Pope Francis - Feast Day Homilies 

On Holy Week 2013  (Angelus)

VATICAN CITY, March 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of the address Pope Francis' delivered prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the end of today's Palm Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this celebration, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary that she might accompany us during Holy Week. May she who followed her Son to Calvary help us to follow him, carrying his cross with serenity and love, to reach the joy of Easter. May the Virgin of Sorrows especially comfort those who are facing the most difficult situations. A thought goes out to those who suffer from tuberculosis since today is the World Tuberculosis Day. To Mary I entrust you in particular, dear young people, and your journey toward Rio de Janeiro.

See you in Rio in July! Prepare your heart spiritually.

Buon cammino a tutti!

Bonne route à tous !

I wish you all much joy on your journey.

Alles Gute für euren Weg auf Ostern hin und nach Rio!

¡Buen camino para todos!

Um bom caminho a todos!

Dóbrey drógui!

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Pope Francis' Palm Sunday Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 24, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' homily for Palm Sunday which was held at St. Peter's Square earlier today.

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1. Jesus enters into Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in celebration, cloaks are placed on the road before him, his miracles are spoken of, a shout of praise goes up: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven” (Luke 19:38).

Crowd, celebration, praise, blessing, peace: it is a climate of joy that is being experienced. Jesus has reawakened many hopes of the heart, above all in the humble people, the simple, poor, forgotten, those who do not count in the eyes of the world. He understood human misery, he manifested the face of God’s mercy and deigned to heal the body and soul.

This is Jesus. This is his heart that looks upon all of us, that looks upon all of our afflictions, our sins. Jesus’ love is great. And so he enters into Jerusalem with this love, and looks upon all of us. It is a beautiful scene: full of light – the light of Jesus’ love, the light of his heart – of joy, of celebrating.

At the beginning of Mass we too repeated this. We waved our palms. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed the joy of accompanying him, of knowing that he is near, present in us and among us, as a friend, as a brother, and as king, that is, like a glowing beacon in our life. Jesus is God but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. Here he lights our way. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And this is the first word that I want to say to you: joy! Never be sad men and women: a Christian can never be! Never give in to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that arises from possessing many things, rather it comes from having met a Person: Jesus, who is among us; it comes from knowing that with him we are never alone, even in difficult moments, even when the journey of life collides with problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are many! And it is in this moment that the enemy comes, the devil comes, many times disguised as an angel, and he speaks to us deceitfully. Do not listen to him! We follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and he carries us: here is where our joy lies, the hope that we, in this world of ours, must have. And, please, do not let hope be stolen from you! Do not let your hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.

2. But we ask ourselves – here we approach to the second word – Why does Jesus come to Jerusalem? Or perhaps better: How does Jesus enter into Jerusalem? The crowd acclaims him King. And he does not oppose this, he does not silence them (cf. Luke 19:39-40). But what kind of King is Jesus? Let us see: he rides a colt, he does not have a court that follows him, he is not surrounded by an army that would symbolize power. Those who welcome him are humble, simple people, who have the sense to see in Jesus something more; they have that sense of faith, which says: this is the Savior. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honors reserved for earthly kings, to those who have power, to those who dominate; he enters to be beaten, insulted and reviled, as Isaiah foretold in the first reading (cf. Isaiah 50:6); he enters to receive a crown of thorns, a reed, a purple cloak, his royalty will be an object of scorn; he enters to climb Calvary, carrying a tree. And this is the second word: cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem to die on the cross. And it is exactly here that his being a king, as God, is manifested: the royal throne is the wood of the cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals: you are princes but of a crucified King. That is Jesus’ throne. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself evil, filth, the sin of the world, even our sin, the sins of all of us, and he washes them away with his blood, with mercy, with God’s love. Let us look around: how greatly does evil wound humanity! War, violence, economic conflicts that harm the weakest, desire for money, which no one can take with them, it must be left behind. My grandmother said to us children: the shroud that they bury you in won’t have pockets. Love of money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – we all know – there are our own sins: lack of love and respect for God, for our neighbor, for the whole of creation. And Jesus on the cross feels the whole weight of evil and with the power of God’s love conquers it, he defeats it in his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for all of us upon the cross. The cross of Christ, embraced with love, never brings sadness with it, but joy, the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.

3. Today there are many young people in this piazza: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been the Day of Young People! This is the third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession, when you came in; I imagine you celebrating around Jesus, shaking the olive branches; I imagine you as you shout his name and express your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the feast of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always, a young heart even at 70 or 80! Young heart! With Christ the heart never grows old! But we all know that the King that we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the cross and that teaches us to serve, to love. And you are not ashamed of the cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in the gift of self, in going out of yourself that you have true joy and that with God’s love he conquered evil. You carry the Pilgrim Cross across all the continents, down the roads of the world! You carry it responding to Jesus’ invitation, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Matthew 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it to say to everyone that on the cross Jesus broke down the wall of enmity that separates men and peoples, and brought reconciliation and peace. Dear friends, I too journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of John Paul II and of Benedict XVI. We are already near this next stage on this great pilgrimage of the cross. Look with joy to July, to Rio de Janeiro! I have an appointment with you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare yourselves well, above all spiritually in your communities, so that meeting will be a sign of faith for the whole world. The young people must say to the world: it is good to follow Jesus; it is good to go with Jesus; Jesus’ message is good; it is good to go out of yourself to the ends of the earth and existence to bring Jesus! Three words: joy, cross, youth.

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of the encounter with Christ, the love with which we, at the foot of the cross, must look upon him, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him this Holy Week and our whole life. Amen.

 

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Pope Francis' Chrism Mass Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 28, 2013 - Here is the translation of the homily given today by Pope Francis during the Chrism Mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with affection, especially you, dear priests, who, like myself, today recall the day of your ordination.

The readings of our Mass speak of God's anointed ones: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God's faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed A fine image of this being for others can be found in the Psalm: It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe (Ps 133:2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe.

The sacred robes of the High Priest are rich in symbolism. One such symbol is that the names of the children of Israel were engraved on the onyx stones mounted on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, the ancestor of our present-day chasuble: six on the stone of the right shoulder-piece and six on that of the left (cf. Ex 28:6-14). The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were also engraved on the breastplate (cf. Es 28:21). This means that the priest celebrates by carrying on his shoulders the people entrusted to his care and bearing their names written in his heart. When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs of whom there are many in these times

From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn to a consideration of activity, action. The precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend fragrance to his person; it overflows down to the edges. The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. The ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid and the heart bitter.

A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with unction, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the outskirts where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem, Bless me, Pray for me these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into prayer.

The prayers of the people of God. When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God's grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal but only apparently so the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples future priests see or understand: on the existential outskirts, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.

We need to go out, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.

A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little I won't say not at all because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, has already received his reward, and since he doesn't put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, become sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties instead of being shepherds living with the smell of the sheep, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men. True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to put out into the deep, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is unction not function and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.

Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God's heart.

Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those outskirts where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord's disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen.

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Pope Francis' Holy Thursday Homily at Casal del Marmo Juvenile Detention Center

ROME, March 29, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope' Francis homily for the "In Coena Domini" Mass celebrated at the Casal del Marmo Juvenile Detention Center.

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This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples.. Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me teacher and master, and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one anothers feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

It is the example set by Our Lord, its important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other, but we dont have to wash each others feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each othersometimes I would get angry with one someone, but we must let it go and if they ask a favor of do it!

Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.

Now we will perform the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet and we must each one of us think, Am I really willing to help others? Just think of that. Think that this sign is Christs caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us.

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Francis' Address to Youth of Casal del Marmo After Holy Thursday Mass
"The matters of the heart do not have an explanation"

ROME, March 29, 2013  - At the end of the Holy Mass, before returning to the Vatican, Pope Francis met in the gymnasium of the “Famiglia dell’Istituto” penitentiary with, among others, the Minister of Justice, the Honorable Paola Severino; the Head of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Catherine Chinnici; the Commander of the Penitentiary Police of Casal del Marmo, Saul Patrizi; and Director of Casal del Marmo, Liana Giambartolomei. The youth of the penitentiary gave the a Pope a wooden cross and a kneeler, also made of wood, which was made by them at the workshop of the Institute.

During the meeting, responding first to the greeting by the Hon. Severino and then responding to a question by one of the young prisoners, the Holy Father said the following words:

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I thank the Minister for words, I thank the authorities for their welcome and thank you boys and girls, for your welcome today I am happy to be with you. Go forward, alright? And do not let yourselves be robbed of hope, do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Understood? Always with hope,

Go forward! Thank you.

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Question from young man:

Thank you for coming today Father. But I would like to know one thing: why did you come today to Casal del Marmo?

It is a feeling that came from the heart, that is what I heard. Where there are those that maybe will help me more to be humble, to be a servant as a bishop should be. And I thought, I asked: "Where are those who would like a visit?" And they said, "Casal del Marmo, maybe." And when they told me, I came here. But it only came from the heart. The matters of the heart do not have an explanation, they just come. Thank you!

Final greetings:

Now I leave. Thank you so much for your welcome. Pray for me and do not let yourselves be robbed of hope. Always go forward! Thank you so much!

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Pope's Easter Vigil Homily

VATICAN CITY, March 31, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis’  homily  at yesterday ‘s Easter Vigil , held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: "What happened?", "What is the meaning of all this?" (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises. Dear brothers and sisters, we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us! The Lord is like that.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.

2. But let us return to the Gospel, to the women, and take one step further. They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there, something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes who say: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen" (Lk 24:5-6). What was a simple act, done surely out of love – going to the tomb – has now turned into an event, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting "today" of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you dear sister, for you dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!

Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

3. There is one last little element that I would like to emphasize in the Gospel for this Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of God. Jesus has risen, he is alive! But faced with empty tomb and the two men in brilliant clothes, their first reaction is one of fear: "they were terrified and bowed their faced to the ground", Saint Luke tells us – they didn’t even have courage to look. But when they hear the message of the Resurrection, they accept it in faith. And the two men in dazzling clothes tell them something of crucial importance: remember. "Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee… And they remembered his words" (Lk 24:6,8). This is the invitation to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives.

On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51) and ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May he open us to the newness that transforms, to the beautiful surprises of God. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day, dear brothers and sisters, not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen.

 

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Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing

VATICAN CITY, March 31, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) Blessing given to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square this morning.

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Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter! What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil!

Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs! We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen?

It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell - to the abyss of separation from God - this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7).

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.

Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’” (Ps 117:1-2).

Greeting

Dear Brothers and Sisters, to you who have come from all over the world to this Square at the heart of Christianity, and to you linked by modern technology, I repeat my greeting: Happy Easter!

Bear in your families and in your countries the message of joy, hope and peace which every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed.

May the risen Lord, the conqueror of sin and death, be a support to you all, especially to the weakest and neediest. Thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith. A thought and a special thank-you for the beautiful flowers, which come from the Netherlands. To all of you I affectionately say again: may the risen Christ guide all of you and the whole of humanity on the paths of justice, love and peace.

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

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

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

 

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Pope's Homily on Feast of St. George

VATICAN CITY, April 23, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' homily during Mass with the Cardinals present in Rome at the Pauline Chapel for the Feast of Saint George.

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I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, (Cardinal Angelo Sodano) for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.

I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.

The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

And the third idea comes to my mind - the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church - and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd - the text says: " And a large number of people was added to the Lord" - when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. " When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced ": his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says - I do not remember which one, here - "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord." And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world - as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time - we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.

Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it.

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On Pentecost

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

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Dear brothers and sisters,

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

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

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

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

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Pope Francis' Homily at Pentecost Mass

VATICAN CITY, May 19, 2013 - Here is the translation of Pope Francis' homily at Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost which was celebrated this morning at St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven like the rush of a violent wind, and filled the house; then the tongues as of fire which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language. And what is it that they are they speaking about? Gods deeds of power.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for noveltys sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to Gods surprises? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which Gods newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony Ipse harmonia est. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Churchs teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the Comforter, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?

Todays liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out:Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love! Amen.

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On the Most Holy Trinity

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

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Dear brothers and sisters!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

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

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

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

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!

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Pope Francis' Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

ROME, May 31, 2013 - Here is the text of the Holy Father’s homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) which took place in the square in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. After the Mass, Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic Procession that lead to the Papal basilica of St. Mary Major.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

in the Gospel we heard, there is an expression of Jesus' that always strikes me: «You give them something to eat "(Lk 9:13). Starting from this sentence, I will allow myself be guided by three words: discipleship, communion, sharing.

1. First of all: who are those to be fed? The answer is found at the beginning of the Gospel: the crowds, the multitude. Jesus is in the midst of people, he welcomes them, speaks to them, cures them, he shows them the mercy of God; from among them he chooses Twelve Apostles to be with Him and immerse themselves, like Him, in the concrete situations of the world. And the people follow Him, they listen to Him, because Jesus speaks and acts in a new way, with the authority of someone who is genuine and consistent, who speaks and acts with truth, who gives the hope that comes from God, who is the revelation of the Face of a God who is love. And the people joyfully bless God.

