Pope Francis' talks March 2016

 

Pope’s Morning Homily: Amid Our ‘Dark Valleys,’ Let’s Place Ourselves in God’s Hands

Mar 14, 2016 08:40 pm

The Lord, Pope Francis says, always walks with us, loves us and does not abandon us, even at the most tragic of times.

According to Vatican Radio, during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father stressed this, reminding those gathered of Jesus’ teaching, that “He who entrusts himself to the Lord our Shepherd, shall lack nothing.”

Even if he finds himself going through the darkest of valleys, the Pontiff said, “He knows that the suffering is only of the moment and that the Lord is with him: “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”

The Pope urged faithful to ask for this grace, namely to say: “Lord, teach me to place myself in your hands, to trust in Your guidance, even in bad times, in the darkest moments, in the moment of death.”

“We would do well, today,” the Pope encouraged, “to think about our lives, about the problems we have, and ask for the grace to place ourselves into the hands of the Lord”.

“Lord, ” he said, “I do not understand you. This is a beautiful prayer. Without understanding, I place myself in Your hands.”

‘Where are you, Lord?’

Speaking on events and situations that cast shadows on our lives and lead us to ask difficult questions, the Pope remembered those which are inflicted by man.

“Look at those four slain sisters of ours: they were serving with love; they ended up murdered in hatred! When you see that doors are being closed to refugees who are left out in the cold… you say: ‘Lord, where are You?’”

Francis also invited the faithful to think of the many men and women who before dying, do not even receive a last caress.

“Three days ago a homeless person died here, on the street: he died of cold. In the middle of Rome, a city that has all the possibilities of providing assistence.Why, Lord?  Not even a caress … But I entrust myself to You because You never let me down.”

Beyond understanding

“How can I entrust myself to God,” the Pope said, “when I see all these things? And when things happen to me, each of us may say: ‘how can I entrust myself to You?’” There is an answer to this question, he continued, “but it cannot be explained.”

“Why does a child suffer? I do not know: it is a mystery to me,” he added.

The Pope went on to recall Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and how despite His suffering, He trusts in the Father and knows that all will not end with death, with the Cross.

Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus’ last words before dying on the Cross were “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

“To trust in God who walks with me, walks with His people, walks with the Church,” Francis said, “is an act of faith. To entrust myself. I cannot explain it, but I place myself in Your hands. You know why.”

Pope Francis concluded, highlighting that suffering and evil are not final, for the Lord is always at our side.

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JUBILEE AUDIENCE: On Carrying Out Love

Mar 14, 2016 08:38 pm

Below is Pope Francis’ address during his 3rd Jubilee Audience held Saturday morning in St. Peter’s Square. The Jubilee Audiences are planned be held on Saturdays, once a month, during the Holy Year:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We are approaching the feast of Easter, central mystery of our faith. As we heard, John’s Gospel recounts that before dying and resurrecting for us, Jesus carried out a gesture that was engraved in the memory of the disciples: the washing of the feet, an unexpected and overwhelming gesture, to the point that Peter refused to accept it. I would like to reflect on Jesus’ last words: “Do you know what I have done to you? […] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (13:12.14). Thus Jesus pointed out service to His disciples as the way to follow, to live faith in Him and to give witness of His love. Jesus applied to Himself the image of the “Servant of God” used by the prophet Isaiah. He, who is the Lord, makes Himself servant!

By washing the feet of the Apostles, Jesus wanted to reveal to us God’s way of acting in our relations, and to give an example of his “new commandment” (John 13:34) to love one another as He has loved us, namely, by giving His life for us. John himself writes this in his First Letter: “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren […] Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (3:16.18).

Love, therefore, is the concrete service we render one another. Love not in words but in deeds and service, a humble service, carried out in silence and hiddenness, as Jesus Himself said: “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). This implies making available the gifts that the Holy Spirit has lavished on us, so that the community can grow (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). In addition, it is expressed in the sharing of material goods, so that no one is in need. This sharing and dedication to those in need is a style of life that God also suggests to many non-Christians, as the way of genuine humanity.

Lastly, let us not forget that by washing the feet of the disciples and asking them to do likewise, Jesus has also invited us to confess to one another our faults and to pray for one another to be able to forgive one another from our heart. In this connection, let us recall the words of the holy Bishop Augustine when he wrote: “The Christian must not disdain to do what Christ did. Because when the body bends down to the brother’s feet, the heart is also enkindled, or if the sentiment of humility was already there, it is nourished […] Let us forgive one another for our wrongs and let us pray for one another for our faults and thus in some way we will wash one another’s feet” (In Jon 58:4-5). Love, charity, is service, to help others, to serve others. Last week I received a letter from a person who thanked me for the Year of Mercy. She asked me to pray for her so that she could be closer to the Lord. This person’s life is to take care of her mother and brother: her elderly mother is bedridden, lucid but unable to move and her brother is disabled, in a wheelchair. This person’s life is to serve, to help. And this is love! When one forgets oneself and thinks of others, this is love! And, with the washing of the feet the Lord taught us to be servants, more than that: servants, as He was a servant for us, for each one of us.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, to be merciful as the Father <is merciful> means to follow Jesus on the way of service. Thank you.

