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General Audience: English Summary

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 16:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged Christians to show hope by imitating Jesus’ concern for the needs of others, and by forgiving those who have offended us. The Pope was continuing his catechesis on Christian hope during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Please find the English Summary below:     Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now turn to the First Letter of Peter.  The Apostle encourages us to rejoice in Christ’s resurrection from the dead and to sanctify him in our hearts.  Because we have received the gift of new life in Christ, Saint Peter urges us to “account for the hope” that is in us.  We are to show forth that hope by imitating Jesus’ loving concern for the needs of our brothers and sisters, but also by forgiving those who have offended us.  Peter tells us that “it is better to suffer for doing good”, for in this way we imitate the Lord’s redemptive suffering and bear witness to God’s infinite love, revealed on the cross and sealed in the resurrection.  That love is the basis of all our hope.  May our lives radiate the hope that is Christ himself, who dwells within us and acts through us to bring his mercy and peace to our world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets British royals Charles and Camilla

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 02:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Tuesday with the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. The meeting came on the fourth day of an Italian tour which has taken the prince to the northern city of Vicenza for a First World War commemoration, to the earthquake hit town of Amatrice in central Italy, and to Florence, where he visited a Caritas-run project for immigrants, the elderly and single mothers. The Duchess also spent a day in Naples meeting with trafficked women and youngsters with learning difficulties at a former Mafia villa which was confiscated by the State. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:   A press release from the British embassy to the Holy See said that during the papal audience in the Paul VI hall the pope and the prince talked about a number of topics of mutual interest. They also exchanged gifts: Pope Francis gave the royal couple a bronze representation of an olive branch, and copies of his three major documents, ‘ Laudato Sì ’, ‘ Evangelii Gaudium ’ and ‘ Amoris Laetitia ’. Prince Charles presented the Holy Father with a hamper of food from the royal estate at Highgrove, to be shared among the poor and homeless. The half hour private meeting was reportedly relaxed and informal, marking the prince’s fourth visit to the Vatican but his first encounter with Pope Francis. Given their shared concern for the environment, it’s likely that protection of the planet featured prominently in the conversation.   Accepting an award in Florence on Monday, the prince spoke of the interdependence of human beings with the natural world, as well as highlighting the vital contribution of the UK and Italy to global peacekeeping. Interfaith dialogue may also have been a topic for discussion: among those meeting the prince earlier in the day at the Venerable English College was English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and four Muslim leaders from the UK, who will have their own papal audience on Wednesday morning. Before leaving the Vatican Prince Charles met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See Secretary of State. The royal couple were also given a tour of the Vatican library and secret archives, allowing them to see some of the priceless historical documents preserved in both collections. These included the last letter written by condemned Mary Queen of Scots in 1587, before her execution for treason; another letter by Pope Paul IV condemning Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, one of the leaders of the English Reformation; and a letter by King Charles I approving the appointment of his ambassador in Rome. (from Vatican Radio)...

Card Parolin celebrates Mass for Populorum Progressio anniversary

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 22:36
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 50th anniversary of the encyclical ‘ Populorum Progressio ’. During his homily for the Mass on Monday, Cardinal Parolin thanked the members and consultors of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care, and Cor Unum for their collaboration and service as the Councils were merged into the new Dicastery for Integral Human Development. “The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry. The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person.” Cardinal Parolin said the new Dicastery “will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country. This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice.” Please find below the original English version of the homily: Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I offer a warm greeting to all of you, representatives of the offices of the Roman Curia and of the rich variety of ecclesial realties from various continents.  A special greeting goes to the Members and Consultors who have served the universal Church by collaborating with the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for Health Pastoral Care and Cor Unum, which, on 1 January 2017, merged to form the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The celebration of this Eucharist, with you and for you, is a fitting occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the establishment of this Office that serves the Holy Father in the exercise of his Petrine ministry.  The particular characteristic of this service is a commitment to the integral development of every person. It is significant – even providential – that the creation of the new Dicastery coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio of Blessed Paul VI, which the Conference that we inaugurate today is meant to commemorate. I readily recall that this Encyclical, the preparation of which began in 1963, was published on 26 March 1967, Easter Day, causing some to speak of the “Encyclical of the Resurrection”, aimed at shedding the light of the Gospel and the Resurrection on the social problems of the time. In the Encyclical, Paul VI outlined the principles of a new “universal humanism”.  These were taken up twenty years later by Saint John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and once again, forty years later, by Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate.  They have also been tirelessly reiterated by Pope Francis, who, often without it being recognized, draws inspiration from the vision of his predecessor.  Pope Paul’s vision continues to be completely timely in its dramatic and radical diagnosis: “Human society is sorely ill.  The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations” (No. 66). The treatment proposed by the Holy Father also remains valid and timely: namely, a human development that is both “integral” and “fraternal”.  The Encyclical sets out the coordinates of an integral development of the human person and a fraternal development of humanity, two themes which can be considered as the axes around which the text is structured.  Development consists in the passage from less humane living conditions to more humane living conditions: “What are less than human conditions?  The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions. What are truly human conditions?  The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life’s necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture.  From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people’s dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace.  Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end.  Finally and above all, there is faith – God’s gift to men of good will – and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men” (No. 21). But how do we arrive at this development?  It is significant that Pope Benedict XVI, in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which was intended “to pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI,” wished to emphasize the extent to which “development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us.  For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love” (No. 79) God is Alpha and Omega.  God is the origin and goal of human development, which is always his gift.  For our part, we need to receive from on high the gifts of truth and love in order to become bearers, stewards and multipliers of those same gifts, especially for the benefit of those in greatest need.  This means promoting, in the light of the Christian message, a world where none are marginalized or prey to persistent violence and extreme poverty, a world without globalized indifference to the needs of others. Today’s readings offer an invitation and an encouragement to lift up our eyes to God, in whose name is our help.  The first reading admonishes us: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).  There is no lack of debates and strategies for eliminating conditions that violate human dignity, for overcoming the manifold injustices, both individual and structural, encountered on a daily basis, and for proposing a future of general well-being.  Yet solutions are often proposed that contradict those good intentions, favouring economic and military power in relations with others, choosing power, in whatever form it is expressed.  Loving in deed and in truth means substituting “the love of power” with “the power of love”.  For what is the power of Jesus Christ, if not the power of an ultimately unsettling love (cf. Jn 13:1), a love that, the more we reflect on it, the more our self-regard diminishes and God’s dominion in our life increases? The Gospel passage we have just heard speaks clearly and dramatically of the importance of concrete actions.  It is charity that leads to salvation and entrance into the Kingdom.  “Come, O blessed of my Father… I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:34-36).  It matters not to which race, religion, ethnic or social group people belong, in order to receive charity from the disciples of Jesus.  This universality is truly radical.  Every act of solidarity is shown to the Lord, present in the person who is suffering.  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). This is the horizon against which the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development must operate.  It will carry out its mandate only to the extent that it walks the way of the Gospel in its efforts to support the fullest possible growth of every person and of every country.  This will entail a constant concern for the dignity of the person – in the trilogy of body and soul, man and woman, individual and society – but also for the common good, to be pursued in truth and in justice. As the Encyclical Populorum Progressio reminds us: “The development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone.  To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man… What counts for us is man – each individual man, each human group, and humanity as a whole.” (No. 14). In the Motu Proprio Humanam Progressionem (31 August 2016), Pope Francis stated his reasons for establishing the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development: “so that the Holy See may be solicitous in [the] areas [of “attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation”], as well as in those regarding health and charitable works...  This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.” These are the forms of marginalization, suffering, injustice and hurt to which we must bring the oil of mercy and justice, hope and new life. Do not be frightened by the immensity of the challenges that lie ahead of you, or by the limited nature of the means at your disposal.  Do not reject or undervalue any contribution that may be suggested.  For such contributions will be the result of cooperation between the Superiors and Officials of the new Dicastery, drawing on the competence and experience of each of the bodies that have merged into it, together with the authoritative assistance of the Members and Consultors.  And, as Blessed Paul VI wished, your work will be carried out in harmonious cooperation with the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with other Christians and believers, with all people of good will, and with political and cultural leaders (Populorum Progressio, Nos. 81-86) No one is too small to play a part in helping development to serve all humanity and the whole human person.  We think of the account of the multiplication of the loaves: it was a young person who enabled Jesus to feed the crowd (cf. Jn 6:9).  We think too of today’s Gospel and the parable of the Last Judgment. With the merging of the former Dicasteries, you have now become a single body with different functions, each at the service of the other, like the Church herself, which is the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-30).  “We must travel this road together,” Paul VI urged, “united in minds and hearts.” No. 80).  United and concerned for one another, you will be all the stronger in your efforts to attain the goals set for you. So do not be afraid of swimming against the tide in proclaiming the Gospel of our salvation, in centres and on the peripheries.  The dialogue between cultures and religions, peace, disarmament and the reconciliation between individuals and peoples, a correct anthropology of the person and of the family, migration: all these and many more questions call for generous commitment on the part of all.  Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty.  Like Jesus, bend down to embrace every human situation with generosity and dedication, to save lives and to instil hope, peace and justice in the world. May the Lord bless the mission of the new Dicastery and your tireless labour in his vineyard.  Amen. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's prayer intention for April: Youth