Tonight we are the crowd of the Gospel, we seek to follow Jesus to listen to him, to enter into communion with him in the Eucharist, to accompany him and so that he may accompany us. Let us ask ourselves: how do I follow I Jesus? Jesus speaks in silence in the mystery of the Eucharist and each time reminds us that following him means coming out of ourselves and making our life not our own, but a gift to him and to the others.

2. Let's go further: where does Jesus' invitation come from, for the disciples themselves to feed the multitude? It stems from two factors: first of all from the crowd that, following Jesus, finds itself outdoors, away from the towns, while evening is approaching, and then from the disciples' concern to ask Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that they can go into the neighboring territories to find food and lodging (cf. Lk 9:12). Faced with the needs of the crowd, this is the disciples' solution: every man for himself; dismiss the crowd! Every man for himself; dismiss the crowd! How often do we Christians have this temptation! We do not care about other's needs, and dismiss them with a pitiful: "May God help you", or with a not so pitiful: "Good luck", and if I don't see you anymore ... But Jesus' solution goes in another direction, one that surprises his disciples: "You yourselves give them something to eat." But how can we feed a multitude? "We only have five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people» (Lk 9:13). But Jesus is not discouraged: he asks the disciples to make the people sit in communities of fifty people, raises his eyes to heaven, recites the blessing, breaks the loaves and gives them to the disciples to distribute them (cf. Lk 9:16).

It is a moment of profound communion: the crowd, quenched by the word of the Lord, is now nourished by his bread of life. And all of them were filled, notes the Evangelist (cf. Lk 9:17). This evening, we too are around the Lord's table, the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in which he gives us once again his body, he makes present the one sacrifice of the cross. It is in listening to his Word, in nourishing ourselves on his body and his blood, that he makes us go from a multitude to being a community, from anonymity to communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion, that makes us come out from our individualism to live together our discipleship, our faith in him. Then we should all ask ourselves before the Lord: how do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment of true communion with the Lord, but also with all our brothers and sisters who share this same table? What are our Eucharistic celebrations like?

3. One last element: what generates the multiplication of the loaves? The answer lies in Jesus' invitation to the disciples "You give... ", "give ", share. What do the disciples share? What little they have: five loaves and two fishes. But it is precisely those loaves and fishes in the hands of the Lord that feed the whole crowd. And it is precisely these disciples, distressed when faced with the inability of their means, the poverty of what they can offer, who get the people to sit down and who distribute – trusting Jesus' word - the loaves and fishes that feed the crowd. And this tells us that in the Church, but also in society, one keyword that we must not fear is 'solidarity', i.e. to put at God's disposal what we have, our humble capacities, because only in sharing, in the gift, will our lives be fruitful, will they bear fruit. Solidarity: a word frowned upon by the worldly spirit!

Tonight, once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread which is his Body, he makes himself gift. And we, too, experience the "solidarity of God" with man, a solidarity that never runs out, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God is near us, in the sacrifice of the cross he stoops to enter into the darkness of death to give us his life, defeating evil, selfishness and death. Jesus also this evening gives himself to us in the Eucharist, he shares our same journey, indeed, he makes himself food, the real food that sustains our lives even in times when the road becomes tough, the obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist, the Lord makes us travel his path, that of service, of sharing, of gift, and what little we have, what little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God, which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.

Let us ask ourselves then this evening, worshiping Christ really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to come out more and more from behind my little fence, to go out and not be afraid to give, to share, to love him and others?

Brothers and sisters: discipleship, communion, sharing. Let us pray that the participation in the Eucharist leads us to always follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion, to share what we are with him and with our neighbor. Then our lives will be truly fruitful. Amen.

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Below, the full text of Pope Francis’ homily Christmas:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1).

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.

Walking. This verb makes us reflect on the course of history, that long journey which is the history of salvation, starting with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to go forth from his country towards the land which he would show him. From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord! He is ever faithful to his covenant and to his promises. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5). Yet on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.

In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us. “Whoever hates his brother – writes the Apostle John – is in the darkness; he walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 Jn 2:11).

On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race” (Tit 2:11).

The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.

The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.

On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.

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Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi Message

VATICAN CITY, December 26, 2013  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's traditional Urbi et Orbi message on Christmas Day.

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Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favours (Lk 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the whole world, Greetings and Happy Christmas!

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.

Glory to God!

Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.

May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.

Peace to mankind

True peace - we know this well - is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely "façade" which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, but making peace is an art, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.

Looking at the Child in the manger, Child of peace, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!

Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world. And I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace.

Grant peace, dear Child, to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused too many victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.

Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favourable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.

Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!

Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.

Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, in this world, in this humanity, is born the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us not fear this. Let us not fear that our hearts be moved. We need this! Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God’s caresses do not harm us. They give us peace and strength. We need his caresses. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Christmas Midnight Mass

VATICAN CITY, December 26, 2013  - Here is the text of the Holy Father's homily at Midnight Mass for the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord on December 24th at St. Peter's Square.

* * *

1."The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"(Is 9:1).

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.

Walking. This verb makes us reflect on the course of history, that long journey which is the history of salvation, starting with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to go forth from his country towards the land which he would show him. From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord! He is ever faithful to his covenant and to his promises. Because he is faithful, "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5). Yet on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.

In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us. "Whoever hates his brother – writes the Apostle John – is in the darkness; he walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 Jn 2:11). A people who walk, but as a pilgrim people who do not want to go astray.

2. On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: "God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race" (Tit 2:11).

The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.

3. The shepherds were the first to see this "tent", to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. The pilgrim is bound by duty to keep watch and the shepherds did just that. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.

On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: "Do not be afraid!" (Lk 2:10). As the angels said to the shepherds: "Do not be afraid!". And I also repeat to all of you: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace. Amen.

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Angelus: On the Holy Family

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

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

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

Prayer to the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendor of true love,

we turn to you in trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

make our families too

places of communion and cenacles of prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may violence, closure and division

never again be experienced in families;

may whoever has been wounded or scandalized

soon be consoled and healed.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the coming Synod of Bishops

reawaken in everyone the consciousness

of the sacred and inviolable character of the family,

its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

hear and grant our supplication. Amen.

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

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

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

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Pope Francis' Homily on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
"The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission. By her example of humility and openness to God's will she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all"

VATICAN CITY, January 02, 2014  - At 10 am on January 1st in the Vatican Basilica, Pope Francis presided at the celebration of the Mass of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in the Octave of Christmas and the celebration of the 47th World Day of Peace on the theme: Fraternity, Foundation and Pathway to Peace.

First concelebrants at the altar were Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deputy Secretary of State; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States; Bishop Mario Toso, SDB, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Below is the homily Pope Francis gave during the Mass:

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In the first reading we find the ancient prayer of blessing which God gave to Moses to hand on to Aaron and his sons: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (Num 6:24-25). There is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year to hear these words of blessing: they will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us. They are words of strength, courage and hope. Not an illusory hope, based on frail human promises, or a naïve hope which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future. Rather, it is a hope that has its foundation precisely in God’s blessing, a blessing which contains the greatest message of good wishes there can be; and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us, filled with the Lord’s loving care and providential help.

The message of hope contained in this blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before all creatures.

The Mother of God. This is the first and most important title of Our Lady. It refers to a quality, a role which the faith of the Christian people, in its tender and genuine devotion to our heavenly Mother, has understood from the beginning.

We recall that great moment in the history of the ancient Church, the Council of Ephesus, in which the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary was authoritatively defined. The truth of her divine maternity found an echo in Rome where, a little later, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major was built, the first Marian shrine in Rome and in the entire West, in which the image of the Mother of God – the Theotokos – is venerated under the title of Salus Populi Romani. It is said that the residents of Ephesus used to gather at the gates of the basilica where the bishops were meeting and shout, "Mother of God!". The faithful, by asking them to officially define this title of Our Lady, showed that they acknowledged her divine motherhood. Theirs was the spontaneous and sincere reaction of children who know their Mother well, for they love her with immense tenderness. But it is more: it is the sensus fidei of the holy People of God which, in its unity, never errs.

Mary has always been present in the hearts, the piety and above all the pilgrimage of faith of the Christian people. "The Church journeys through time… and on this journey she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary" (Redemptoris Mater, 2). Our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us. As far as faith, the hinge of the Christian life, is concerned, the Mother of God shared our condition. She had to take the same path as ourselves, a path which is sometimes difficult and obscure. She had to advance in the "pilgrimage of faith" (Lumen Gentium, 58).

Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: "Behold your Mother!" (Jn 19:27). These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail. The "woman" became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, all, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus. The woman who at the wedding at Cana in Galilee gave her faith-filled cooperation so that the wonders of God could be displayed in the world, at Calvary kept alive the flame of faith in the resurrection of her Son, and she communicates this with maternal affection to each and every person. Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!

The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission. By her example of humility and openness to God’s will she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without reservation. In this way our mission will be fruitful, because it is modeled on the motherhood of Mary. To her let us entrust our journey of faith, the desires of our heart, our needs and the needs of the whole world, especially of those who hunger and thirst for justice and peace, and for God. Let us then together invoke her, and I invite you to invoke her three times, following the example of those brothers and sisters of Ephesus: Mother of God! Mother of God! Mother of God! Amen.

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Pope's Homily During First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Mother of God and Te Deum

VATICAN CITY, January 02, 2014  - At 5:00 pm on December 31st, Pope Francis presided over the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God, in the Vatican Basilica, followed by exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament, the singing of the traditional Te Deum hymn of thanksgiving at the end of the civil year, and the Eucharistic blessing.

Here is a translation of the homily given by the Pope in the course of the celebration of Vespers.

* * *

The Apostle John describes the present time in a precise way: “it is the last hour” ( 1 John 2-18). This affirmation, which recurs in the Mass of December 31, means that with the coming of God in history we are already in the “last” times, after which the final passage will be the second and definitive coming of Christ. Of course there is talk here of the quality of time, not of its quantity. With Jesus the “fullness” of time came, fullness of meaning and fullness of salvation. And there will no longer be a new revelation, but the full manifestation of what Jesus has already revealed. In this sense we are in the “last hour”; every moment of our life is definitive and every action of ours is charged with eternity; in fact the answer we give God today, who loves us in Jesus Christ, affects our future.

The biblical and Christian vision of time and of history is not cyclical but linear: it is a path that goes to a fulfilment. A year has passed, however, it does not lead us to a reality that ends but to a reality that is fulfilled, it is a further step towards the end that is before us: an end of hope and happiness, because we will encounter God, reason of our hope and source of our gladness.

While the year 2013 comes to an end, we gather, as in a basket, the days, the weeks, the months that we have lived, to offer everything to the Lord. And we ask ourselves: how have we lived the time He has given us? Did we use it above all for ourselves, for our interests, or did we know how to spend it also for others? And God? How much time did we reserve to “be with Him,” in prayer, in silence?

And we think also of this city of Rome. What happened this year? What is happening, and what will happen? What is the quality of life like in this city? It depends on all of us! What is the quality of our “citizenship”? Did we contribute this year in our “little” way, to render it more livable, ordered, hospitable? In fact, the face of a city is like a mosaic whose tesserae are all those who inhabit it. One who is invested with greater authority, certainly has greater responsibility, but each one is co-responsible for good and evil.

Rome is a city of unique beauty. Its spiritual and cultural patrimony is extraordinary. Yet in Rome there are also so many people marked by material and moral miseries, poor, unhappy, suffering people that interpellate the conscience not only of those publicly responsible but of every citizen. At Rome, perhaps, we feel more strongly this contrast between the majestic environment charged with artistic beauty, and the social hardship of those who toil more.

Rome is a city full of tourists, but also full of refugees. Rome is full of people who work, but also of people who do not find work or are working in underpaid jobs which sometimes are unworthy: and all have the right to be treated with the same attitude of hospitality and fairness, because everyone is a bearer of human dignity.

It is the last day of the year. What will we do, how will we act in the coming year, to render our city a bit better? The Rome of the new year will have an even more beautiful face if it is even richer in humanity, hospitality, more welcoming; if all of us are attentive and generous to those in difficulty; if we are able to collaborate with a constructive and solidaristic spirit, for the good of all. The Rome of the new year will be better if there are not persons that look at her “from afar,” that look at life only ”from the balcony,” without involving themselves in the many human problems, problems of men and women that, in the end … and from the beginning, whether we wish it or not, are our brothers. In this perspective, the Church of Rome feels committed to make her own contribution to the life and future of the city: to animate it with the leaven of the Gospel, to be a sign and instrument of God’s mercy.

This evening we conclude the Year of the Lord 2013, giving thanks and asking for forgiveness. We are thankful for all the benefits that God has lavished on us, especially for his patience and fidelity, which are manifested in the passing of time, but in a singular way in the fullness of time, when “God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Galatians 4:4). May the Mother of God, in whose name we will begin tomorrow a new stretch of our earthly pilgrimage, teach us to welcome the God made man, so that every year, every month, every day is filled with His eternal Love.