In Italian

I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive with affection and certain nostalgia the faithful of the Archdiocese of Naples – may Our Lady accompany you! – with Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe; those of Lecce, Piacenza-Bobbio and of the dioceses of Romagna, accompanied by their respective Pastors. I greet the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, who are observing the 10th anniversary of the canonization of their Founder, Saint Philip Smaldone, apostle of the deaf-mute, and the group of Friends of Cardinal Pironio. I greet the young people taking part in the Meeting of Volunteers of the Civil Service, the youngsters of the Knights experience and the Association of Catholic Teachers, on the occasion of the 70th years of their foundation, as well as the Adiconsum and the OFTAL of Vercelli. I invite you to live this Holy Year as an intense experience of rediscovery of the works of mercy towards brethren, on the example of the Jesuit Saint Bernardine Realino, apostle of charity, the fourth centenary of whose death we observe this year.

I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Today is the Liturgical Memoria of Saint Maximilian of Tebessa, martyr of conscientious objection during the Roman Empire. Dear young people, learn from him to defend the values in which you believe; dear sick, offer your sufferings for those who today still suffer persecutions because of the faith; and you, dear newlyweds, be collaborators of God in your commitment as educators of your children.

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Pope’s Morning Homily: On the Mystery of Jesus, ‘Become Sin,’ Lifted Up for Our Healing

Mar 15, 2016 07:44 pm
 

Using the day’s readings from the Book of Numbers and the Gospel of St. John, Pope Francis’ homily today at the Casa Santa Marta reflected on the link between Jesus’ suffering on the cross and the serpents sent to the People of God as a punishment.

“The Lord said to Moses: ‘make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.’ It’s a mystery: God doesn’t kill the serpents but leaves them alone. But if one of these (serpents) harms a person, look at that bronze serpent and he will be healed.  Lift up the serpent,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio.

The Pope noted that this verb, “lift up” is at the heart of the discussion between Christ and the Pharisees described in the reading from St. John. At a certain point, Jesus says: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I AM.”

First of all, he explained, ‘I AM’ is also the name that God used to describe himself and gave to Moses for communicating with the people of Israel.  And, then there is that recurring expression: ‘Lift up the Son of Man…”

God’s annihilation 

“The serpent is a symbol of sin. The serpent that kills but also a serpent that saves. And this is the Mystery of Christ.  Paul, when speaking about this mystery, said the Jesus emptied himself, humiliated himself and annihilated himself in order to save us.  And (what’s) even stronger, ‘he became sin.  Using this symbol, he became a serpent. This is the prophetic message of today’s reading. The Son of Man, who like a serpent, ‘became sin,’ is raised up to save us.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that this is “the story of our redemption, this is the story of God’s love. If we want to know God’s love, let us look at the Cross, a man being tortured” a God, “emptied of his divinity,” “dirtied by sin.” But at the same time, he concluded, a God who through his self-annihilation, defeats for ever the true name of evil, that which the Book of Revelation calls the ancient serpent.

“Sin is the work of Satan and Jesus defeats Satan by “becoming sin” and from there he lifts up all of us. The Cross is not an ornament or a work of art with many precious stones as we see around us. The Cross is the Mystery of God’s annihilation for love.  And the serpent that makes a prophecy in the desert is salvation, it is raised up and whoever looks at it is healed.  And this is not done with a magic wand by a God who does these things: No! This is done through the suffering of the Son of Man, through the suffering of Jesus Christ.”

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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Consolation

 Mar 16, 2016 07:51 pm

Below is translation of Pope Francis’ address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square:

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.

In the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 30 and 31 are said to be those “of consolation,” because in them, God’s mercy is presented with all His capacity to comfort and to open the heart of the afflicted to hope. Today we also want to hear this message of consolation.

Jeremiah addresses the Israelites, who were deported to a foreign land, and he predicts their return to the homeland. This return is a sign of the infinite love of God the Father, who does not abandon His children, but takes care of them and saves them. The exile was a devastating experience for Israel. Their faith wavered because, being in a foreign land, without the Temple, without worship, after seeing the country destroyed, it was difficult to continue to believe in the Lord’s goodness. The thought comes to mind of neighboring Albania and how, after so much persecution and destruction, it was able to rise in dignity and in faith. The Israelites thus suffered in exile.

