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A Christian Without Mary is an Orphan

In Uncategorized on 2015/01/30 at 12:00 AM

On Saturday afternoon, in the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens, the Pope met with a group of young people from the diocese of Rome embarking on a vocational journey. “This visit to the Virgin is very important in our lives”, he said. “She accompanies us also in our definitive choice, the vocational choice, as she accompanied her Son on his vocational path which was so hard and so painful”.

“When a Christian says to me, not that he does not love the Virgin, but rather that it does not come to mind to look to the Virgin or to pray to the Virgin, I feel sad”, he said, adding that “a Christian without the Virgin is an orphan. A Christian needs these two women, these two mothers, two virgin women: the Church and Our Lady. And to ‘test’ a true Christian vocation, it is necessary to ask oneself, ‘how is my relationship with these two Mothers?”.

The Pontiff went on to remark that in today’s provisional culture, care must be taken not to lose sight of the definitive. “We are afraid of the definitive. And to choose a vocation, any vocation, including vocations that involve a ‘state’ such as marriage, consecrated life, the priesthood, one must choose with a view to the definitive. This is contrary to the culture of the provisional. It is a part of the culture in which we must live in this time, but we must live through this and conquer it”.

In conclusion, the Pope encouraged all present to sing the “Salve Regina” and imparted his blessing to all the young people and their families, asking them to pray for him.

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In Uncategorized on 2015/01/02 at 12:00 AM

 

 

Saintliness is a vocation for all

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/31 at 12:00 AM

“The Solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrate today, reminds us that the end of our earthly existence is not death, but instead paradise!” said the Holy Father, who appeared at the window of his study at midday today to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The saints “are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joy and pain, weariness and hope”, but “when they knew God’s love, they followed him with all their heart, without conditions or hypocrisy; they spent their life in the service of others, they endured suffering and adversity without hate and responding to evil with good, spreading joy and peace. … The saints never hated. Understand this: love comes from God, but where does hate come from? Hate does not come from God, but from the devil! And the Saints distanced themselves from the devil; the Saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and transmit it to others. Never hate, but serve others, those most in need; pray and live in joy; this is the route to sanctity”.

Being saints is not a privilege of the few, “as if one had a great inheritance. All of us, in baptism, receive the inheritance of being able to become saints. Saintliness is a vocation for all. For all of us, and this is why we are called to walk the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face: the face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us how to become saints. In the Gospel, He shows us the path: that of the Beatitudes. The Kingdom of Heaven, indeed, is for those who do not base their security in material things, but rather in the love of God; for those with a simple and humble heart, who do not presume to be right and do not judge others; for those who know how to suffer alongside those who suffer, and to rejoice with those who rejoice; who are not violent, but instead merciful and who seek to be architects of reconciliation and peace”.

In this feast, the Pope concluded, “the Saints say to us: trust in the Lord, because the Lord never disappoints”, and “they show to us through their lives that those who remain faithful to God and to His Word already experience on earth the comfort of His love, which is multiplied one hundred-fold in eternity. This is what we hope and ask of the Lord for our deceased brothers and sisters. The Church has, in her wisdom, placed in succession the feast of All Saints and the commemoration of all the faithful departed. To our prayer in praise of God and veneration of the blessed spirits we unite our prayer for the souls of those who precede us in passing from this world to eternal life”.

Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that in the afternoon he would celebrate Mass at the Roman cemetery of Verano, and that he would pray in particular “for the victims of violence, especially for the Christians who have lost their life due to persecution” and also “for our brothers and sisters, men, women and children who have died from thirst, hunger and fatigue, journeying in search of a better life. In these days we have seen in the newspapers that cruel image of the desert; let us all pray in silence for these brothers and sisters of ours”.