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Pope's Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany

VATICAN CITY, January 07, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily at the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of the Epiphany yesterday morning at St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

"Lumen requirunt lumine". These evocative words from a liturgical hymn for the Epiphany speak of the experience of the Magi: following a light, they were searching for the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi followed faithfully that light which filled their hearts, and they encountered the Lord.

The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great "books" which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us,who always speaks to us. As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps 119:105). Listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.

The first reading echoes, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, the call of God to Jerusalem: "Arise, shine!" (Is 60:1). Jerusalem is called to be the city of light which reflects God’s light to the world and helps humanity to walk in his ways. This is the vocation and the mission of the People of God in the world. But Jerusalem can fail to respond to this call of the Lord. The Gospel tells us that the Magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, lost sight of the star for a time. They no longer saw it. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King Herod: his dwelling was gloomy, filled with darkness, suspicion, fear, envy. Herod, in fact, proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail Child whom he thought of as a rival. In realty Jesus came not to overthrow him, a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world! Nonetheless, the king and his counsellors sensed that the foundations of their power were crumbling. They feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on power, on success, possessions and corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child! Herod went so far as to kill the children. As Saint Quodvultdeus writes, "You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart" (Sermo 2 de Symbolo: PL 40, 655). This was in fact the case: Herod was fearful and on account of this fear, he became insane.

The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the gospel tells us that they experienced "a great joy" (Mt 2:10). The very star which could not be seen in that dark, worldly palace.

One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy "cunning". This holy "cunning" is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of "cunning" when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. By this holy "cunning", the Magi guarded the faith. We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. Many times, however, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as Saint Paul says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light. And this is where a holy "cunning" is necessary in order to protect the faith, guarding it from those alarmist voices that exclaim: "Listen, today we must do this, or that...". Faith though, is a grace, it is a gift. We are entrusted with the task of guarding it, by means of this holy "cunning" and by prayer, love, charity. We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Mt 10:16).

On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way. Their example helps us to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of "playing it safe", but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful… by God, who is all of this, and so much more! And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. We must not stop at that. It is necessary to guard the faith. Today this is of vital importance: to keep the faith. We must press on further, beyond the darkness, beyond the voices that raise alarm, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today. We must press on towards Bethlehem, where, in the simplicity of a dwelling on the outskirts, beside a mother and father full of love and of faith, there shines forth the Sun from on high, the King of the universe. By the example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith. May it be so.

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On the Presentation of the Lord

VATICAN CITY, February 02, 2014  -

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

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pope Francis' Homily on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
"When Mary and Joseph take their child to the Temple of Jerusalem, it is Jesus' first encounter with His People"

VATICAN CITY, February 03, 2014  - On Sunday, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and Day of Consecrated life, the Holy Father presided over the celebration of Holy Mass, in the Vatican Basilica, with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic life. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were priests belonging to Religious Orders, Congregations and Institutes.

In the course of the rite, which opened with the blessing of candles and a procession followed by the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope delivered the homily which we translate below.

* * *

The feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is also called the feast of encounter: the beginning of the liturgy states that Jesus goes to meet His People, it is the encounter between Jesus and His People. When Mary and Joseph take their child to the Temple of Jerusalem, it is Jesus’ first encounter with His People, represented by the two elderly Simeon and Anna.

It was also an encounter within the history of the People, an encounter between young people and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph with their newborn, and the elderly were Simeon and Anna, two personages who always frequented the Temple.

Let us observe what the evangelist Luke says of them, how he describes them. Of Our Lady and Saint Joseph he repeats four times that they wanted to do what was prescribed by the Law of the Lord (cf. Luke 2:22.23.24.27). One gathers, almost perceives that Jesus’ parents have the joy of observing God’s precepts, yes, the joy of following the Law of the Lord! They are two newlyweds, they have just had their child, and they are altogether animated by the desire to fulfill what is prescribed. This is not an external fact; it is not to feel well, no! It is a strong, profound desire full of joy. It is what the Psalm says: “In the way of Thy testimonies I delight … Thy law is my delight” (119:14.77).

And what does Saint Luke say of the elderly? He stresses more than once  that they were led by the Holy Spirit. Of Simeon he affirms that he was a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that “the Holy Spirit was upon him” (2:25); he says that “the Holy Spirit had revealed to him “ that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah (v. 26). And, finally, that he went to the Temple “inspired by the Spirit” (v. 27). Then of Anna, he says that she was a “prophetess” (v. 36), that is, inspired by God, and that she was always in the Temple “worshipping with fasting and prayer” (v. 37). In sum, these two elderly were full of life! They were full of life because they were animated by the Holy Spirit, docile to His action, sensitive to His calls …

And behold the encounter between the Holy Family and these two representatives of the Holy People of God. Jesus is at the center. It is He who moves everything, who attracts one and all to the Temple, which is the House of His Father.

It is an encounter between young people full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observance and prophecy, where the young are the observers and the elderly are the prophets! In reality, if we reflect well, the observance of the Law is animated by the Spirit himself, and the prophecy is moved in the way traced by the Law. Who more than Mary is full of the Holy Spirit? Who is more docile than she to His action?

We look at consecrated life in the light of this evangelical scene as an encounter with Christ: it is He who comes to us, brought by Mary and Joseph, and it is we who go to Him, led by the Holy Spirit. But He is at the center. He moves all, He attracts us to the Temple, to the Church, where we can encounter Him, recognize Him, welcome Him and embrace Him.

Jesus comes to meet us in the Church through the foundational charism of an Institute: it is lovely to think thus of our vocation! Our encounter with Christ has taken its form in the Church through the charism of one of his male witnesses, of one of his female witnesses. This always astounds us and makes us give thanks.

And lived also in consecrated life is the encounter between the young and the elderly, between observance and prophecy. Let us not see it as two opposite realities. Rather, let us leave the Holy Spirit to animate both, and the sign of this is joy: the joy of observing, of following a rule of life; and the joy of being led by the Spirit, never rigid, never closed, always open to the voice of God who speaks, who opens, who leads, who invites us to go towards the horizon.

It does good to the elderly to communicate wisdom to young people; and it does good to young people to receive this patrimony of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not to keep it in a museum, but to carry it forwards facing the challenges that life presents; to carry it forward for the good of the respective Religious Families and of the whole Church.

May the grace of this mystery, of the mystery of encounter, enlighten and comfort us on our journey. Amen.

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On the Season of Lent (2014)
"Lent comes to us as a providential time to change course, to regain the capacity to react in face of the reality of evil that always challenges us"

VATICAN CITY, March 05, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address today during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, Ash Wednesday, the forty-day Lenten itinerary begins, which will lead us to the Easter Triduum, memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, heart and center of the mystery of our salvation. Lent prepares us for this moment that is so important, for this “intense” time, a turning point which can foster a change in each one of us, conversion. We all have need to become better, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus [allows us] to come out of our weary habits and lazy addiction to the evil that deceives us. In the Lenten season the Church addresses to us two important invitations: to have a more lively awareness of Christ’s redemptive work and to live our Baptism with greater commitment.

The awareness of the wonders that the Lord has done for our salvation disposes our mind and our heart to an attitude of gratitude to God, for all that He has given us, for all that he fulfills for His people and the whole of humanity. Our conversion begins here: it is our grateful answer to the stupendous mystery of the love of God. When we see this love that God has for us, we feel the need to come closer to him: this is conversion.

To live our Baptism through and through – this is the second invitation – means not to be accustomed to situations of degradation and misery, which we meet when walking through the streets of our cities and our countries. There is the risk of accepting passively certain behaviors and to not be astounded in face of the sad realities that surround us. We are accustomed to violence, as if it were daily news taken for granted; we are accustomed to brothers and sisters sleeping on the street, who have no roof for shelter. We are accustomed to refugees in search of liberty and dignity, who are not received as they should be. We are accustomed to live in a society that pretends to do without God, in which parents no longer teach their children to pray or to make the sign of the cross. I would like to as you: your children, do they know how to make the sign of the cross? Think about it. Do your grandchildren know how to make the sign of the cross? Did you teach them? Think about it and respond in your hearts. Do they know how to pray the Our Father? Do they know how to pray to Our Lady with the Hail Mary? Think and answer for yourselves. This addiction to non-Christian behaviors and to comfort drugs our heart!

Lent comes to us as a providential time to change course, to regain the capacity to react in face of the reality of evil that always challenges us. Lent is to be lived as a time of conversion, of personal and communal renewal through drawing close to God and confident adherence to the Gospel. In this way, it enables us also to look at our brothers and their needs with new eyes. For this Lent is the favorable time to be converted to love of God and of our neighbor;  a love that is able to make its own the attitude of gratuitousness and mercy of the Lord, who “became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich” (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). By meditating on the central mysteries of the faith, the Passion, Cross and Resurrection of Christ, we will realize that the measureless gift of the Redemption was given to us by God’s gratuitous initiative.

Rendering thanks to God for the mystery of His crucified love; genuine faith, conversion and openness of heart to brothers: these are essential elements to live the Lenten season. On this journey we wish to invoke with particular trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary: may She, the first believer in Christ, accompany us in our days of intense prayer and penance, to be able to celebrate, purified and renewed in the Spirit, the great mystery of the Easter of her Son. Thank you!

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today, Ash Wednesday, begins our Lenten journey of penance, prayer and conversion in preparation for the Church’s annual celebration of the saving mysteries of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. In these days the Church asks us to ponder with joy and gratitude God’s immense love revealed in the paschal mystery and to live ever more fully the new life we have received in Baptism. This journey of spiritual renewal in the footsteps of Christ also calls us to acknowledge and respond to the growing spiritual and material poverty in our midst. Specifically, it means consciously resisting the pressure of a culture which thinks it can do without God, where parents no longer teach their children to pray, where violence, poverty and social decay are taken for granted. May this Lent, then, be a time when, as individuals and communities, we heed the words of the Gospel, reflect on the mysteries of our faith, practice acts of penance and charity, and open our hearts ever more fully to God’s grace and to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

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Pope's Ash Wednesday Homily (2014)
"Why do we have to return to God? Because there are things that are not well in us, in society, in the Church and we are in need of changing, of turning, of being converted!"

ROME, March 05, 2014 - Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily from the celebration of the Eucharist today in the Basilica of Saint Sabina, with the rite of blessing and imposition of ashes.

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“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13).

With these penetrating words of the prophet Joel, the liturgy introduces us today into Lent, indicating the characteristic of this time of grace to be the conversion of heart. The prophetic appeal constitutes a challenge for us all, no one excluded, and reminds us that conversion is not reduced to exterior forms or vague resolutions, but it involves and transforms the whole of existence, from the center of the person, from the conscience. We are invited to undertake a journey in which, challenging routine, we force ourselves to open our eyes and ears, but especially our heart, to go beyond our “little vegetable garden.”

To Be Open to God and to Brothers. We live in an ever more artificial world, in a culture of “doing,” of the “useful,” where without noticing it we exclude God from our horizon. Lent calls us to “rouse ourselves,” to remind ourselves that we are creatures, that we are not God.

And we also risk closing ourselves to others, forgetting them. However, only when the difficulties and the sufferings of our brothers draw us in, only then can we begin our journey of conversion toward Easter. It is a journey that includes the cross and renunciation. Today’s Gospel points out the elements of this spiritual journey: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (cf. Matthew 6:1-6.16-18). All three entail the necessity not to allow oneself to be dominated by things that appear: what counts is not appearance; the value of life does not depend on the approval of others or on success, but on what we have within.

The first element is prayer. Prayer is the strength of a Christian and of every believing person. In the weakness and fragility of our life, we can turn to God with the confidence of children and enter into communion with Him. In face of so many wounds that do us harm and that could harden our heart, we are called to plunge ourselves into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, to relish His tenderness. Lent is a time of prayer, of a more intense, more assiduous prayer, more able to take charge of the needs of brothers, to intercede before God for so many situations of poverty and suffering.

The second qualifying element of the Lenten journey is fasting. We must pay attention not to practice a formal fasting, which in truth “satiates” us because it makes us feel good. Fasting makes sense if it truly breaks our security, and also if it obtains a benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends over his brother in difficulty and takes care of him. Fasting entails the choice of a sober life, which does not waste, which does not “discard.” Fasting helps us to train the heart to the essential and to sharing. It is a sign of awareness and of responsibility in face of injustices, abuse of power, especially in dealings with the poor and little ones, and is a sign of the trust that we place in God and in His providence.

The third element is almsgiving: it indicates gratuitousness, because alms are given to someone from whom we do not expect to receive anything in return. Gratuitousness must be one of the characteristics of a Christian, who, aware of having received everything freely from God, namely, without any merit, learns to give to others gratuitously. Today gratuity often is not part of daily life, where everything is sold and bought. Everything is calculated and measured. Alms help us to live the gratuity of gift, which is freedom from the obsession of possession, from fear of losing what one has, from the sadness of the one who does not want to share with the other his own wellbeing.

