes.

Pharisees:

The Pharisees, he said, were making religion into a chain of commandments, turning the Ten Commandments into “more than three hundred,” loading “this weight” on the backs of the people. The Pope said their obsession with laws and rules essentially became “a reduction of the faith in the Living God,”  and lead to “moral quibbling” and “contradictions.”

“For example, ‘You have to obey the fourth commandment!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘You have to feed your elderly father, your elderly mother!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘But you know, I can’t because I gave my money to the temple!’; ‘You don’t do that? And your parents starve to death!’ So: contradictions of the cruelest kind of moralistic quibbling,” the Pontiff illustrated.

Sadducees:

This group, the Pope said, “did not have the faith, they had lost the faith! They made it their religious work to make deals with the powers: political powers, economic powers. They were men of power.”

Revolutionaries:

The “revolutionaries,” or the zealots, wanted to cause a revolution to free the people of Israel from the Roman occupation, the Pontiff explained. The people, he added, were wise and knew ”to distinguish when the fruit was ripe and when it was not!” and, therefore, didn’t follow them.”

Essenes:

The fourth group, the Essenes, were sort of like monks who consecrated their lives to the Lord and were “good people,” the Pope said. However, he cautioned, that “they were far from the people, and the people couldn’t follow them.”

Describing these groups together, the Pope said that though their voices “reached” the people, they did not have the power to “warm the people’s hearts.” However, this is how Jesus was different,” his voice, instead, did. When Jesus  “approached to the people,” he could heal their hearts because he could “understand their difficulties,” and unlike others, he “was not ashamed to speak with sinners,” and instead “went out to find them,” he added.

Jesus vs. the Others:

Jesus delighted in being with his people. This is why Jesus is “the Good Shepherd:” his flock of sheep hear His voice and follow Him.

Jesus was “never far,” not from the people, nor from His Father. In fact, he added, he was intimately close with both, and, for this reason, he had a unique “authority” and “this is why the people followed Him.”

What About You?

Francis, then turned to today and asked: “Who do I like to follow? Those who talk to me about abstract things or quibbling morals? Those who talk about the people of God but have no faith and negotiate with political, economic powers? Those who always want to do strange things, destructive things, so-called wars of liberation, but which in the end are not the paths of the Lord? Or a faraway contemplative? Who do I like to follow?”

Leaving this as the final thought, he said, “May this question bring us to prayer, and to ask God the Father, who brings us close to Jesus, to follow Jesus, to be amazed at the things Jesus tells us.” (D.C.L.)

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Pope's Morning Homily: You Are Child of God Who Holds You By the Hand
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Speaks on Tenderness of God's Love

VATICAN CITY, June 27, 2014  - Pope Francis has reminded the faithful that God is a gentle father who holds us by the hand, and that to dialogue with Him, Christians must become like small children.

The Lord says, “I’m by your side,” the Pope said, and He assures His children through His “caress.”

“This is the tenderness of our Lord and of His love; this is what He tells us and this gives us the strength to be tender,” Francis reflected. “But if we feel we’re strong, we’ll never experience those caresses from the Lord, those caresses from Him that are so wonderful. ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you and I’ll hold your hand,’”

The Pope pointed out that there are two aspects to this love: first, love is more about giving than receiving, and, second, love is more about actions than words. 

“When we say it’s more about giving than receiving, that’s because love communicates, it always communicates. And it’s received by the one who is loved,” he said, adding, “When we say that it’s more about actions than words, that’s because love always generates life and makes us grow.”

“When we arrive, He’s there.  When we look for Him, He has already been looking for us.   He is always in front of us, waiting to receive us in His heart, in His love.  And these two things can help us to understand the mystery of God’s love for us.”

He added that, “In order to communicate this, He needs us to be like small children, to lower ourselves.  And at the same time, He needs our astonishment when we look for Him and find Him there, waiting for us."   

Continuing to speak on the loving heart of God, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words about himself, he said: “‘I am meek and humble of heart.’ Even He, the Son of God, lowers himself to receive his Father’s love.”

God is always there in front of us and waiting for us, Francis said, before calling on God to “give us the grace to enter into the mysterious world of his love.” (D.C.L.)

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Pope at Morning Mass: Blood of Church Martyrs "Irrigates" the Church
Says There are More Martyrs Today Than in Early Centuries

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2014  - The Pope has reminded faithful that today there are more martyrs than in the early centuries.

At morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta today, the Holy Father noted the unprecedented numbers of Christians persecuted for their faith, adding their blood has “fertilized” the Church.

The Pope directed faithful to realize that although the Church is growing, it is “irrigated by the blood of martyrs."

“There are more martyrs in the Church today, than in the early centuries,” the Pope said. He lamented, "It's true that many Christians had been persecuted in the time of Nero,” but "today there are not any less.”

Reflecting, Francis said, “Think of the Middle East, Christians have to flee from persecution, Christians are killed by their persecutors.” He reminded those present of the prayer at the beginning of the Mass which recalls that the Church has been "fertilized with the blood of the martyrs.”