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 21:20
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April is dedicated to Youth : 'For young people, that they might know how to respond generously to the vocation God has given them, and immerse themselves in the great causes of the world.' The  Apostleship of Praye r has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: I know that you, young people, don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you aim high. Is that true, or am I wrong? Don’t leave it to others to be the protagonists of change. You, young people, are the ones who hold the future!  I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world.  It is a challenge, yes it is a challenge. Do you accept it? Pray with me that young people may respond generously to their own vocation and mobilize for the great causes of the world. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: 'the Cross is not a badge of belonging'

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 20:04
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday told Christians not to wear the crucifix only as a symbol of belonging but to look to Jesus on the Cross as He who died for our salvation. The Pope’s words came during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta .  Three times, Pope Francis said, in today’s liturgical reading Jesus says to the Pharisees: “You will die in your sins”. That’s because their hearts were closed and they did not understand the mystery of the Lord. “To die in your sins” he said, is a bad thing. Reflecting on the First Reading in which the Lord tells Moses to make a saraph serpent and mount it on a pole and “whoever looks at it after being bitten will live,” the Pope said the serpent is “the symbol of the devil,” the father of lies, he who caused humanity to sin. And he recalled that Jesus said “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own.” This, Francis said, is the mystery of the Cross. “The bronze serpent was the sign of two things: the sign of sin and of the seductive power of sin”, and it was a prophecy of the Cross, he said.  The Cross, he continued, is not only a symbol of belonging, but it is the memory of God who was made sin for love. As Saint Paul says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin”. Taking upon Himself all the filth of humanity, the Pope said, He was lifted so that all men wounded by sin would be able to see Him. "Salvation comes only from the Cross, from this Cross that is God made flesh” he said. And he pointed out: “There is no salvation in ideas, there is no salvation in good will, in the desire to be good ... The only salvation is in the crucified Christ, because like the bronze serpent, He was able to take all the poison of sin and heal us.” Then the Pope asked: “what is the Cross for you? Yes, it is the Christian symbol. We make the sign of the Cross, but often we do not do it well…” For some, he said, the Cross is like a badge of belonging, they wear it to show they are Christians, or even in search of visibility, they wear it as an ornament decorated with precious gems. But, he reminded the faithful: "God said to Moses “whoever looks at the serpent will live”; and Jesus said to his enemies “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am the son of God”.  He who does not look to the Cross with faith, the Pope said, will die in his sins, will not receive salvation. Today, Pope Francis said, the Church proposes “a dialogue with the Mystery of the Cross, with God who became sin for our sake”. “Each of us can say He became sin ‘for love of me’” he said. Inviting all faithful to think about how theywear the Cross, and how aware they are when making the sign of the cross, the Pope concluded asking each of us to look to this God who became sin so that we do not die in our sins, and to reflect on the questions just suggested.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to meet Prince Charles and Camilla as part of Italian tour

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 18:57
(Vatican Radio) British heir to the throne, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, meet with Pope Francis on Tuesday afternoon as part of their five day visit to Italy. The Prince will also hold talks with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See Secretary of State, and the Vatican 'foreign minister' Archbishop Paul Gallagher, as well as with other Vatican officials at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Before the papal audience, the royal couple will be shown some of the rare documents contained in the Vatican library and secret archive.. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:  The British heir to the throne began his Italian tour in the northern city of Vicenza, where he visited a Commonwealth cemetery, laying a wreath in memory of soldiers of different nationalities who died during the deployment of British forces to the Austrian front of the First World War one hundred years ago. His wife, Camilla, meanwhile, spent the day in Naples, meeting with trafficked women and youngsters with learning difficulties at a former Mafia villa which was confiscated by the State. She also visited the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum which was destroyed by the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. On Sunday Prince Charles toured the earthquake hit town of Amatrice in central Italy, walking amid the rubble and talking to some of the survivors of the quake that killed nearly 300 people and left thousands of others homeless. The Duchess of Cornwall spent Sunday in Florence, visiting the Uffizi Gallery but also St Mark’s Anglican church in the city centre and revealing that her great-grandmother had lived in the city during the last years of her life. The royal couple stayed in Florence on Monday, visiting the Caritas-run Casa San Paolino which cares for around 80 people, including single mothers with children, homeless immigrants and the elderly. They also toured an internationally renowned art restoration workshop and visited an organic food market with the founder of Italy’s Slow Food movement Carlo Petrini. Later Prince Charles was presented with a Renaissance Man of the Year award, recognizing his achievements in the fields of philanthropy and the arts. In his acceptance speech, he highlighted the vital contribution of the UK and Italy to global peacekeeping, but also focused on the interdependence of human beings with the natural world. The royal couple’s last engagements in Italy include a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella and an encounter at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation. They fly on to Austria on Wednesday afternoon for the final leg of their nine-day European tour. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope receives Populorum progressio conference participants