With its invitations to conversion, Lent comes providentially to awaken us, to shake us from torpor, from the risk of <not> going forward out of inertia. The exhortation that the Lord addresses to us through the prophet Joel is strong and clear: “return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why do we have to return to God? Because there are things that are not well in us, in society, in the Church and we are in need of changing, of turning, of being converted! Once again Lent comes to address its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new in ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, He continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over again. With this filial trust, let us begin our journey!

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General Audience: On St. Joseph
"St. Joseph is the model of the educator and of the daddy, of the father"

VATICAN CITY, March 19, 2014  - Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address this morning at the general audience, which in light of today’s solemnity, he dedicated to St. Joseph.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, March 19, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and Patron of the universal Church. Therefore, we dedicate this catechesis to him, who merits all our gratitude and our devotion for his having been able to take care of the Holy Virgin and her Son Jesus. Joseph’s characteristic is to be a guardian: it is his great mission, to be a guardian.

Today I would like to take up the topic of guardianship according to a particular perspective: the educational perspective. We look at Joseph as the model of educators, who takes care of and supports Jesus in the course of his growth “in wisdom, age and grace,” as the Gospel says. He was not Jesus’ father: Jesus’ Father was God, but he behaved as a father to Jesus, he behaved as a father to Jesus to make him grow. And how did he make him grow? In wisdom, age and grace.

We begin with age, which is the most natural dimension, physical and psychological growth. Joseph, together with Mary, took care of Jesus especially from this point of view, namely, he “brought him up,” taking care that he did not lack the necessary for a healthy development. Let us not forget that the diligent looking-after of the life of the Child entailed also the flight into Egypt, the harsh experience of living as refugees – Joseph was a refugee, with Mary and Jesus – to escape from Herod’s threat. Then, once they had returned to their homeland and were established at Nazareth, there is the whole long period of Jesus’ life in his family. In those years, Joseph also taught Jesus his work, and Jesus learned to be a carpenter with his father Joseph. So Joseph brought up Jesus.

We pass to the second dimension of education, that of “wisdom.” Joseph was for Jesus an example and teacher of this wisdom, which is nourished by the Word of God. We can think of how Joseph educated little Jesus to listen to the Sacred Scriptures, above all accompanying him on Saturdays to the synagogue of Nazareth. And Joseph accompanied him so that Jesus could hear the Word of God in the synagogue.

And, finally, the dimension of “grace.” Referring to Jesus, Saint Luke says: “And the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Here, certainly, the part reserved for Saint Joseph is more limited compared to the ambits of age and of wisdom. However, it would be a grave error to think that a father and a mother can do nothing to educate their children to grow in the grace of God. To grow in age, to grow in wisdom, to grow in grace: this is the work that Joseph did with Jesus, to make him grow in these three dimensions, to help him to grow.

Dear brothers and sisters, Saint Joseph’s mission is certainly unique and unrepeatable, because Jesus is absolutely unique. And yet, in his taking care of Jesus, educating him to grow in age, wisdom and grace he is a model for every educator, in particular for every father. Saint Joseph is the model of the educator and of the daddy, of the father. Therefore, I entrust to his protection all parents, priests – who are Fathers – and those who have an educational task in the Church and in society. In a special way, I would like to greet today, Day of the Father, all parents, all daddies: I greet you from my heart! Let’s see: are there some daddies in the Square? Daddies, raise your hand! But how many daddies! Best wishes, best wishes on your Day! I ask for you the grace to be always very close to your children, letting them grow but being close to them, close to them! They are in need of you, of your presence, of your closeness, of your love. Be for them like Saint Joseph: guardians of their growth in age, wisdom and grace. Guardians of their path; educators, and walk with them. And with this closeness you will be true educators. Thank you for all you do for your children, thank you. Many good wishes to you and happy Daddy’s Feast to all the daddies who are here, to all daddies. May Saint Joseph bless you and accompany you. And some of us have lost our daddy, he has gone, the Lord has called him. So many who are in the Square do not have their daddy. We can pray for all the daddies of the world, for the living daddies and also for the deceased and for our own, and we can do so together, each one remembering his daddy, if he is alive and if he is dead. And we pray to the great Daddy of us all, the Father. An “Our Father” for our daddies: Our Father …

And very best wishes to the daddies!

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the universal Church. Saint Joseph is venerated as the "guardian" of the Holy Family, and in this role he serves as a model for all fathers and educators. Joseph watched over Jesus’ human development – his growth, as Saint Luke tells us, "in wisdom, age and grace" (2:52). We think of how Joseph, as the carpenter of Nazareth, taught the young Jesus his trade and the value of work. Joseph also quietly imparted to Jesus that wisdom which consists above all in reverence for the Lord, prayer and fidelity to his word, and obedience to his will. Joseph’s paternal example helped Jesus to grow, on a human level, in his understanding and appreciation of his unique relationship to his heavenly Father. With Our Lady, Joseph guided the young Jesus as he responded to the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life. By his example and prayers, may Saint Joseph be a sure guide to all parents, priests and teachers charged with the education of our young.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Palm Sunday 2014

VATICAN CITY, April 13, 2014

This week begins with the festive procession of olive branches: the whole people welcome Jesus. The children, the young people sing, they praise Jesus.

But this week then moves forward into the mystery of the death of Jesus and of his resurrection. We have heard the Passion of the Lord. We will do well to pose just a single question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus who enters into Jerusalem? Am I capable of expressing my joy, of praising him? Or do I distance myself from him? Who am I before Jesus who suffers?

We have heard many names, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, some Pharisees, some teachers of the Law, who have decided to kill him. They waited for the opportunity to seize him. Am I like one of them?

We have also heard another name: Judas. 30 pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We heard other names: the disciples who understood nothing, who slept while the Lord suffered. Do I sleep through my life? Or am I like the disciples, who did not understand what it meant to betray Jesus? Am I like that other disciple who wanted to resolve everything with the sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who pretends to lover and kissed the Master to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like the leaders who hastily put together the tribunal and look for false witnesses? Am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I believe that I save the people in this way?

Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and not know how to accept my responsibility and let people be condemned, or condemn them myself?

Am I like that crowd that did not know whether it was in a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and chooses Barabbas? For them it was the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.

Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit upon him, insult him, have fun humiliating him?

Am I like the Cyrenian who was returning from work, tired, but who had the good will to help the Lord carry the cross?

Am I like those who passed in front of the cross and joked about Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him! Joking about Jesus...

Am I like those courageous women, and like Jesus’ Mother, who were there, suffering in silence?

Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who carried Jesus’ body with love, to put him in the tomb?

Am I like the 2 Marys who remain at the tomb crying, praying?

Am I like those leaders who on the following day went to Pilate to say: “Look, he said that he would be raised. Make sure that more deception does not happen!” and hold back life, block the tomb to defend doctrine, so that life does not come out?

Where is my heart? Which of these people am I like? May this question accompany us this whole week.

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Angelus: On Palm Sunday

VATICAN CITY, April 13, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address prior to the recitation of the Angelus at the conclusion of the Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

At the end of this celebration I offer s special greeting to the 250 delegates – bishops, priests, religious and laypeople – who participated in the meeting about World Youth Days that was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. In this begins the journey of preparation for the next  world gathering, which will take place in June 2016 in Krakow and will have as its theme “Blessed are the merciful, for they will find mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

In a moment the young people of Brazil will hand over the World Youth Day Cross to the young people of Poland. 30 years ago Bl. John Paul II handed over the cross to young people. He asked them to carry it throughout the world as a sign of Christ’s love for humanity.

On April 27 we will all have the joy of celebrating the canonization of this Pope together with John XXIII. John Paul II, he started the World Youth Days, will become their great patron saint. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to the young people of the world.

Let us ask the Lord that the Cross, together with the image of Mary “Salus Populi Romani,” be a sign of hope for all, revealing to the world the unconquerable love of Christ.

[The Brazilians hand over the cross to the Polish.]

I greet all the Romans and the pilgrims! I greet in particular the delegations from Rio de Janeiro and Krakow, led by their archbishops, Cardinals Orani João Tempesta e Stanisław Dziwisz.

In this context I have the joy to announce that, if it pleases God, on August 15 in Daejeon, in the Republic of Korea, I will meet with the young people of Asia during their great continental gathering

And now, let us turn to the Virgin Mother that she might help us to always follow Jesus’ example with faith.

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General Audience: On Holy Week  2014
"Jesus, who chose to pass through this life, calls us to follow him on his same way of humiliation"

VATICAN CITY, April 16, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis today during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, in the middle of Holy Week, the liturgy presents to us a sad episode: the account of Judas’ betrayal, who goes to the heads of the Sanhedrin to bargain and deliver his Master to them. “How much will you give me if I deliver him to you? “ At that moment, Jesus had a price. This tragic act marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion, the painful way he chose with absolute liberty. He himself says it clearly: “I lay down my life … No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John: 17-18). And thus, with this betrayal, the way begins of humiliation, of Jesus’ stripping. As if it was in the market: this costs thirty denarii …Once the way of humiliation and stripping is undertaken, Jesus sees it through to the end.

Jesus reaches complete humiliation with his “death on the cross.” It is the worst death -- that reserved for slaves and criminals. Jesus was considered a prophet, but he died as a criminal. Looking at Jesus in his Passion, we see as in a mirror the sufferings of humanity and we find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of grief and of death. So often we perceive the horror of the evil and pain that surrounds us and we ask: “Why does God allow it?” It is a profound wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent! When we see children suffering, it is a wound to the heart: it is the mystery of evil. And Jesus takes upon himself all this evil, all this suffering. It will do us all good this week to look at the crucifix, to kiss Jesus’ wounds, to kiss him on the cross. He took upon himself all human suffering, he clothed himself in this suffering.

We expect God, in His omnipotence, to defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory. Instead, God shows us a humble victory which humanly seems a failure. We can say that God conquers in failure! In fact, the Son of God appears on the cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is despised and finally dies. However, Jesus allows evil to rage on him and he takes it upon himself to defeat it. His Passion is not an incident; his death – that death – was “written.” Truly, we do not find many explanations. It is a disconcerting mystery, the mystery of God’s great humility: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16). We think so much of Jesus’ grief this week and we say to ourselves: this is for me. Even if I were the only person in the world, he would have done it. He did it for me. We kiss the crucifix and we say: for me, thank you Jesus, for me./

When all seems lost, when there is no longer anyone because they strike “the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31), it is then that God intervenes with the power of the Resurrection. Jesus’ Resurrection is not the happy ending of a beautiful fable, it is not the happy end of a film, but it is the intervention of God the Father when human hope is shattered. In the moment in which everything seems to be lost, in the moment of grief in which many persons feel the need to come down from the cross, it is the moment closest to the resurrection. The night becomes darker in fact before the morning begins, before the light begins. God intervenes in the darkest moment and resuscitates.

Jesus, who chose to pass through this life, calls us to follow him on his same way of humiliation. When in certain moments of life we find some way to come out of our difficulties, when we sink into the thickest darkness, it is the moment of our humiliation and total stripping, the hour in which we experience that we are fragile and sinners. It is in fact then, in that moment, that we must not mask our failure, but open ourselves confidently to hope in God, as Jesus did. Dear brothers and sisters, it will do us good this week to take the cross in hand and kiss it a lot, a lot and to say: thank you, Jesus, thank you, Lord. So be it.

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Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: The Gospel of this Wednesday of Holy Week presents the betrayal of Judas, which marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion. Out of love for us, Jesus freely walked the path of humiliation and self-abandonment for our salvation. As Saint Paul says, “he emptied himself… and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). As we contemplate Jesus in his passion, we see reflected the sufferings of all humanity and we discover God’s answer to the mystery of evil, suffering and death. He gives us his Son, who dies humiliated, betrayed, abandoned and reviled. Yet God’s victory shines forth in what appears, in human terms, to be failure and defeat. Jesus’ passion is the culmination of his revelation of the Father’s infinite love and his summons to faith in his word. Christ takes upon himself the power of evil in order to set us free: “by his wounds we have been healed” (cf. 1 Pet 2:24). This week, as we follow Jesus along the way of the cross, may we imitate his loving obedience to the will of the Father, especially in times of difficulty and humiliation, and open our hearts to his gifts of reconciliation, redemption and new life.

Pope Francis (In Italian):

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Australia, Canada and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the delegation from the NATO Defense College and to the many young people present. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the gifts of the Spirit for a fruitful celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. God bless you all!

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Pope's Remarks After Via Crucis Procession
"Before the cross of Jesus we can almost touch how much we are eternally loved"

VATICAN CITY, April 20, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Pope's remarks after the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), which took place at the ancient Colosseum of Rome on Good Friday.