The Holy Father recalled an analogy Jesus made: "'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who has thrown down seed. When then man goes home, whether he is awake or asleep, the seed grows, sprouts.” He continued, “This seed is the Word of God that grows into the Kingdom of God, and becomes the Church.”

He said two elements make this growth possible: the power of the Holy Spirit and Christian witness.

Without the Holy Spirit, the Church cannot grow, the Pontiff said. Yet, the Spirit is not sufficient for growth, he added the Church also requires the testimony of Christians. "The martyrs produced the greatest witnesses," he said.

“The Church is watered by the blood of the martyrs. And this is the beauty of martyrdom. It begins with witness, day after day, and may end up as Jesus, the first martyr, the first witness, the faithful witness: with blood," he added.

Pope Francis concluded his homily, urging the faithful to remember “our glorious ancestors, here in Rome,” and to think of “our persecuted brothers and sisters, living and suffering.” (D.C.L.)

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Pope's Morning Homily: Recognize Your Sins and Be Transformed By Christ
Says Power of God's Word Brings About True Change of Heart

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 04, 2014  - Pope Francis on Thursday reflected on the transforming grace of God’s Word and invited Christians to recognize their sins and let themselves be transformed by their encounter with Christ.

The Pope was addressing the faithful gathered for morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

During his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians which reads: “If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God”.

Paul, he said, is telling us that it is the power of God’s Word that brings about a true change of heart, that has the strength to change the world, giving us hope, giving us life.

He pointed out that this power is not to be found in human knowledge or in man’s intelligence. “Become fools”, Francis exhorted, don’t search for security in your knowledge or in the knowledge of the world”.

And the Pope said that although Paul had studied with the most knowledgeable teachers of his time, he never boasted of his knowledge. In a “scandalous” way, Francis said, he boasted of his sins and of his encounter with Christ and the crucifix, because that encounter between his sins and the blood of Christ is the only salvific encounter there is. And when we forget that encounter – the Pope said – we lose the power of Christ’s strength and we speak of the things of God with a human language, And  this, he said, is useless.

Pope Francis also recalled the Gospel story of Peter and the miraculous catch of fish during which Peter said to Jesus: “Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man”. In this moment of meeting between his sins and Christ, the Pope said Peter finds salvation.

So, the Pope said: “the privileged place for an encounter with Christ are our sins. If a Christian is incapable of seeing his sins and his salvation in the blood of Christ, he has only gone half-way. He is a tepid Christian.

And the Pope pointed to those decadent Churches, decadent parishes, decadent institutions where most certainly Christians have never really met Christ or else they have forgotten that encounter.

Pope Francis concluded his homily inviting the faithful to ask themselves whether they are capable of telling the Lord they are sinners; whether they really believe the Lord has given them a new life; whether they trust in Christ. Because, he said, a Christian can be boastful of two things: of his sins and of Christ on the cross.

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Pope's Morning Homily: Good News Brings Joy, Renewal
Says the Gospel Can Only Be Lived Fully by a Heart That Is Joyful and Renewed

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 05, 2014  - In his homily in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican on Friday morning, the Holy Father reflected on the “newness” of the Gospel – as Good News, and as a bringer of New Things – that frees the person who believes it from slavery to automatic legalism, and opens the heart to the new commandment: love.

The Gospel reading for Friday told the story of the Scribes, who badgered Jesus about the behavior of His disciples, by pointing out that they did not – as the disciples of John the Baptist regularly did – fast and offer prayers. The Lord would not let Himself be provoked, however:

“New wine, new wineskins: the ‘novelty’ of the Gospel – and what does the Gospel bring us? Joy and renewal [It. novità]. These Doctors of the Law were hidebound by their commandments, their rules. St. Paul, speaking of them, tells us that, before faith came – that is, Jesus – we were all kept in custody, as prisoners under the Law. This Law, of this people, was not bad: they were cared for, but they were prisoners, awaiting the advent of faith – that faith, which would be revealed in Christ, itself.”

Pope Francis went on to observe that the People had both the Mosaic Law and a host of customs and smaller legal requirements that the Doctors of the Law had codified. “The Law,” said Pope Francis, “cared for the people, albeit as prisoners are cared-for, and the people were awaiting liberty – that ultimate liberty that God would give to His people through His son.”:

“One of you might say to me: ‘But Father, don’t Christians have laws?’ Yes. Jesus said: ‘I do not come to [abolish the Law], but to fulfil it.’ – and the Beatitudes, for example – the law of love – total love – as Jesus loved us, are the fullness of the Law. Jesus, when he reproves these Doctors of the Law, is taking them to task for not caring for the people with the Law, but making them slaves to so many little laws, so many little things that had to be done.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that all these “little things” that had to be done, had to be done without the freedom that Jesus brings to us with the new law, which He promulgated with His blood. “This,” he said, “is precisely the ransom that the people were awaiting,” while they were, “under the guardianship of the Law, however as prisoners.” The Holy Father also explained that another central lesson of this reading is that the Lord wants us not to be afraid of changing things according to the law of the Gospel:

“St. Paul clearly distinguishes the children of the law from the children of faith: new wine in new wineskins – and this is why the Church asks all of us to change certain things. She asks us to let go of decadent structures – they are useless – and to take up new wineskins, those of the Gospel. One sannot understand the mentality of these Doctors of the Law – for example – these Pharisaical ‘teachers’: the style of the Gospel is a different style, that brings the fullness of the Law – yes- but in a new way: it is the new wine in new wineskins.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying once again that the Gospel is something new, something that brings joy, something that can only be lived fully by a heart that is joyful and renewed, and prayed that God give everyone the grace to keep the new commandment of love, and the joy of that freedom, which the Good News brings.

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Pope's Morning Homily: God Walks With Saints and Sinners
He Walks With Us Because He Wants Us All to Conform to the Image of His Son

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 08, 2014  - On the day the Church celebrates the Nativity of Our Lady, Pope Francis dedicated his homily to Creation and God’s journey with us through history, Vatican Radio reports.

He said when we read the Book of Genesis, "there is the danger of thinking that God was a magician" who did things "with a magic wand." But, he warned, "it was not so because, God made things and allowed them to proceed with internal, interior laws that He gave to each one, so that they could develop and arrive at fullness”.  “The Lord gave autonomy but not independence to the things of the universe”.

"For God is not a magician, He is the Creator! But when on the sixth day, of that story, He comes to create man, He gives him another autonomy, somewhat different, but not independent: an autonomy that is freedom. He tells the man to go forward in history, He makes man responsible for the creation, so that he would dominate creation, bring it forward and arrive at the fullness of time. And what was the fullness of time? What He had in his heart: the arrival of His Son. Because God – as we heard from Paul - has predestined us, all of us, to be conformed to the image of the Son".

Pope Francis continued: “This is the path of humanity, it is mankind’s journey. God wanted us to be like His Son and His Son to be like us". The Pope spoke of the passage from today's Gospel that recounts the genealogy of Jesus. "There are saints and sinners too on this list, but history continues because God has willed that all men be free”. And even if it is true that when man “misused his freedom, God drove him out of Paradise" He also "made ​​a promise, so man left Paradise with hope. A sinner, but with hope".  "Mankind did not make this journey alone: God walks with us. Because God chose an option: he opted for time, not for the moment. He is the God of time, He is the God of history, He is the God who walks with His children". Until the "fullness of time" when His Son becomes man. God "walks with the righteous and the sinners." He walks "with everyone, to arrive at that encounter, the final encounter of man with Him".

The Pope noted that the Gospel brings this century-long story to an end "in a tiny thing, in a small village" with Joseph and Mary. "The God of great history - he noted - is also in that little story there, because He wants to walk with everyone". Francis quoted from St. Thomas, who stated: "Do not fear the great things, but also have regard for the small, this is divine”. "And this is how God is, He is in the great things, but also in the small”.

"He is the Lord who walks…and He is the Lord of patience. The patience of God. The patience he has had with all these generations. With all these people who have lived their story of grace and sin, God is patient. God walks with us, because He wants us all to come to be conformed to the image of His Son. And from the hour that He gave us the freedom in creation - not independence - until today, He continues to walk with us".

And so, therefore, "we come to Mary". Today, the Pope said, "we are in the antechamber of this story: the birth of the Virgin Mary". “Let us ask in prayer that the Lord will give us the unity to walk together and peace of heart. This is today’s grace":

"Today we can look at Our Lady, the small, holy child without sin, pure and predestined to become the Mother of God and also look at the story that lies behind her, so long, over centuries and ask: 'How do I journey in my story? Do I allow God walk with me? Do I allow Him walk with me or do I want to walk alone? Do I let Him caress me, help me, forgive me, carry me forward so that I may arrive at the encounter with Jesus Christ? This will be the end of our journey: an encounter with the Lord. It would do us all good to ask ourselves this question today. ‘Do I let God be patient with me?'. And so, looking at this great story, and even this small village, we can praise the Lord and humbly ask that He give us peace, that peace of heart that only He can give us, that He only gives us when we let Him walk with us".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Imitate Jesus By Being in the Midst of People
Says Son of God Is Not a Distant Professor, But Chooses Everyone, Prays for Them and Is Among Them

By Staff

VATICAN CITY, September 09, 2014  - Jesus is not a professor who speaks from the professor’s chair but instead goes among the people and lets them touch Him so that they can be healed.

Commenting on the day’s Gospel, Pope Francis reflected on three moments in the life of Jesus. The first is prayer. Jesus “spent the night in prayer to God.” Jesus prays for us. “It seems a little strange,” the Pope said, “that He who came to give us salvation, who has the power, prays to the Father.” And He prayed often. “Jesus is the great intercessor”:

“He stands before the Father in this moment, praying for us. And this should give us courage! Because in moments of difficulty or of need… [He] is praying: ‘But you are praying for me. Pray for me. Jesus, pray for me to the Father!’ It is His work today: praying for us, for His Church. We often forget this, that Jesus prays for us. This is our strength: to be able to say to the Father, ‘But if you, Father, will not consider us, consider your Son who prays for us.’ From the first moment Jesus prays: He prayed when He was on earth and He continues to pray now for each one of us, for the whole Church.”