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 18:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday received participants attending an International Conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI social encyclical 'Populorum progressio' telling them that only the path of integration between peoples can bring about a future of peace and hope. Listen to this report: 50 years ago Blessed Paul VI promulgated his social encyclical 'Populorum progressio' on the development of peoples. In it the Pope calls for all nations to initiate dialogue and collaboration so developing countries no longer risk being overwhelmed by debt. It also expresses the principle of solidarity. To mark the milestone anniversary of this document an International Conference has been taking place this week aimed at studying the theological anthropological and pastoral perspectives of the encyclical and formulate guidelines for the activity of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. And it was on this subject of Integral Human Development that Pope Francis addressed participants who have been attending this meeting. He asked those present what does this phrase means today and in the near future? The Holy Father answered that Integral Human Development meant  “to integrate the different peoples of the earth.” The duty of solidarity, he continued,  “requires us to seek a fair sharing mode, because there is a dramatic inequality between those who have too much and those who have nothing, including those who discard and who are discarded. Only the path of integration between peoples can bring about  a future of peace and hope.” Integral Human Development, the Pope went on to say, “is to offer viable models of social integration. “Everyone has a contribution to make to the whole of society, everyone has a feature that can be used to live together, no one is excluded from making something for the good of all. This is both a right and a duty”, he said Quoting his predecessor Blessed Paul VI, the Pope said that “development is not reduced to a mere economic growth. It does not consist in having more and more goods…” The development of the human person, explained the Holy Father at the end of the day means the integration of  body and soul. But he noted, that this integration also means that “no development work can really achieve its purpose if it does not respect the place where God is present to us and speaks to our hearts.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

New pastoral provisions for Sacrament of Marriage for SSPX

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 18:09
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has established new provisions for the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony by members of the faithful who are attached to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  In a letter approved by Pope Francis, Cardinal Gerhard Müller says, “The Holy Father . . . has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society.” The Pope's decision adopts a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, both of which are headed by Cardinal Müller.  The new provisions are part of a number of ongoing meetings and initiatives aimed at bringing the Society into full communion; Cardinal Müller’s letter mentions specifically the recent decision of Pope Francis to grant all priests of the Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful in order “to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful.” The grant of faculties for the celebration of marriage is subject to several provisions: “Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary [that is, normally the local Diocesan Bishop] is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.” That is, a priest in good standing is to preside at the celebration of the marriage itself, which in the extraordinary form takes place before the nuptial Mass. The Mass itself may then be celebrated by a priest of the SSPX. The letter also foresees that circumstances may exist where those provisions are not possible, or where no Diocesan priest is able to receive the consent of the parties. In such cases, the Pope allows the Ordinary to grant faculties to the priest who will celebrate the nuptial Mass. Cardinal Müller closes his letter expressing his conviction that “in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated”; and that, to that end, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei “relies” on the cooperation of the prelates of the Episcopal Conferences concerned in this matter. Below, please find the full text of Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s letter: Your Eminence, Your Excellency, As you are aware, for some time various meetings and other initiatives have been ongoing in order to bring the Society of St. Pius X into full communion. Recently, the Holy Father decided, for example, to grant all priests of said Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful (Letter Misericordia et misera , n.12), such as to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful. Following the same pastoral outlook which seeks to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St. Pius X finds itself, the Holy Father, following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei , has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions. Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo , by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society. Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible. Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated, this Dicastery relies on Your cooperation. The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 24 March 2017, confirmed his approval of the present letter and ordered its publication.   Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 27 March 2017.   Gerhard Card. L. Müller President   + Guido Pozzo Secretary Titular Archbishop of Bagnoregio   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells Christians to be witnesses of life and hope

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 21:03
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday told the faithful not to remain trapped in the rubble of life, but to rise from the rubble and rebuild their lives with the help of God. The Pope’s words came during the homily as he celebrated Mass for about 70 thousand people gathered in the central square of Italy’s northern town of Carpi. His one-day visit to the Emilia Romagna region comes after a pair of deadly earthquakes five years ago and where extensive restoration efforts have been cited as exemplary. Reaching out to those who lost loved ones and livelihoods during the 2012 quake, Pope Francis said God does not magically make bad things vanish, but He is close to those who suffer and faith has the power to transform that suffering. Reflecting on the Gospel reading that tells of the resurrection of Lazarus, the Pope recalled that Jesus himself wept for the death of Lazarus, but “within the mystery of suffering in which rationality is shattered and crushed like flies against a glass pane” he said, “Jesus does not allow himself to be imprisoned by pessimism”.    Before that sepulcher, he said, on the one hand there is sorrow, delusion, precariousness; on the other there is hope “that conquers death and evil”. “Jesus, he continued, did not offer a remedy to lengthen life, but proclaimed: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live’”. Pope Francis said that we are called to decide on what side to stand, and either close ourselves in sadness or be open to hope.    “There are those who remain buried in the rubble of life, and there are those, like you, who with the help of God rise from the rubble to rebuild” he said. Francis invited the faithful to avoid the temptation to be imprisoned in hopelessness and self-commiseration, to not yield to the useless and inconclusive logic of fear and resignation. “Jesus’ words to Lazarus are also meant for us: leave sadness and hopelessness behind; with Jesus hope is reborn and pain is transformed into peace. He is always there to help us rise” he said. “Let us ask for the grace, the Pope concluded, to be witnesses of life and hope in a world that is thirsting for it.” Before celebrating Mass the Pope visited the quake-damaged Duomo cathedral of Carpi, where he laid a bouquet of white flowers at the foot of a statue of the Madonna inside. After years of restoration, the cathedral reopened just last weekend. During his daylong visit, Pope Francis is also scheduled to meet with families who lost loved ones in the quake, lunch with clergy and meet privately with priests, nuns and seminarians for an open discussion.  The Emilia Romagna model of rebuilding after the magnitude 6.1 and 5.8 quakes that killed 28 people in 2012 has often been cited as exemplary. It included bringing together politicians, entrepreneurs and bishops to decide common priorities. The papal visit is seen as a sign of gratitude for the rebuilding and as a sign of hope that rebuilding is possible for the people of central Italy, who suffered an earthquake in 2016 that killed nearly 300 people, displaced tens of thousands and wreaked extensive damage to homes, businesses, Churches and infrastructure.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope appeals for Columbia, DRC, Venezuela and Paraguay

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 19:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed deep pain for the tragedy that has struck the city of Mocoa in Columbia where a gigantic landslide has killed over 250 people and left scores missing. Colombia's security forces are searching for over 200 missing people after heavy mudslides reportedly left at least 254 dead, and injured more than 400. Torrential rain flooded the city of Mocoa in the country's south-west with mud and rocks, burying whole neighbourhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes. Speaking after the Angelus prayer which he recited during his visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi, the Pope said he is praying for the victims and he assured his closeness to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. He also thanked all those who are working to assist the victims and provide rescue efforts.    Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the situation of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo ’s Kasai region where, he said, bloody armed clashes are killing and displacing people. He appealed for prayers for peace in the nation, exhorting believers to pray so that “the hearts of those who are behind such crimes be freed from the slavery of hatred and violence, because hatred and violence are always destructive”.     The Pope noted that the violence in DRC is also affecting Church members, Churches and Church-run institutes like hospitals and schools.    Francis finally focused attention on the crises that are creating socio-political turmoil in Venezuela and in Paraguay . “I pray for those populations who are very dear to me, he said, and invite all to tirelessly persevere in their search for political solutions, avoiding every kind of violence”.           (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis receives Spanish College of St Joseph students

