Pope Francis 2015 Sep to Dec

Pope Francis 2015

Sep to Dec

2015

Pope Francis 31.12.15 The Good always win

Today, Pope Francis said, “our eyes need to focus on the particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand.” The Holy Father recalled scenes of violence and death that marked the previous year, the untold suffering of many innocent people, the plight of refugees forced to leave their homes, of the homeless, and the hungry. But he also noted the many acts of kindness, love, and solidarity that often go unnoticed, but which should not be obscured by “the arrogance of evil.” “The good always wins,” the Pope said, “even if at times it can appear weak and hidden."

Pope Francis 27.12.15 Feast of the Holy Family

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-homily-for-feast-of-holy-family

How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of every day life.

At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.

In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.

Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.

Pope Francis 26.12.15 Forgiveness

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-angelus-forgive-like-st-stephen

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Stephen. The remembrance of the first martyr follows immediately after the solemnity of Christmas. Yesterday we contemplated the merciful love of God, who became flesh for us. Today we see the consistent response of Jesus’ disciple, who gives his life. Yesterday the Saviour was born on earth; today his faithful servant is born in heaven. Yesterday, as today, the shadows of the rejection of life appear, but the light of love — which conquers hatred and inaugurates a new world — shines even brighter. There is a special aspect in today’s account of the Acts of the Apostles, which brings St Stephen close to the Lord. It is his forgiveness before he is stoned to death. Nailed to the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Likewise, Stephen “knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:60). Stephen is therefore a martyr, which means witness, because he does as Jesus did. Indeed, true witnesses are those who act as He did: those who pray, who love, who give, but above all those who forgive, because forgiveness, as the word itself says, is the highest expression of giving.

We could ask, however, what good is it to forgive? Is it merely a good deed or does it bring results? We find an answer in the very martyrdom of Stephen. Among those for whom he implores forgiveness there is a young man named Saul; this man persecuted the Church and tried to destroy her (cf. Acts 8:3). Shortly thereafter Saul becomes Paul, the great saint, the apostle of the people. He has received Stephen’s forgiveness. We could say that Paul is born by the grace of God and by Stephen’s forgiveness.

We too are born by the forgiveness of God. Not only in Baptism, but each time we are forgiven our heart is reborn, it is renewed. With each step forward in the life of faith the sign of divine mercy is imprinted anew. For only when we are loved are we in turn able to love. Let us remember this, it will be good for us: if we wish to progress in faith, first of all we must receive God’s forgiveness; we must meet the Father, who is willing to forgive all things, always, and who precisely in forgiving heals the heart and rekindles love. We must never tire of asking for divine forgiveness, because only when we are forgiven, when we feel we are forgiven, do we learn to forgive.

Forgiving, however, is not an easy thing, it is always very difficult. How can we imitate Jesus? From what point do we begin to pardon the small and great wrongs that we suffer each day? First of all, beginning with prayer, as St Stephen did. We begin with our own heart: with prayer we are able to face the resentment we feel, by entrusting to God’s mercy those who have wronged us: “Lord, I ask you for him, I ask you for her”. Then we discover that this inner struggle to forgive cleanses us of evil, and that prayer and love free us from the interior chains of bitterness. It is so awful to live in bitterness! Every day we have the opportunity to practice forgiving, to live a gesture so lofty that it brings man closer to God. Like our heavenly Father, may we too become merciful, because through forgiveness, we conquer evil with good, we transform hatred into love and in this way we make the world cleaner.

May the Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust those — and unfortunately there are so many — who like St Stephen suffer persecution in the name of the faith, our many martyrs of today, direct our prayer to receive and give forgiveness. Receive and give forgiveness.

Pope Francis 25.12.15 Christmas message and

Urbi et Orbi blessing

https://sites.google.com/site/catholicchurchwoodhallspa/home/Orbi%2015.jpg

Pope Francis 24.12.15 Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-let-us-gaze-upon-the-child-jesus-the-son-of-g

Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Saviour of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end.

When we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, “to reject godless ways” and the richness of the world, in order to live “temperately, justly and devoutly” (Tit 2:12.

In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.

Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: “Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation” (Ps 85:8).

Pope Francis 24.12.15: Mercy in your family

https://sites.google.com/site/catholicchurchwoodhallspa/home/24.12.15.jpg

Pope Francis 20.12.15 Astonishment - the other, history and the Church

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-christ-in-the-other-in-history-in-the

To celebrate Christmas in a fruitful manner, we are called to pause in “places” of astonishment. And what are these places of astonishment in everyday life? There are three.

The first place is the other, in whom we recognize a brother or sister, because since the birth of Jesus occurred, every face is marked with a semblance to the Son of God. Above all when it is the face of the poor, because God entered the world poor, and it was to the poor, in the first place, that he allowed himself to draw near.

Another place of astonishment — the second place in which, if we look with faith, we actually feel astonishment, is history. So many times we think we see it the right way, and instead we risk reading it backwards. It happens, for example, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be. The God of Christmas is instead a God who “shuffles the cards” — he likes doing so! As Mary sings in the Magnificat, it is the Lord who puts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low degree, who fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty (cf. Lk 1:52-53). This is the second type of astonishment, astonishment in history.

The third place of astonishment is the Church. To look on her with the astonishment of faith means not limiting oneself to consider her only as a religious institution, which she is, but to feel her as a mother who, despite her blemishes and wrinkles — we have so many of them! — allows the features of the beloved bride purified by Christ the Lord to shine through. A Church that is able to recognize the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church for which the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be jealously protected; those who do this err. The Lord Jesus will always be the One who comes to meet her and whom she knows how to await with trust and joy, giving voice to the hope of the world. The Church that calls to the Lord, “Come Lord Jesus”. The Mother Church that always has her doors open wide, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Moreover, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek with a mother’s smile all those who are far and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the astonishment of Christmas.

At Christmas, God gives us all of himself by giving his Only Son, who is all his joy. It is only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, who became the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that it is possible to rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for his unpredictable surprise. May she help us to perceive the astonishment — these three wonders: the other, history and the Church — through the birth of Jesus, the gift of gifts, the undeserved gift who brings us salvation. The encounter with Jesus will enable us too to feel this great astonishment. We cannot have this astonishment, however, we cannot encounter Jesus, if we do not encounter him in others, in history and in the Church.


Pope Francis 15.12.15 Humility, Poverty, Trust in the Lord

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-the-churchs-wealth-lies-in-the-poor-not-in-ma

The prophet Zephaniah communicates God’s promise to the people: “I will forgive you”. That is, in order for the People of God, the Church, all of us to be faithful, the first step is to feel we are forgiven.

After the promise of forgiveness, there is also the explanation of “how the Church is supposed to be: ‘For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord’.

The faithful People of God, must have these traits: humble, lowly, with trust in the Lord.

First of all the Church has to be “humble”. In other words a Church should “not show off her powers, her grandeur”. However, “humility doesn’t mean a lethargic, weary person” with a demure expression, because this “is not humility, this is theatrics! This is feigned humility”. True humility, instead, begins “with the first step: I am a sinner”. Iif “you are not able to tell yourself that you are a sinner and that others are better than you, you are not humble.

Thus, “the first step for a humble Church is feeling that she is a sinner” and the same is true for “all of us”. On the other hand, if “any of us has the habit of looking at others’ defects and gossiping”, this is not humility. It is instead “thinking that you are the judge of others”. The prophet says: “I will leave in the midst of you a humble people ”. This, the Pontiff advised, is a grace, and “we must ask for this grace, that the Church may be humble, that I may be humble, that each one of us may be humble.

The People of God “is poor. Poverty is “the first of the Beatitudes”, but what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? It means “being attached only to God’s treasures”. It is definitely not “a Church that exists attached to money, that thinks about money, that thinks about how to earn money...”. For example, there was someone who “innocently”said to the people that in order to pass through the holy door “you have to make an offering”. This, is not the Church of Jesus, this is the Church of those chief priests, attached to money.

The poor are actually “the treasure of the Church”. You can even be “the head of a bank”, as long as “your heart is poor, not attached to money” and you place yourself “at the service” of others.“Poverty”, is characterized by “this detachment” which leads us to “serve the needy".

The People of God “shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord”.This too brings up a very direct question: “Where do I place my trust? In power, in friends, in money? In the Lord!”

Thus it is this “legacy that the Lord promises us: ‘I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord’.Humble because they feel they are sinners; poor because their heart is attached to God’s treasures, and if they have them it is only to administer them; seeking refuge in the Lord because they know that the Lord alone can guarantee what is good for them”. This is why Jesus had to tell the chief priests, “who did not understand these things”, that “a harlot would enter the kingdom of God before them”. And, as we await the Lord this Christmas, let us ask that he give us “a humble heart”, a heart that is “poor” and above all that seeks “refuge in the Lord”, because “the Lord never disappoints".

Pope Francis 14.12.15 Hope

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-hope-in-gods-mercy-gives-us-freedom

In the First Reading, we heard a passage from the Book of Numbers (24:2-7, 15-17) about the “story of Balaam: he was a prophet, but he was also a man and had his defects, even sins. We all have sins, everyone, we are all sinners. But do not be afraid, God is greater than our sins.