At times, we too can live a sort of exile, when loneliness, suffering, and death make us think that God has abandoned us. How many times we have heard this word: “God has forgotten me”: they are persons that suffer and feel themselves abandoned. Instead, how many of our brothers are living at this time a real and tragic situation of exile, far from their homeland, with their eyes still beholding the ruin of their homes, with fear in their heart and often, unfortunately, sorrow for the loss of dear persons! In such cases, one can ask oneself: where is God? How is it possible that so much suffering can befall men, women and innocent children? And when they seek to enter somewhere they see the doors close. And they are there, at the border because so many doors and so many hearts are closed. The immigrants of today that suffer cold, are without food and cannot enter, do not experience hospitality. It pleases me so much when I see nations, rulers that open their heart and open the doors!

The prophet Jeremiah gives us an initial answer. The exiled people will be able to return to see their land and to experience the Lord’s mercy. It is the great proclamation of consolation. God is not absent, not even today, in these tragic situations. God is close and does great works of salvation for those who trust in Him. We must not give way to despair, but continue to be certain that good overcomes evil and that the Lord will wipe every tear and free us from all fear. Jeremiah lends his voice to God’s words of love for His people:

“from afar the LORD appears:
With age-old love I have loved you;
so I have kept my mercy toward you.
Again I will build you, and you shall stay built,
virgin Israel;
Carrying your festive tambourines,
you shall go forth dancing with merrymakers.”
(31:3-4)

The Lord is faithful, He does not abandon us to desolation. God loves with an everlasting love, which not even sin can stop, and thanks to Him man’s heart is filled with joy and consolation.

The consoling dream of returning to the homeland continues in the prophet’s words, who, addressing those who will return to Jerusalem, says:

“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,

they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings:

The grain, the wine, and the oil,

flocks of sheep and cattle;

They themselves shall be like watered gardens,

never again neglected(31:12).

The exiled will return to Zion in joy and in gratitude, going up to the holy mountain towards the house of God, and thus they will be able to raise hymns and prayers again to the Lord who liberated them. This returning to Jerusalem and to their properties is described with a verb that literally means “to flow, to run.” In a paradoxical movement, the people are seen as a full river that runs to the height of Zion, going up to the summit of the mountain – a bold image to say how great the Lord’s mercy is!

The land, which the people had to abandon, had become desolate and the prey of enemies. Now, instead, it revives and flowers. And the exiled themselves will be like a watered garden, like a fertile land. Israel, led back to its land by its Lord, witnesses the victory of life over death and of blessing over curse.

Thus, it is that the people are fortified and consoled by God. This word is important: consoled! The repatriated receive life from a source that freely waters them.

At this point, the prophet announces the fullness of joy, and always in the name of God, he proclaims:

Then young women shall make merry and dance,

young men and old as well.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will show them compassion and have them rejoice after their sorrows. (31:13).

The Psalm tells us that when they returned to the homeland their mouth was full of smiles, so great was their joy! It is the gift that the Lord wants to give each one of us, with His forgiveness that converts and reconciles.

The prophet Jeremiah has given us the proclamation, presenting the return of the exiled as a great symbol of the consolation given to the heart that is converted. For His part, the Lord Jesus has brought this message of the prophet to fulfilment. The true and radical return from exile and the comforting light after the darkness of the crisis of faith is realized at Easter, in the full and definitive experience of God’s love, a merciful love that gives joy, peace and eternal life.

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Pope’s Morning Homily: Hope Is Silent, Humble, But Strong

Mar 17, 2016 08:01 pm

Vatican Radio reports about the Pope’s morning Mass today:

Christian hope is a humble and strong virtue that supports us, so that we do not drown under the many difficulties we face in life. That was Pope Francis’ message at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said that hope in the Lord never disappoints us; it’s a font of joy and peace in our hearts.

Jesus speaks with the doctors of the law, and affirmed that Abraham “rejoiced in hope” to see His day. Pope Francis preached his homily on this passage from the day’s Gospel, to show how hope is fundamental in the life of the Christian. Abraham, he said, “had his temptations along the path of hope,” but he believed and obeyed the Lord, and so set out on the journey to the promised land.

Hope takes us forward and gives us joy

There is, then, the Pope said, something like a “thread of hope” that joins “the whole story of salvation” and is a “font of joy.”

Today the Church speaks to us of the joy of hope. In the first prayer of the Mass we asked for the grace of God to keep us in the hope of the Church, because it does not ‘fail.’ And Paul, speaking of our father Abraham, tells us: ‘He believed against all hope.’ When there is no human hope, there is that hope that carries us forward, humble, simple—but it gives a joy, at times a great joy, at times only of peace, but the security that hope does not disappoint: hope doesn’t disappoint.

This “joy of Abraham,” this hope, he continued, “grows throughout history.” “At times,” he admitted, “it is hidden, it is not seen; at times, it is clearly manifested.” Pope Francis cited the example of the pregnant Elizabeth, who rejoiced at the visit of her cousin Mary. It is “the joy of the presence of God,” he said, “that journeys with His people. And where there is joy, there is peace. This is the virtue of hope: from joy to peace. This hope, he repeated, “never disappoints,” not even in “moments of slavery,” when the people of God were in a foreign land.