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 21:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the students, faculty, and staff of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph on Saturday, in a special audience to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of the institution. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, the Holy Father shared a reflection on the three key terms in Jesus’ response to the Levite, who questioned him about the greatest commandment: to love the Lord with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, and all one’s strength. Click below to hear our report “To love with all your heart,” said Pope Francis, “means to do it without reserve and without ulterior motives, without spurious interests and without seeking personal success for oneself.” “To love with all one’s soul,” he continued, “is to be willing to offer one’s life,” an attitude the Holy Father said must persist in time, and embrace our whole being. “To love with all our strength,” Pope Francis went on to say, is a command that, “reminds us that where our treasure is, there is our heart,” and that it is, “in our little gestures – assurances and signs of affection – that we play out whether we shall say ‘yes’ to the Lord, or – like the rich young man – turn our back on Him.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope writes to Peru's Catholic University on its 100 year anniversary

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 20:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has encouraged teachers, students and graduates of Peru’s Catholic University to be united and “walk together” giving value to its legacy in contemporary society and transmitting it to the new generations. The Pope’s words came in a letter addressed to Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Peru, on the occasion of the first centenary of the institution.   Please find below an English translation of Pope Francis’ letter: Dear brother, I am pleased to greet you and through you, to those who compose the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, on the occasion of the first centenary of this institution. I join you in giving thanks to the Lord for all the benefits received from His infinite goodness during these years dedicated to the service of the Church and the society of this beloved country. This pleasing anniversary gives us the opportunity to reflect on the nature and purpose of the University. In its Statutes it is defined as a “community of teachers, students and graduates dedicated to the essential purposes of a Catholic university institution” (Article 1). This formulates the summary of a whole project, not only educational but also of life. It is primarily a community, which means recognizing members of the same family who share a common history based on the same principles that gave rise to and motivated them. The community is formed and consolidated when it walks together, united, valuing the legacy it has received and that it must safeguard, making it live in the contemporary world and transmitting it to the new generations. It is undeniable that the founders of this educational centre launched a courageous initiative in the service of Peruvian society and the Church. It is a call to openness to other cultures and realities; if one is locked in oneself, contemplating only one’s own knowledge and achievements, one is doomed to failure. However, knowledge of other thoughts and customs enriches us, and stimulates us to reflect within ourselves more deeply in order to engage in a serious and fruitful dialogue with our surrounding environment. The community is made up of teachers, students and graduates. Their roles are different but they all need each other to exercise them authentically. The Master is one, our Lord (Mt 23:8; Jn 13:13); And he who is called to teach must do so in imitation of Jesus, the good teacher, Who went out to sow every day with His Word, and was patient with those who followed Him and humble in his dealings with them. If we look at his example, we realize that in order to teach one has first to learn and to be a disciple. The latter is the one who follows the example of his teacher and is attentive to his teachings in order to be able to excel and be better. This inner tension helps us to recognize ourselves as humble and in need of divine grace in order to bring the received talents to fruition. Teaching and learning are slow and meticulous processes, which necessitate attention and constant love, because they involve collaborating with the Creator to give shape to the work of His hands. Performing this “sacred” task fosters the knowledge and fruitfulness of the perfection and goodness in every creature that loved by God and is a reflection of God's infinite wisdom and goodness (cf. Laudato Si’ , 69). In this task, everyone – teachers, students and graduates – is necessary. Each one contributes the competence of his knowledge and his specific vocation and life, so that this centre of studies shines not only in its academic excellence, but also as a school of humanity. Finally, this community has the challenge of seeking and striving towards the essential purpose of a Catholic university institution; that is, to be evangelized so as to evangelize. Every Christian has been conquered by the Lord and that encounter is transformed into witness. The acquisition of knowledge is not enough, it is necessary to bring it to life, like leaven in the mass. We are missionary disciples and are called to become a living gospel for the world. Through the example of our life and our good works we will bear witness to Christ, so that the heart of man can change and become a new creature. This institution, with all its members, must face the challenge of meeting the man and woman of today, bearing an authentic and sure word. To achieve this end, the truth must be ardently and rigorously pursued, as well as its adequate transmission, thus contributing to the promotion of the human person and to the construction of society (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae , 2). This University, which in accordance with its origin, history and mission, has a special link with the Successor of Peter and, in communion with him, with the Universal Church, will have achieved its objectives if it can bring to the social fabric those doses of professionalism and humanity proper to the Christian able to seek with passion that synthesis of faith and reason. I commend to Our Mother the Virgin Mary, Throne of Wisdom, the projects and challenges of this Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and I pray to the Lord for all those who make up this educational community, as well as their families and their loved ones. I ask you not to forget to pray for me, and impart an Apostolic Blessing. (from Vatican Radio)...

New Evangelization to care for shrines

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 18:22
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Saturday, in which he transfers general responsibility for the creation, discipline and administration of Catholic shrines and sanctuaries throughout the world, to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The new arrangement leaves in place the special laws granting other authorities specific competence over certain shrines and sanctuaries – and the pilgrims and pilgrimages associated with them. The Council for New Evangelization will now be directly responsible the establishment of international Sanctuaries and the approval of their respective statutes, as well as for the study and implementation of measures to promote the evangelizing role of the sacred places in the life of the Church and of the faithful, to promote an organic pastoral care plan for shrines and to promote both national and international gatherings aimed at fostering renewal of pilgrimages to places of worship and works of popular piety more generally. In addition, the Council for New Evangelization will be responsible for promoting training for shrine operators and support for pilgrims, as well as cultural and artistic enhancement of  sanctuaries, “according to the via pulchritudinis as one of the Church’s particular modes of evangelization. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope continues 'mercy' initiative with visit to centre for the blind

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 23:02
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday visited a Rome institute for blind people, continuing what he called his ‘Mercy Friday’ initiatives during the recent Jubilee year. The institute, situated close to the Vatican, cares for 37 adults and elderly residents and offers services to a further 50 children with impaired sight who use it as a day care facility. A note from the Vatican said that besides meeting with medical staff, volunteers and residents, Pope Francis offered a donation and signed a visitor’s book in the centre’s chapel. (from Vatican Radio)...

Official logo for Pope Francis' visit to Egypt

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 21:35
(Vatican Radio)  The logo for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Egypt, which takes place 28-29 April, has been released by the Egyptian Catholic Church. The three main elements present in the logo are Egypt, Pope Francis, and Peace. “Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace” are the words in Arabic and English at the base of the logo. Egypt is represented by the Nile River – a symbol of life – as well as by the pyramids and the Sphinx, which highlight the long history of civilization in this African country. The Cross and Crescent Moon at the center of the logo represent the coexistence between the various components of the Egyptian people. A white dove signifies peace, which is both the highest gift to which every human being can aspire and the greeting of monotheistic religions. Finally, the dove precedes Pope Francis to announce his arrival as the Pope of Peace in a country of peace. (from Vatican Radio)...

