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Pope Francis General Audience 16.09.20

Contemplation and Care of our common home

Pope Francis Contemplation and Care of our common home 16.09.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

To emerge from a pandemic, we need to look after and care for each other. And we must support those who care for the weakest, the sick and the elderly. Ah, there is the tendency to cast the elderly aside, to abandon them. And this is bad. These people - well defined by the Spanish term "cuidadores" (caretakers), those who take care of the sick - play an essential role in today's society, even if they often do not receive the recognition and recompense they deserve. Caring is a golden rule of our nature as human beings, and brings with it health and hope. Taking care of those who are sick, of those who are in need, of those who are cast aside: this is a human, and also Christian, wealth.
We must also extend this care to our common home: to the earth and to every creature. All forms of life are interconnected, and our health depends on that of the ecosystems that God created and entrusted to us to care for (Gen 2:15). Abusing them, on the other hand, is a grave sin that damages us, and harms us, and makes us sick. The best antidote against this misuse of our common home is contemplation. But how come? Isn’t there a vaccine for this, for the care of the common home, so as not to set it aside? What is the antidote against the sickness of not taking care of our common home? It is contemplation. “If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple. Also in terms of using things and discarding them. However, our common home, creation, is not a mere "resource". Creatures have a value in and of themselves and each one "reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness". This value and this ray of divine light must be discovered and, in order to discover it, we need to be silent, we need to listen, and we need to contemplate. Contemplation also heals the soul.
Without contemplation, it is easy to fall prey to an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism, the “I” at the centre of everything, which gives excessive importance to our role as human beings, positioning us as absolute rulers of all other creatures. A distorted interpretation of biblical texts on creation has contributed to this misinterpretation, which leads to the exploitation of the earth to the point of suffocating it. Exploiting creation: this is the sin. We believe that we are at the centre, claiming to occupy God's place and so we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s plan. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as custodians of life. Of course, we can and must work the earth so as to live and to develop. But work is not synonymous with exploitation, and it is always accompanied by care: ploughing and protecting, working and caring... This is our mission. We cannot expect to continue to grow on a material level, without taking care of the common home that welcomes us. Our poorest brothers and sisters and our mother earth lament for the damage and injustice we have caused, and demand we take another course. It demands of us a conversion, a change of path; taking care of the earth too, of creation.
Therefore, it is important to recover the contemplative dimension, that is, looking at the earth, creation as a gift, not as something to exploit for profit: no. When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness. Here is the heart of the issue: contemplating is going beyond the usefulness of something. Contemplating the beautiful does not mean exploiting it, no: contemplating. It is free. We discover the intrinsic value of things given to them by God. As many spiritual masters have taught us, heaven, earth, sea, and every creature have this iconic capacity, or this mystical capacity to bring us back to the Creator and to communion with creation. For example, St. Ignatius of Loyola, at the end of his Spiritual Exercises, invites us to carry out "Contemplation to come to love", that is, to consider how God looks at His creatures and to rejoice with them; to discover God's presence in His creatures and, with freedom and grace, to love and care for them.
Contemplation, which leads us to an attitude of care, is not a question of looking at nature from the outside, as if we were not immersed in it. But we are inside nature, we are part of nature. Rather, it is done from within, recognising us as part of creation, making us protagonists and not mere spectators of an amorphous reality that is only to be exploited. Those who contemplate in this way experience wonder not only at what they see, but also because they feel they are an integral part of this beauty; and they also feel called to guard it and to protect it. And there is one thing we must not forget: those who cannot contemplate nature and creation, cannot contemplate people in their true wealth. And those who live to exploit nature end up exploiting people and treating them like slaves. This is a universal law. If you cannot contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister. All of us.
Those who know how to contemplate will more easily set to work to change what produces degradation and damage to health. They will strive to educate and promote new production and consumption habits, to contribute to a new model of economic growth that guarantees respect for our common home and respect for people. The contemplative in action: this is good! Each one of us should be a guardian of the environment, of the purity of the environment, seeking to combine ancestral knowledge of millennia-long cultures with new technical knowledge, so that our lifestyle may always be sustainable.
Finally, contemplating and caring: these are two attitudes that show the way to correct and rebalance our relationship as human beings with creation.
Oftentimes, our relationship with creation seems to be a relationship between enemies: destroying creation for our benefit. Exploiting creation for our profit. Let us not forget that this will be paid for dearly; let us not forget that Spanish saying: “God always forgives; we forgive sometimes; nature never forgives”. Today I was reading in the newspaper about those two great glaciers in Antarctica, near the Amundsen Sea: they are about to fall. It will be terrible, because the sea level will rise and this will bring many, many difficulties and cause so much harm. And why? Because of global warming, not caring for the environment, not caring for the common home. On the other hand, when we have this relationship - let me say the word - “fraternal": it is a figure of speech; a "fraternal" relationship with creation, we will become guardians of the common home, guardians of life and guardians of hope. We will guard the heritage that God has entrusted to us so that future generations may enjoy it. And some may say: "But, I can get by like this". But the problem is not how you are going to manage today - this was said by a German theologian, a Protestant, a good man: Bonhoeffer - the problem is not how you are managing today; the problem is: what will be the legacy, life for future generations? Let us think of our children, our grandchildren: what will we leave if we exploit creation? Let us protect this path of the "guardians" of our common home, guardians of life and also guardians of hope. They safeguard the heritage that God has entrusted to us (people, all people) so that future generations may enjoy it. I think especially of the indigenous peoples, to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude - also of penance, to repair the evil we have done to them. But I am also thinking of those movements, associations, popular groups, which are committed to protecting their territory with its natural and cultural values. These social realities are not always appreciated, and at times they are even obstructed; because they do not earn money; but in reality they contribute to a peaceful revolution, that we might call the “revolution of care”. Contemplating so as to care, contemplating to protect, to protect ourselves, creation, our children, and our grandchildren, and to protect the future. Contemplating to care for and to protect, and to leave a legacy to the future generation.
And this must not be delegated to others: this is the task of every human being. Each one of us can and must be a “guardian of the common home”, capable of praising God for His creatures, and of contemplating creatures, and protecting them. Thank you.