Hope sustains us, so we don’t drown in difficulties

This “thread of hope” begins with Abraham, who spoke with God, and ends with Jesus. Pope Francis dwelt on the characteristics of this hope. If, in fact, one can say that he has faith and charity, it is more difficult to speak about hope:

We are able to say this [about faith and charity] easily, but when we are asked, ‘Do you have hope? Do you have the joy of hope?’ ‘But, father, I don’t understand, can you explain?’ Hope, that humble virtue, that virtue which flows under the water of life, but that bears us up so we don’t drown in so many difficulties, so we do not lose that desire to find God, to find that wonderful face which we will all see one day: hope.

Hope doesn’t disappoint: it is silent, humble, and strong

Today, the Pope said, “would be a good day to think about this: the same God who called Abraham and made him go out of his own land without knowing where he was going, is the same God who goes to the Cross, to fulfil the promise He made.”

It is the same God who, in the fullness of time, ensures that the promise would become a reality for all of us. And what unites that first moment to this last moment is the thread of hope. And that which unites my Christian life to our Christian life, from one moment to another, in order to always go forward — sinners, but going forward — is hope. And what gives us peace in bad moments, in the darkest moments of life, is hope. Hope doesn’t disappoint: it’s always there: silent, humble, but strong.

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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Holy Week

Mar 23, 2016 01:08 pm

Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Our reflection on God’s mercy introduces us today to the Easter Triduum. We will live Holy Thursday, Friday and Saturday as intense moments, which enable us to enter increasingly in the great mystery of our faith: the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything in these three days speaks of mercy, because it renders visible the point that God’s love can reach. We will listen to the account of the last days of Jesus’ life. The evangelist John offers us the key to understand the profound meaning: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). God’s love has no limits. As Saint Augustine often repeated, it is a love that goes “to the end without end.” God truly offers Himself wholly for each one of us and does not spare Himself in anything. The Mystery we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love that knows no obstacles. Jesus’ Passion lasts until the end of the world, because it is a story of sharing with the sufferings of the whole of humanity and a permanent presence in the events of the personal life of each one of us. In sum, the Easter Triduum is the memorial of a drama of love that gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in life’s trials.

On Holy Thursday Jesus institutes the Eucharist, anticipating in the paschal banquet His sacrifice on Golgotha. To make His disciples understand the love that animates Him, He washes their feet, offering once again a personal example of how they must act. The Eucharist is love that becomes service. It is the sublime presence of Christ, who wishes to satisfy the hunger of every man, especially of the weakest, to render him capable of giving witness through the difficulties of the world — but not only this. In giving Himself to us as food, Jesus attests that we must learn to break this nourishment with others, so that it becomes a true communion of life with all those in need. He gives Himself to us and asks us to abide in Him to do the same.

Holy Friday is the culminating moment of love. The death of Jesus, who on the cross abandons Himself to the Father to offer salvation to the whole world, expresses the love given to the end, without end. A love that intends to embrace all, no one excluded. A love that extends to every time and place: an inexhaustible source of salvation from which each one of us, sinners, can draw. If God has shown His supreme love in Jesus’ death, then we also, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, can and must love one another.

And, finally, Holy Saturday is the day of God’s silence. It must be a day of silence. We must do everything possible so that it is a day of silence, as that Day, which was the day of God’s silence. Jesus placed in the sepulcher shares with the whole of humanity the tragedy of death. It is a silence that speaks and expresses love as solidarity with all those ever abandoned, which the Son of God reaches filling the emptiness that only the infinite mercy of God the Father can fill. God is silent, but out of love. In this day love, that silent love, becomes expectation of life in the resurrection. We think of Holy Saturday: it will do us good to think of the silence of Our Lady, “the Believer,” who in silence awaited the Resurrection. Our Lady must be the icon for us of that Holy Saturday. To think much of how Our Lady lived that Holy Saturday, in expectation. It is a love that does not doubt, but that hopes in the Lord’s word, and which becomes manifest and splendid on Easter day.

It is all a great mystery of love and mercy. Our words are poor and insufficient to express it fully. We can be helped by the experience of a not well-known girl, who wrote sublime pages on the love of Christ. Her name was Julian of Norwich; she was illiterate, this girl who had visions of Jesus’ Passion and who then, having become a recluse, described in simple but profound and intense language, the meaning of merciful love. She said this: “Then our good Lord asked me: ‘Are you happy that I suffered for you?’ I said: ‘Yes, good Lord, and I thank you very much; yes, good Lord, may you be blessed.” Then Jesus, our good Lord, said: “If you are happy, so am I. To have suffered the Passion for you is a joy for me, a happiness, and eternal bliss; and if I could suffer more, I would do so.’” This is our Jesus, who says to each one of us: “If I could suffer more for you, I would do so.”

How beautiful these words are! They enable us to truly understand the immense and limitless love that the Lord has for each one of us. Let us be enveloped by this mercy that comes to us and, in these days, while we have our gaze fixed on the Passion and Death of the Lord, let us receive in our heart the greatness of His love and, as Our Lady on Saturday, in silence, in the expectation of the Resurrection.