After praying, Jesus chooses the twelve Apostles. The Lord says clearly, “It was not you who chose Me; I chose you!” “This second moment,” the Pope said, “gives us courage: ‘I am chosen, I am chosen by the Lord! On the day of Baptism He chose me.’ And Paul, with this in mind, said: ‘He chose me, from my mother’s womb’.” So we Christians have been called. The Pope said:

“These are things of love! Love does not consider whether someone has an ugly face or a beautiful face: it loves! And Jesus does the same: He loves and chooses with love. He chooses all. In His list, no one is ‘important’ – in inverted commas – according to the criteria of the world: it is the common people. But there is one thing, yes, one thing to emphasize about all of them: they are sinners. Jesus has chosen sinners. He chooses sinners. And this is the accusation made by the doctors of the law, the scribes: ‘This man goes to eat with sinners, he talks to prostitutes…’ Jesus calls everyone! Let us call to mind the parable of the wedding of the son. When those who were invited did not come, what did the master of the house do? The Gospel says he told his servants: ‘Go out and bring everyone to the house, good and bad.’ Jesus has chosen everyone.”

Jesus, the Pope continued, even chose Judas Iscariot “who became the traitor… the greatest sinner toward Him. But he was chosen by Jesus.”

Then there was the third moment: “Jesus near to the people.” They came in great multitudes “to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases… Everyone in the crowd sought to touch Him because power came forth from Him and healed them all.” Jesus is in the midst of His people:

“He is not a professor, a teacher, a mystic who is far from the people and speaks from the professor’s chair. No! He is in the midst of the people, He lets them touch Him, He lets them ask of Him. That’s Jesus: close to the people. And this nearness is not something new for Him. He emphasizes it in His way of acting, but it is something that comes out of God’s first choice of His people. God says to His people, ‘Consider: What people has a God as close as I am to you?’ God’s closeness to His people is the closeness of Jesus amid the crowds.”

“This is our Master, this is our Lord,” the Pope concluded. “One who prays, one who chooses the people, and one who is not ashamed to be close to the people. And this gives us confidence in Him. Let us trust in Him because He prays, because He has chosen us, and because He is close to us.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Loving One's Enemy is Unconditional Love in Action
Christian Life Isn't Easy But Possible With God's Grace and Support of the Faithful

By Staff

VATICAN CITY, September 11, 2014  - In his homily this morning at Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that loving one’s enemies is the “model of Christian life.”

Reflecting on the Gospel reading from St. Luke (6:27-38), in which the Lord tells his disciples, “[L]ove your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” the Holy Father said that this is a model of Christian life – of unconditional love in action.

“Do good,” he said, “lend without hoping to have back what you have lent – [act] without interest, and your reward will be great.” Pope Francis also recognized that this new way of the Gospel is one by which it is often difficult to live:

“‘But Father’ [one might say], ‘I don’t feel like behaving that way’. ‘Well’, [one might reply], ‘if you don’t feel like it, that’s your problem, but that’s the Christian way.” This is that way that Jesus teaches us. ‘And what can I hope?’ [one might ask]. Go on Jesus’ way, which is the way of mercy. Be merciful as your father is merciful. Only with a merciful heart can we do all that, which the Lord counsels us to do – all the way. The Christian life is not a navel-gazing one. It is a life in which one gets out of oneself in order to give oneself to others. It is a gift, it is love – and love does not turn in on itself, it is not selfish, but self-giving.” 

The Lord asks us to be merciful. He asks us not to judge. Often, Pope Francis said, “it seems that we have been named judges of others: engaging in gossip, talking behind people’s backs, we judge everyone.” The Lord, however tells us not to judge, lest we be judged ourselves. “Do not condemn [others],” said Pope Francis, “and you will not be condemned.” The Lord asks us to forgive, that we might be forgiven. “We say it every day in the Our Father,” noted the Holy Father, “forgive us as we forgive others – and if I do not forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?”

“This is the Christian life. ‘But Father, this is folly!’ one might say. ‘Yes’, one might answer, ‘it is’. We have heard in these days, though, St Paul, who said the same: the foolishness of the Cross of Christ, which has nothing to do with the wisdom of the world. ‘But Father, to be Christian is to become some sort of fool?’ [one might ask]. ‘Yes’, [I would say], ‘in a certain sense, yes. It means renouncing the cunning of the world in order to do everything that Jesus tells us to do and that, if we do the sums, if we balance the ledger, seems to be against us.”

The Holy Father went on to explain that the way the Lord teaches us is the way of magnanimity, of generosity, of self-giving without measure. “It was for this,” he said, “that Jesus came into the world,” not to judge, not to engage in idle gossip, not to pass judgments, but to give and to forgive. “Being Christian isn’t easy,” said Pope Francis, adding that we can become Christians only by the grace of God, and not by our own strength.