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God put on the cross of Jesus all the weight of our sins, all the injustices perpetrated by every Cain against his brother, all the bitterness and betrayal of Judas and Peter, all the vanity of the domineering, all the arrogance of false friends. It was a heavy cross, like the night of those who have been abandoned, heavy like the death of loved ones, heavy because it takes on all the ugliness of evil. Nevertheless, it is also a glorious cross like the dawn after a long night because in everything it symbolizes God’s love, which is greater than our iniquity and our treachery. In the cross we see man’s monstrousness when he is guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God’s mercy, which does not deal with us according to our sins but according to his mercy.

Before the cross of Jesus we can almost touch how much we are eternally loved. Before the cross we feel are “children” and not “things” or “objects,” as St. Gregory the Great said, addressing Christ with this prayer: “If you did not exist, my Christ, I would feel like a finite creature. I am born and I feel myself dissolving. I eat, sleep, rest and walk, I get sick and I heal. Countless desires and torments assault me, I enjoy the sun and the earth’s fruitfulness. Then I die and my flesh becomes dust like the flesh of the animals, who have not sinned. But I, what do I have that they do not? Nothing, if not God. If you did not exist, my Christ, I would feel like a finite creature. O, our Jesus, lead us from the cross to the resurrection and teach us that evil does not have the last word. Love, mercy and forgiveness do. O Christ, help us to exclaim once again: “Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with him. Yesterday I died with him; today I am alive with him. Yesterday I was put in the tomb with him: today I am raised up with him.

Finally, let us all recall together the sick, let us remember all the people who are alone beneath the cross that they might find in the trial of the cross the power of hope, of hope in the resurrection and in the love of God.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Easter Vigil
"Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter Let us be on our way!"

VATICAN CITY, April 20, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily last night during the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath.  They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty.  A mighty angel says to them: Do not be afraid! (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee (v. 7).  The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me (v. 10).

After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died.  But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.  The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said.  And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me.

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began!  To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called.  Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets.  He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).

To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory.  To re-read everything Jesus preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.

For each of us, too, there is a Galilee at the origin of our journey with Jesus.  To go to Galilee means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience.  To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which Gods grace touched me at the start of the journey.  From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters.  That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential Galilee: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission.  In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of thaat call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him.  It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.

Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee?  Where is my Galilee?  Do I remember it?  Have I forgotten it?  Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?  Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.

The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection.  This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia.  It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.

Galilee of the Gentiles (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)!  Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter  Let us be on our way!

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Pope's Urbi et Orbi Message
"Christus surrexit, venite et videte!"

VATICAN CITY, April 20, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Urbi et Orbi Message given in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: "Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: "Come and see!" In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… "Come and see!": Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres!

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!" Christus surrexit, venite et videte!"

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!

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Angelus: On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
"Saint Peter and Saint Paul, so different from each other on a human level, were personally chosen by the Lord Jesus and they responded to the call offering their whole lives"

VATICAN CITY, June 29, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus, to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

From ancient times the Church of Rome has celebrated the Apostles Peter and Paul on a single feast on the same day, June 29. Faith in Jesus Christ made them brothers and martyrdom made them one. St. Peter and St. Paul, so different from each other on a human level, were personally chosen by the Lord Jesus and responded to the call by offering their whole life. Grace accomplished great things in both, it transformed them. And how it transformed them! Simon denied Jesus in the tragic moment of his passion. Saul harshly persecuted the Christians. But both experienced the love of God and let themselves be transformed by his mercy. In this way they became friends and apostles of Christ. This is why they continue to speak to the Church and still today point out the road of salvation to us. We too, even if we fall into the gravest sins and the darkest nights, God is always able to transform us as he transformed Peter and Paul. He can transform our heart and forgive us completely, transforming the darkness of our sin into the dawn of light. This is how God is: he transforms us, he always forgives us, just as he did with Peter and as he did with Paul.

The book of the Acts of the Apostles displays many of the characteristics of their witness. Peter, for example, teaches us to look upon the poor with the eyes of faith and to give them what is most precious to us: the power of Jesus’ name. This is what he did with the paralytic. Peter gave him what he had, namely, Jesus (cf. Acts 3:46).

Regarding Paul, the episode of his call on the road to Damascus is told of three times. This is the turning point of Paul’s life and it clearly delineates a before and after. Before, Paul was an archenemy of the Church. After, he placed his whole life at the service of the Gospel. For us too, the encounter with the Word of Christ is able to transform our lives completely. It is not possible to hear this Word and remain as we are, to stick with our habits. It pushes us to conquer the egoism in our heart to follow resolutely that Master who gave his life for his friends. But it is he who with his word changes us; it is he who transforms us; it is he who forgives us completely, if we open our hearts and ask for forgiveness.

Dear brothers and sisters, this feast awakens a great joy in us before God’s work of mercy in the hearts of these two men. It is the work of God’s mercy in these two men who were great sinners. God wants to fill us too with his grace just as he did with Peter and Paul. May the Virgin Mary help us to receive this grace as they did, with open hearts, and not to receive it in vain! May it sustain us in time of trial to bear witness to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. We ask it today especially for the metropolitan archbishops who were named this past year and who celebrated the Eucharist with me this morning in St. Peter’s. I greet all of them with affection together with their faithful and their relatives. Let us pray for them!

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

Dear brothers and sisters,

The news from Iraq is, unfortunately, very sad. I join with the bishops of the country and call on the government officials so that, through dialogue, national unity can be preserved and war avoided. I am near to the thousands of families, especially the Christian families, who were forced to leave their homes and are in great danger. Violence causes more violence; dialogue is the only way to peace. Let us pray to Our Lady that she protect the people of Iraq.

Ave Maria...

I greet all of you, especially the faithful of Rome, on the feast of our Patron Saints. I also greet the relatives of the metropolitan archbishops who received the pallium this morning and the delegations who accompanied them.

I greet the artists from many parts of the world who created this great work of art with flowers, and I thank the Pro Loco of Rome for sponsoring it. These artists are great, well done!

I cordially greet the faithful from San Fernando and from Ubrique (Cádiz), from Elche de la Sierra (Albacete), and from Parla, Madrid, as well as the numerous carpet installers who have participated in the grand floral display.

I greet the pilgrims from Madagascar, the students from Catholic schools in the United States of America and London; the faithful from Messina, Naples, Neviano, Taranto, Rocca di Papa and Pezzoro, and those who came on bicycle from Cardito. I also greet the "Friends of Venerable Francesco Antonio Marcucci" group.

I greet the Family Associations Forum of Lazio and I wish them every good thing in their activities these next few days at the Pius XI Institute of Rome.

I also offer my best wishes for the fireworks display that will take place this evening at Castel Sant’Angelo The proceeds will be used to support an initiative for young people in the Holy Land.

I wish everyone of you a happy feast of our Patron Saints. And please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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Pope Francis' Homily for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
"The witness of the Apostle Peter reminds us that our true refuge is trust in God"

VATICAN CITY, June 29, 2014 - Here is the translation of the Pope's homily during the Mass of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which was celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica this morning.

* * *

On this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal patrons of Rome, we welcome with joy and gratitude the Delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch, our venerable and beloved brother Bartholomaios, and led by Metropolitan Ioannis. Let us ask the Lord that this visit too may strengthen our fraternal bonds as we journey toward that full communion between the two sister Churches which we so greatly desire.

"Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). When Peter began his ministry to the Christian community of Jerusalem, great fear was still in the air because of Herod’s persecution of members of the Church. There had been the killing of James, and then the imprisonment of Peter himself, in order to placate the people. While Peter was imprisoned and in chains, he heard the voice of the angel telling him, "Get up quickly… dress yourself and put on your sandals… Put on your mantle and follow me!" (Acts 12:7-8). The chains fell from him and the door of the prison opened before him. Peter realized that the Lord had "rescued him from the hand of Herod"; he realized that the Lord had freed him from fear and from chains. Yes, the Lord liberates us from every fear and from all that enslaves us, so that we can be truly free. Today’s liturgical celebration expresses this truth well in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm: "The Lord has freed me from all my fears".

The problem for us, then, is fear and looking for refuge in our pastoral responsibilities.

I wonder, dear brother bishops, are we afraid? What are we afraid of? And if we are afraid, what forms of refuge do we seek, in our pastoral life, to find security? Do we look for support from those who wield worldly power? Or do we let ourselves be deceived by the pride which seeks gratification and recognition, thinking that these will offer us security? Dear brother bishops, where do we find our security?

The witness of the Apostle Peter reminds us that our true refuge is trust in God. Trust in God banishes all fear and sets us free from every form of slavery and all worldly temptation. Today the Bishop of Rome and other bishops, particularly the metropolitans who have received the pallium, feel challenged by the example of Saint Peter to assess to what extent each of us puts his trust in the Lord.

Peter recovered this trust when Jesus said to him three times: "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21: 15,16,17). Peter thrice confessed his love for Jesus, thus making up for his threefold denial of Christ during the passion. Peter still regrets the disappointment which he caused the Lord on the night of his betrayal. Now that the Lord asks him: "Do you love me?", Peter does not trust himself and his own strength, but instead entrusts himself to Jesus and his mercy: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" (Jn 21:17). Precisely at this moment fear, insecurity and cowardice dissipate.

Peter experienced how God’s fidelity is always greater than our acts of infidelity, stronger than our denials. He realizes that the God’s fidelity dispels our fears and exceeds every human reckoning. Today Jesus also asks us: "Do you love me?". He does so because he knows our fears and our struggles. Peter shows us the way: we need to trust in the Lord, who "knows everything" that is in us, not counting on our capacity to be faithful, but on his unshakable fidelity. Jesus never abandons us, for he cannot deny himself (cf.2 Tim 2:13). He is faithful. The fidelity which God constantly shows to us pastors, far in excess of our merits, is the source of our confidence and our peace. The Lord’s fidelity to us keeps kindled within us the desire to serve him and to serve our sisters and brothers in charity.

The love of Jesus must suffice for Peter. He must no longer yield to the temptation to curiosity, jealousy, as when, seeing John nearby, he asks Jesus: "Lord, what about this man?" (Jn 21:21). But Jesus, before such temptations, says to him in reply: "What is it to you? Follow me" (Jn 21:22). This experience of Peter is a message for us too, dear brother archbishops. Today the Lord repeats to me, to you, and to all pastors: Follow me! Waste no time in questioning or in useless chattering; do not dwell on secondary things, but look to what is essential and follow me. Follow me without regard for the difficulties. Follow me in preaching the Gospel. Follow me by the witness of a life shaped by the grace you received in baptism and holy orders. Follow me by speaking of me to those with whom you live, day after day, in your work, your conversations and among your friends. Follow me by proclaiming the Gospel to all, especially to the least among us, so that no one will fail to hear the word of life which sets us free from every fear and enables us to trust in the faithfulness of God. Follow me!

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Pope Francis' Address to Delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople
"If all of us can learn, prompted by the Spirit, to look at one another in God, our path will be even straighter and our cooperation all the more easy in the many areas of daily life which already happily unite us."

VATICAN CITY, June 29, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

* * *

The Solemnity of the Holy Patrons of the Church of Rome, the Apostles Peter and Paul, once again gives me the joy of greeting a delegation from the sister Church of Constantinople. In extending to you a warm welcome, I express my gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and to the Holy Synod for having sent you to share with us in the joy of this feast.

I have vivid and moving memories of my recent meetings with my beloved brother Bartholomaios. During our common pilgrimage to the Land of Jesus, we were able to relive the gift of that embrace between our venerable predecessors, Athenagoras I and Paul VI, which took place fifty years ago in the holy city of Jerusalem. That prophetic gesture gave decisive impulse to a journey which, thank God, has never ceased. I consider it a special gift from the Lord that we were able to venerate the holy places together and to pray at each other’s side at the place of Christ’s burial, where we can actually touch the foundation of our hope. The joy of that meeting was then renewed when, in a certain sense, we concluded our pilgrimage here at the tomb of the Apostle Peter as we joined in fervent prayer, together with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine, for the gift of peace in the Holy Land. The Lord granted us these occasions of fraternal encounter, in which we were able to express the love uniting us in Christ, and to renew our mutual desire to walk together along the path to full unity.

We know very well that this unity is a gift of God, a gift that even now the Most High grants us the grace to attain whenever, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we choose to look at one another with the eyes of faith and to see ourselves as we truly are in God’s plan, according to the designs of his eternal will, and not what we have become as a result of the historical consequences of our sins. If all of us can learn, prompted by the Spirit, to look at one another in God, our path will be even straighter and our cooperation all the more easy in the many areas of daily life which already happily unite us.

This way of "looking at one another in God" is nourished by faith, hope and love; it gives rise to an authentic theological reflection which is truly scientia Dei, a participation in that vision which God has of himself and of us. It is a reflection which can only bring us closer to one another on the path of unity, despite our differing starting points. I hope and I pray, then, that the work of the Joint International Commission can be a sign of this profound understanding, this theology "on its knees". In this way, the Commission’s reflections on the concepts of primacy and synodality, communion in the universal Church and the ministry of the Bishop of Rome will not be an academic exercise or a mere debate about irreconcilable positions. All of us need, with courage and confidence, to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit. We need to let ourselves be caught up in Christ’s loving gaze upon the Church, his Bride, in our journey of spiritual ecumenism. It is a journey upheld by the martyrdom of so many of our brothers and sisters who, by their witness to Jesus Christ the Lord, have brought about an ecumenism of blood.