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Christians must guard against slyness of the devil

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/24 at 12:00 AM
ROME, ITALY(CNA/EWTN News)  The Holy Father warned of the discreet presence of the devil, exhorting those gathered to be astute in their spiritual lives.“We must always be on guard,” exhorted the Pope to those who attended Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”Referencing the day’s gospel reading, in which Jesus has just healed a possessed man and is accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil, the Pope noted that often in history there have been those who wish to “diminish the power of the Lord” by offering different explanations for his works, urging that his is a temptation which has “reached our present day.”“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness.’”“It is true,” he affirmed, “that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter. No!”“The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”Observing that the Lord has given many criteria in order to “discern” the presence of evil in our lives, the Pope stressed that “we should not be naïve,” and that one of the criteria which has been given is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” just “halfway.”“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me” he said, noting that Jesus came to conquer the devil and “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us,” which he cautioned, is not “exaggerating.”“On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation.”

He exhorted those in attendance to question themselves, asking “Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well?”

“If you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come,” warned Pope Francis, “But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil.”

“Vigilance…Do not confuse the truth!” stressed the pontiff, giving three criteria of his own to use in the spiritual combat.

“Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”

Pope Francis recounted the biblical analogy of the impure spirit who leaves a man, noting that once the spirit is gone “it wanders in deserted places, and seeking rest and finding none, says: ‘I will return to my house, from which I left.’”

When the spirit returns and finds it “swept clean and adorned,” he explained, it then “takes another seven spirits worse than he, who come and make their homes,” and in that way “the last state of man becomes worse than the first.”

“Vigilance,” he stressed, “because his strategy is this: ‘You became Christian. Advance in your faith. I will leave you. I will leave you tranquil. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, I will come back.’”

“The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! These are not lies,” he urged, “it is the Word of the Lord!”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”

National Catholic News Agency

Christian Families: Salt and Leaven of Faith in Daily Life

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/17 at 12:00 AM

Below is the full text of the Holy Father’s homily, following the Gospel reading.

“The readings invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

“First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying: one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal. The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words. His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs. Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

“The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God. It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, ‘will reach to the clouds’, unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

“In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family? Some of you do, I know. But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God. Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us. But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace… Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realising that we need God, like the tax collector! And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness. And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: its easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents … praying for each other. This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

“The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith. The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: ‘I have kept the faith’. But how did he keep the faith? Not in a safe! Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant. Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race. He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, took it to distant lands. He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to ’embalm’ the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine. That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly. Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away; he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

“Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often ‘racing’ from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this ‘racing’ could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith! Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

“And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy. In the responsorial psalm we find these words: ‘let the humble hear and be glad’. The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace. What is the reason for this gladness? It is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil. As Saint Paul himself writes: ‘Rejoice always … The Lord is near’. I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of ‘homework’. Only you must answer. How are things when it comes to joy at home? Is there joy in your family? You can answer this question.

“Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well … True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centred individualism prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

“Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth! May the joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!”

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Spiritual Maternity of Christians

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/10 at 12:00 AM

THE CHURCH “MAKES” CHRISTIANS, AND CHRISTIANS “MAKE” THE CHURCH

 Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Church during the “Year of Faith”, turning to the theme of maternity.

“Among the images that the Vatican Council II chose to help us better understand the nature of the Church, there is that of the ‘mother’: the Church is our mother in faith and in the supernatural life. For me it is the most beautiful image of the Church: the Church as mother. In what sense and how is the Church a mother? Let us begin with the human reality of maternity”.

“First and foremost a mother gives life, she carries her child in the womb for nine months and then introduces him to life – she generates him. The Church does likewise: she generates us in faith, by the work of the Holy Spirit who renders her fruitful, like the Virgin Mary. Certainly, faith is a personal act … but we receive faith from others, in a family, in a community that teaches me to say ‘I believe’, ‘we believe’. A Christian is not an island! We do not become Christians alone and by our own efforts, but rather faith is a gift from God that is given in and through the Church. And the Church gives us life in Baptism: that is, the moment in which she enables us to be born as children of God, the moment in which she gives us life in God, in which she generates us as a mother. … This permits us to understand something very important: our participation in the Church is not an external or formal fact, it is not a question of filling out a form, but is instead an internal and vital act. One does not belong to the Church in the same way as one belongs to a society, a team or any other organisation. It is a living bond, like that one has with one’s own mother as … the Church is truly the mother of all Christians”.