“Here then arises the problem that we all must face daily: ‘Lord, give me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it on my own’. This is something quite frightening at first glance – quite frightening indeed. If, however, we take the Gospel and we read the 6th chapter of St. Luke – and reread it and reread it and reread it – and let us do so – and let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be a Christian, to understand the grace He gives to us Christians, as well, because we cannot do it on our own."

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Pope's Morning Homily: Learn From Our Lady of Sorrows
Follow Her Example of Learning, Obeying and Suffering

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 15, 2014  - Pope Francis marked the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows during Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, with a reflection on how Mary learned, obeyed and suffered at the foot of the Cross.

The Holy Father said that in the liturgy of the day first we are shown the glorious Cross, then the meek ​​and humble Mother. In the Letter to the Hebrews, "Paul emphasizes three strong words": he says that Jesus "learned, obeyed and suffered". "It’s the opposite of what had happened to our father Adam, who did not want to learn what the Lord commanded, who did not want to suffer, or obey." Instead, even though Jesus is God, He "is annihilated, He humbled Himself and became a servant. This is the glory of the Cross of Jesus":

"Jesus came into the world to learn how to be a man, and by being a man, walk with men. He came into the world to obey, and He obeyed. But he learned this obedience from suffering. Adam left Paradise with a promise, a promise that lasted for so many centuries. Today, through this obedience, this self-abnegation, this humiliation, through Jesus, that promise becomes hope. And the people of God walk with sure hope. Even the Mother, 'the New Eve', as Paul himself calls her, in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother”.

The Gospel shows us Mary at the foot of the Cross. Jesus says to John, "Behold your mother." Mary - the Pope said - "is anointed Mother"

"And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother and the Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord. These two women - Mary and the Church - carry on the hope that is Christ, they give us Christ, they bring forth Christ in us. Without Mary, there would be no Jesus Christ; without the Church, we cannot go forward".

"Two women and two mothers" - continued the Pope Francis - and next to them our soul, which in the words of Isaac, the abbot of Stella, is "feminine" and is like "Mary and the Church".

"Today, looking at this woman by the Cross, steadfast in following her Son in His suffering to learn obedience, looking at her we see the Church and look at our Mother. And also, we look at our little soul that will never be lost, if it continues to be a woman close to these two great women who accompany us in life: Mary and the Church. And just as our fathers left Paradise with a promise, today we can go forward with a hope: the hope that our Mother Mary, steadfast at the Cross, and our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church, give us.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Draw Near to Others as Jesus Did
Without Closeness and Compassion, Excellent Preaching is Useless

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 16, 2014  - Beautiful homilies are useless and mere vanity if you are not close to the people, if you do not suffer with the people and do not give hope.

This was Pope Francis’ reflection Tuesday morning during Mass in Santa Marta, the day on which the Church remembers the Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, bishop martyrs.

The Gospel of the day speaks of Jesus approaching a funeral procession: a widow of Nain lost her only son. The Pope said that not only does the Lord perform the miracle of bringing her son back to life, he does something more: he is close to her.

"God – the people say - visited his people," the Pope said. When God visits "there is something more, there is something new", "it means that His presence is especially there". Jesus is close.

"He was close to the people. A close God who is able to understand the hearts of the people, the heart of His people. Then he sees that procession, and the Lord drew near. God visits His people in the midst of his people, and draws near to them. Proximity. This is how God works. Then there is an expression that is often repeated in the Bible: 'The Lord was moved with great compassion'. The same compassion which, the Gospel says, that moved Him when he saw so many people like sheep without a shepherd. When God visits His people, He is close to them, He draws near to them and is moved by compassion: He is filled with compassion".

"The Lord," Pope Francis continued, "is deeply moved, just as He was before the tomb of Lazarus". Just like the Father who was moved "when he saw his prodigal son come home".

"Closeness and compassion: this is how the Lord visits His people. And when we want to proclaim the Gospel, to bring forth the word of Jesus, this is the path. The other path is that of the teachers, the preachers of the time: the doctors of the law, the scribes, the Pharisees [who] distanced themselves from the people, with their words ... well: they spoke well. They taught the law, well. But they were distant. And this was not a visit of the Lord: It was something else. The people did not feel this to be a grace, because it lacked that closeness, it lacked compassion, it lacked that essence of suffering with the people".

Pope Francis continued: "And there's another word which is proper to when the Lord visits His people: 'The dead man sat up and began to speak, and He - Jesus - restored him to his mother'".

"When God visits His people he restores hope to them. Always. You can preach the Word of God brilliantly. There have been many excellent preachers throughout history. But if these preachers have failed to sow hope, that sermon is useless. It is mere vanity".