Balaam “is ‘hired out’ to a certain Balak, a general and king, who wants to destroy the people of God”, and who sends him “to prophesy against the people of God”. However, “on the journey, Balaam meets the angel of the Lord and his heart is changed, he sees the truth.

It is beautiful, the way the Book of Numbers tells this story:‘The oracle of Balaam, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened’. In fact, when his heart is changed he converts, his eyes are opened and he sees afar, he sees the truth, with an open heart, with the heart — with good will you always see the truth — and he speaks the truth.

But“what has happened in Balaam’s heart?”. The fact, is that“he opened his heart and the Lord gave him the virtue of hope”. And “hope is that Christian virtue that we have as a great gift from God that lets us see far beyond, beyond the problems, beyond the pain and difficulties, beyond our sins”. It shows us “the beauty of God".

"Hope”,therefore, is the key word. And when I am with a person who has this virtue of hope and is in a difficult moment in his life — be it a disease, or concern for a son or daughter or someone in the family, or anything —, but he has this virtue, in the midst of pain his eyes have been opened, he has the freedom to see beyond, always beyond”. This is precisely “the hope, the prophecy that the Church gives us today: she needs men and women of hope, even in the midst of problems”. Because “hope opens horizons, hope is freeing, it is not slavery, and it always finds a way to set a situation straight.

In the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (21:23-27) from the day’s Liturgy, , “we see instead men who do not have this freedom, who have no horizons, men who are closed in their calculations”. Such that the chief priests and elders of the people ask the Lord: “By what authority are you doing these things?”. When Jesus poses his next question, before they answer “we do not know”, they make their calculations. “If I say this I have this danger, and if I say that...”. However, “human calculations close the heart, they block freedom”. It is “hope” that “lightens” our load. Therefore,“this hypocrisy of the doctors of the law, which is in the Gospel and which closes the heart: it enslaves us. These men were slaves".

How beautiful is the freedom, magnanimity and hope of a man and a woman of the Church”. And “how awful and how much harm is done by the rigidity of a woman and man of the Church: clerical rigidity, which has no hope.

In this Year of Mercy, there are these two paths”. On one side there are “those who have hope in the mercy of God and know that God is Father”, that “God always forgives”, and that he forgives “everything”. That“beyond the desert there is the embrace of the Father, forgiveness”. However, on the other hand “there are also those who take refuge in slavery, in the very rigidity of it, and they know nothing of God’s mercy”. Those mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew “were doctors, they had studied, but their knowledge did not save them".

I would like to conclude, with a story that happened to me in 1992. An image of Our Lady of Fatima had arrived in the diocese. In a large mass for the sick — it was huge, held in a big field, with so many people — I went to confess there. I heard confessions from almost noon until six, when Mass had ended. There were many confessors.

Right when I got up to go to celebrate a confirmation elsewhere, I was approached by an elderly woman; she was 80 years old, with eyes that saw beyond, eyes full of hope. And “I said to her: ‘Grandma, have you come to confess? But you have no sins!’”. The woman responded: “Father, we all have sins!”. I continued the conversation: “Will the Lord, perhaps, not forgive them?”. The woman, strong in her hope, said: “God forgives everything, because if God did not forgive everything, the world would not exist".

So “before these two persons - the free one, the one with hope who brings God's mercy, and the closed, legalistic slave of his own rigidity, let us remember the words of the old lady and the lesson she gave me: God forgives all, He is just waiting for you to get close to Him.

Jubilee of Mercy

8th December 2015 to 20th November 2016

Pope Francis 02.12.15 The motives and expectations of the Jubilee of Mercy

The theme of mercy has been strongly accentuated in the life of the Church, starting with Pope Paul VI. John Paul II underlined it firmly with Dives in Misericordia, the canonisation of St. Faustina and the institution of the feast of Divine Mercy on the Octave of Easter. In line with this, I felt that it was as if it was the Lord's wish to show His mercy to humanity. It was not something that came to my mind, but rather the relatively recent renewal of a tradition that has however always existed. … It is obvious that today's world is in need of mercy and compassion, or rather of the capacity for empathy. We are accustomed to bad news, cruel news and the worst atrocities that offend the name and the life of God. The world needs to discover that God is the Father, that there is mercy, that cruelty is not the way, that condemnation is not the way, because it is the Church herself who at times takes a hard line, and falls into the temptation to follow a hard line and to underline moral rules only; many people are excluded. The image of the Church as a field hospital after a battle comes to mind here: it is the truth, so many people are injured and destroyed! … I believe that this is the time for mercy. We are all sinners, all of us carry inner burdens. I felt that Jesus wanted to open the door to His heart, that the Father wants to show us his innate mercy, and for this reason he sends us the Spirit. … It is the year of reconciliation. On the one hand we see the weapons trade … the murder of innocent people in the cruellest ways possible, the exploitation of people, of children. There is currently a form of sacrilege against humanity, because man is sacred, he is the image of the living God. And the Father says, 'stop and come to me.

I am a sinner … I am sure of this. I am a sinner whom the Lord looked upon with mercy. I am, as I said to detainees in Bolivia, a forgiven man. … I still make mistakes and commit sins, and I confess every fifteen or twenty days. And if I confess it is because I need to feel that God's mercy is still upon me.

The revolution of tenderness is what we must cultivate today as the fruit of this year of mercy: God's tenderness towards each one of us. Each one of us must say, 'I am a wretch, but God loves me as I am; so, I must love others in the same way'.

Pope Francis 13.03.15

Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought of how the Church may render more clear her mission to be a witness to mercy; and we have to make this journey. It is a journey which begins with spiritual conversion. Therefore, I have decided to announce an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its centre the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (cf. Lk 6:36). And this especially applies to confessors! So much mercy!

I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.

The Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy

Pope Francis 06.12.15: Conversion

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-angelus-the-year-of-mercy-and-the-importance

John the Baptist, preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.

Perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is about an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christians. So we are okay”.

But this isn’t true. In thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, that everyone is good, that we’re okay — that we must convert: from the supposition that, all things considered, things are fine as they are and we don’t need any kind of conversion. But let us ask ourselves: is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have within us the same feelings that Jesus has? Is it true that we feel as Christ feels?

For example, when we suffer some wrongdoing or some insult, do we manage to react without animosity and to forgive from the heart those who apologize to us? How difficult it is to forgive! How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes from inside! When we are called to share joys or sorrows, do we know how to sincerely weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice? When we should express our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? Thus we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not all right. We must always convert and have the sentiments that Jesus had.

The voice of the Baptist still cries in the deserts of humanity today, which are — what are today’s deserts? — closed minds and hardened hearts.

And [his voice] causes us to ask ourselves if we are actually following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” (v. 4). It is a pressing invitation to open one’s heart and receive the salvation that God offers ceaselessly, almost obstinately, because he wants us all to be free from the slavery of sin.

Salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without exclusion, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved”. No. We must always accept this offer of salvation. This is the reason for the Year of Mercy: to go farther on this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus taught us. God wants all of mankind to be saved through Jesus, the one mediator (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-6).

Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who do not yet know him. But this is not to proselytize. No, it is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16), St Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we go to him, how can we not feel the passion to make him known to those we encounter at work, at school, in our apartment building, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be willing to begin — or begin again — a journey of faith were they to encounter Christians in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we and couldn’t we be these Christians?

I leave you this question: “Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation?” And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we must be courageous: lay low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the ravines dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the paths of our laziness and our compromises.

Pope Francis 02.12.15: The coexistence of wealth and poverty is a scandal

Pope Francis - Apostolic Trip To Africa

25 - 30 November

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/travels/2015/outside/documents/papa-francesco-africa-2015.html

Pope Francis 19.11.15 War and the way of Peace

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-the-lord-weeps-for-the-sins-of-a-worl

Today too, Jesus weeps, because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of hostility. This is even more glaring now that “we are approaching Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, trees lit up, even nativity scenes... all decorated: the world continues to wage war, to wage wars. The world has not comprehended the way of peace.

There is war everywhere today, there is hatred”. We even reach the point of consoling ourselves by saying: “Well yes, it’s a bombing, but thank God only 20 children were killed!”. Or we tell ourselves: “Not too many people died, many were abducted...”. But like this“even our way of thinking becomes irrational.

What remains of a war, of the one that we are experiencing now?”. What remain are “ruins, thousands of uneducated children, the deaths of so many innocent people: so many!”. And also “so much money in the pockets of arms dealers.

Jesus said: ‘no one can serve two masters: either God or wealth”. War is choosing wealth:‘let’s make weapons, this way the economy will balance out somewhat’, and we continue with our interests”. In this regard, “there is a horrible word of the Lord: “accursed”, because “he said: blessed are the peacemakers!”. So those “who work for war, who wage wars, are accursed, they are criminals”.

A war, “can be justified” — in quotation marks — “with so many, many reasons. But when the whole world, as it is today, is at war — the whole world! — it is a world war being fought piecemeal: here, there, there, everywhere”. And “there is no justification. God weeps. Jesus weeps”.