“A mother does not limit herself to giving life, but rather with great care helps her children to grow; she gives them milk, she nurtures them, she shows them the path of life, she accompanies them … she also knows how to correct them, to forgive, to understand; she knows how to be close to them in times of illness and suffering. In short, a good mother helps her children to come out of themselves, not to stay comfortably tucked under the maternal wing. … The Church, like a good mother, does the same thing: she accompanies our growth by transmitting to us the Word of God, which is a light that illuminates the path of Christian life, in administering the Sacraments. She nourishes us with the Eucharist, she brings us God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance, she supports us in times of sickness through the Anointing of the Sick. The Church accompanies us in all our life in faith, in all our Christian life”.

Francis concluded by remarking that in the first centuries of the Church, it was very clearly understood that “the Church, while she is the mother of Christians, while she ‘makes’ Christians, is also ‘made up’ of Christians. The Church is not something apart from us, but is rather the entire body of believers, as the ‘we’ of Christians: I, you, we are all part of the Church. So, we all experience the maternity of the Church, both pastors and faithful. At times I hear: ‘I believe in God but not in the Church … I’ve heard that the Church says … that priests say…”. Priests are one thing, but the Church is not made up solely of priests – we are all the Church! And if you say that you believe in God but you do not believe in the Church, you are saying that you do not believe in yourself, which is a contradiction. We are all the Church: from the recently baptised child to the bishops, to the Pope; we are all Church, and we are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all called to collaborate in the birth of faith in new Christians, we are all called upon to be educators in faith, to proclaim the Gospel. … We all participate in the maternity of the Church … we are all the Church … so that the light of Christ may illuminate the furthest reaches of the Earth. Long live the Holy Mother Church!

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Breaking New Ground in Jewish-Catholic Relations

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/19 at 12:00 AM

Pope_Francis_President_of_Israel3-255x255Pope Francis and Shimon Perez

The Holy Father’s friendships and strong tradition of dialogue with Jewish leaders are already having an impact, building on the foundation provided by previous popes.

NEW YORK — The bonds between Jews and Catholics have never been stronger in the Church’s 2,000-year history, but some Jewish leaders say that, with Pope Francis, the best is about to get even better.

Blessed Pope John XXIII reset Catholic-Jewish relations in the 1960s, seeking to reconcile the grievances of the past, in which Catholics had treated Jews less like beloved brothers and more like strangers — or worse, as enemies. The Church approved that outreach in 1965 at the Second Vatican Council with the document Nostra Aetate, and Popes Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI all continued efforts to deepen those relations.

But Pope Francis’ pontificate represents a new chapter of deeper understanding and friendship between Jews and Catholics.

“Pope Francis has very close personal friends from his days as cardinal who are rabbis, who are leaders in the Jewish community,” said Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel for the World Jewish Congress (WSJ). “The dialogue and the relationship have been unprecedented in terms of warmth and closeness.”

Rosensaft said the Pope’s relationship with Jews in Buenos Aires reveals “a totally new model that we’ve never seen before.”

“The relationship is not a formal or intellectual one. But in addition to being intellectual, or symbolic, it is also heartfelt and intuitive,” he said. “That makes a tremendous difference.”

Rabbi Skorka

Few things highlight Pope Francis’ relationship with the Jews more than his deep, abiding friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires. The two men started a friendship in the late 1990s with a joke over their favorite soccer teams, and they published a book in 2010 called On Heaven and Earth, revealing their interreligious dialogue on 29 different topics.

“He does what he says, and he speaks what’s on his mind and what he feels in a very direct and clear way,” Rabbi Skorka told the Register in an exclusive interview. “He’s a respectful person who respects me, really, in everything he says. He’s a lovely person, very simple and highly spiritual.”

The Pope and Rabbi Skorka made history by sharing meals and praying together during Sukkot and Sabbath at the Vatican — making Pope Francis perhaps the first bishop of Rome to do so, since St. Peter himself.

Rabbi Skorka has been in the United States sharing his experiences with Pope Francis at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York on Oct. 29 and at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where he received an honorary degree.

The book co-written by Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka reveals how they feel dialogue should be conducted: by becoming acquainted with the person, viewing him as having something good to say, but not compromising one’s different identity while finding common ground together.