Fourth Lenten Sermon of Fr. Cantalamessa to papal household: Full text

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 20:56
(Vatican Radio)  The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., gave his fourth Lenten Sermon to Pope Francis on Friday morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The theme of the Lenten meditations is: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). This fourth iteration carried the title: 'The Holy Spirit introduces us to the Mystery of the Resurrection of Christ'. The fifth and last Sermon of Lent will take place on Friday, 7 April. Below please find the official English version translated from the Italian original by Marsha Daigle Williamson: THE HOLY SPIRIT INTRODUCES US TO THE MYSTERY OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST In the first two Lenten meditations we reflected on the Holy Spirit who leads us into all the truth about the person of Christ, causing him to be proclaimed as “Lord” and “true God.” In the last meditation we moved on from the being of Christ to the work of Christ, from his person to his action, and in particular the mystery of his redemptive death. Today I propose that we meditate on the mystery of his resurrection and of our resurrection. St. Paul expressly attributes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to the work of the Holy Spirit. He says that Christ was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). In Christ is the fulfillment of the great prophecy by Ezekiel about the Spirit who enters into the dry bones, raises them from their graves, and makes of this slain multitude “an exceedingly great host” of people resurrected to life and hope (see Ezek 37:1-14). But this is not the line I want to pursue in this meditation. Making the Holy Spirit the main inspirer of all theology (which is the intent of what is called “Theology of Third Article!”) does not mean forcing the Holy Spirit into every assertion, mentioning him at every turn. This would not be in the nature of the Paraclete who, like light, illuminates everything while remaining, so to speak, in the background himself as though behind the scenes. More than speaking “about” the Holy Spirit, the Theology of the Third Article involves speaking “in” the Holy Spirit, with all that this simple change of preposition entails. 1. The Resurrection of Christ: The Historical Approach Let us first of all say something about the resurrection of Christ as a “historical” fact. Can we define the resurrection as an historical event in the normal sense of this word—something that really happened—insofar as history is in contrast to myth and legend? To express it in the words of the recent debate: Is Jesus risen only in the kerygma, that is, in the proclamation of the Church (as someone has affirmed in the wake of Rudolf Bultmann), or did he also rise in reality and in history? In other words, is he, the person of Jesus, truly risen, or is it only his cause that has risen—in the metaphoric sense in which “rising again” means the survival or the victorious reemergence of an idea after the death of the one who proposed it? Let us see, then, in what sense there can be an historical approach to the resurrection of Christ. Not because some of us here need to be persuaded about that, but, as Luke says at the beginning of his Gospel, “that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed” (Lk 1:4) and concerning what we transmit to others. The faith of the disciples, with a few exceptions (John and the devout women), does not hold up under the test of Jesus’ tragic end. After his passion and death, a pall is cast over everything. The disciples’ inner state is revealed through the words of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus: “We had hoped that he was the one . . . . It is now the third day since this happened” (Lk 24:21). Faith is at a stalemate. The case of Jesus is considered closed. Now—still from the historians’ point of view—let us move ahead to a year, or even to a few weeks later. What do we find? A group of men, the same ones who were with Jesus, who are now repeating loudly that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Lord, the Son of God, that he is alive and will come to judge the world. The case of Jesus is not only reopened, but in a brief amount of time it has also shifted to an absolute and universal dimension. This man is of interest now not only to the people of Israel but to all human beings of all times. “The very stone which the builders rejected,” says St. Peter, “has become the head of the corner” (1 Pet 2:7), that is, the beginning of a new humanity. From now on, whether people know it or not, there is no other name under heaven given to human beings by which they can be saved except the name of Jesus of Nazareth (see Acts 4:12). What caused such a change in these same men who had earlier denied Jesus or run away but who now declare these things publicly, who establish churches, and who even allow themselves to be imprisoned, whipped, and killed for him? They all answer in unision: “He is risen! We have seen him!” The final act the historian can perform, before yielding the floor to faith, is to verify this response. The resurrection is an historical event in a very particular sense. It is at the border of history, like the line that divides the sea from the land. It is inside and outside of history at the same time. With it, history opens itself up to what is beyond history, to eschatology. It therefore represents, in a certain sense, a break with history and a move beyond it, just like the creation did at its beginning. This makes the resurrection an event that cannot be attested to and accessed in itself by our mental categories that are wholly tied to our experience of time and space. No one was actually present at the moment Jesus was resurrected. No one can say they saw Jesus being resurrected but only that they saw him once he was risen. But they saw his empty tomb. The resurrection, therefore, is known a posteriori, after the fact. It is like the physical presence of the Word in Mary afterward that demonstrates his Incarnation; likewise it is the spiritual presence of Christ in the community afterward, attested by his appearances, that demonstrates he has risen. This explains why no secular historian says a word about his resurrection. Tacitus, who does record the death of a certain “Christus” at the time of Pontius Pilate,[1] is silent about the resurrection. That event had no relevance or meaning except for people who experienced its aftermath within the community. In what sense, then, do we speak of an historical approach to the resurrection? Two facts are offered for consideration to historians that allow them to speak about the resurrection: first, the sudden and inexplicable faith of the disciples, a faith so tenacious that it withstands even the test of martyrdom; second, the explanation of such a faith left to us by those involved. An eminent exegete has written, “In the hour of crisis [after Jesus was crucified] the disciples held no . . . assurance [of a resurrection]. They fled (Mark 14:50), and gave up Jesus’ cause for lost (Luke 24:19-21). Something must have happened in between, which in a short time not only produced a complete reversal of their attitude but also enabled them to engage in renewed activity and to found the primitive Christian community. This ‘something’ is the historical kernel of the Easter faith.”[2] It has been correctly observed that if the historical and objective character of the resurrection is denied, the birth of faith and of the Church would be a mystery that is even more inexplicable than the resurrection itself: “The assumption that the whole great course of Christian history is a massive pyramid balanced upon the apex of some trivial occurrence is surely a less probable one than that the whole event, the occurrence plus the meaning inherent in it, did actually occupy a place in history at least comparable with that which the New Testament assigns to it.”[3] What then is the ultimate point that historical research can reach concerning the resurrection? We can find it in the words of the disciples at Emmaus. Some disciples on the morning of Easter went to Jesus’ tomb and found that things were just as the women had reported when they were there earlier, “but him they did not see” (Lk 24:24). History also goes to Jesus’ tomb and must ascertain that things were as the witnesses had said. But him, the Risen One, history does not see. It is not enough to ascertain the facts historically; there is also a need to see the Risen One, and history cannot offer that; only faith can.[4] A man running from the mainland who reaches the shore of the sea has to stop abruptly; he can continue to push forward with his gaze, but not with his feet. 2. The Apologetic Significance of the Resurrection As we move from history to faith, the manner of speaking about the resurrection also changes. The language of the New Testament and the liturgy of the Church is assertive, authoritative, and does not base itself on dialectical demonstrations. “In fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Cor 15:20), Paul says. Period. We are now on the level of faith and no longer on the level of historical argument. It is what we call the kerygma. “Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere,” says the Liturgy on the day of Easter: “We know that Christ is truly risen from the dead.” Not only do we believe it, but having believed it, we also know it to be true, and we are certain of it. The surest proof of the resurrection comes after we have believed, not before, because it is at that point that we experience that Jesus is alive. But what exactly is the resurrection from the point of view of faith? It is the testimony of God about Jesus Christ. God the Father, who had already attested to Jesus of Nazareth during his life through signs and wonders, has now set a definitive seal to his endorsement of him by raising him from the dead. St. Paul, in his discourse in Athens, formulates it this way: “By raising him from the dead, God has given assurance about him to all men” (see Acts 17:31). The resurrection is God’s powerful “yes,” his “Amen” to the life of his Son Jesus. The death of Christ was not in itself sufficient to testify to the truth of his cause. Many people—and we have tragic proof of that these days—die for mistaken causes, and even for evil causes. Their deaths have not made their cause true; their deaths only prove that they believed in its truth. The death of Christ is not a guarantee of his truth but of his love, since “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Only the resurrection, therefore, constitutes the seal of Christ’s authentic divinity. This is why Jesus responds one day to those who asked for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (see Jn 2:18ff), and in another place he says, “No sign shall be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah,” who, after three days in the belly of the whale, saw daylight again (see Matt 16:4). Paul is right to build the whole edifice of faith on the resurrection as its foundation: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God. . . . We are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15, 14-15, 19). We understand why St. Augustine can say that “the faith of Christians is in the resurrection of Christ”; everyone, even pagans, believes that Christ died, but only Christians believe that he is risen, and there is no Christian who does not believe that.