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Pope’s Palm Sunday Homily

Mar 20, 2016 02:20 pm

Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday homily, which was given this morning in St. Peter’s Square:

***

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (cf. Lk 19:38), the crowd of Jerusalem exclaimed joyfully as they welcomed Jesus. We have made that enthusiasm our own: by waving our olive and palm branches we have expressed our praise and our joy, our desire to receive Jesus who comes to us. Just as he entered Jerusalem, so he desires to enter our cities and our lives. As he did in the Gospel, riding on a donkey, so too he comes to us in humility; he comes “in the name of the Lord”. Through the power of his divine love he forgives our sins and reconciles us to the Father and with ourselves.

Jesus is pleased with the crowd’s showing their affection for him. When the Pharisees ask him to silence the children and the others who are acclaiming him, he responds: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40). Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Jesus’ entry. May nothing prevent us from finding in him the source of our joy, true joy, which abides and brings peace; for it is Jesus alone who saves us from the snares of sin, death, fear and sadness.

Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles. The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” himself (Phil 2:7-8). These two verbs show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin. Even more, he lived among us in “the condition of a servant” (v.7); not of a king or a prince, but of a servant. Therefore he humbled himself, and the abyss of his humiliation, as Holy Week shows us, seems to be bottomless.

The first sign of this love “without end” (Jn 13:1) is the washing of the feet. “The Lord and Master” (Jn 13:14) stoops to his disciples’ feet, as only servants would have done. He shows us by example that we need to allow his love to reach us, a love which bends down to us; we cannot do any less, we cannot love without letting ourselves be loved by him first, without experiencing his surprising tenderness and without accepting that true love consists in concrete service.

But this is only the beginning. The humiliation of Jesus reaches its utmost in the Passion: he is sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by the kiss of a disciple whom he had chosen and called his friend. Nearly all the others flee and abandon him; Peter denies him three times in the courtyard of the temple. Humiliated in his spirit by mockery, insults and spitting, he suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable. He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: he is made into sin and considered to be unjust. Pilate then sends him to Herod, who in turn sends him to the Roman governor. Even as every form of justice is denied to him, Jesus also experiences in his own flesh indifference, since no one wishes to take responsibility for his fate. And I think of the many people, so many outcasts, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees, all of those for whose fate no one wishes to take responsibility. The crowd, who just a little earlier had acclaimed him, now changes their praise into a cry of accusation, even to the point of preferring that a murderer be released in his place. And so the hour of death on the cross arrives, that most painful form of shame reserved for traitors, slaves and the worst kind of criminals. But isolation, defamation and pain are not yet the full extent of his deprivation. To be totally in solidarity with us, he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father. In his abandonment, however, he prays and entrusts himself: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Hanging from the wood of the cross, beside derision he now confronts the last temptation: to come down from the Cross, to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God. Jesus, however, even here at the height of his annihilation, reveals the true face of God, which is mercy. He forgives those who are crucifying him, he opens the gates of paradise to the repentant thief and he touches the heart of the centurion. If the mystery of evil is unfathomable, then the reality of Love poured out through him is infinite, reaching even to the tomb and to hell. He takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred.

God’s way of acting may seem so far removed from our own, that he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little. He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix; it is the “royal seat of God”. I invite you during this week to gaze often upon this “royal seat of God”, to learn about the humble love which saves and gives life, so that we may give up all selfishness, and the seeking of power and fame. By humbling himself, Jesus invites us to walk on his path. Let us turn our faces to him, let us ask for the grace to understand at least something of the mystery of his obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this Week.

[Original text: Italian]

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 


 

Pope’s Angelus Address on Palm Sunday

Mar 20, 2016 02:07 pm

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

***

Before the Angelus

I greet all of you who participated in this celebration and all who have joined us via television, radio and other media.

Today, we celebrate the 31st World Youth Day, which will culminate at the end of July in the great world meeting in Krakow. The theme is “Blessed Are the Merciful, for They Will Receive Mercy” (Mt 5,7). My special greeting goes to the young people present here, and extends to all the young people throughout the world. I hope that many of you can come to Krakow, home to St. John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Days. To his intercession, we entrust the final months of preparation for this pilgrimage, in the context of the Holy Year of Mercy, will be the Jubilee of the Young People at the level of the Universal Church.

Here with us are many young volunteers from Krakow. Returning to Poland, they will take to the leaders of the nation the olive branches gathered from Jerusalem, Assisi and Monte Cassino and blessed today in this Square, as an invitation to cultivate intentions of peace, reconciliation and fraternity. Thank you for this wonderful initiative; go forward with courage!

And now we pray to the Virgin Mary, to help us to live Holy Week with spiritual intensity.