Today “this world is not a peacemaker”. And “while arms dealers perform their work, there are poor peacemakers who, simply in order to help one person, another, another, another, give their life”.

The issue is that today, “the way of peace isn’t comprehended”. Indeed, “Jesus’proposal of peace has not been heard”. And “this is why he wept looking at Jerusalem and he weeps now”.

It will be good for us too, to ask for the grace to weep for this world which does not recognize the way of peace, which lives to wage war, while cynically saying not to do so”. And, let us ask for a conversion of heart at the threshold of this Jubilee of Mercy, that our jubilee, our joy may be the grace that the world may once again finds the capacity to weep for its criminality, for what it does with wars”.

Pope Francis 16.11.15 Worldliness, Apostasy, Persecution

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-mass-we-dont-put-our-christian-identity-up-fo

Worldliness leads you to a single mode of thinking and to apostasy. Differences are not permitted, we are not allowed differences. We end up becoming “all alike".

The Reading First Book of the Maccabees (1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64), seems to say, that persecution follows apostasy. "Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us’ — Why are there so many differences? — ‘for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us’. Let us go to them, we are all alike”. Some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to introduce the way of living of the Gentiles’. Where? In the chosen people, that is to say, in the Church of that time.The king, erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of burnt offerings and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars. They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt. Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree”. Here then is “the persecution” which“begins from one root”, which is “small, and ends with the abomination of desolation”. This, “is the deceit of worldliness”.

And this is why, at the Last Supper, Jesus asked the Father: “I ask not that you remove them from the world but that you protect them from the world”, in other words, to protect“from this mentality, from this humanism, which comes to take the place of the true man, Jesus Christ”. To protect them from this worldliness “that comes to take from us our Christian identity and lead us to a single mode of thinking:‘Everyone does this, why don’t we?’

We should ask ourselves: “Is it Christian or worldly? Do I say I am Christian because I was baptized as a child or because I was born in a Christian country, where everyone is Christian?"

Worldliness that enters slowly” continues to grow, and then “it justifies itself and infects”. How? “It grows like that root” described in the Reading; “it justifies itself — ‘let us do like all the people, we are not so different’ —it always tries to find justification, and in the end it infects, and so many evils arise from it.

The Liturgy, in these last days of the liturgical year”, make us ponder these things, and especially today it tells us “in the name of the Lord: look out for the bitter roots, for the sinful roots that lead you astray from the Lord and cause you to lose your Christian identity”. It is an exhortation to steer clear “of worldliness” and to ask in prayer that the Church be protected “from every form of worldliness.

That the Church always has the identity that Jesus Christ commanded; that we all have the identity” received in baptism; “and that this identity not be thrown away” out of wanting “to be like everyone, for reasons of ‘normalcy’”.

May the Lord give us the grace to keep and protect our Christian identity against the spirit of worldliness that always grows, justifies itself and infects.


Pope Francis 15.11.15: Horoscopes, hope, love of neighbour

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-says-look-to-jesus-and-not-to-horoscopes-for

The Gospel of this penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year offers us part of Jesus’ discourse regarding the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfillment of the reign of God (cf. Mk 13:24-32).

It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (vv. 24-25). However, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The core around which Jesus’ words turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time.

Our final goal is the encounter with the Risen Lord. I would like to ask how many of you think about this. “There will be a day in which I meet the Lord face to face”. And this is our goal: the encounter. We do not await a time or a place, but we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather our being prepared.

Neither is it about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things. We are called to live the present, building our future with serenity and trust in God.

The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of the approaching summer (cf. vv. 28-29), teaches that the perspective of the end doesn’t distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look at our current days with an outlook of hope. This virtue of hope that is so hard to live. The smallest but strongest of the virtues.

And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory” (v. 26), which will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the Cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbour, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the world.

The Lord Jesus is not only the destination of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives; he is also beside us, he always accompanies. That’s why, when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always in order to lead us back to the present. He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he sets himself against fatalism. He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us. He wants to remove from his disciples of every age the curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and focus their attention on the today of history.

How many of you read your horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with you. This is better and will be better for you. This presence of Jesus calls us to the anticipation and vigilance that exclude both impatience and lethargy, both the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and of worldliness.

In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every kind. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us; he alone, his Word remains as the light that guides and encourages our steps. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We need only look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our life, and to persevere with joy in his love.

Pope Francis 13.11.15: The beauty of earthly things, habits, immanence

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-the-greatest-glory-is-god-everything-else-fad

Psalm 18. In that prayer, we repeat: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’: his glory, his beauty, the only beauty that remains forever.

The Book of Wisdom (13:1-9) and the Gospel (Lk 17:26-37). The first reading speaks of the beauty of creation: it is beautiful! God made beautiful things!. But it immediately “points out an error, the mistake of those people who, amidst these beautiful things, were not able to look beyond them, namely, to transcendence. Yes, they are certainly things “good in themselves, they have their autonomy of beauty in this case”. These men “have not recognized that this beauty is a sign of another greater beauty that awaits us”. This is the beauty referred to in Psalm 18: “The heavens declare the glory of God”. It is “the beauty of God".

We read in the Book of Wisdom that these men are “fascinated” by the beauty of the “things God created, and come to assume them as gods”. This is precisely the “idolatry of immanence”.

They basically think that “there is nothing beyond these things, and that these things are so beautiful that they are gods”.

In this way “they are attached to this idolatry; They are struck by awe for their power and energy”, instead of thinking of “what is greater, their sovereign, that the One who made them is the source and author of beauty.

It is idolatry to look to vast beauty without thinking that there will be a sunset, “even the sunset has its own beauty”. We all face “the danger” of falling into“this idolatry of being attached to the beautiful things here, without transcendence”.

The idolatry of immanence is when we believe that things are almost as gods the way they are, and that they will never end”. And “we forget the sunset”.

The other idolatry is the idolatry of routine.

In today’s Gospel passage, “Jesus, speaking of the last day, precisely of the sunset, said: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man: they ate, drank, took wives, took husbands until the day Noah entered the ark’”. In short, “everything is habitual, life is this way: we live accordingly, without thinking of the sunset of this way of living.

Yet even this is idolatry: being attached to routine, without thinking that it will end.

The Church makes us look to the end of these things”. Therefore, “even habits can be thought of as gods”.In this way “idolatry” consists in thinking that “life is like this” and continuing forward out of habit.

As the beauty will end in another beauty, our routine will end in eternity, in another routine, but God is there!

Always move forward in this life, looking at the beauty, and with the habits that we all have, but without making them divine, because “they will end”. These small beauties reflect the great beauty, our habits to survive in the eternal song, in the contemplation of the glory of God.

Pope Francis 05.11.15: The Christian includes; Pharisees exclude

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-the-christian-includes-pharisees-excl

In the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul exhorts us not to judge and not to despise our brothers, because, this leads to excluding them from “our little group,” to being selective, and this is not Christian.” Christ, in fact, “with His sacrifice on Calvary” unites and includes “all men in salvation.” In the Gospel, publicans and sinners draw near to Jesus – “that is, the excluded, all those that were outside,” – and “the Pharisees and the scribes complain.

The attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees is the same, they exclude. [They say,] ‘We are the perfect, we follow the law. These people are sinners, they are publicans’; and the attitude of Jesus is to include.

There are two paths in life: the path of exclusion of persons from our community and the path of inclusion. The first can be little but is the root of all wars: all calamities, all wars, begin with an exclusion. One is excluded from the international community, but also from families, from friends – How many fights there are! – and the path that makes us see Jesus and teaches us Jesus is quite another, it is contrary to the other: to include.

It is not easy to include the people, because there is resistance, there is that selective attitude.” For this reason, Jesus tells two parables: the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the woman and the lost coin. Both the shepherd and the woman will do anything to find what they have lost, and when they find it, they are full of joy.

They are full of joy because they have found what was lost and they go to their neighbours, their friends, because they are so happy: ‘I found, I included.’ This is the ‘including’ of God, against the exclusion of those who judge, who drive away people, persons: ‘No, no to this, no to that, no to that…’; and a little of circle of friends is created, which is their environment. It is a dialectic between exclusion and inclusion.

God has included us all in salvation, all! This is the beginning. We with our weaknesses, with our sins, with our envy, jealousies, we all have this attitude of excluding which – as I said – can end in wars.

We do our little part, we never judge: ‘But this one has acted in this way…’ But God knows: it is his life, but I don’t exclude him from my heart, from my prayer, from my greeting, from my smile, and if the occasion arises I say a good word to him. Never excluding, we have no right!

And how Paul finishes the Letter: ‘We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God . . . then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.’ If I exclude I will one day stand before the judgment seat of God, I will have to give an account of myself to God.

Let us ask the grace of being men and women who always include, always, always! in the measure of healthy prudence, but always. Not closing the doors to anyone, always with an open heart: ‘It pleases me, it displeases me,’ but the heart is open. May the Lord grant us this grace.

Pope Francis 04.11.15: Giving and Forgiving

http://www.news.va/en/news/papal-audience-importance-of-family-as-place-of-2

The family is a great training ground for the mutual giving and forgiving without which no love can last for long. Without self-giving and seeking forgiveness love does not last, it does not endure. In the prayer that he himself taught us — namely the Our Father — Jesus makes us ask the Father: “Forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors”. And at the end he states: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:12, 14-15).