Rabbi Skorka said he and Pope Francis have discussed that the next step in their dialogue “will be a theological one”: what a Catholic means to a Jew and what a Jew means to a Catholic.

Francis’ Personal Touch

Rosensaft said that Pope Francis’ personal touch leaves the deepest impression. The Pope had surprised Rosensaft with a personal email, later published in The Washington Post, thanking Rosensaft for mailing him a copy of a guest sermon he had written for his synagogue about where an all-knowing and all-powerful God was present in the Holocaust.

Rosensaft is the son of two Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, or Shoah. The Nazis had killed his mother’s first husband and her young son, his brother. Rosensaft’s sermon, which Pope Francis said contained “the only possible hermeneutic interpretation,” concluded that God’s presence was “alongside and within the victims, those who perished and those who survived.”

“The idea that Pope Francis reached out to me and validated my approach is a tremendous gift,” Rosensaft said. “It is very indicative of his sensitivity to be a spiritual leader and a role model for humanity as a whole.”

Father John Crossin, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said Pope Francis’ attitude reveals his idea of a “culture of encounter,” where a person walks with others, respects them, while “sharing with others his faith and what he believes.”

“It’s how he relates to other people with respect, love and concern,” he said.

“The bigger picture is his whole thinking that we need a culture of encounter (which is more broad than just the Jewish community) with everybody — no matter what they believe in,” Father Crossin added.

Actions Accompany Words

Rosensaft said Pope Francis not only displayed this personal concern to the World Jewish Congress’ president, Ron Lauder, but has shown that actions follow his words.

He said Lauder had met with Pope Francis in September to share Jewish concerns that the Polish government was going to curtail their religious liberty by banning the kosher slaughter of animals. Rosensaft said Pope Francis thanked Lauder for bringing this to his attention and said he would see what he could do. Within a month, the Polish bishops were speaking out against the legislation, and Poland’s government has pledged to reverse the law.

“I’m quite convinced there is a direct link between the two,” Rosensaft said.

Pope Francis also proclaimed “a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” emphasizing how much Jews and Catholics have a “common root” and share much as a consequence. Rosensaft saw Pope Francis’ commitment to these words also fulfilled in the Vatican’s refusal last month to give Nazi war criminal and Holocaust-denier Erich Priebke a public Church funeral.

Priebke — who spent nearly 50 years in the Holy Father’s native Argentina after escaping in 1946 from a British prison camp — had never publicly repented of his role in the murder of Jews and Italian civilians, following his extradition to Italy in 1996 and his subsequent conviction and sentence of life imprisonment for his war crimes. The breakaway Society of St. Pius X subsequently offered to give Priebke the requiem Mass his lawyer wanted — the day before the 70th anniversary of the Nazi roundup of 1,000 Roman Jews sent to die in Auschwitz — but an outraged mob blocked the casket from ever entering the SSPX chapel in the Albano Laziale suburb, and local authorities canceled the funeral.

Gary Krupp, a Jewish leader who runs the Pave the Way Foundation, said Pope Francis’ treatment of the unrepentant Priebke was consistent with the actions taken by Pius XII against unrepentant Nazis.

“No priest was allowed to officiate at their funerals,” he said.

Pius XII’s Legacy

Krupp said he believed Pope Francis will also be the pope to draw Jews and Catholics even closer together by vindicating the legacy of Pope Pius XII.

The subject of Pius XII is sensitive for many Jews. Rabbi Skorka told the Register that both his mother’s and father’s families lost many family members during the Holocaust, and he himself questions why Pius XII did not publically denounce Hitler’s extermination of the Jews. However, he said that revealing the Vatican Secret Archives will be key.

“From my first perception — take into account that I lost the main part of my mother’s family and my father’s family during the Shoah — my first feeling is: How can it be that [Pius XII] did not shout out his criticisms of the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews?” Rabbi Skorka said. “But let us have the documents do the talking.”

Krupp said he himself grew up hating Pius XII intensely, until his own research convinced him 180 degrees in the opposite direction. His own organization has documented more than 76,000 pages pointing to Pius XII as the man most responsible for “saving 80% of the Jews in Italy.”