[5] 3. The “mystic” significance of the Resurrection of Christ Up to now the apologetic significance of Christ’s resurrection aimed at establishing the authenticity of Christ’s mission and the legitimacy of his claim to divinity. We need to add to this a wholly new significance that we could call the mystic or salvific aspect in what concerns us believers. The resurrection of Christ concerns us and is a mystery “for us” because it is the basis of hope for our own resurrection from the dead: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. (Rom 8:11) Faith in a life in the otherworld appears in a clear and explicit way only toward the end of the Old Testament. The Second Book of Maccabees constitutes its most developed testimony: one of the seven brothers killed under Antiochus exclaims that after they die, “the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life” (2 Mac 7:9; see 2:1-14). But this faith does not come suddenly of nowhere; it is vitally rooted in previous biblical revelation and represents its natural conclusion and its more mature fruit, so to speak. Two certainties in particular led the people of Israel to this conclusion: certainty about the omnipotence of God and certainty about the insufficiency and injustice of earthly recompense. It appeared more and more evident—especially after the experience of the exile—that the fate of good people in this world is such that, without the hope of a different reward for the righteous after death, it would be impossible not to fall into despair. In this life, in fact, the same things happen to the righteous and the wicked, whether it be happiness or misfortune. Ecclesiastes represents the clearest expression of this bitter conclusion (see Eccles 7:15). Jesus’ thinking on this issue is expressed in his discussion with the Sadducees on the fate of a woman who had had seven husbands (see Lk 20:27-38). In keeping with the most ancient biblical revelation, the Mosaic revelation, the Sadducees had not accepted the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and considered it an undue innovation. Referring to the Mosaic law concerning Levirate marriage (see Deut 25, where a widowed woman without sons is to marry her brother-in-law), they speculate about the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands consecutively based on that law. At the end, confident of having demonstrated the absurdity of resurrection, they ask, “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?” (Lk 20:33). Without shifting away from the Mosaic law, the ground chosen by his adversaries, Jesus reveals in a few words first the error of the Sadducees and then corrects it; next, he gives the most profound and most convincing foundation for faith in the resurrection. Jesus gives his opinion about two things: the manner and the fact of resurrection. As for the fact that there will be a resurrection of the dead, Jesus recalls the episode of the burning bush when God identifies himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” If God identifies himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” when these three men have been dead for generations and if, in addition, “God is the God of the living and not of the dead,” then it means that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive somewhere! However, more than on his response to the Sadducees, faith in the resurrection is based on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. “If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,” Paul exclaims, “how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised!” (1 Cor 15:12-13). It is absurd to think of a body whose head reigns gloriously in heaven and whose body decays forever on earth or ends in nothingness. Furthermore, Christian faith in the resurrection of the dead responds to the most instinctive desire of the human heart. St. Paul says that we do not want to be “unclothed” of our bodies but to be “further clothed,” that is, we do not want only one part of our being—our soul—to go on living but all of who we are, soul and body. Therefore, we do not want our mortal bodies to be destroyed but to be “swallowed up by life,” and to “put on immortality” (see 2 Cor 5:1-5; 15:51-53). In this life we have not only a promise of eternal life, we also have the “first fruits” and the “first installment.”  We should never translate the Greek word arrabon used by St. Paul about the Spirit (see 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Ephes 1:14) as “pledge” (pignus) but only as “first installment” or “deposit” (arra). St. Augustine explains the difference clearly. A pledge, he says, is not the beginning of the payment but is money given to certify future payment. Once the payment is made, the pledge is returned. That is not the case with a deposit. A deposit is not returned when the payment is completed because it is already part of the payment. If God by his Spirit has given us love as a first installment, when he brings the fullness of what he has promised, will he take back the first installment he has given us? Of course not; instead he will bring the fullness of what has already been given.[6] Just as the “first fruits” announce a full harvest and are part of it, so too the first installment is part of the full possession of the Spirit. It is “the Spirit who dwells in us” (see Rom 8:11)—more so than the immortality of the soul—that, as we see, assures the continuity between our present life and our future life. Concerning the manner of resurrection, on this same occasion with the Sadducees Jesus describes the spiritual situation of the resurrected: “Those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Lk 20:35-36). One can attempt to illustrate the transition from the earthly state to the resurrected state with examples drawn from nature: the seed from which the tree springs up, lifeless nature in winter that is revived in spring, the caterpillar that is transformed into the butterfly. Paul simply says, “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44). The truth is that everything regarding our condition in the afterlife remains an impenetrable mystery. It is not because God wants to keep it hidden from us but because—as limited as we are in having to think of everything within the categories of time and space—we lack the tools to portray it to ourselves. Eternity is not an entity that exists separately and that can be defined in itself, almost as if it were a period time that stretches out eternally. It is the mode of God’s being. Eternity is God! To enter into eternal life simply means to be admitted, by grace, to share God’s mode of being. None of this would have been possible if eternity had not first entered into time. It is in the risen Christ, and thanks to him, that we can be clothed with God’s mode of being. St. Paul describes what awaits him after death as “departing and being with Christ” (see Phil 1:23). The same thing can be deduced from Jesus’ words to the good thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43). Paradise is being “with Christ,” as his “co-heirs.” Eternal life is a reuniting of the members to the head to form one “entity” with him in glory, after having been united to him in suffering (see Rom 8:17). A deightful story narrated by a modern German writer helps us have a better idea of eternal life than any attempts at rational speculation. In a medieval monastery there were two monks who had a deep spiritual friendship. One was called Rufus and the other Rufinus. They spent all their free time trying to imagine and describe what eternal life would be like in the heavenly Jerusalem. Rufus was a builder, so he imagined it as a city with doors of gold studded with precious stones. Rufinus was an organist, so he imagined it as full of heavenly music. In the end they made a pact that whichever one of them died first would return the following night to reassure his friend that things were in fact as they had imagined. One word would be enough. If things were as they had imagined, he would simply say, “Taliter!” “Exactly!” But if things were different—and this seemed completely impossible—he would say, “Aliter!” “Different!” While playing the organ one night, Rufinus died of a heart attack. His friend Rufus stayed awake all night anxiously, but nothing. He kept vigils and fasted for weeks and months, but nothing. Finally on the anniversary of his death, Rufinus entered his friend’s cell at night surrounded by a circle of light. Seeing that Rufinus was silent, Rufus, sure of an affirmative answer, asked his friend, “Taliter? Isn’t that right?” But his friend shook his head no. Rufus desperately cried out, “Aliter? It’s different?” And again his friend shook his head no. Finally two words suddenly came forth from his silent friend: “Totaliter aliter” “Completely different!” Rufus understood instantly that heaven was infinitely more than what they had imagined and could not be described. He also died shortly after because of his desire to be there.[7] The story is of course a legend, but its content is very biblical. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). St. Symeon the New Theologian, one of the most beloved saints in the Orthodox Church, had a vision one day. He was certain he had gazed on God himself and, certain that nothing could ever be greater or more glorious than what he had seen, he said, “It is enough for me to be in this state even after death!” The Lord answered him, “You are indeed too fainthearted to be contented with this. Compared with the blessings to come, this is like a description of heaven on paper . . . [and is] inferior to the reality, the glory that will be revealed.” [8] When people want to cross a stretch of sea, said St. Augustine, the most important thing is not to stay on the shore and squint to see what is on the opposite shore but to get in a boat that takes them to that shore.[9] For us as well, the most important thing is not to speculate about what eternal life will be like for us but to do the things we know will get us there. May our day today be a small step in that direction. _________________________________ Translated from Italian by Marsha Daigle Williamson [1] Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, 15, trans. Michael Grant, rev. ed.  (New York: Penguin, 1996), p. 365. [2] Martin Dibelius, Jesus, trans. Charles B. Hedrick and Frederick C. Grant (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949),   p. 141. [3] Charles H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (London: Nisbet, 1952), p. 109. [4] See Søren Kierkegaard, Diary, X, 1, A, 481, trans. Peter P. Rohde (New York: Carol Publishing, 1993), pp. 163-165. [5] St. Augustine, “Psalm 120,” 6, Expositions of the Psalms 99-120, trans. Maria Boulding, part 3, vol. 19, ed. John E. Rotelle (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), p. 15; see  CCL, 40, p. 1791. [6] See St. Augustine, “Sermon 23,” 9, Sermons II (20-50) on the Old Testament, trans. Edmund Hill, Part 3, vol. 2, The Works of Saint Augustine, ed. John E. Rotelle (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 60. [7] Hans Franck, Der Regenbogen: Siebenmalsieben Geschichten (Leipzig: H. Haessel, 1927). [8] St. Symeon the New Theologian, “Thanksgiving at the Threshold of Total Illumination,” The Discourses, trans. C. J. deCatanzaro (New York:  Paulist Press, 1980), p. 375. [9] St. Augustine, On the Trinity, 4, 15, 20, p. 172; see also Confessions 7, 21, trans. John K. Ryan (New York: Image books, 1963), pp.179-180.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope ‘grateful to God’ for Vatican conference on Martin Luther