One cannot live without seeking forgiveness, or at least, one cannot live at peace, especially in the family. We wrong one another every day. We must take into account these mistakes, due to our frailty and our selfishness. However, what we are asked to do is to promptly heal the wounds that we cause, to immediately reweave the bonds that break within the family. If we wait too long, everything becomes more difficult. There is a simple secret to healing wounds and to avoiding recriminations. It is this: do not let the day end without apologizing, without making peace between husband and wife, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters... between daughters- and mothers-in-law! If we learn to apologize promptly and to give each other mutual forgiveness, the wounds heal, the marriage grows stronger, and the family becomes an increasingly stronger home, which withstands the shocks of our smaller or greater misdeeds. This is why there is no need for a long speech, as a caress is enough: one caress and everything is over and one can start afresh. But do not end the day at war!

If we learn to live this way in the family, we can also do so outside, wherever we may be. It is easy to be skeptical about this. Many people — even Christians — think it is an exaggeration. It is said: yes, they are fine words, but it is impossible to put them into practice. But thanks be to God it is not so. Indeed, it is precisely in receiving forgiveness from God that we in turn are capable of forgiving others. This is why Jesus has us repeat these words each time we recite the Our Father prayer, that is, every day. And it is crucial that, in a sometimes pitiless society, there be places, such as the family, in which to learn to forgive one another.

Practicing forgiveness not only saves families from divisiveness, but makes them capable of helping society to be less heartless and less cruel. Yes, each act of forgiveness fixes the cracks in the house and strengthens its walls.

I hope that in the Jubilee of Mercy families may rediscover the treasure of mutual forgiveness. Let us pray that families may be ever more capable of experiencing and building practical paths of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his debts.

Our Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Pope Francis 01.11.15: Saints

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-there-are-many-saints-to-be-found-in

The Book of Revelation refers to an essential characteristic of saints, saying: they are people who belong totally to God. They are presented as an immense multitude of “chosen ones”, dressed in white and marked with the “seal of God” (cf. 7:2-4, 9-14).

What does it means to bear the seal of God in one’s very life and person? The Apostle John again tells us: it means that in Jesus Christ we have truly become children of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-3).

We are all children of God! Do we remember that in Baptism we received the “seal” of our Heavenly Father, and that we became his children?

To put it simply: we bear God’s surname, our surname is God, because we are the children of God. Here lies the root of the vocation to holiness!

The saints whom we remember today are those who lived in the grace of their Baptism, those who kept the “seal” intact, behaving as children of God, seeking to emulate Jesus; and now they have reached the goal, because they finally “see God as he is".

A second characteristic of the saints is that they are examples to emulate.

Not only those who are canonized, but the saints “next door”, so to speak, those who, by the grace of God, strive to practice the Gospel in their everyday lives.

Among these saints we also find ourselves; perhaps someone in our family or among friends and acquaintances. We must be grateful for them, and above all we must be grateful to God who has given them to us, putting them close to us as living and contagious examples of the way to live and die in fidelity to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel. How many good people have we met and do we know, about whom we say: “This person is a saint!”. We say it, it comes to spontaneously. These are the saints next door, those who are not canonized but who live with us.

Imitating their gestures of love and mercy is a bit like perpetuating their presence in this world. These evangelical gestures are indeed the only ones that can withstand the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, generous aid, time spent listening, a visit, a kind word, a smile.... In our eyes these gestures might seem insignificant, but in the eyes of God they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us to trust more in the grace of God, and to walk with enthusiasm along the path of holiness.


Pope Francis 29.10.15: God can only love and not condemn

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-god-can-only-love-and-not-condemn

We are so closely bound to God’s love that no person, no power, nothing can ever separate us from this love.

The gift is God’s love, a God who can’t sever himself from us. That is the impotence of God. We say: ‘God is all powerful, He can do everything!” Except for one thing: Sever Himself from us!

That is why St Paul understands and can say: “I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever will be able to come between us and the love of God."

It’s impossible for God to not love us! And this is our safeguard. I can refuse that love, I can refuse just like the Good Thief did, until the end of his life. But that love was waiting for him there. The most wicked and the most blasphemous person is loved by God with the tenderness of a father. And just as Paul said, as the Gospel said, as Jesus said: ‘Like a hen with her brood.’ And God the all-powerful, the Creator can do everything: God weeps! All of God’s love is contained in this weeping by Jesus over Jerusalem and in those tears. God weeps for me when I move away from him: God weeps for each one of us: God weeps for the evil people who do so many bad things, cause so much harm to mankind… He is waiting, he is not condemning (us) and he is weeping. Why? Because he loves (us).

Pope Francis 26.10.15: Christians must work for

"abolition of war"

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-christians-must-work-for-abolition-of

As Christians, we are deeply convinced that the ultimate goal, the most worthy of the person and the human community, is the abolition of war.

Therefore, we must always strive to build bridges that bring us together, and not walls that keep us apart; we always have to help search for an opening to mediation and reconciliation; we must never give in to the temptation of considering the other only as an enemy to be destroyed, but rather as a person, endowed with inherent dignity, created by God in His image.

Even in the midst of the lacerations of war we must never get tired of remembering that each person is extraordinarily sacred.

Pope Francis 22.10.15 One step each day - Open the door to the Holy Spirit

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-our-effort-opens-the-door-to-the-holy

Paul, “exhorts us to conversion”. And it is a message that extends to our present day. We might think, , that most of us were baptised as children, not knowing the meaning of iniquity. We then learned its meaning in catechesis,and so Paul’s counsel is also for us when he writes: ‘Do not use your soul, your heart and your body for sin, at the service of evil, of iniquity; but use them at the service of God’s gift, of the joy” that leads us to “eternal life in Jesus.

For a Christian, conversion is an assignment, an every day task.

The efforts that we make, our daily efforts of serving the Lord with our soul, with our heart, with our body and with our whole lives”, only serve to open “the door to the Holy Spirit”. Then it is the Spirit “who enters us and saves us”; the Spirit “is the gift in Jesus Christ”. If it were not so, we would resemble fakers: no, we are not fakers. With our efforts, we open the door”.

One might make a legitimate objection here: “But Father, it’s difficult.... It’s hard to make this effort every day”. This is true, “it is not easy, because of our weakness, original sin, the devil always pulls us back”.Precisely in this regard, “the author of the Book of Hebrews warns against the temptation of moving backwards”, and he writes: “We are those who do not surrender”. Therefore, do not fall back, and do not yield”. The Apostle Peter described those“who tire of moving forward and in the end say: ‘I will stay here’”. They are, in fact, comparable to a “dog who returns to his vomit”. The day’s scripture passage, however, “exhorts and urges us to always move forward, a bit further every day”. Even when we are forced to face “a great difficulty".

A few months ago, I met a woman. Young, the mother of a family – a beautiful family – who had cancer. An ugly cancer. But she moved with happiness, she acted like she was healthy. And speaking about this attitude, she told me, 'Father, I would do anything to beat the cancer!' It’s that way with the Christian. We have received this gift in Jesus Christ and we have passed from sin, from the life of iniquity to the life of the gift in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit; we must do the same.

How?“One step each day. Every day a step”. And “there are many” opportunities. “Do I want to gossip about someone? Keep quiet”, or: “I am a bit tired and I do not want to pray? Go to pray a little”. We do not need to think of grand gestures, but of “little everyday things”. Because the “little things” are what “help us to not give up, to not fall back, to not return to iniquity; but to move forward towards this gift, Jesus’ promise that will be the encounter with him.

Let us ask the Lord for this grace: to be good in this exercise of life on the path to that encounter, because we have received the gift of justification, the gift of grace, the gift of the Spirit in Christ.

Pope Francis 20.10.15: God seeks us out

and his love for us is boundless

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-god-seeks-us-out-and-his-love-for-us-is-bound

God is not a petty God, He doesn’t know pettiness. He gives everything. God is not somebody who stays still: He is watching and waiting for us to convert. God is a God who goes out, He goes out to search, for each one of us. But is this true? Every day He searches, he is searching for us. As he already has done and already said, in the Parable of the lost sheep or the lost coin: He is searching. He is always doing this.

Pope Francis: 15.10.15 The gratuity of salvation

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-beware-of-those-who-limit-the-gratuit

Paul the Apostle defended the doctrine, was a great defender of the doctrine.

Which doctrine? The gratuitousness of salvation.

God “saved us gratuitously, and he saved all of us”. While there were groups who said: “No, he saves only that person, that man, that woman who does this, this, this and this ... who performs these acts, who observes these commandments”.

In this way, “that which is free, the love of God, according to these people whom Paul is speaking against”, ends up becoming “something we can obtain: ‘If I do this, God is obligated to give me salvation’. This is what Paul refers to as 'salvation by works’.

Both Paul and Jesus seem a little angry, and annoyed, one might say and the annoyance came from these people who did not tolerate the doctrine. The gratuitousness of salvation.