Dear members of the Delegation,with sentiments of sincere respect, friendship and love in Christ, I renew my heartfelt gratitude for your presence among us. I ask you to convey my greeting to my venerable brother Bartholomaios and to continue to pray for me and for the ministry with which I have been entrusted. Through the intercession of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God, and of Saints Peter and Paul, the princes of the Apostles, and Saint Andrew the first-called, may Almighty God bless us and fill us with every grace. Amen.

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Pope's Morning Homily: Do Not Take Pleasure in Others' Mistakes
You Cannot Reprimand a Person Without Love and Charity, Pope Says

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 12, 2014  - True fraternal reprimand is painful because it is done with love, in truth and humility. Moreover it is unchristian to take pleasure when reprimanding someone.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily Friday during Mass in Santa Marta, on the day when the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Holy Name of Mary.

The Pope was reflecting on the Gospel passage where Jesus warns against noticing the splinter in our brother’s eye but failing to see the wooden beam in our own. This inspired him to return to the subject of fraternal reprimand. First, he said, the erring brother should be reprimanded with charity.

"You cannot reprimand a person without love and charity. [Just like] you cannot perform surgery without anesthesia: you cannot, because the patient will die from the pain. And charity is like an anesthetic that helps you to receive treatment and accept reprimand. Take him to one side and talk to him, with gentleness, with love".

Secondly, - he continued - we must speak the truth: "Do not say something that is not true. How often in our community are things said about another person that are not true: they are slander. Or if they are true, they destroy the person’s reputation". "Gossip - the Pope repeated - hurt; gossip are a slap in the face of a person’s reputation, they are an attack on the heart of a person. "Sure - he observed - "when they tell you the truth is not nice to hear, but if it is spoken with charity and love, it is easier to accept". Therefore, "we must speak of other people’s defects" with charity.

Thirdly, we must reprimand with humility: "If you really need to reprimand a little flaw, stop and remember that  you have many more and far bigger!"

"Fraternal reprimand is an act that heals the Body of the Church. There's a tear, there, in the fabric of the Church that we must mend. And like mothers and grandmothers, who mend so gently, so delicately, we must do likewise when we want to reprimand our brother. If you're not able to do this with love, charity, truth and humility, you will offend, you will destroy the heart of that person, you will add to gossip, that hurts, and you will become a blind hypocrite, just as Jesus says. Hypocrite, first take the wooden beam out of your own eye. ...'. Hypocrite! Recognize that you are the more sinful than the other, but you, as a brother must help to reprimand the other".

"A sign that perhaps can help us in this" - said the Pope - is when we feel "a certain delight" when "we see something wrong" and consider it our job to deliver a reprimand: you have to be "careful because that is not coming from the Lord".

"The Cross, the difficulty of doing a good thing is ever present in the Lord; the love that leads us, the meekness is always of the Lord. Do not judge. We Christians tend to behave like doctors: stand on the sidelines of the game between sin and grace as if we were angels ... No! Paul says:' for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified '. And a Christian who, in the community, does not do things - even fraternal reprimand - in love, in truth and humility, is disqualified! He has failed to become a mature Christian. May the Lord help us in this fraternal service, which is as beautiful as it is painful, to help our brothers and sisters to be better and help us to always do it with love, in truth and humility".

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Pope's Morning Homily: Christian Life is Simple and Radical
Listen to the Word of God and Put it into Practice

By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, September 23, 2014  - Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Tuesday morning. In remarks following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the simplicity of the Christian life and the Gospel’s call to radical simplicity in life and action.

Christ’s words had a “new” sound to them, as did the authority with which he spoke them – and this was why people followed him in such large numbers. Christ’s words had “the power of salvation” in them. Even so, there were those, who followed him “for the sake of convenience” only, without too much purity of heart, or perhaps with the desire to be “a little better” only. Pope Francis said that little has changed in two thousand years. Even today, many listen to Jesus as did the nine lepers of the Gospel who, “happy” with their newfound health, “forgot” the Lord, who had restored it to them:

“Jesus continued to talk to people and loved the people and He loved the crowd, to the point that He says, ‘these who follow me, that immense crowd, are my mother and my brothers – that’s who they are’. He explains: ‘those who listen to the Word of God, put it into practice’. These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus: to listen to the word of God,  and to put it into practice. This is the Christian life – nothing more. Simple, simple. Maybe we’ve made it a little difficult, with many explanations that no one understands, but the Christian life is thus: listening to the Word of God and practicing it.”

That is why – as described in the passage from the Gospel of Luke (8:19-21) that was read at Mass – Jesus replies to those who reported that her relatives were looking for him by saying, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” The point is not to hear casually, but to bend our ears – really to listen to the word of God, which we find in the Gospel – the pages of which need to be heard, and heeded, rather than merely read by rote “Listening to the Word of God,” said the Holy Father, “means reading it and then asking, ‘What does this say to me? How does this speak to my heart? What is God saying to me, with this word?” This, said Pope Francis, is a life-changing line of questioning:

“Every time we do this – each time we  open the Gospel and read a passage and ask ourselves: ‘Is God speaking to me with this? Is He saying something to me?’ – and if He is saying something, what is it that He is saying? This is [what it means] to listen to the Word of God: to listen with your ears and hear with your heart. Open your heart to the Word of God. The enemies of Jesus heard the word of Jesus, but were there in order to try to find a mistake, to make Him slip, so that He would lose His authority. They never asked themselves, though: ‘What is God saying to me in this Word?’ God not only speaks to all: yes, he does speak to all of us – but He also speaks to to every one of us – to each of us. The Gospel was written for each of us.”

The Holy Father went on to say that putting into practice what we have heard is “is not easy” and that “it is easier to live a mellow life without worrying about the exigencies of the Word of God.” He went on to remind the gathered faithful that the Commandments and the Beatitudes are sure guides for anyone who would really attempt to understand the requirements the Gospel places on us and act accordingly – always counting on Jesus’ help. “[The Lord],” Pope Francis concluded, “ “is merciful and forgives all,” and waits for everyone, “because He is patient.”:

“Jesus receives everyone, even those who go to hear the Word of God and then betray Him. Think of Judas. ‘Friend,’ He says, in that moment where Judas betrays him. The Lord is always sowing His word, and asks [us] only [to have] an open heart [with which] to listen and willingness to put it into practice. For this reason, then prayer today, which is that of the Psalm [119:35]: ‘Lead me Lord in the path of thy commandments,’ that is, the path of your Word, that I may learn with your guidance to put it into practice.”

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2015

Pope's Angelus Address  Palm Sunday  2015

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

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

***

Before the Angelus

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

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

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

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

Angelus Domini ...

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Pope's Palm Sunday Homily 2015

"This is God's way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other."

VATICAN CITY, March 29, 2015 - Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis' Palm Sunday homily, which was given this morning in St. Peter's Square:

***

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This is the greatest humiliation of all.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, we too can overcome this temptation, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person…

We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. We can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” (cf. Heb 12:1).

Let us set about with determination along this same path, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26). Amen.

 [Original text: Italian]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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General Audience: On the Easter Triduum 2015

"Precisely in that darkness Christ lights the fire of the love of God: a flash breaks the darkness and announces a new beginning."

VATICAN CITY, April 01, 2015 - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Francis during today's General Audience in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Tomorrow is Holy Thursday, with the Holy Mass that is called “the Lord’s Supper,” which begins the Easter Triduum of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, culmination of the whole Liturgical Year.

The Triduum opens with the commemoration of the Last Supper. On the eve of his Passion, Jesus offered the Father his Body and his Blood under the species of bread and wine and, giving it as nutriment to the Apostles, he commanded them to perpetuate the offer in his memory. Recalling the washing of the feet, the Gospel of this celebration expresses the same meaning of the Eucharist under another perspective. Jesus – as a servant – washes the feet of Simon Peter and the other eleven disciples (Cf. John 13:4-5). With this prophetic gesture, He expresses the meaning of his life and of his Passion, as service to God and to brothers: “For the Son of man has come not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

This happened also in our Baptism, when the grace of God washed us from sin and we were clothed in Christ (Cf. Colossians 3:10). This happens every time we do the memorial of the Lord in the Eucharist: we enter into communion with Christ the Servant to obey his commandment, to love one another as He has loved us (Cf. John 13:34; 15:12). If we approach Holy Communion without being sincerely disposed to wash one another’s feet, we do not recognize the Body of the Lord. It is Jesus’ service, giving himself totally.

Then, day after tomorrow, in the liturgy of Good Friday we meditate on the mystery of the Death of Christ and we adore the Cross. In the last moments of his life, before rendering his spirit to the Father, Jesus said: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). What does this word mean that Jesus says “It is finished”? It means that the work of salvation is finished, that all the Scriptures find their fulfilment in the love of Christ, immolated Lamb. With his sacrifice, Jesus transformed the greatest iniquity into the greatest love.

There have been men and women in the course of the centuries, who with the testimony of their life reflect a ray of this perfect, full, uncontaminated love. I like to remember a heroic witness of our days, Don Andrea Santoro, priest of the diocese of Rome and missionary in Turkey. A few days before being killed at Trabzon, he wrote: “I am here to dwell amid these people and enable Jesus to do so by lending him my flesh ... One becomes capable of salvation only by offering one’s flesh. The evil of the world is borne and the pain is shared, absorbing it in one’s flesh to the end, as Jesus did” (A. Polselli, Don Andrea Santoro, The legacy, Citta Nuova, Rome, 2008, p. 31)

This example of a man of our times, and so many others, sustain us in offering our life as gift of love to brothers, in imitation of Jesus. And there are also today so many men and women, true martyrs, who offer their life with Jesus to confess the faith; for that sole reason. It is a service: service of Christian witness to the point of blood. The service that Christ did for us, has redeemed us to the end. And this is the meaning of that word “It is finished.” How good it will be that at the end of our life, all of us, with our mistakes, our sins, also with our good works, with out love of neighbor, can say to the Father like Jesus ”It is finished!” However, not with the perfection that he said it, but to say: ‘But Lord, I did all that I could. It is finished’ Adoring the cross, looking at Jesus, we think of love, in service, in our life, in the Christian martyrs and also ... None of us knows when this will happen. However, we can ask for the grace to be able to say ‘But Father, I did what I could. It is finished!’

Holy Saturday is the day in which the Church contemplates Christ’s rest in the tomb after the victorious combat of the cross. On Holy Saturday the Church identifies herself, once again, with Mary: all her faith is gathered in Her, the first and perfect disciple, the first and perfect believer. In the darkness that enveloped Creation, She remains alone holding the flame of faith lighted, hoping against all hope (Cf. Romans 4:18).

And in the great Easter Vigil, in the late evening, in which the Alleluia resounds again, we celebrate the Risen Christ, center and end of the cosmos and of history; we watch full of hope while awaiting his return, when Easter will have its full manifestation.

Sometimes the darkness of night seems to penetrate the soul; sometimes we think: “now there is nothing to be done,” and the heart no longer finds the strength to love ... However, precisely in that darkness Christ lights the fire of the love of God: a flash breaks the darkness and announces a new beginning.  Something begins in the most profound darkness!

We know that the night is darkest before the day begins. However, precisely in the darkness, it is Christ that conquers and lights the fire of love. The stone of sorrow is overturned leaving space for hope. See the great mystery of Easter! On this holy night the Church gives us the light of the Risen One, so that in us there is not the lament of the one who says “now ...”, but the hope of one who opens himself to a present full of [promise for] future: Christ has conquered death, and we with Him. Our life does not end before the stone of the sepulcher! Our life goes beyond with the hope of Christ who has risen! – in fact, from that sepulcher. We are called as Christians to be watchmen of the morning, who are able to perceive the signs of the Risen One, as the women and the disciples did who went to the sepulcher at dawn on the first day of the week.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these days of the Holy Triduum, let us not limit ourselves to commemorating the Lord’s Passion, but let us enter in the mystery, let us make his sentiments are own, his attitudes, as the Apostle Paul invites us to do: ”Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Then ours will be a “good Easter.”

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Tomorrow we will begin our celebration of the Sacred Triduum, as we commemorate Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  We begin the Triduum by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, as we recall Christ’s offering of his body and blood to the Father, which he gave to the Apostles as food for their nourishment, with the command that they perpetually celebrate these mysteries in his memory.  We recall also the Lord washing the Apostles’ feet, through which he showed that the purpose of his life and passion is to serve God and neighbour, a service which we are called to imitate by loving one another as he loved us.  On Good Friday, we will meditate on the mystery of Christ’s death and we will adore the Cross.  By his sacrifice, sin has been overcome through love, an immense love which we are called to live and transmit.  On Holy Saturday, we will contemplate Jesus’ lying in the tomb, and with Mary, the Church will keep alive the flame of faith, hoping against every hope in Christ’s resurrection.  Then, at the Easter Vigil, when the Alleluia resounds again, we will celebrate the Risen Christ, the centre and fulfilment of the universe and history.  In these days, may we not only observe the Lord’s Passion, but truly enter into its mystery, making our own the sentiments of Christ.  In this way, our Easter will indeed be blessed.