Looking at Jesus, who restored a living son to this mother, the Pope said "we can understand what God visiting His people means. And so we ask for the grace that our Christian witness be a witness that brings the closeness of God to His people, that closeness that sows hope".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Have Courage to Acknowledge You Are a Sinner
Those Who Feel Themselves Sinners Are Able to Encounter Jesus, Pope Says

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 18, 2014  - Having the courage to acknowledge that we are sinners enables us to receive Christ’s caress, His forgiveness, said Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass at Santa Marta.

The day's liturgy presents the Gospel of the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and anoints them with perfume drying them with her hair. Jesus is invited to the house of a Pharisee, "a person of a certain level of culture", the Pope said, who "wanted to listen to Jesus", hear his doctrine, find out more. In his own mind, he judges both Jesus and the sinful woman, thinking if Jesus "truly were a prophet he would know want kind of woman is touching him”. The Pharisee “is not a bad man” he simply “cannot understand the woman’s actions”.

"He cannot understand the simple gesture: the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother. In his theories, his thoughts, his life of government - because perhaps he was a councilor of the Pharisees – he had forgotten the simple gestures of life, the very first things that we all, as newborns, received from our parents".

Pope Francis said that Jesus rebukes the Pharisee "with humility and tenderness", "his patience, his love, the desire to save everyone" leads him to explain the woman’s gesture to the Pharisee, and at the same time point to the Pharisee’s own lack of courtesy.  And amid the shocked murmuring of the crowd, he says to the woman: "Your sins are forgiven". "Go in peace, your faith has saved you!"

"He only says the word salvation - 'Your faith has saved you' – to the woman, who is a sinner. And he says it because she was able to weep for her sins, to confess her sins, to say 'I am a sinner', and admit it to herself. He doesn’t say the same to those people, who were not bad people: they simply did not believe themselves to be sinners. Other people were sinners: the tax collectors, prostitutes ... These were the sinners. Jesus says this word - 'You are saved, you are safe - only to those who open their hearts and acknowledge that they are sinners. Salvation only enters our hearts when we open them to the truth of our sins".

"The privileged place to encounter  Jesus Christ is in our sins". Pope Francis observed that this may seem like "heresy” but St. Paul also said as much when he said he would boast of only two things: his sins and the Risen Christ who saved him.

"This is why the ability to acknowledge our own sins, to acknowledge our misery, to acknowledge what we are and what we are capable of doing or have done is the very door that opens us to the Lord’s caress, His forgiveness, to His Word 'Go in peace, your faith has saved you!', because you were brave, you were brave enough to open your heart to the only One who can save you".

Jesus said to the hypocrites, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you".  These are strong words, concluded the Pope, because those who feel themselves sinners "open their hearts in the confession of their sins, to encounter Jesus, who gave His blood for us all".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Resurrection Completes Christian Identity
Our Whole Life Is Called to Being With the Lord, To Remain With Him Forever

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 19, 2014  - Pope Francis focused on the Resurrection as the seal of Christian identity at Mass this morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

Drawing on the words of St Paul the Apostle from his Letter to the Corinthians, read today at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the difficulty that some Christians – and others, who might otherwise be attracted to the Faith – have in understanding and living with the certain knowledge in faith that our bodies will be transformed and that we shall be restored to them.

“[The Corinthians],” said Pope Francis, “had other ideas: ‘sure, the dead are justified, they shall not go to hell – good thing, too! – but they’ll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God’,” and so St. Paul had to offer a “difficult correction”: that of the Resurrection. Nor were the Christians of Corinth the only ones to have difficulty with the teaching. The Greeks at Athens, to whom St. Paul also preached – the wise philosophers – were even afraid of the notion:

“[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it. This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: ‘if Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise’. There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection. When we speak of this, our language tlls us: ‘I want to go to heaven, I don’t want to go to hell’, but we stop there. None of us says: ‘I shall rise as Christ [did]’. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this.”

Pope Francis went on to say that a sort of “cosmic pantheism” is easier to grasp, since there is this resistance to transformation – St Paul’s word – and, “in the Resurrection, we shall all be transformed.”

“This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance: resistance to the transformation of our bodies. Also – resistance to Christian identity. I’ll say more: perhaps we are not so much afraid of the Apocalypse of the Evil One, of the Antichrist who must come first – perhaps we are not so afraid [of him]. Perhaps we are not so afraid of the voice of the Archangel or the sound of his trumpet – that shall sound the victory of the Lord. Fear of our resurrection, however, we have: we shall all be transformed. That transformation shall be the end of our Christian journey.”

Pope Francis went on to say that the essence of Christian identity is, “being with the Lord, in body and soul.” He went on to say, Our Christian identity is completed, therefore, “with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection.”:

“That is the end, right there: [that point in which we are] satiated, by the image of the Lord. Christian identity is a way, a journey, on which we ‘are’ with the Lord, as those two disciples who ‘were with the Lord’ on that night. All our whole life is called to being with the Lord, in order – at the end – after the voice of the Archangel, after the sound of his trumpet, to remain with Him and abide with the Lord [forever].”