This is why the gratuitousness of salvation in Christ is so difficult to understand. We are used to hearing that Jesus is the Son of God, that he came out of love, to save us and that he died for us. But we have heard it so many times that we have become accustomed to it. When, in fact, “we enter into this mystery of God, of his love, this boundless love, this immense love”, we are left so “astonished” that “perhaps we prefer not to understand it: we believe that the style of salvation in which ‘we do certain things and then we are saved’ is better’”. “Of course, to do good, to do the things that Jesus tells us to do, is good and should be done”; but “the essence of salvation does not come from this. This is my response to the salvation that is free, that comes gratuitously from the love of God.

This is why Jesus himself may seem “a little bitter against the doctors of the law”,to whom he “says strong and very harsh things: ‘you have taken away the key of knowledge, you did not enter, and you have hindered those who were entering, because you have taken away the key’, that is, the key of free salvation, of that knowledge.

In fact, these doctors of the law thought that you could only be saved by “observing all of the commandments”, while“those who did not do so were condemned”. In practice, they shortened the horizons of God as if the love of God were small, small, small, small, to the measure of each one of us.

The struggle that both Jesus and Paul faced in order to defend the doctrine. To those who might object and ask: “But father, are there not commandments?”, “Yes, there are! But there is one that Jesus says is basically a synthesis of all the commandments: love God and love thy neighbour”. Thanks to “this attitude of love, we are worthy of the gratuity of salvation, because love is free”. For example: If I say: ‘Ah, I love you!’, But I have other interests behind that, it is not love, it is interest.

This is why Jesus says: ‘The greatest love is this: to love God with your whole life, all your heart, with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself’. Because it is the only commandment that is worthy of God’s free salvation”. At which point Jesus adds: “In this commandment are all the others, because it summons — it creates all that is good — all the others’. The source is love; the horizon is love. If you have closed the door and have taken away the key of love, you are not worthy of the free salvation you have received.

How many saints, have been persecuted for defending love, the gratuitousness of salvation, the doctrine. So many saints. Let us think of Joan of Arc”. The “struggle to control salvation — only those who do these things are saved — did not end with Jesus and Paul”. Nor does it end with us. In fact it is a struggle that we carry within us as well.

It can be good for us to ask ourselves today: Do I believe that the Lord saved me freely? Do I believe that I do not deserve salvation? And if I do merit something do I believe it is through Jesus Christ and what he has done for me? It is a good question: Do I believe in the gratuitousness of salvation? And finally, do I believe that the only answer is love, the commandment of love, which Jesus says summarizes all the law and the teachings of all the prophets?

Only in this way can we be faithful to this love that is so merciful: the love of a father and of a mother, because God says that he is like a mother to us; love, great horizons, boundless, without limitations. Let us not be fooled by the experts who put limits on this love.

Pope Francis 12.10.15 Missionaries: "learn to look like Jesus"

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-to-missionaries-learn-to-look-like-jesus

Missionaries always remember that “we cannot show others what we ourselves have not seen or heard". Therefore, before being able to announce the Good News, you must walk with Jesus in your daily lives offering solidarity and offering help to those in difficulty.

Let us look at Jesus, but also learn to look like Jesus. A look of tenderness, understanding and compassion that leads us to touch the wounds of the Lord in the flesh of our brothers in need.

Pope Francis 09.10.15 : Discernment and vigilant watchfulness

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-discern-and-watch-even-in-good-times

The evil spirit always tries to deceive, to lead us and make us choose the wrong path”. And that is why “discernment is necessary”. Moreover, “if the evil spirit did these things to Jesus, what would he not do to us? Know how to discern situations: this is of God and this is not of God; this comes from the Holy Spirit, and this comes from the evil one.

A Christian cannot be calm, assuming that everything is fine. He must discern things and really look at where they come from, what their root is”, continuously asking himself: “Where does this come from? What is the origin of this opinion, these phenomena”,where do these things come from?

Vigilance is necessary, because the enemy may come.

Temptations will always return, the evil spirit never tires. He was cast out, but patiently waits to return. When he returns he is pleased to find the house swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits, more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there’ and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

Why is it worse?” . Because, “first he is aware of the evil spirit that is inside, that it is the devil who torments and commands him... Instead, in the second case the evil one is hidden, he comes with his very polite friends, knocks on the door, asks permission, enters and lives with that man, in his daily life, and little by little gives him instructions. In this way “the man ends up destroyed by the well-mannered method the devil uses, by the way the devil convinces him to do things, with relativism: ‘But it is not ... but it is not much ... no, relax, be calm...’

When the evil spirit is able to anaesthesize the conscience, we can say that this is his real victory: he becomes master of that conscience. It is of very little help to say as some do: “This happens everywhere! Everyone has problems, we are all sinners!”. Because in that ‘everyone’ there is the ‘no one’.Everyone, but not me”. And in this way you end up living out “this worldliness that is the daughter of the evil spirit

To practice vigilance, the Pope concluded,“the Church advises us to always use an examination of conscience: What happened in my heart today, and why? Did this well mannered demon and his friends try to come to my house?”. The same goes for discernment: “Where are these words, lessons and teachings coming from? Who is saying this?”. In short, we must ask the Lord for the twofold grace of discernment and vigilance “in order to prevent the one who deceives, seduces and fascinates, from entering.

Pope Francis 08.10.15 : Why do good things happen

to bad people?

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-why-do-good-things-happen-to-bad-peop

How often, we see this reality in bad people; people who do evil and life seems fine for them: they are happy, they have everything they want, they are not lacking in anything”. And this begs the question: “Why Lord?”. Yes, this is one of many ‘whys’: why is this insolent person, who does not care about God or others, this unjust and wicked person, why is everything fine in their life? Why do they have all that they want while those of us who want to do good have so many problems?

These ‘whys’, are asked by everyone. In particular we ask “why do the wicked seem to be so happy?”

The Word of God provides an answer to these questions. Malachi:(3:13-20) “The Lord heeded and heard them”. Indeed, “the Lord hears us when we ask ‘why’, always”. “A book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and thought on his name’. They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act”. Therefore,“God remembers the righteous, through those who are suffering now, who are unable to explain their situations”. Indeed, “God remembers those who trust in him, even while asking ‘Why? Why? Why?’

Psalm 1 – proclaims, “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD.

Now we do not see the fruits of this suffering people, this people carrying the cross, as on that Good Friday and Holy Saturday the fruits of the crucified Son of God, the fruits of His sufferings were yet to be seen: and whatever He does, turns out well; and what does the Psalm say of the wicked, of those for whom we think everything is going fine? ‘Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.

There is one thing that Jesus said and it always comes to my mind: ‘Tell me, what is your name?’”. Yes, people do not know their name, “they have no name".

In the parable of Lazarus, “who had nothing to eat, and dogs licked his wounds”. Meanwhile, “the rich man held banquets and enjoyed himself without looking at the needs of others”. It is curious how this man’s name is not mentioned”, but instead “he is only identified with an adjective: a rich man”. Indeed, “in the book of God’s remembrance, the wicked have no name: he is wicked, he an exploiter”. These are the people who “have no names but only adjectives".

All those who try to go the way of the Lord will be with his Son, who has a name: Jesus the Saviour, a name that is difficult to understand, despite the inexplicable evidence of the Cross and all that he suffered for us.

Pope Francis 06.10.15: God wants his ministers to be merciful

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-god-wants-his-ministers-to-be-mercifu

Jonah turns to the Lord, as if to say: “I did all the work of preaching, I did my task well, and you forgive them?”. His heart, has a “hardness that does not allow God’s mercy to enter: my preaching is more important, my thoughts are more important, that whole list of commandments that I must make them observe is more important —everything, everything, everything — than the mercy of God.

Even Jesus lived it with the doctors of the law who did not understand why he would not let that adulterous woman to be stoned” and why “he went to supper with tax collectors and sinners”. The point is that “they did not understand his mercy”. Jonah says: “you are merciful and compassionate”, but “he does not approve".

Where there is the Lord, there is mercy”. And “St Ambrose added: ‘where there is rigidity there are his ministers’, referring to the “obstinacy that defies the mission, that defies mercy".

As we are “near the start of the year of mercy”, let us pray to the Lord that he make us able to understand what his heart is like, what ‘mercy’ means, what it means when he says: ‘I want mercy, not sacrifice’.

Pope Francis 02.10.15: Listen with docility to your Guardian Angel

Pope Francis Apostolic visit to the USA

22 - 28 September

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/travels/2015/outside/documents/papa-francesco-cuba-usa-onu-2015.html

Pope Francis 28.09.15 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-closes-world-meeting-of-families-in-p

Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and he continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of his presence in our world, for “love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that he loved us” first (1 Jn 4:10). That love gives us a profound certainty: we are sought by God; he waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all his children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith!

Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.

Pointedly, yet affectionately, Jesus tells us: “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13). How much wisdom there is in these few words! It is true that, as far as goodness and purity of heart are concerned, we human beings don’t have much to show! But Jesus knows that, where children are concerned, we are capable of boundless generosity. So he reassures us: if only we have faith, the Father will give us his Spirit.

Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong!

Pope Francis 26.09.15 Festival of families, Philadelphia

All the love God has in himself, all the beauty God has in himself, all the truth God has in himself, he entrusts to the family. A family is truly a family when it is capable of opening its arms to receive all that love.

Of course the garden of Eden is long gone; life has its problems; men and women – through the wiles of the devil – experienced division. And all that love which God gave us was practically lost. And in no time, the first crime was committed, the first fratricide. Brother kills brother: war. God’s love, beauty and truth, and on the other hand the destructiveness of war: we are poised between those two realities even today. It is up to us to choose, to decide which way to go.

When the man and his wife went astray and walked away from God, God did not leave them alone. Such was his love. So great was his love that he began to walk with mankind, he began to walk alongside his people, until the right time came and then he gave the greatest demonstration of love: his Son. And where did he send his Son? To a palace, to a city, to an office building? He sent him to a family. God came into the world in a family. And he could do this because that family was a family with a heart open to love, a family whose doors were open.

God always knocks on the doors of our hearts. He likes to do that. He goes out from within. But do you know what he likes best of all? To knock on the doors of families. And to see families which are united, families which love, families which bring up their children, educating them and helping them to grow, families which build a society of goodness, truth and beauty.

Certainly, in the family there are difficulties. In families we argue. In families sometimes we throw dishes. In families children cause headaches. I’m not going to say anything about mothers-in-law! Families always, always, have crosses. Always. Because the love of God, the Son of God, also asked us to follow him along this way. But in families also, the cross is followed by resurrection, because there too the Son of God leads us. So the family is – if you excuse the word – a workshop of hope, of the hope of life and resurrection, since God was the one who opened this path.

In families, there are difficulties, but those difficulties are resolved by love. Hatred doesn’t resolve any difficulty. Divided hearts do not resolve difficulties. Only love is capable of resolving difficulty. Love is a celebration, love is joy, love is perseverance.

We have to care in a special way for children and for grandparents. Children and young people are the future; they are our strength; they are what keep us moving forward. They are the ones in whom we put our hope. Grandparents are a family’s memory. They are the ones who gave us the faith, they passed the faith on to us. Taking care of grandparents and taking care of children is the sign of love – I’m not sure if it is the greatest, but for the family I would say that it is the most promising – because it promises the future. A people incapable of caring for children and caring for the elderly is a people without a future, because it lacks the strength and the memory needed to move forward.

The family is beautiful, but it takes hard work; it brings problems. In the family, sometimes there is fighting. The husband argues with the wife; they get upset with each other, or children get upset with their parents. May I offer a bit of advice: never end the day without making peace in the family. In the family the day cannot end in fighting. May God bless you. May God give you strength. May God inspire you to keep moving forward. Let us care for the family. Let us defend the family, because there our future is at stake. Thank you. God bless you, and please pray for me.

Pope Francis 25.09.15: There is no social or moral justification for homelessness

We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing. There are many unjust situations, but we know that God is suffering with us, experiencing them at our side. He does not abandon us. We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience His companionship, His help, His love. He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice. He tells us this clearly: 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me'.


Pope Francis 25.09.15 Addresses the UN General Assembly

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-addresses-the-un-general-assembly

The United Nations is presently celebrating its seventieth anniversary. I pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have benefitted humanity as a whole in these past seventy years.

The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity.

A true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it.

The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.

Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime.

At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights.

The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.

War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples. To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm.

An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as “nations united by fear and distrust”. There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.

I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.

These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be. In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements.

Along the same lines I would mention another kind of conflict which is not always so open, yet is silently killing millions of people. Another kind of war experienced by many of our societies as a result of the narcotics trade. A war which is taken for granted and poorly fought. Drug trafficking is by its very nature accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation and other forms of corruption. A corruption which has penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.

The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organization and of all its activities, like any other human endeavour, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations. And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good. I pray to Almighty God that this will be the case, and I assure you of my support and my prayers, and the support and prayers of all the faithful of the Catholic Church, that this Institution, all its member States, and each of its officials, will always render an effective service to mankind, a service respectful of diversity and capable of bringing out, for sake of the common good, the best in each people and in every individual.

Pope Francis address to U.S. Congress 24.09.15

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-makes-historic-address-to-us-congress

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.

How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference, I'm sure and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Pope Francis at St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York 24.09.15

Gratitude and Hard Work

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-at-vespers-a-special-thank-you-to-the-religio

Gratitude and hard work: these are two pillars of the spiritual life .

In the hope of helping you to persevere on the path of fidelity to Jesus Christ, I would like to offer two brief reflections.

The first concerns the spirit of gratitude. The joy of men and women who love God attracts others to him; priests and religious are called to find and radiate lasting satisfaction in their vocation. Joy springs from a grateful heart. Truly, we have received much, so many graces, so many blessings, and we rejoice in this. It will do us good to think back on our lives with the grace of remembrance. Remembrance of when we were first called, remembrance of the road travelled, remembrance of graces received… and, above all, remembrance of our encounter with Jesus Christ so often along the way. Remembrance of the amazement which our encounter with Jesus Christ awakens in our hearts. To seek the grace of remembrance so as to grow in the spirit of gratitude. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: are we good at counting our blessings?

A second area is the spirit of hard work. A grateful heart is spontaneously impelled to serve the Lord and to find expression in a life of commitment to our work. Once we come to realize how much God has given us, a life of self-sacrifice, of working for him and for others, becomes a privileged way of responding to his great love.

Pope Francis in Washington 23.09.15

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-freedom-is-one-of-americas-most-precious-poss

As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.


Pope Francis in Santiago 22.09.15 : Learn to serve like Mary

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-in-santiago-learn-to-serve-like-mary

Pope Francis in Cuba 20.09.15 - Serving others

Holy Mass and Angelus in Havana

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWNKVqz3PMc

Whoever wishes to be the first among you must be the last of all, and the servant of all. Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others.

The call to serve involves something special, to which we must be attentive. Serving others chiefly means caring for their vulnerability. Caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love. With a love which takes shape in our actions and decisions. With a love which finds expression in whatever tasks we, as citizens, are called to perform. People of flesh and blood, people with individual lives and stories, and with all their frailty: these are those whom Jesus asks us to protect, to care for, to serve. Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable.

There is a kind of “service” which truly “serves”, yet we need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, a “service” which is “self-serving”. There is a way to go about serving which is interested in only helping “my people”, “our people”. This service always leaves “your people” outside, and gives rise to a process of exclusion.

All of us are called by virtue of our Christian vocation to that service which truly serves, and to help one another not to be tempted by a “service” which is really “self-serving”. All of us are asked, indeed urged, by Jesus to care for one another out of love. Without looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing. Jesus tells us: Whoever would be first among you must be the last, and the servant of all”. He does not say: if your neighbor wants to be first, let him be the servant! We have to be careful to avoid judgmental looks and renew our belief in the transforming look to which Jesus invites us.

This caring for others out of love is not about being servile. Rather, it means putting our brothers and sisters at the center. Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, “suffers” in trying to help. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.

Pope Francis Apostolic visit to CUBA

19 - 22 September

Pope Francis 14.09.15: The serpant and the way of the Cross

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-follow-the-way-of-the-cross-against-the-tempt

The serpent was the first animal to be presented to man, the first of which the Bible mentions and defines as the smartest of the wild animals God created. The serpent’s figure is not beautiful, it always arouses fear. Even if the snake’s skin is beautiful, the fact remains that the snake’s behaviour is scary.

The book of Genesis “describes the serpent as ‘the most cunning’”, but also that “he is a charmer that has the ability to fascinate, to charm you.” Even more “he is a liar, he is jealous; it is because of the devil’s envy – the serpent’s envy – that sin entered into the world.” He has “this ability to ruin us with seduction: he promises you many things, but when the time comes to pay you he pays badly, he is an evil payer.” However, the serpent has this ability to seduce and to charm.

To save them from the serpent’s venom, the Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent, and that whoever looked at that serpent would be saved.” This is an illustration, a prophecy, and a promise. It is a promise that is not easy to understand.” Today's Gospel (John 3:13-17) tells us that “Jesus himself explained Moses’ act a bit further to Nicodemus”: that just as he had “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” The bronze serpent represented Jesus raised on the Cross.

For what reason, would “the Lord choose this bad, ugly figure?”Simply “because Jesus came to take all our sins upon himself”, becoming “the greatest sinner without having ever committed a sin.” This is why Paul tells us that Jesus became sin for us. Using this figure, then, Christ became a serpent.“It's an ugly figure!”, but He really did “become sin to save us. This is the message in today’s liturgy.” This is precisely “Jesus’ path: God became man and and took his sin upon himself."

Paul explains this mystery, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men; And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Emptied himself: He became sin for us, he who knew no sin.” This, therefore,“is the mystery”, and “we can say that he became like a serpent, so to speak, which is ugly and disgusting.

We see beautiful paintings of Jesus on the cross, but reality is different: He was torn and bloodied by our sins. This is the path that He took to defeat the serpent in his own camp. We must look at the Cross of Jesus, not the artistic, well-painted ones, but at reality. And we must look at his path and at God who emptied himself and lowered himself in order to save us.