Krupp said opening the Secret Archives will be decisive and that Pope Francis — whom he described as “very pro-Pius XII” — is eager to see them opened at last. Krupp said the cataloging of the Secret Archives is in the final stages.

“Pius XII is going to wind up being the greatest hero of World War II,” Krupp predicted. “We’re going to find that the Jewish world was very lucky to have this man as pope during World War II.”

Embracing in Israel, Forging the Future

Pope Francis intends to visit the Holy Land next spring, and with him will be his longtime friend Rabbi Skorka. The two leaders plan to embrace each other in Jerusalem at the Wailing Wall and will go together to Bethlehem, in the Palestinian territories, to visit Jesus’ birthplace.

But the gesture could also send a very powerful message for dialogue and peace for not only Israel and Palestine, but for the whole Middle East, which has been the epicenter of so much violence and conflict.

“That will have a very positive effect on the region,” said Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, North America.

Ehrenberg said she is looking forward to the deepening of cooperation between Catholics and Jews that Pope Francis has been encouraging by word and example. She said the recent summit between Jewish and Catholic leaders in Madrid, and the joint declaration they signed, reflected that.

“We need to speak up together” in addressing common challenges, including religious freedom, she said. “Both of us are also seeing a falloff in the commitment of youth in religious traditions and religious observation.”

Ehrenberg said, “I think Pope Francis will provide leadership here and have a powerful influence, because of his openness and courageousness in addressing these realities.”

Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer

National Catholic Register 11./8/13

Just like an nurse, God heals our wounds with His hands

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/12 at 12:00 AM

Pope Francis spoke about the mystery of God during his homily at the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta. He said that God challenges Christians by “meddling” in their lives. He added that it’s something that can only be understood by contemplation in prayer.

POPE FRANCIS

“The image that comes to my mind is that of a nurse in a hospital who heals our wounds, one at a time. Just like God, who gets involved and meddles in our miseries, He gets close to our wounds and heals them with His hands. And to actually have hands, He became man.” 
Pope Francis also recalled that God did not save humanity by decree, but rather with his own life.
EXCERPT FROM THE POPE’S HOMILY 
Source: Vatican Radio 
“One man created sin, Francis explained, and one man saved us. God is close, he is close to our history. From the very first moment when he chose our father, Abraham, he walked with His people. And Jesus himself had a craftsman’s job: a worker who uses his hands. The image that comes to mind is that of a nurse in a hospital who heals our wounds, one at a time. Just like God who gets involved, who meddles in our miseries, He gets close to our wounds and heals them with his hands. And to actually have hands, He became man. So God saves us not only by decree: He saves us with tenderness and with caresses. He saves us with His life for us.” 
 
“Where sins abound, grace abounds. Each of us knows his miseries and knows how they abound. But God’s challenge is to defeat them and heal the wounds as Jesus did with His superabundance of grace and love. Those who are closest to the heart of Jesus are sinners, because He goes to look for them, calls them and heals them, while those who are in good health do not need a doctor: ‘I have come to heal, to save.’” 
 
“But how can we be wary of a God who is so close, so good, who prefers the sinful heart? This mystery is not easy to understand with intelligence, but with the help of these three words: ‘contemplation, proximity and abundance,’ because God always wins with the superabundance of his grace, with His tenderness, with His wealth of mercy.” 

The Church is God’s Call to Be Part of His Family

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM

 “A mystery,” Pope Francis said, “that we all live and in which we all take part.” The Pope, who will discuss this topic in light of Vatican Council II texts, began from the parable of the prodigal son that illustrates God’s plan for humanity.

In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome this morning, Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter’s Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.

In his teaching, the Holy Father explained that God’s plan is “to make of all of us one family of his children, [a family] in which each one feels close to and loved by him … feels the warmth of being the family of God. The Church—not an organization born out of an agreement between some persons but … the work of God, born of this love and progressively built in history—has her origin in this great plan.”