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Don't Be 'Soap Bubble' Christians, Pope Exhorts in Morning Homily
Warns Against Vanity and Being Beautiful Only for a Second

VATICAN CITY, September 25, 2014  - Drawing from the first reading's exclamation, "Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!" Pope Francis spoke today in his morning homily about Christians' temptation to "make themselves seen" when doing good.

During his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said to beware of vanity, which takes us far from the truth and makes us seem like "soap bubbles." 

If you “do not have something substantial, you too will pass like all things.” 

Pope Francis took his cue from the Book of Ecclesiastes to dwell on vanity. Vanity is a temptation not only for the pagans but also for Christians, for “people of faith,” he said.

Jesus, he noted, often rebuked those who boasted. He told the teachers of the law that they should not “walk down the streets” with “luxurious outfits,” like “princes.” When you pray, the Lord warned, do not do it to be seen, do not pray so that people will see you; “pray in secret, go to your room.” 

You should do the same, the Pope said, when you help the poor: “Don’t sound the trumpet, do it secretly. The Father sees it, and that is enough.”

“But the vain man [says]: ‘Look, I’m giving this check for the work of the Church’ and he shows the check; then he scams the Church from the other direction. But this is what makes the vain man: he lives for appearances. ‘When you fast,’ the Lord says to this, ‘please do not be melancholy, sad, so that everyone will notice that you’re fasting. No, fast with joy; do penance with joy, so that no one will notice.’"

Vanity, the Pope warned, is "living for appearances, living to be seen.”

“Christians who live that way,” he continued, “for appearances, for vanity, seem like peacocks, they strut about like peacocks.” They are the people who say, “I am a Christian, I am to that priest, to that sister, to that bishop; my family is a Christian family.” They boast. 

But, the Pope asked, “what about your life with the Lord? How do you pray? Your life in the works of mercy, how’s that going? Do you visit the sick? Reality.” This, he added, is why “Jesus tells us we must build our house – that is, our Christian life – on the rock, on the truth.” On the other hand, Jesus warned that “the vain build their house on sand, and that house falls, that Christian life falls, slips, because it is not able to resist temptations.”

“How many Christians live for appearances?" he said. "Their life seems like a soap bubble. The soap bubble is beautiful, with all its colours! But it lasts only a second, and then what? Even when we look at some funeral monuments, we feel it’s vanity, because the truth is returning to the bare earth, as the Servant of God Paul VI said. The bare earth awaits us, this is our final truth. In the meantime, do I boast or do I do something? Do I do good? Do I seek God? Do I pray? Substantial things. And vanity is a liar, a fantasist, it deceives itself, it deceives the vain, because in the beginning he pretends to be [something], but in the end he really believes himself to be that, he believes. He believes it. Poor thing!”

And this, Francis emphasised, is what happened to the Tetrarch Herod who, as the day’s Gospel relates, asked anxiously about the identity of Jesus. 

“Vanity,” the Pope said, “sows wicked anxiety, takes away peace. It’s like those who put on too much make-up, and then are afraid the rain” will come “and all that make-up will come streaming down.” 

Vanity does not give us peace, he repeated. “Only the truth gives us peace.” 

Pope Francis said Jesus is the unique rock on which we can build our lives. “And we consider that this proposal of the devil, of the demon, also tempted Jesus to vanity in the desert,” saying to Him: “Come with me, let us go up to the temple, let us make a spectacle. Throw yourself down and everyone will believe in you.” The demon presented to Jesus “vanity on a platter.” Vanity, the Pope said, “is a particularly grave spiritual illness”:

“The Egyptian Fathers of the desert said that vanity is a temptation against which we must battle our whole life, because it always comes back to take the truth away from us. And in order to understand this they said: It’s like an onion. You take it, and begin to peel it – the onion – and you peel away vanity today, a little bit tomorrow, and your whole life you're peeling away vanity in order to overcome it. And at the end you are pleased: I removed the vanity, I peeled the onion, but the odour remains with you on your hand. 

"Let us ask the Lord for the grace to not be vain, to be true, with the truth of reality and of the Gospel.”

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A Christian Life Without the Cross Isn't Christian, Says Pope in Morning Homily
Exhorts Faithful to Follow Example of Simon of Cyrene

By Staff

VATICAN CITY, September 26, 2014  - A Christian cannot understand Christ the Redeemer without the Cross, without being ready to bear the Cross with Jesus. That was Pope Francis’ message at Friday’s morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

To be a Christian means to be a “Cyrene,” that is, to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry his cross, he said. Having the faith consists in this: You belong to Jesus if you bear the weight of the Cross with Him. Otherwise you are going along a path that seems “good” – but is not “true.”

The basis for the Pope’s reflections was the day’s Gospel, in which Christ asks His disciples what the people are saying about Him, and receives the most disparate answers. This episode, the Pope noted, takes place in the context of the Gospel that sees Jesus guarding “in a special manner His true identity.” On several occasions, when someone came close to divulging His identity, “He stopped them,” just as many times He prevented the demons from revealing His nature as the “Son of God,” Who had come for the salvation of the world.