This is also the Christian’s path”, the Pope added. Indeed, “if a Christian wants to make progress on the path of the Christian life, he must lower himself, as Jesus lowered himself: this is the path of humility”, which means he must take humiliation upon himself just as Jesus .

Pope Francis 13.09.15: Jesus frees us from selfishness and sin

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-angelus-jesus-frees-us-from-selfishness-sin-a

Jesus openly reveals to the disciples what awaits him in Jerusalem, which is that “the Son of man must suffer many things... be killed, and after three days rise again".

On hearing this, Peter, who had just professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah, is shocked. He takes the Master aside and rebukes him. And how does Jesus react? He in turn rebukes Peter, with very harsh words: “Get behind me, Satan!” — he calls him Satan! — “You think not as God does, but as men do” (cf. v. 33). Jesus sees in Peter, as in the other disciples — and in each one of us! — that temptation by the Evil One opposes the grace of the Father, that he wants to deter us from the will of God.

Announcing that he must suffer, be put to death in order to then rise, Jesus wants his followers to understand that he is a humble Messiah, a servant. He is the Servant obedient to the word and the will of the Father, until the complete sacrifice of his own life. For this reason, turning toward the whole crowd there, He declares that one who wishes to become his disciple must accept being a servant, as He has made himself a servant, and cautions: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” .

To undertake the discipleship of Jesus means to take up your cross — we all have one — to accompany him on his path, an uncomfortable path that is not of success or of fleeting glory, but one which takes us to true freedom, to that which frees us from selfishness and sin.

It is necessary to clearly reject that worldly mentality which places one’s “I” and one’s own interests at the centre of existence. That is not what Jesus wants from us! Instead Jesus invites us to lose our life for him and for the Gospel, to receive it renewed, fulfilled and authentic. We are certain, thanks to Jesus, that this path leads us to the resurrection, to the full and definitive life with God. Choosing to follow him, our Master and Lord who made himself the Servant of all, one to walk behind and to listen attentively to his Word — remember to read a passage from the Gospel every day — and in the Sacraments.

Pope Francis 12.09.15: Migrants and Refugees

Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?

The presence of migrants and refugees seriously challenges the various societies which accept them. Those societies are faced with new situations which could create serious hardship unless they are suitably motivated, managed and regulated. How can we ensure that integration will become mutual enrichment, open up positive perspectives to communities, and prevent the danger of discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism or xenophobia?

Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself. Many institutions, associations, movements and groups, diocesan, national and international organizations are experiencing the wonder and joy of the feast of encounter, sharing and solidarity. They have heard the voice of Jesus Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20). Yet there continue to be debates about the conditions and limits to be set for the reception of migrants, not only on the level of national policies, but also in some parish communities whose traditional tranquillity seems to be threatened.

The answer of the Gospel is mercy.

Each of us is responsible for his or her neighbour: we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. Concern for fostering good relationships with others and the ability to overcome prejudice and fear are essential ingredients for promoting the culture of encounter, in which we are not only prepared to give, but also to receive from others. Hospitality, in fact, grows from both giving and receiving.

From this perspective, it is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare. Migrations cannot be reduced merely to their political and legislative aspects, their economic implications and the concrete coexistence of various cultures in one territory.

The Church stands at the side of all who work to defend each person’s right to live with dignity, first and foremost by exercising the right not to emigrate and to contribute to the development of one’s country of origin. This process should include, from the outset, the need to assist the countries which migrants and refugees leave. This will demonstrate that solidarity, cooperation, international interdependence and the equitable distribution of the earth’s goods are essential for more decisive efforts, especially in areas where migration movements begin, to eliminate those imbalances which lead people, individually or collectively, to abandon their own natural and cultural environment. In any case, it is necessary to avert, if possible at the earliest stages, the flight of refugees and departures as a result of poverty, violence and persecution.

Dear brothers and sisters, migrants and refugees! At the heart of the Gospel of mercy the encounter and acceptance by others are intertwined with the encounter and acceptance of God himself. Welcoming others means welcoming God in person!

Pope Francis 11.09.15 : Hypocrites

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-we-all-risk-being-hypocrites-includin

From the Gospel according to Luke (6:39-42) “the Lord, with the image of the speck that is in your brother’s eye and of the log that is in your own, teaches us : brother, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye”. Therefore, the “first step” is: “blame yourself".

When we have thoughts about other people”, such as: “Look, this one is like this, that man is that way, that one does this, and this one...”. In those very moments it is appropriate to ask yourself: “And what about you, what do you do? What do I do? Am I just? Do I feel like the judge to remove the speck from the eyes of others and to blame others?

In such situations Jesus chooses the word “hypocrite”, which he uses only with those who are two-faced, who have a double spirit: ‘hypocrite!’.Men and women who don’t learn to blame themselves become hypocrites. Everyone, eh! Everyone! Starting with the Pope, on down: everyone!”. In fact, if one of us isn’t able to blame himself” and isn’t able, if necessary, to speak to the appropriate person regarding other people’s matters, he isn’t a Christian, he doesn’t take part in this beautiful work of reconciliation, peacemaking, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience, and mercy which Jesus Christ brought us.

if you cannot take this first step, ask the Lord for the grace of conversion”. Thus, “the first step is this: am I able to blame myself? How is it done?”. Basically, the answer is “simple, it is a simple exercise”. When it occurs to me to think about others’ faults, stop” and think about my own. “When I feel the desire to speak about others’ faults, stop” and consider my own.

It also takes “the courage that Paul has” in the letter he writes to Timothy: “I blasphemed, and persecuted, and insulted”. How many things could we say about ourselves?”. Thus, “let’s hold back our comments about others and let’s make comments about ourselves”. This is how we truly take “the first step on this path of magnanimity”. Because one who “is only able to see the speck in another’s eye winds up being petty: a petty spirit, full of trivialities, full of idle talk.

Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace to follow Jesus’ advice to be generous with forgiveness and generous with mercy. In order to recognize a person as a saint there is a whole process, there must be a miracle, and then the Church proclaims him a saint. But if you were to find a person who has never, ever, ever spoken ill of another, he could be canonized immediately. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Pope Francis 10.09.15: Peace, foregiveness, mercy

Peace and reconciliation”, is what “Jesus did: he made peace”, and “this is why he is called the Prince of Peace. How did he make peace? By giving his life as an offering, a prayer for the forgiveness of all.

I wonder if we are really thankful for this gift of peace that we received in Jesus. Because “peace was made, but it wasn’t accepted”.And still, every day, on the news, in the papers, we see that there are wars, destruction, hatred, enmity.

There are also men and women who have worked so much — they work a lot! — to produce weapons for killing, arms that in the end become bathed in the blood of so many innocent people, so many people”. There are“wars and there is the wickedness of preparing for war, of making arms against the other, to kill”. The terms of the issue are clear: “Peace saves, peace lets you live, peace lets you grow; war destroys you, it brings you down."

People often say, “Father, it’s awful that this has happened there!”. But certain situations, do not only happen in faraway places: “War even exists in our Christian communities, among ourselves”. Make peace among yourselves.

If we do not learn to forgive one another, we will always be at war. As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do. But if you do not know how to forgive, you are not a Christian, because you do not do what the Lord did. Moreover, “if you don’t forgive, you cannot receive the Lord’s peace, the Lord’s forgiveness."

Each day, when we pray the Our Father, we say: ‘forgive us, as we forgive’”. And this, is in the “‘conditional’: we are trying to convince God to be good, as we are good in forgiving: the other way around. Words, right? As that beautiful song went: ‘Words, words, words,’ wasn’t it? I think it was (the Italian singer) Mina who sung it. Words! Forgive one another! As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do! Forgive one another! And some good advice for forgiving each other: forbear one another at home, in your neighbourhood, at work.... Bear with each other”, without resorting to whispering: “He did that...”. It’s important “to forbear, because he too bears with me”. In short, it takes“Christian patience."

How many others there are who instead of doing what they should, wag their tongue and create conflict. Indeed, the same damage that a bomb creates in a town, the tongue creates in a family, in a neighbourhood, in a workplace. Because “the tongue destroys, it makes war." As the Lord has forgiven you, so should you do: forbear one another and forgive one another.

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. It is an invitation to “understand others, not to condemn them: the Lord, the Father, is so merciful, he always forgives, he always wants to make peace with us”. But, “if you are not merciful, how can the Lord be merciful with you, since we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others?"

if you are a priest and don’t feel you are merciful, tell your bishop so you can be given administrative work, but don’t go down to the confessional, please!”. Because “a priest who isn’t merciful does so much harm in the confessional: he lambastes people!”.

One must be “merciful even among ourselves”. Instead of complaining — “he did this...” — we should ask ourselves: “what have I done?”. After all, who can say that “he is a worse sinner than I am? None of us can say this. Only the Lord can”. All of us, can say, ‘I am a sinner and I need mercy and I need forgiveness. And this is why I forbear others, I forgive others and I am merciful with others’. Put on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.