  


 

Pope’s Urbi et Orbi Blessing

 Mar 27, 2016 05:36 pm

Here is a Vatican translation of the Easter message with the Urbi et Orbi blessing that Pope Francis gave today at noon.

__

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures for ever” (
Ps 135:1)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God’s mercy, out of love for us, died on the cross, and out of love he rose again from the dead. That is why we proclaim today: Jesus is Lord!

His resurrection fulfils the prophecy of the Psalm: God’s mercy endures for ever; it never dies. We can trust him completely, and we thank him because for our sake he descended into the depths of the abyss.

Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation. Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.

The glorious Easter message, that Jesus, who was crucified is not here but risen (cf. Mt 28:5-6), offers us the comforting assurance that the abyss of death has been bridged and, with it, all mourning, lamentation and pain (cf. Rev 21:4). The Lord, who suffered abandonment by his disciples, the burden of an unjust condemnation and shame of an ignominious death, now makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence. Our world is full of persons suffering in body and spirit, even as the daily news is full of stories of brutal crimes which often take place within homes, and large-scale armed conflicts which cause indescribable suffering to entire peoples.

The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord. To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course, that good will and the cooperation of all will bear fruit in peace and initiate the building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of each citizen. May the message of life, proclaimed by the Angel beside the overturned stone of the tomb, overcome hardened hearts and promote a fruitful encounter of peoples and cultures in other areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Yemen and Libya. May the image of the new man, shining on the face of Christ, favour concord between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, as well as patience, openness and daily commitment to laying the foundations of a just and lasting peace through direct and sincere negotiations. May the Lord of life also accompany efforts to attain a definitive solution to the war in Ukraine, inspiring and sustaining initiatives of humanitarian aid, including the liberation of those who are detained.

The Lord Jesus, our peace (Eph 2:14), by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin. May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world, as in the recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Iraq. May he water the seeds of hope and prospects for peace in Africa; I think in particular of Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, marked by political and social tensions.

With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all. May his Easter message be felt ever more powerfully by the beloved people of Venezuela in the difficult conditions which they are experiencing, and by those responsible for the country’s future, that everyone may work for the common good, seeking spaces of dialogue and cooperation with all. May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people.

The Easter message of the risen Christ, a message of life for all humanity, echoes down the ages and invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance. May the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit not fail to be centred on the human person and his or her dignity, and to come up with policies capable of assisting and protecting the victims of conflicts and other emergencies, especially those who are most vulnerable and all those persecuted for ethnic and religious reasons.

On this glorious day, “let the earth rejoice, in shining splendour” (cf. Easter Proclamation), even though it is so often mistreated and greedily exploited, resulting in an alteration of natural equilibria. I think especially of those areas affected by climate change, which not infrequently causes drought or violent flooding, which then lead to food crises in different parts of the world.

Along with our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith and their fidelity to the name of Christ, and before the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people, let us hear once again the comforting words of the Lord: “Take courage; I have conquered the world! (Jn 16:33). Today is the radiant day of this victory, for Christ has trampled death and destruction underfoot. By his resurrection he has brought life and immortality to light (cf. 2 Tim 1:10). “He has made us pass from enslavement to freedom, from sadness to joy, from mourning to jubilation, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption. Therefore let us acclaim in his presence: Alleluia!” (Melito of Sardis, Easter Homily).

To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning, to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: “See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Rev 21:5-6). May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage and greater hope to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters. Of which we have great need!

[Original text: Italian]

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 


 

Pope’s Easter Vigil Homily

Mar 27, 2016 05:35 pm

Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Pope Francis delivered at the Easter Vigil.

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“Peter ran to the tomb” (Lk 24:12). What thoughts crossed Peter’s mind and stirred his heart as he ran to the tomb? The Gospel tells us that the eleven, including Peter, had not believed the testimony of the women, their Easter proclamation.   Quite the contrary, “these words seemed to them an idle tale” (v. 11). Thus there was doubt in Peter’s heart, together with many other worries: sadness at the death of the beloved Master and disillusionment for having denied him three times during his Passion.

There is, however, something which signals a change in him: after listening to the women and refusing to believe them, “Peter rose” (v. 12). He did not remain sedentary, in thought; he did not stay at home as the others did. He did not succumb to the sombre atmosphere of those days, nor was he overwhelmed by his doubts. He was not consumed by remorse, fear or the continuous gossip that leads nowhere. He was looking for Jesus, not himself. He preferred the path of encounter and trust. And so, he got up, just as he was, and ran towards the tomb from where he would return “amazed” (v. 12). This marked the beginning of Peter’s resurrection, the resurrection of his heart. Without giving in to sadness or darkness, he made room for hope: he allowed the light of God to enter into his heart, without smothering it.

The women too, who had gone out early in the morning to perform a work of mercy, taking the perfumed ointments to the tomb, had the same experience. They were “frightened and bowed their faces”, and yet they were deeply affected by the words of the angel: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (v. 5).