The Church, the pontiff explained, “is born of God’s desire to call all men and women to communion with him, to friendship with him, even further, to participate as his children in his very divinity. The word ‘Church’ itself, from the Greek ‘ekklesia’, means ‘convocation’. God calls us, urges us to leave selfishness behind, the tendency to be wrapped up in oneself, and calls us to be part of his family. This call has its origins in creation itself. God created us so that we might live a relationship of profound friendship with him and, when sin cut off that relationship with him, with others, and with creation, God did not abandon us. The entire story of salvation is the story of God seeking humans, offering us his love, gathering us to him. He called Abraham to be the father of many; He chose the people of Israel to forge a covenant that embraces all peoples; and he sent, in the fullness of time, his Son so that his plan of love and salvation might be fulfilled in a new and eternal covenant with all of humanity.”

“When we read the Gospel we see that Jesus gathers a small community around him that welcomes his word, follows it, shares his journey, becomes his family. And with this community He prepares and builds his Church.” It is a Church whose origin lies in the “supreme act of love on the Cross, in Jesus’ opened side from which flow blood and water, symbol of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. In the family of God, in the Church, the lifeblood is God’s love that is made concrete in loving him and others, all, without distinction or limits. The Church is a family in which we love and are loved.” The Church is made manifest, as on Pentecost, “when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and compels them to go out and begin the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread God’s love.”

The Pope observed that, even today, “there are some who say: ‘Christ yes, the Church no’. Like those who say: ‘I believe in God, but not in the priests’. But it is precisely the Church that brings us Christ and brings us to God. The Church is the great family of the children of God. Of course it also has human aspects. there are defects, imperfections, and sins in those who make her up, pastors and faithful. Even the Pope has them, and many. But what is beautiful is that, when we realize that we are sinners we encounter the mercy of God who always forgives. He never forgets us. He gathers us up in his love of forgiveness and mercy. Some say that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity for the humility to realize that there is something better: God’s mercy. Let’s think about this.”

“How much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel part of the family of the Church? What am I doing to make it a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels God’s mercy and love that renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that has to do with us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family, as the Church.”

“Let us ask the Lord, particularly in this Year of Faith, that our communities, that all the Church, be ever more truly families that live and bring the warmth of God,” the Holy Father concluded.

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Ten Commandments Are Indications For Freedom

In Uncategorized on 2014/08/29 at 12:00 AM

 “The Ten Commandments are not a limitation, but an indication for freedom.”  “The Ten Commandments,” the pontiff affirmed, “are a gift from God. The word ‘commandment’ isn’t fashionable. To today’s persons, it recalls something negative, someone’s will that imposes limits, that places obstacles to our lives. … Unfortunately history, even recent history, is marked by tyranny, ideologies, mindsets that have been imposed and oppressive, that haven’t sought the good of humanity but rather power, success, and profit. The Ten Commandments, however, come from a God who created us out of love, from a God who established a covenant with humanity, a God who only wants the good of humanity. Let us trust in God! … The Ten Commandments show us a path to travel and also constitute a sort of ‘moral code’ for building just societies that are made for men and women. How much inequality there is in the world! How much hunger for food and for truth! How much moral and material poverty resulting from the rejection of God and from putting so many idols in his place! Let us be guided by these Ten Words that enlighten and guide those seeking peace, justice, and dignity.”

“It is important to remember when God, through Moses, gave the people of Israel the Ten Commandments. At the Red Sea the people had experienced great deliverance. They had seen first hand the power and faithfulness of God, the God who liberates. Now God himself, upon Mount Sinai, indicates to his people and to all of us the way to remain free, a path that is engraved upon the human heart as a universal moral Law. We shouldn’t see the Ten Commandments as restriction upon our freedom; no, not that way. We should see them as signs for our freedom. … They teach us how to avoid the slavery to which the many idols that we ourselves build reduce us. … They teach us to open ourselves to a wider dimension than the material one; to live with respect for others; overcoming the greed of power, possessions, and money; to be honest and sincere in our relationships; to protect all of creation and to nurture our planet with high, noble, and spiritual ideals. Following the Ten Commandments means being faithful to ourselves, to our most authentic nature, and walking towards the true freedom that Christ taught us in the Beatitudes.”

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