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 20:40
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday greeted participants in a conference promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, entitled “ Luther: 500 Years Later: A rereading of the Lutheran Reformation in its historic ecclesial context ", which took place in Rome from 29 to 31 March 2017. The Pope expressed his gratitude to God for the event, calling it a “working of the Holy Spirit”. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Gratitude to God and surprise, Pope Francis said, were his first responses upon hearing of the conference on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther presenting his 95 theses. He called the initiative promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences “praiseworthy” and said, “not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.” “Truly we are experiencing the results of the working of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, “who overcomes every obstacle and turns conflicts into occasions for growth in communion.” He notes that the title of the joint document commemorating the fifth centenary of Luther’s reform is “From Conflict to Communion”. Pope Francis went on to say he is “happy” such an historical event has given scholars an opportunity to “study those events together”. “Serious research into the figure of Luther and his critique of the Church of his time and the papacy certainly contributes to overcoming the atmosphere of mutual distrust and rivalry that for all too long marked relations between Catholics and Protestants,” he said. The Holy Father said “an attentive and rigorous study, free of prejudice and polemics” is the correct way to find “all that was positive and legitimate in the Reformation, while distancing themselves from errors, extremes and failures, and acknowledging the sins that led to the division.” He said “the past cannot be changed”, but “it is possible to engage in a purification of memory”, that is, to “tell that history differently”. In conclusion, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the successful outcome of the conference, inviting all to “offer one another forgiveness for the sin committed by those who have gone before us and together to implore from God the gift of reconciliation and unity.” Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s remarks: Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the Meeting promoted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences: “Luther: 500 Years Later” Clementine Hall, 31 March 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Ladies and Gentleman, I am pleased to greet all of you and to offer you a warm welcome.  I thank Father Bernard Ardura for his introduction, which summarizes the purpose of your meeting on Luther and his reform.  I confess that my first response to this praiseworthy initiative of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences was one of gratitude to God, together with a certain surprise, since not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.  Catholics and Lutherans together, discussing Luther, at a meeting organized by an Office of the Holy See: truly we are experiencing the results of the working of the Holy Spirit, who overcomes every obstacle and turns conflicts into occasions for growth in communion.  From Conflict to Communion is precisely the title of the document of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission prepared for our joint commemoration of the fifth centenary of the beginning of Luther’s reform. I am particularly happy to know that this commemoration has offered scholars from various institutions an occasion to study those events together.  Serious research into the figure of Luther and his critique of the Church of his time and the papacy certainly contributes to overcoming the atmosphere of mutual distrust and rivalry that for all too long marked relations between Catholics and Protestants.  An attentive and rigorous study, free of prejudice and polemics, enables the churches, now in dialogue, to discern and receive all that was positive and legitimate in the Reformation, while distancing themselves from errors, extremes and failures, and acknowledging the sins that led to the division. All of us are well aware that the past cannot be changed.  Yet today, after fifty years of ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants, it is possible to engage in a purification of memory.  This is not to undertake an impracticable correction of all that happened five hundred years ago, but rather “to tell that history differently” (LUTHERAN-ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMISSION ON UNITY, From Conflict to Communion, 17 June 2013, 16), free of any lingering trace of the resentment over past injuries that has distorted our view of one another.  Today, as Christians, all of us are called to put behind us all prejudice towards the faith that others profess with a different emphasis or language, to offer one another forgiveness for the sin committed by those who have gone before us, and together to implore from God the gift of reconciliation and unity. I assure you of my prayers for your important historical research and I invoke upon all of you the blessing of God, who is almighty and rich in mercy.  And I ask you, please, to pray for me.  Thank you.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Ratzinger Prize-winner to author via crucis meditations