We, like Peter and the women, cannot discover life by being sad, bereft of hope. Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord so that he may enter and grant us life. Let us give him the stones of our rancour and the boulders of our past, those heavy burdens of our weaknesses and falls. Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish. This is the first stone to be moved aside this night: the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the centre of our lives.

We see and will continue to see problems both within and without. They will always be there. But tonight it is important to shed the light of the Risen Lord upon our problems, and in a certain sense, to “evangelize” them. Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control us; we must cry out to them: the Lord “is not here, but has risen!” (v. 6). He is our greatest joy; he is always at our side and will never let us down.

This is the foundation of our hope, which is not mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous. Christian hope is a gift that God gives us if we come out of ourselves and open our hearts to him. This hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5). The Paraclete does not make everything look appealing. He does not remove evil with a magic wand. But he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear. Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love (cf. Rom 8:39).

The Lord is alive and wants to be sought among the living. After having found him, each person is sent out by him to announce the Easter message, to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. There is so necessary today. However, we must not proclaim ourselves. Rather, as joyful servants of hope, we must announce the Risen One by our lives and by our love; otherwise we will be only an international organization full of followers and good rules, yet incapable of offering the hope for which the world longs.

How can we strengthen our hope? The liturgy of this night offers some guidance. It teaches us to remember the works of God. The readings describe God’s faithfulness, the history of his love towards us. The living word of God is able to involve us in this history of love, nourishing our hope and renewing our joy. The Gospel also reminds us of this: in order to kindle hope in the hearts of the women, the angel tells them: “Remember what [Jesus] told you” (v. 6). Let us not forget his words and his works, otherwise we will lose hope. Let us instead remember the Lord, his goodness and his life-giving words which have touched us. Let us remember them and make them ours, to be sentinels of the morning who know how to help others see the signs of the Risen Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen! Let us open our hearts to hope and go forth. May the memory of his works and his words be the bright star which directs our steps in the ways of faith towards the Easter that will have no end.

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Pope Francis’ Via Crucis Prayer: ‘O Cross of Christ’

Mar 25, 2016 11:36 pm

Here is a Vatican translation of a prayer composed and recited by Pope Francis at this evening’s Via Crucis at the Colosseum.

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O Cross of Christ!

O Cross of Christ, symbol of divine love and of human injustice, icon of the supreme sacrifice for love and of boundless selfishness even unto madness, instrument of death and the way of resurrection, sign of obedience and emblem of betrayal, the gallows of persecution and the banner of victory.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of children, of women and people, worn out and fearful, who flee from war and violence and who often only find death and many Pilates who wash their hands.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those filled with knowledge and not with the spirit, scholars of death and not of life, who instead of teaching mercy and life, threaten with punishment and death, and who condemn the just.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in unfaithful ministers who, instead of stripping themselves of their own vain ambitions, divest even the innocent of their dignity.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the hardened hearts of those who easily judge others, with hearts ready to condemn even to the point of stoning, without ever recognizing their own sins and faults.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in expressions of fundamentalism and in terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who wish to remove you from public places and exclude you from public life, in the name of a pagan laicism or that equality you yourself taught us.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the powerful and in arms dealers who feed the cauldron of war with the innocent blood of our brothers and sisters.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in traitors who, for thirty pieces of silver, would consign anyone to death.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in thieves and corrupt officials who, instead of safeguarding the common good and morals, sell themselves in the despicable market-place of immorality.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the foolish who build warehouses to store up treasures that perish, leaving Lazarus to die of hunger at their doorsteps.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the destroyers of our “common home”, who by their selfishness ruin the future of coming generations.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the elderly who have been abandoned by their families, in the disabled and in children starving and cast-off by our egotistical and hypocritical society.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience.

O Cross of Christ, image of love without end and way of the Resurrection, today too we see you in noble and upright persons who do good without seeking praise or admiration from others.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in ministers who are faithful and humble, who illuminate the darkness of our lives like candles that burn freely in order to brighten the lives of the least among us.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of consecrated women and men – good Samaritans – who have left everything to bind up, in evangelical silence, the wounds of poverty and injustice.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the merciful who have found in mercy the greatest expression of justice and faith.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in simple men and women who live their faith joyfully day in and day out, in filial observance of your commandments.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the contrite, who in the depths of the misery of their sins, are able to cry out: Lord, remember me in your kingdom!

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the blessed and the saints who know how to cross the dark night of faith without ever losing trust in you and without claiming to understand your mysterious silence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in families that live their vocation of married life in fidelity and fruitfulness.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in volunteers who generously assist those in need and the downtrodden.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those persecuted for their faith who, amid their suffering, continue to offer an authentic witness to Jesus and the Gospel.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who dream, those with the heart of a child, who work to make the world a better place, ever more human and just.