This, the Poe explained, was because the people misunderstood and thought of the Messiah as a military leader who would expel the Romans. It was only privately, to the Twelve, that Jesus “began to do the catechesis on His true identity”:

“‘The Son of Man, that is, the Messiah, the Anointed must suffer greatly, must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’ This is the path of your liberation. This is the path of the Messiah, of the Just One: the Passion, the Cross. And He explains His identity to them. They don’t want to understand; and in the passage from Matthew, one sees how Peter refuses this: ‘No! No, Lord…’ But He begins to open up the mystery of His true identity:

‘Yes, I am the Son of God. But this is my path: I must go along this path of suffering.’”

This, Pope Francis said, is the “pedagogy” that Jesus uses “to prepare the hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people, to understand this mystery of God”:

“Sin is so ugly, but God’s love is so great that He saves us in this way: with this identity in the Cross. You can’t understand Jesus Christ the Redeemer without the Cross: you can’t understand! We can come to believe that he is a great prophet, he does good things, he’s a saint. But without the Cross you can’t understand Christ the Redeemer. The hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people were not prepared to understand it. They didn’t understand the Prophecies, they didn’t understand that He Himself was the Lamb for the sacrifice. They were not prepared.”

It is only on Palm Sunday, the Pope noted, that Christ allowed the crowds to proclaim, “more or less,” His identity, when they cried out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

And this, Pope Francis said, was because “if the people did not cry out, the stones would have cried out.” On the other hand, it is only after His death that the identity of Jesus appears in its fullness; the “first confession” came from the Roman centurion, the Pope noted.

He concluded: “Step by step [Jesus] prepares us so that we can understand better. He prepares us to accompany Him with our crosses, along His path to Redemption”:

“He prepares us to be ‘Cyrenes’ to help Him bear the Cross. And our Christian life without this is not Christian. It is a spiritual life, good… ‘Jesus is the great prophet, and He has saved us. But He and I, no… No, you with Him! Taking the same path. Still our identity as Christians must be guarded, not believing that being Christian is a merit; it is a spiritual path of perfection. It is not a merit, it is pure grace.”

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Pope's Morning Homily: Pray for Those Suffering Great Tragedy
Cautions Against Overdramatizing Complaints

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2014  - In moments of darkness, our lament becomes a prayer, but we must guard ourselves against overdramatizing our complaints and remember that there are people experiencing “great tragedies” who have good reason to lament, like the Christians driven from their homes for the faith, said Pope Francis Tuesday during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

Reflecting on the First Reading of the day, in which Job curses the day he was born, the Pope noted that his prayer at first appears to us like a curse. Pope Francis recalled how Job was “put to the test”, how he “lost his entire family, everything he possessed”, how he lost his health and “his body had become a plague, a disgusting plague".

The Pope said in that moment "he had lost all patience and he says these things. They are ugly! But he was always accustomed to speak the truth and this is the truth that he feels at that moment”. Pope Francis recalled how even Jeremiah, "uses almost the same words: 'Cursed be the day I was born!'", and then he asked: "But is this man blaspheming? This is my question: Is this man who is so very alone, blaspheming?”.

"Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains - 'Father, why have You forsaken me’? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, 'Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer'. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: 'Why  have You forsaken me!'".

The Pope continued that what Job is doing in the First Reading is praying, because prayer means being truthful before God. This was the only way Job could pray. "We should pray with reality - he added - true prayer comes from the heart, from the moment that we are living in". "It is prayer in times of darkness, in those moments of life that seem hopeless, where we cannot see the horizon". 

"And so many people, so many today, are in the same situation as Job. So many good people, just like Job, do not understand what has happened to them, or why. Many brothers and sisters who have no hope. Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: 'But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord? '".

"Just think of the elderly who are sidelined," he continued. "Think of the sick, of the many lonely people in hospitals". The Pope assured that the Church prays for all of these people and for those of us when we walk in darkness. “The Church prays! She takes this pain upon herself and prays". And those of us who “are not sick, or hungry, who have no pressing needs, when we suffer a little darkness of soul, act like martyrs and stop praying”. 

The Pope continued that there are even those who say: "I am angry with God, I will not go to Mass". "But why? Over some trifling thing” is the answer. Pope Francis recalled that St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in the last months of her life, "tried to think of heaven, but heard a voice within herself, telling her not to be silly, not to be led astray by fantasies. Do you know what awaits you? Nothing!”.

"We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing.  Yet Saint Teresa, prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience. Our life is too easy, our complaints are overdramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves - nothing! Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: 'Father, why have you forsaken me!”.

Pope Francis concluded that there are two things that can help in such situations: “First, to prepare ourselves for when the darkness comes” which perhaps, will not be as hard as that of Job, “but which will come.  Prepare your heart for that moment". Second: "Pray, pray as the Church prays, pray with the Church for so many brothers and sisters who suffer exile from themselves, who are in darkness and suffering, without hope at hand." It is the prayer of the Church for these ‘Suffering Jesus’ who are everywhere".

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