Pope Francis (in Italian):

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those fromEngland,Denmark,Indonesia,Japan, Hong Kong and theUnited States.  May the Risen Lord confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and resurrection.  May God bless you!

* * *

I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the university students gathered in Rome for the UNIV international meeting and the students of the Saint Vincent de Paul Institute of Reggio Emilia, who are marking 150 years of activity: I exhort you to grow in friendship with the Lord, because “what is useful is not a comfortable life but an enamoured heart.” I greet the participants in the Montfort International March of Verona; the members of the Union of Italian Criminal Chambers and parish groups, in particular the delegation of Pescia. I hope that for all the Easter Triduum, center of the faith and of the life of the Church, is an occasion to enter fully in the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow is the 10thanniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II: may his example and witness be always alive among you. Dear young people, learn to face life with his ardor and his enthusiasm; dear sick, carry the cross of suffering with joy as He taught us; and you, dear newlyweds, put God always at the center, so that your conjugal history has more love and more happiness.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Mass of the Lord's Supper

"Jesus, has so much love that He made Himself a slave in order to serve us, to heal us, to clean us."

ROME, April 02, 2015  - Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Roman prison in Rebibbia.

* * *

This Thursday, Jesus is at table with the disciples, celebrating the feast of Passover. The passage of the Gospel that we have heard says a word that is precisely the center of what Jesus did for all of us: "He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. (Jn. 13,2). Jesus loved us. Jesus loves us. But without limits, always to the end. The love of Jesus for us has no limits, it is always more. He never tires of loving anyone. He loves all of us to the point of giving His life. Yes, He gives his life for all of us, He gives his life for each one of us. And each one of us can say: "He gave His life for me." He gave his life for you, for you, for you, for me for each one, with first and last name, because His love is like that: personal.

The love of Jesus never deceives because he never tires of loving, as He also never tires of forgiving, He never tires of embracing us. This is the first thing I wanted to tell you: Jesus loved each one of you "to the end."

And then He does something that the disciples did not understand: He washed their feet. In that time, it was common; it was customary because the people, when they would arrive to a house, their feet were dirty with dust from the road. There weren't any Sampietrini [stone pavement] in that time!

And at the entrance of the house, they would wash their feet. But it was not done by the head of the household; it was done by the slaves. It was the work of slaves. And Jesus cleans our feet, the feet of the disciples, like a slave. And He says to them: "What I am doing, you do not understand now," he says to Peter, "but you will understand later.” (Jn. 13:7)

Jesus, has so much love that He made Himself a slave in order to serve us, to heal us, to clean us. And today, in this Mass, the Church wants the priest to wash the feet of 12 persons, in memory of the 12 disciples there. But in our heart, we must have the certainty, we must be sure that the Lord, when he washes our feet, He washes everything, He purifies us! He makes us feel once again His love.

In the Bible there is a sentence from the prophet Isaiah that is very beautiful. It says: "Can a mother forget her own child? Though a mother may forget her child, I will not forget you!" (Is. 49:15) That is how the love of God is for us.

And I will wash today the feet of 12 of you, but in these brothers and sisters, there are all of you. Everyone, everyone! All those who live here. You represent them, but I also have a need to be cleaned by the Lord. And for this, pray during this Mass so that the Lord may also clean my filth, so that I may become more your slave, more of a slave in the service of people, as Jesus was. Now, we will begin this part of the ceremony.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Chrism Mass

"The Lord 'gets involved' with us, becomes personally responsible for removing every stain, all that grimy, worldly smog which clings to us from the journey we make in his name."

VATICAN CITY, April 02, 2015 - Below is the Vatican-provided prepared text of the Pope's homily given at the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica this morning:

***

“My hand shall ever abide with him, my arms also shall strengthen him” (Ps 89:21).

This is what the Lord means when he says: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him” (v. 20).  It is also what our Father thinks whenever he “encounters” a priest.  And he goes on to say: “My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him… He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation”’ (vv. 24, 26).

It is good to enter with the Psalmist into this monologue of our God.  He is talking about us, his priests, his pastors.  But it is not really a monologue, since he is not the only one speaking.  The Father says to Jesus: “Your friends, those who love you, can say to me in a particular way: ‘You are my Father’” (cf. Jn 14:21).  If the Lord is so concerned about helping us, it is because he knows that the task of anointing his faithful people is demanding; it can tire us.  We experience this in so many ways: from the ordinary fatigue brought on by our daily apostolate to the weariness of sickness, death and even martyrdom.

The tiredness of priests!  Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience?  I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself.  I pray for you as you labour amid the people of God entrusted to your care, many of you in lonely and dangerous places.  Our weariness, dear priests, is like incense which silently rises up to heaven (cf. Ps 141:2; Rev 8:3-4).  Our weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father.

Know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is well aware of this tiredness and she brings it straight to the Lord.  As our Mother, she knows when her children are weary, and this is her greatest concern.  “Welcome!  Rest, my child.  We will speak afterwards…”.  “Whenever we draw near to her, she says to us: “Am I not here with you, I who am your Mother?” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 286).  And to her Son she will say, as she did at Cana, “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

It can also happen that, whenever we feel weighed down by pastoral work, we can be tempted to rest however we please, as if rest were not itself a gift of God.  We must not fall into this temptation.  Our weariness is precious in the eyes of Jesus who embraces us and lifts us up.  “Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).  Whenever a priest feels dead tired, yet is able to bow down in adoration and say: “Enough for today Lord”, and entrust himself to the Father, he knows that he will not fall but be renewed.  The one who anoints God’s faithful people with oil is also himself anointed by the Lord: “He gives you a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (cf. Is 61:3).

Let us never forget that a key to fruitful priestly ministry lies in how we rest and in how we look at the way the Lord deals with our weariness.  How difficult it is to learn how to rest!  This says much about our trust and our ability to realize that that we too are sheep.  A few questions can help us in this regard.

Do I know how to rest by accepting the love, gratitude and affection which I receive from God’s faithful people?  Or, once my pastoral work is done, do I seek more refined relaxations, not those of the poor but those provided by a consumerist society?  Is the Holy Spirit truly “rest in times of weariness” for me, or is he just someone who keeps me busy?  Do I know how to seek help from a wise priest?  Do I know how to take a break from myself, from the demands I make on myself, from my self-seeking and from my self-absorption?  Do I know how to spend time with Jesus, with the Father, with the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, with my patron saints, and to find rest in their demands, which are easy and light, and in their pleasures, for they delight to be in my company, and in their concerns and standards, which have only to do with the greater glory of God?  Do I know how to rest from my enemies under the Lord’s protection?  Am I preoccupied with how I should speak and act, or do I entrust myself to the Holy Spirit, who will teach me what I need to say in every situation?  Do I worry needlessly, or, like Paul, do I find repose by saying: “I know him in whom I have placed my trust” (2 Tim 1:12)?

Let us return for a moment to what today’s liturgy describes as the work of the priest: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners and healing to the blind, to offer liberation to the downtrodden and to announce the year of the Lord’s favour.  Isaiah also mentions consoling the broken-hearted and comforting the afflicted.

These are not easy or purely mechanical jobs, like running an office, building a parish hall or laying out a soccer field for the young of the parish…  The tasks of which Jesus speaks call for the ability to show compassion; our hearts are to be “moved” and fully engaged in carrying them out.  We are to rejoice with couples who marry; we are to laugh with the children brought to the baptismal font; we are to accompany young fiancés and families; we are to suffer with those who receive the anointing of the sick in their hospital beds; we are to mourn with those burying a loved one…  All these emotions can exhaust the heart of a pastor.  For us priests, what happens in the lives of our people is not like a news bulletin: we know our people, we sense what is going on in their hearts.  Our own heart, sharing in their suffering, feels “com-passion”, is exhausted, broken into a thousand pieces, moved and even “consumed” by the people.  Take this, eat this…  These are the words the priest of Jesus whispers repeatedly while caring for his faithful people: Take this, eat this; take this, drink this…  In this way our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God… and this always leaves us weary.

I wish to share with you some forms of weariness on which I have meditated.

There is what we can call “the weariness of people, the weariness of the crowd”.  For the Lord, and for us, this can be exhausting – so the Gospel tells us – yet it is a good weariness, a fruitful and joyful exhaustion.  The people who followed Jesus, the families which brought their children to him to be blessed, those who had been cured, those who came with their friends, the young people who were so excited about the Master…  they did not even leave him time to eat.  But the Lord never tired of being with people.  On the contrary, he seemed renewed by their presence (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 11).  This weariness in the midst of activity is a grace on which all priests can draw (cf. ibid., 279).  And how beautiful it is!  People love their priests, they want and need their shepherds!  The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sun glasses.  There is a good and healthy tiredness.  It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep… but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren.  It has nothing to do with those who wear expensive cologne and who look at others from afar and from above (cf. ibid., 97).  We are the friends of the Bridegroom: this is our joy.  If Jesus is shepherding the flock in our midst, we cannot be shepherds who are glum, plaintive or, even worse, bored.  The smell of the sheep and the smile of a father…. Weary, yes, but with the joy of those who hear the Lord saying: “Come, O blessed of my Father” (Mt 25:34).

There is also the kind of weariness which we can call “the weariness of enemies”.  The devil and his minions never sleep and, since their ears cannot bear to hear the word of God, they work tirelessly to silence that word and to distort it.  Confronting them is more wearying.  It involves not only doing good, with all the exertion this entails, but also defending the flock and oneself from evil (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 83).  The evil one is far more astute than we are, and he is able to demolish in a moment what it took us years of patience to build up.  Here we need to implore the grace to learn how to “offset”: to thwart evil without pulling up the good wheat, or presuming to protect like supermen what the Lord alone can protect.  All this helps us not to let our guard down before the depths of iniquity, before the mockery of the wicked.  In these situations of weariness, the Lord says to us: “Have courage!  I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16:33).

And finally – lest you be wearied by this homily itself! – there is also “weariness of ourselves” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 277).  This may be the most dangerous weariness of all.  That is because the other two kinds come from being exposed, from going out of ourselves to anoint and to do battle (for our job is to care for others).  But this third kind of weariness is more “self-referential”: it is dissatisfaction with oneself, but not the dissatisfaction of someone who directly confronts himself and serenely acknowledges his sinfulness and his need for God’s mercy; such people ask for help and then move forward.  Here we are speaking of a weariness associated with “wanting yet not wanting”, having given up everything but continuing to yearn for the fleshpots of Egypt, toying with the illusion of being something different.  I like to call this kind of weariness “flirting with spiritual worldliness”.  When we are alone, we realize how many areas of our life are steeped in this worldliness, so much so that we may feel that it can never be completely washed away.  This can be a dangerous kind of weariness.  The Book of Revelation shows us the reason for this weariness: “You have borne up for my sake and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:3-4).  Only love gives true rest.  What is not loved becomes tiresome, and in time, brings about a harmful weariness.

The most profound and mysterious image of how the Lord deals with our pastoral tiredness is that, “having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1): the scene of his washing the feet of his disciples.  I like to think of this as the cleansing of discipleship.  The Lord purifies the path of discipleship itself.  He “gets involved” with us (Evangelii Gaudium, 24), becomes personally responsible for removing every stain, all that grimy, worldly smog which clings to us from the journey we make in his name.

From our feet, we can tell how the rest of our body is doing.  The way we follow the Lord reveals how our heart is faring.  The wounds on our feet, our sprains and our weariness, are signs of how we have followed him, of the paths we have taken in seeking the lost sheep and in leading the flock to green pastures and still waters (cf. ibid., 270).  The Lord washes us and cleanses us of all the dirt our feet have accumulated in following him.  This is something holy.  Do not let your feet remain dirty.  Like battle wounds, the Lord kisses them and washes away the grime of our labours.

Our discipleship itself is cleansed by Jesus, so that we can rightly feel “joyful”, “fulfilled”, “free of fear and guilt”, and impelled to go out “even to the ends of the earth, to every periphery”.  In this way we can bring the good news to the most abandoned, knowing that “he is with us always, even to the end of the world”.  Let us learn how to be weary, but weary in the best of ways!

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Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi Message 2015

"Love has triumphed over hatred, life has conquered death, light has dispelled the darkness!"

VATICAN CITY, April 05, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Urbi et Orbi Message given in St. Peter's Square today.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ is risen!

Love has triumphed over hatred, life has conquered death, light has dispelled the darkness!

Out of love for us, Jesus Christ stripped himself of his divine glory, emptied himself, took on the form of a slave and humbled himself even to death, death on a cross. For this reason God exalted him and made him Lord of the universe. Jesus is Lord!

