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Pope returns to Vatican after Spiritual Exercises

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 18:26
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis has returned to the Vatican after having concluded the Spiritual Exercises. On Friday morning, before leaving Arricia – where the retreat was taking place – the Holy Father celebrated Mass for Syria. He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner). On Friday evening, Pope Francis will travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to Die Zeit: 'I too have moments of emptiness'

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 15:02
(Vatican Radio) “I too know moments of emptiness.” In an interview for German newsweekly Die Zeit, Pope Francis spoke about the “spiritual dark moments” in his own life, times when he has said, “Lord, I don’t understand this.” Asked about how the faithful can help when people experience crises of faith, the Holy Father said, “One cannot grow without crises: in human life, the same thing happens. Even biological growth is a crisis, no? The crisis of a child who becomes an adult. And faith is the same.” Pope Francis’ admission of his own doubts was perhaps the most striking moment in the interview with Die Ziet’s editor-in-chief, Giovanni di Lorenzo. “Faith is a gift,” the Pope said when asked how one returns to the faith. One cannot recover one’s faith on one’s own, but must ask it from God: “I ask, and He responds. Sooner or later, eh? But at times, you have to wait, in a crisis.” The conversation covered a wide range of topics, from the Pope’s devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots; to the vocations crisis (“optional celibacy is not the solution); to the question of whether men are intrinsically good or evil. The Pontiff spoke once again about what he has called the “Third World War,” being waged piecemeal, drawing attention to ongoing conflicts in Africa, Ukraine, Asia, Iraq, and elsewhere. He spoke, too, about contemporary currents of populism, warning against “a messianism” that always lurks behind such phenomena. Current events in the Church, including criticisms of Pope Francis, were also touched on in the interview. “I will make a confession about this, a sincere one,” he said. “From the moment I was elected Pope I have never lost my peace. I understand that someone might not like [my] way of acting, and I even justify it: there are so many ways of thinking; it is licit, it is human, and it is even a richness.” In particular, he complimented the “cultured” Roman dialect used in notorious posters that appeared in Rome, accusing the Pope of not being merciful. “It’s good that you can laugh at these things,” his interviewer said, to which Pope Francis responded, “But of course! [It’s] one of the things I pray for each day, with the prayer of St Thomas More: I ask for a sense of humour.” The conversation ended with a discussion of possible future travels, with the Holy Father confirming his plans to visit India, Bangladesh and Colombia, as well as Fatima in Portugal. He said, however, that a hoped-for trip to South Sudan might not be possible after all. Pope Francis concluded the interview with an apology: “I’m sorry if I haven’t met your expectations… Pray for me!” Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis begins Lenten Spiritual Exercises

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 00:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and members of the Vatican Curia travelled on Sunday afternoon to the "Casa del Divin Maestro,” a retreat centre in Ariccia, located in the Alban hills just outside Rome. They are taking part in the week-long Curial Spiritual Exercises . Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:   The Pope himself reminded the faithful of his annual retreat after praying the Angelus in St Peter’s Square and asked them for prayers for himself and for his collaborators. Each day will include moments of prayer, meditation, and Eucharistic adoration. At the heart of this year’s meditations is the theme of the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew.  The spiritual exercises will be led by Franciscan Friar Giulio Michelini. The exercises are traditionally conducted during the first week of Lent, and as always, all the Pope’s audiences, including Wednesday’s General Audience, are suspended. The participants will return to the Vatican on Friday. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: ‘consult the Bible as often as your cellphone’

Sun, 03/05/2017 - 20:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday called on Christians to consult the Bible with the same frequency as they might consult their cellphones for messages.  Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square following his weekly Angelus blessing, the Pope urged those present to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones and asked: “What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?” The Bible, he explained, contains the Word of God, the most effective tool in fighting evil and keeping us close to God.  Clearly, Francis said, the comparison between the Bible and the cellphone is paradoxical, but it induces us to reflect. “If we always carried God’s Word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path towards good” he said. He pointed out that in this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus’s forty days in the desert and of how he was tempted by the devil. With his temptations, the Pope said, Satan wanted to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humbleness – because he knew that this was the way to conquer evil – and he wanted him to take the false shortcut towards glory and success. “But the devil’s poisonous darts are all ‘blocked’ by Jesus with the shield provided by God’s Word” he said, pointing out that Jesus never uses his own words but only God’s Word, and thus, filled with the force of the Holy Spirit, he victoriously crosses the desert. Pope Francis invited all Christians to follow in Jesus’ footsteps during the forty days of Lent and to confront the spiritual battle against evil with the strength of God’s Word. “That’s why, he said, it is necessary to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, reflect upon it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the Word of God which is always topical and effective” he said. Inviting the faithful to carry a pocket-sized Gospel all the time, the Pope concluded with the words: “don’t forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us!”           (from Vatican Radio)...