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 20:35
(Vatican Radio) Ratzinger Prize-winning theologian Anne-Marie Pelletier is authoring the meditations for this year’s Good Friday Via crucis at the Colosseum here in Rome. Pelletier is a laywoman, born in 1946, who is married and has three children. She has spent her entire life in academia, compiling an impressive array of accolades, including the 2014 Ratzinger Prize in Theology – the first woman to receive the award. Click below to hear our report An expert in hermeneutics and biblical exegesis, Pelletier has dedicated most of her research to the theme of women in Christianity. Motivating the choice of Pelletier as one of two persons to receive the Prize in 2014, the Cardinal-vicar-emeritus of Rome and then-President of the Scientific Committee of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, Camillo Ruini described her as, “a distinguished figure in contemporary French Catholicism,” one, “with deserved scientific prestige, a great and versatile cultural liveliness and an authentic dedication to causes of the highest importance for Christian witness in society.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's charity goes social

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 19:26
(Vatican Radio) People around the world can now connect directly with the Peter’s Pence Office on Twitter ( @Obolus_EN ) and Instagram. The Office collects donations offered by the faithful as signs of their sharing in the Pope's concerns for the many different needs of the Universal Church. Following the successful launch of a website in November 2016, the charitable Office’s goal of communicating directly, accurately and transparently with Catholics around the world and with all people who want to help the most needy has led to the launch of new accounts in English, Italian and Spanish. Pope Francis’ messages, which can already be found on the Peter’s Pence website, are being posted on Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis, along with photos, reflections and more information about the charitable works of the Holy See. The Office has committed to sustaining projects of all sizes around the world, including the creation of a paediatric hospital in Bangui in the Central African Republic and supporting the first Catholic university in Jordan. Follow Peter's Pence on Instagram account. Click here to visit the Twitter accounts in Italian and in Spanish. Interact with the Office by using the hashtag: #movingMercy . Please find below the full communique:   Peter’s Pence is now on social network sites Twitter and Instagram The aim is to go out to those who want to help the most needy and to make them aware of the charitable works being carried out through the solidarity of the faithful across the world, including men and women religious, lay faithful, societies, institutions and foundations, together with the offices closely assisting the Holy Father in the exercise of his mission. After the launch last November of the new website www.obolodisanpietro.va , the  longstanding charitable Office will now be on social networks. The Twitter and Instagram accounts of Peter’s Pence have been active since 1 March last, with the goal of communicating directly, accurately and transparently with Catholics throughout the world and with all people who want to help those most in need. Peter’s Pence can be found on Twitter in Italian, English and Spanish, whereas there is one Instagram account. The Messages of Pope Francis found on the Peter’s Pence website are being published daily on Twitter and Instagram, together with photos, reflections and further information on the charitable works of the Holy See carried out through this historic initiative of Christian charity.  As was tweeted in one of the inaugural tweets: “Mercy is about moving together, it is about meeting the needs of the needy”. It is in this spirit that Peter’s Pence has committed itself to sustain small and large projects throughout the world, such as the creation of a pediatric hospital in Bangui in the Central African Republic, the collection taken up to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and support for the first Catholic University on Jordanian soil. An initiative of the Holy See and the result of close collaboration between the Secretariat of State, the Secretariat for Communication and the Governorate of Vatican City, the three Twitter accounts – “Obolo di San Pietro: @obolus_it ”; “Obolo de San Pedro: @obolus_es ”; “Peter’s Pence: @obolus_en ” – and the Instagram account “Obolus: obolus_va ” can now be followed by Catholics throughout the world who are inspired by a common path of mercy: #movingMercy .   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells Somascan Fathers to continue to serve abandoned youth

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 19:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged Somascan Fathers to continue and further develop their mission to serve the poor and take care of orphans and abandoned youth. Receiving a group of Somascan Fathers who are holding their General Chapter , the Pope expressed appreciation for the theme chosen for the Chapter: “Let's cross to the other side with our brothers with whom we live and die” and he highlighted their missionary openness. Pope Francis recalled the shining example provided by the Somascan Fathers’ founder, St. Girolamo Emiliani, and quoted the words of Pope Benedict XVI in a message to the Order asking them  “to take to heart every kind of poverty experienced by our youth: moral, physical, existential poverty; and above all the poverty of love, the root of every serious human problem”. He pointed out that the ideal at the root of St. Girolamo Emiliani’s mission was to reform the Church through works of charity.  His first project, he said, was to renew his own commitment to faith and the Gospel and then to reach out to the Christian community and to civil society highlighting the plight of the poor and the marginalized and promoting integral human development. “I encourage you to remain faithful to the original inspiration of your Order and to go out into the world assisting humanity that is wounded and discarded, with evangelically effective choices that arise from the ability to look at the world and humanity through the eyes of Christ” he said. Underscoring the fact that the care for youth and their human and Christian education is the mark of the charism of Somascans, the Pope lauded their method of education which is centered on the person, on his or her dignity, on the development of intellectual and manual skills.    Pope Francis noted that in the effort to make their service more effective, the Somascan Fathers and Brothers are working on new ways to accomplish their mission.  He encouraged them to be attentive to new and different forms of marginalization in geographical and existential peripheries.  And, he said: “Do not be afraid to ‘leave the old wineskins’ and address the transformation of structures where this would be useful for a more evangelical and consistent service. Structures, he said, in some cases can give false security and hinder the dynamism of charity”. But he pointed out that at the basis of these processes there must always be the joyful encounter with Christ. The Pope invited those present to engage with laypeople of the Somascan community in the effort to protect human rights, enforce child protection and the rights of children and adolescents, oppose child labor, prevent exploitation and fight trafficking.  “These are issues that must be addressed through the liberating power of the Gospel and, at the same time, through adequate operational tools and professional skills” he said. Pope Francis recalled that St. Girolamo Emiliani was a contemporary of Luther and suffered for the tear in the fabric of Christian unity. He urged the Somascan Fathers to continue to teach catechism and to provide formation to catechists in fidelity to the Sacraments and within the love for the Virgin Mary, but he also encouraged them to support ecumenical dialogue and urged them to continue their collaboration with other ecclesial communities, in particular in Africa and in Asia. “Dear Brothers, you have the task to go forward with the work inspired by St. Girolamo Emiliani, who was declared patron of orphans and abandoned youth by Pope Pius XI” he said. “I encourage you, Pope Francis concluded, to carry on your journey following your apostolic zeal, always open to new expressions according to the most urgent needs of the Church and society in different times and places”.  (from Vatican Radio)...

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