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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On God Being Greater Than Our Sins

Mar 30, 2016 02:29 pm

Below is Pope Francis’ address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square:

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THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we finish the catecheses on mercy in the Old Testament, and we do so meditating on Psalm 51, known as the Miserere. It is a penitential prayer in which the request for forgiveness is preceded by the confession of guilt in which the Psalmist, allowing himself to be purified by the love of the Lord, becomes a new creature, capable of obedience, of firmness of spirit and of sincere praise.

The “title” that the ancient Jewish tradition gave this Psalm makes reference to King David and his sin with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. We know the affair well. King David, called by God to tend His People and to lead them on paths of obedience to the Divine Law, betrays his mission and, after having committed adultery with Bathsheba, has her husband killed. Terrible sin! Nathan, the prophet, reveals his guilt to him and helps him to acknowledge it. It is the moment of reconciliation with God, in the confession of his sin. And here David was humble; he was great! Whoever prays with this Psalm is invited to have the same sentiments of repentance and trust in God that David had, when he repented and, although being King, humbled himself, without fearing to confess his fault and show his misery to the Lord, convinced, however, of the certainty of His mercy. And what he did was not a small sin, a little fib: he had committed adultery and murder!

The Psalm begins with these words of supplication:

“Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me. (v. 3-4)

The invocation is addressed to the God of mercy because, moved by a great love as that of a father or of a mother, He has pity, namely, He grants grace, shows His favor with benevolence and understanding. It is a heartbroken appeal to God, the only one who can free from sin. Very plastic images are used: blot out, wash me, cleanse me. Man’s real need is manifested in this prayer: the only thing that we truly need in our life is to be forgiven, freed from evil and its consequences of death. Unfortunately, life often makes us experience these situations and, in them, we must first of all trust in mercy. God is greater than our sin. Let us not forget this: God is greater than our sin! “Father, I don’t know how to say it, I have committed so many <sins>!” God is greater than all the sins that we can commit. God is greater than our sin. Shall we say it together? All together: “God is greater than our sin!” Once again: “God is greater than our sin!” And His love is an ocean in which we can immerse ourselves without fear of being overwhelmed: for God, to forgive means to give us the certainty that He never abandons us. Whatever we might reprove ourselves for, He is still and always greater than everything (cf. 1 John 3:20), because God is greater than our sin.

In this connection, whoever prays with this Psalm seeks forgiveness, confesses his fault; however, acknowledging it, he celebrates God’s justice and holiness. And then, he requests grace and mercy again. The Psalmist entrusts himself to God’s goodness; he knows that divine forgiveness is extremely effective, because it creates that which it says. Sin is not hidden, but it is destroyed and blotted out; however, it is blotted out in fact from the root, not as they do at the drycleaners, when we take a garment to have a stain removed. No! God blots out our sin in fact from the root, all of it! Therefore, the penitent becomes pure again, every stain is eliminated and he is now whiter than uncontaminated snow. We are all sinners. Is this true? If one of you does not know himself to be a sinner, let him raise his hand … No one! We are all so. With forgiveness, we sinners become new creatures, brimming with the Spirit and full of joy. Now a new reality begins for us: a new heart, a new spirit, a new life. We, forgiven sinners, who received divine grace, can also teach others not to sin anymore. “But Father, I’m weak, I fall, fall.” “But if you fall, rise! Rise!” When a child falls, what does he do? He raises his hand to his mother, to his father, so that he is helped to get up. We must do the same! If you fall into sin out of weakness, raise your hand: the Lord will take it and help you to rise. This is the dignity of God’s forgiveness. The dignity that God’s forgiveness gives us is that of rising, of standing always, because He created man and woman to stand.

The Psalmist says:

“A clean heart create for me, God;

renew within me a steadfast spirit …..

….

I will teach the wicked your ways,

that sinners may return to you.

(vv. 12.15).

Dear brothers and sisters, we are all in need of God’s forgiveness, and it is the greatest sign of His mercy – a gift that every forgiven sinner is called to share with every brother or sister he meets. All those that the Lord has put at our side, relatives, friends, colleagues, parishioners … all are, as we are, in need of God’s mercy. It is lovely to be forgiven, but you also, if you want to be forgiven, forgive in turn. Forgive! May the Lord grant us, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, to be witnesses of His forgiveness, which cleanses the heart and transforms our life. Thank you.

 

 

Here is the English-language summary of Pope Francis’ General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square:

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Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now conclude our treatment of the Old Testament with a consideration of Psalm 51, the Miserere. This Psalm is traditionally seen as King David’s prayer for forgiveness following his sin with Bathsheba. Its opening words: “Have mercy on me, O God in your kindness”, are a moving confession of sin, repentance and confident hope in God’s merciful pardon. Together with a heartfelt plea to be cleansed and purified of his sin, the Psalmist sings the praise of God’s infinite justice and holiness. He asks for the forgiveness of his great sin but also for the gift of a pure heart and a steadfast spirit, so that, thus renewed, he may draw other sinners back to the way of righteousness. God’s forgiveness is the greatest sign of his infinite mercy. Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may we become ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.

Speaker:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States. In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!