This, then, “is the Christian way: it is not arrogance, it is not condemnation, it is not speaking ill of others”. The Christian way is “compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience”. Ultimately, it is “the way of Jesus, the way by which Jesus made peace and reconciliation, until the end”.

Lord give each of us the grace to forbear others, to forgive, to be merciful, as the Lord is merciful with us; and to have this Christian way of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.

Pope Francis 08.09.15: Peacemaking and Reconciliation through little things

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-god-walks-with-all-of-us-saints-and-s

God, reconciles: he reconciles the world to himself through Christ. Jesus, brought to us by Mary, makes peace. How does God reconcile?”. What is his “manner”? Does he perhaps “make a great assembly? Does everyone come to an agreement? Do they sign a document?”. No, “God makes peace by a specific method: he reconciles and makes peace in the little things and on the journey”.

This is the manner of God, who chooses “little things, humble things, to do great works.

The Lord, “is the Great One” and we“are the little ones”, but the Lord “advises us to make ourselves little like children to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, whereas “the great ones, the powerful, the arrogant, the proud cannot enter”. God reconciles and brings peace in the little things” of everyday life.

The Lord does not want to make peace and reconcile with a magic wand: today — boom! — all done! No. He journeys with his people.

We heard this passage from Saint Matthew’s gospel: This man fathered so and so, this other man fathered so and so, this other man fathered so and so......but it’s a bit boring, isn’t it? It’s a list: but this is God accompanying us! God walks with all of humanity, the good people and the evil people because in this list there are saints and there are criminal sinners as well. There’s so much sin here. But God is not frightened by this: He accompanies us. He walks with his people. And on this journey he makes hope grow in his people, hope in the Messiah”. This is the “closeness” of God.

This journeying in littleness, with his people, this walking with the good and bad gives us our way of life”. In order “to walk as Christians”, in order to“make peace” and “reconcile” as Jesus did, we have the path: “With the Beatitudes and with the protocol by which we will all be judged. Matthew, 25:‘Do likewise: little things’”. This means “in littleness and by journeying.

God dreams. God our Father has dreams, and he dreams beautiful things for his people, for each of us, because he is Father and as Father he thinks and dreams of the best for his children.

Although God is great and all powerful he teaches us to carry out great works and bring peace and reconciliation through the little things, by walking, and by not losing hope . He also teaches us to dream great dreams and to aim high.


Pope Francis 06.09.15: Asks all European parishes to take in a refugee family

https://sites.google.com/site/catholicchurchwoodhallspa/home/1-Every%20Parish%20c.jpg

May Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family.

The faithful are called to offer a concrete gesture of hope as indicated in the Gospel.

In the face of “the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death from war and hunger, and who have begun a journey moved by hope for life.

The Gospel calls us to be 'neighbours' of the weakest and the abandoned.

To give them concrete hope.

It’s not enough to say, 'Take heart. Be patient'.

I address my brother bishops of Europe, true pastors, so that in their dioceses they back my appeal, remembering that Mercy is the second name of Love.

Pope Francis 04.09.15: Gossip, sow peace not discord

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-sowing-divisions-is-a-sickness-in-the

Do I sow peace or do I sow discord?

Without Jesus no peace or reconciliation is possible and our task is to be men and women of peace and reconciliation in the midst of news about war and hatred, even within families.

We’d do well to ask ourselves: Do I sow peace? For example, when I speak, do I sow peace or do I sow discord? How many times have we heard this said about a person: He or she has a serpent’s tongue! This is because that person is always doing what the serpent did with Adam and Eve, namely destroying peace. And this is an evil, this is a sickness within our Church: sowing divisions, sowing hatred, not sowing peace. So this is a question that we should ask ourselves every day: ‘Did I sow peace or did I sow discord today? And don’t try to justify yourself with, “well, sometimes you have to say things because this or that...", what are you sowing with this attitude?

Jesus, came to us to make peace, to reconcile. As a result, if a person, during their life, does nothing but reconcile and make peace, they can be canonized: that person is a saint!.

But we need to grow that way, we need to have a conversion: never a word to divide, never, never a word to cause conflicts, little conflicts, never gossip.

Gossip “what is it”, really? It seems like “nothing”. It amounts to “saying a few words about another person or telling a story”, such as: “This person did...”. But in reality it isn’t so. Gossiping is an act of terrorism, because gossip is like terrorists who drop a bomb and runs away, destroying: with their tongue they are destroying and not making peace. But they’re clever, right? They aren’t suicide bombers, no, no, they protect themselves well !

Every day that I get the urge to say something that sows discord and division, to say bad things about another, the sound advice is to “bite your tongue!”. And, I assure you that if you do this exercise of biting your tongue instead of sowing discord, the first few times your tongue will swell, wounded, because the devil helps to do this because it is his work, it is his job: to divide!

Lord you gave your life, give me the grace to bring peace and reconciliation. You shed your blood, but what does it matter to me if my tongue gets swollen if I bite it before speaking badly about other people.


Pope Francis 03.09.15: I am a sinner

This ability to say that we are sinners opens us to the astonishment of the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter.

How do the people encounter Jesus? Basically, in “two manners.

One is that upon encountering Jesus, they “were ‘astonished’”. Peter, the Apostles, and the people, show “this feeling of astonishment” and say:“This man speaks with authority”.

On the contrary, however, the Gospels also speak of “another group who encounter Jesus” but who “do not let astonishment enter their heart”. They are the doctors of the Law, who hear Jesus and calculate: “He is intelligent, a man who says things that are true, but these things are not appropriate for us. The demons, such as in the Gospel Reading on Wednesday, 2 September, themselves, confessed – that is, they proclaimed – that Jesus was the “Son of God,” but like the doctors of the law and the wicked Pharisees, “they did not have the capacity for astonishment, they were closed up in their sufficiency, in their pride.

The demons, the doctors of the Law, the wicked Pharisees do not have a capacity for astonishment, they are closed by their self-importance, by their arrogance.

Instead, the people and Peter are capable of astonishment.

What is the difference? In fact, Peter “confesses” what the demons confess. When, in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks: “Who am I?”, and Peter answers, “You are the Son of God, you are the Messiah”. Peter “makes a confession, saying who He is”. And the demons also do the same, acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God. But Peter adds “another something that the demons do not say”. That is, he speaks about himself and says: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner”. The Pharisees, the doctors of the Law, the demons “are unable to say this”, they are incapable. “The demons”, can speak the truth about him, but they say nothing about themselves”, because their “arrogance is so great that it prevents them from saying it.

Even the doctors of the Law acknowledge: “This man is intelligent, he is a competent rabbi, he works miracles”. But they are unable to add: “We are arrogant, we are self-important, we are sinners.

Here then is the lesson that applies to everyone: “The inability to acknowledge that we are sinners distances us from the true confession of Jesus Christ”. This, precisely, “is the difference”. Jesus illustrates it “in that beautiful parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in the temple”, where we are met with “the Pharisee’s arrogance before the altar”. The man speaks highly of himself, but never says: “I am a sinner, I have made mistakes”. This is compared with “the humility of the tax collector, who would not even lift up his eyes”, and who says only: “Have mercy, Lord, I am a sinner”, opening himself “to astonishment at the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter.

This ability to say that we are sinners opens us to the astonishment of the encounter with Jesus Christ, the true encounter.

In our parishes, in our societies, among consecrated people too: how many people are able to say that Jesus is the Lord? Quite a lot!”. But it is difficult to hear a “sincerely stated ‘I am a sinful man, I am a sinful woman’”. It is probably, he said, “easier to say it about others, when gossiping” and pointing the finger: “This one, that one, this yes...”. In doing so, “we are all doctors”.

Instead,“ to come to a true encounter with Jesus, a twofold confession is necessary: ‘You are the Son of God and I am a sinner’”. But not just in theory: we have to be honest with ourselves, able to identify our mistakes and admit: “I am a sinner “for this, for this, for this and for this...".

May the Lord give us the grace to encounter him but also to let ourselves be encountered by him”. The beautiful grace of “astonishment at the encounter”, but also “the grace of having the twofold confession in our life: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I believe. And I am a sinner, I believe.


The Gospel in your pocket - Pope Francis 01.09.14

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/cotidie/2014/documents/papa-francesco-cotidie_20140901_gospel-in-your-pocket.html

"How do we receive the Word of God?”. The response is clear: “As one receives Jesus Christ. The Church tells us that Jesus is present in the Scripture, in His Word”.

"Always carry a small Gospel with you in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day. Not so much “to learn” something, but mostly “to find Jesus, because Jesus actually is in His Word, in His Gospel”. “Every time I read the Gospel, I find Jesus”.

Daily Readings - read the entire New Testament over a 2 year period

(reading plan courtesy of Gideon International)

The Bible online

Pope Francis: Guardian angels our companions on life’s journey

Guardian angels exist

Pope Francis at Mass at Casa Santa Marta. "Guardian angels exist, they are not [the fruit of] imaginative doctrine, but companions that God has placed beside us on our life’s journey."

We all have an angel

Pope Francis recalled the definitive role of guardian angels in a Christian’s life. "We all have an angel who is always beside us, who never abandons us and helps us not to lose our way."