By his death and resurrection, Jesus shows everyone the way to life and happiness: this way is humility, which involves humiliation. This is the path which leads to glory. Only those who humble themselves can go towards the “things that are above”, towards God(cf. Col 3:1-4). The proud look “down from above”; the humble look “up from below”.

On Easter morning, alerted by the women, Peter and John ran to the tomb. They found it open and empty. Then they drew near and “bent down” in order to enter it. To enter into the mystery, we need to “bend down”, to abase ourselves. Only those who abase themselves understand the glorification of Jesus and are able to follow him on his way.

The world proposes that we put ourselves forward at all costs, that we compete, that we prevail… But Christians, by the grace of Christ, dead and risen, are the seeds of another humanity, in which we seek to live in service to one another, not to be arrogant, but rather respectful and ready to help.

This is not weakness, but true strength! Those who bear within them God’s power, his love and his justice, do not need to employ violence; they speak and act with the power of truth, beauty and love.

From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence. There are many!

We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful coexistence may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the tragedy of the numerous refugees.

We pray for peace for all the peoples of the Holy Land. May the culture of encounter grow between Israelis and Palestinians and the peace process be resumed, in order to end years of suffering and division.

We implore peace for Libya, that the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease, and that all concerned for the future of the country may work to favour reconciliation and to build a fraternal society respectful of the dignity of the person. For Yemen too we express our hope for the growth of a common desire for peace, for the good of the entire people.

At the same time, in hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.

We ask the risen Lord for the gift of peace for Nigeria, South Sudan and for the various areas of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya –, for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.

May the Lord’s resurrection bring light to beloved Ukraine, especially to those who have endured the violence of the conflict of recent months. May the country rediscover peace and hope thanks to the commitment of all interested parties.

We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups. Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who earn with the blood of men and women. 

May the marginalized, the imprisoned, the poor and the migrants who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering, children, especially those who are victims of violence; all who today are in mourning, and all men and women of goodwill, hear the consoling voice of the Lord Jesus: “Peace to you!” (Lk 24:36). “Fear not, for I am risen and I shall always be with you” (cf. Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon for Easter Day);

[Translation by Holy See]

Follwing his blessing, the Pope said these words:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to give my wishes for a Happy Easter to all of you who have come to this square from various countries as well as those who have connected through means of social communications. Bring to those in your homes and whom you meet the joyful announcement that the Lord has risen, that He is the Lord of Life, bringing with Himself love, respect and forgiveness.

Thank you for your presence, for your prayers, and for the enthusiasm of your faith on a day that while very beautiful, but also very ugly because of the rain. A special and recognizing thought goes for the donation of flowers, that this year comes from the Netherlands.

I wish you all a Happy Easter, pray for me, and have a good lunch.

Arrivederci! 

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Pope's Meditation After Via Crucis Procession

The weight of Your cross frees us from all of our burdens.

ROME, April 05, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Pope's meditation after the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), which took place at the ancient Colosseum of Rome on Good Friday.

* * *

O Christ crucified and victorious, Your Way of the Cross is the summary of your life, the icon of Your obedience to the will of the Father,and the realization of your infinite love for us sinners. It is the proof of Your mission. It is the final fulfillment of the revelation and the history of salvation. The weight of Your cross frees us from all of our burdens.

In Your obedience to the will of the Father, we become aware of our rebellion and disobedience. In You, sold, betrayed, crucified by Your own people and those dear to you, we see our own betrayals and our own usual infidelity. In Your innocence, Immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In Your face, slapped, spat on and disfigured, we see the brutality of our sins. In the cruelty of Your passion, we see the cruelty of our heart and of our actions. In Your own feeling of abandonment, we see those abandoned by their families, by society, by attention and by solidarity. In Your body, sacrificed, ripped and torn, we see the body of our brothers who have been abandoned along the way, disfigured by our negligence and our indifference. In Your thirst Lord, we see the thirst of Your merciful Father, who desired to embrace, forgive and save all of humanity. In You, Divine Love, we see even today, before our very eyes, and often with our silence and complicity, our persecuted brothers and sisters, decapitated, crucified for their faith in You.

Imprint in our heart, Lord, sentiments of faith, hope and charity, of sorrow for our sins, and lead us to repent for our sins that have crucified You. Lead us to transform our conversion with words into a conversion of life and works. Help us to preserve within us a living memory of Your disfigured face, so that we may never forget the terrible price You paid to free us. Crucifed Jesus, strengthen in us a faith that does not collapse in the face of temptations; awaken in us the hope that does get lost following the temptations of the world. Preserve in us the charity that is not fooled by the corruption of worldliness. Teach us that the cross is the way to the resurrection. Teach us that Good Friday is the way to the Easter of light. Teach us that God never forgets any of his children, and never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with His infinite mercy. But also teach us to never tire of asking Him for forgiveness and believing in the boundless mercy of the Father.

Soul of Christ, sanctify us!

Body of Christ, save us!

Blood of Christ, inebriate us!

Water from the side of Christ, wash us!

Passion of Christ, comfort us!

O Good Jesus, hear us!

Hide us in your wounds!

Do not allow us to separate from You!

From the evil enemy defend us!

In the hour of our death, call us!

And command us to come to You,

so that we may praise You with Your Saints forever and ever. AMEN.

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Pope Francis' Homily at Easter Vigil

"We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery. It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about It is more, much more!"

VATICAN CITY, April 05, 2015 - Here is the Vatican translation of the homily Pope Francis gave at tonight's Easter Vigil.

* * * 

Tonight is a night of vigil.  The Lord is not sleeping; the Watchman is watching over his people (cf. Ps 121:4), to bring them out of slavery and to open before them the way to freedom.

The Lord is keeping watch and, by the power of his love, he is bringing his people through the Red Sea.  He is also bringing Jesus through the abyss of death and the netherworld.  

This was a night of vigil for the disciples of Jesus, a night of sadness and fear.  The men remained locked in the Upper Room.  Yet, the women went to the tomb at dawn on Sunday to anoint Jesus’ body.  Their hearts were overwhelmed and they were asking themselves:  “How will we enter?  Who will roll back the stone of the tomb?…”  But here was the first sign of the great event: the large stone was already rolled back and the tomb was open!

“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe…” (Mk 16:5).  The women were the first to see this great sign, the empty tomb; and they were the first to enter…

“Entering the tomb”. It is good for us, on this Vigil night, to reflect on the experience of the women, which also speaks to us.  For that is why we are here: to enter, to enter into the Mystery which God has accomplished with his vigil of love.

We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery.  It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about… It is more, much more!

“To enter into the mystery” means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence and to hear the tiny whisper amid great silence by which God speaks to us (cf 1 Kings 19:12).

To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions…

To enter into the mystery means going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond the laziness and indifference which hold us back, and going out in search of truth, beauty and love.  It is seeking a deeper meaning, an answer, and not an easy one, to the questions which challenge our faith, our fidelity and our very existence. 

To enter into the mystery, we need humility, the lowliness to abase ourselves, to come down from the pedestal of our “I” which is so proud, of our presumption; the humility not to take ourselves so seriously, recognizing who we really are: creatures with strengths and weaknesses, sinners in need of forgiveness.  To enter into the mystery we need the lowliness that is powerlessness, the renunciation of our idols… in a word, we need to adore.  Without adoration, we cannot enter into the mystery.

The women who were Jesus’ disciples teach us all of this.  They kept watch that night, together with Mary. And she, the Virgin Mother, helped them not to lose faith and hope.  As a result, they did not remain prisoners of fear and sadness, but at the first light of dawn they went out carrying their ointments, their hearts anointed with love.  They went forth and found the tomb open.  And they went in.  They had kept watch, they went forth and they entered into the Mystery.  May we learn from them to keep watch with God and with Mary our Mother, so that we too may enter into the Mystery which leads from death to life.

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Text of Pope's Homily for Divine Mercy Vespers

"Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God's presence and closeness. "

VATICAN CITY, April 12, 2015 - Here below is the official Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis' scripted homily for Saturday night's Divine Mercy Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The greeting of the Risen Christ to his disciples on the evening of Easter, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19), continues to resound in us all.  Peace, especially during this Easter season, remains the desire of so many people who suffer unprecedented violence of discrimination and death simply because they bear the name “Christian”.  Our prayer is all the more intense and becomes a cry for help to the Father, who is rich in mercy, that he may sustain the faith of our many brothers and sisters who are in pain.  At the same time, we ask for the grace of the conversion of our own hearts so as to move from indifference to compassion.

Saint Paul reminds us that we have been saved through the mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  He is the Reconciler, who is alive in our midst offering the way to reconciliation with God and with each other.  The Apostle recalls that, notwithstanding the difficulties and the sufferings of life, the hope of salvation which Christ has sown in our hearts nonetheless continues to grow.  The mercy of God is poured out upon us, making us just and giving us peace.

Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today?  Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness.  This is not the time to be distracted; on the contrary, we need to be vigilant and to reawaken in ourselves the capacity to see what is essential.  This is a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy (cf. Jn20:21-23).  For this reason, the Holy Year must keep alive the desire to know how to welcome the numerous signs of the tenderness which God offers to the whole world and, above all, to those who suffer, who are alone and abandoned, without hope of being pardoned or feeling the Father’s love.  A Holy Year to experience strongly within ourselves the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd who has come in search of us because we were lost.  A Jubilee to receive the warmth of his love when he bears us upon his shoulders and brings us back to the Father’s house.  A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by his mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy.  Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy.  It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.

May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ.

[Original Text: Italian]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Text of Pope's Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

"What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ?"

VATICAN CITY, April 12, 2015 - Here below is the Vatican-provided official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared homily for this morning's Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica:

***

Saint John, who was in the Upper Room with the other disciples on the evening of the first day after the Sabbath, tells us that Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you!” and he showed them his hands and his side (Jn 20:19-20); he showed them his wounds.  And in this way they realized that it was not an apparition: it was truly him, the Lord, and they were filled with joy.

On the eighth day Jesus came once again into the Upper Room and showed his wounds to Thomas, so that he could touch them as he had wished to, in order to believe and thus become himself a witness to the Resurrection.

To us also, on this Sunday which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, the Lord shows us, through the Gospel, his wounds.  They are wounds of mercy.  It is true: the wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy.

Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief.  Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds, which is the mystery of his merciful love.

Through these wounds, as in a light-filled opening, we can see the entire mystery of Christ and of God: his Passion, his earthly life – filled with compassion for the weak and the sick – his incarnation in the womb of Mary.  And we can retrace the whole history of salvation: the prophecies – especially about the Servant of the Lord, the Psalms, the Law and the Covenant; to the liberation from Egypt, to the first Passover and to the blood of the slaughtered lambs; and again from the Patriarchs to Abraham, and then all the way back to Abel, whose blood cried out from the earth.  All of this we can see in the wounds of Jesus, crucified and risen; with Mary, in her Magnificat, we can perceive that, “His mercy extends from generation to generation” (cf. Lk 1:50).

Faced with the tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at times, asking ourselves, “Why?”.  Humanity’s evil can appear in the world like an abyss, a great void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life.  And so we ask: how can we fill this abyss?  For us it is impossible; only God can fill this emptiness that evil brings to our hearts and to human history.  It is Jesus, God made man, who died on the Cross and who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of his mercy.

Saint Bernard, in one of his commentaries on the Canticle of Canticles (Sermon 61, 3-5: Opera Omnia, 2, 150-151), reflects precisely on the mystery of the Lord’s wounds, using forceful and even bold expressions which we do well to repeat today.  He says that “through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of [Christ’s] heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high”.

Brothers and sisters, behold the way which God has opened for us to finally go out from our slavery to sin and death, and thus enter into the land of life and peace.  Jesus, crucified and risen, is the way and his wounds are especially full of mercy.

The saints teach us that the world is changed beginning with the conversion of one’s own heart, and that this happens through the mercy of God.  And so, whether faced with my own sins or the great tragedies of the world, “my conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: ‘he was wounded for our iniquities’ (Is53:5). What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ?” (ibid.).

Keeping our gaze on the wounds of the Risen Jesus, we can sing with the Church: “His love endures forever” (Ps 117:2); eternal is his mercy.  And with these words impressed on our hearts, let us go forth along the paths of history, led by the hand of our Lord and Saviour, our life and our hope. 

[Original Text: Italian]

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope's Pentecost Homily Vatican City, May 24, 2015

"The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the Earth"

Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis' homily for Pentecost Sunday during Mass this morning in St. Peter's Basilica:

***

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22). The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.

The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit: he guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”, and explains to his disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to his death and resurrection. To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand “all the truth”: that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.

The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit… and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same. Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (cf. Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).

In the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wants to show the “fruits” manifested in the lives of those who walk in the way of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22). On the one hand, he presents “the flesh”, with its list of attendant vices: the works of selfish people closed to God. On the other hand, there are those who by faith allow the Spirit of God to break into their lives. In them, God’s gifts blossom, summed up in nine joyful virtues which Paul calls “fruits of the Spirit”. Hence his appeal, at the start and the end of the reading, as a programme for life: “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:6, 25).

The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, may we be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.

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