Pope Francis Angelus 13.09.20

Forgiveness and Mercy

Pope Francis Forgiveness and Mercy 13.09.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In the parable in today’s Gospel reading, that of the merciful King (Mt 18:21-35), twice we find this plea: “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full”. The first time it is pronounced by the servant who owes his master ten thousand talents, an enormous sum. Today it would be millions and millions of dollars. The second time it is repeated by another servant of the same master. He too is in debt, not towards the master, but towards the same servant who has that enormous debt. And his debt is very small, maybe a week’s wages.

The heart of the parable is the indulgence the master shows towards his servant with the bigger debt. The evangelist underlines that, “moved with compassion the master”- we should never forget this word of Jesus: “Have compassion”, Jesus always had compassion - “moved with compassion the master let him go and forgave him the loan”. An enormous debt, therefore a huge remission! But that servant, immediately afterwards, showed himself to be pitiless towards his companion, who owed him a modest sum. He does not listen to him, he is extremely hostile against him and has him thrown in prison until he has paid his debt. The master hears about this and, outraged, calls the wicked servant back and has him condemned. “I forgave you a great deal and you are not capable of forgiving so little?”

In the parable we find two different attitudes: God’s - represented by the king who forgives a lot, because God always forgives - and the human person’s. The divine attitude is justice pervaded with mercy, whereas the human attitude is limited to justice. Jesus exhorts us to open ourselves with courage to the strength of forgiveness, because in life not everything can be resolved with justice. We know this. There is a need for that merciful love, which is also at the basis of the Lord’s answer to Peter’s question, which precedes the parable. Peter’s question goes like this: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?”. And Jesus replies, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times”. In the symbolic language of the Bible this means that we are called to forgive always.

How much suffering, how many wounds, how many wars could be avoided if forgiveness and mercy were the style of our life! Even in families, even in families. How many families are disunited, who do not know how to forgive each other. How many brothers and sisters bear resentment within. It is necessary to apply merciful love to all human relationships: between spouses, between parents and children, within our communities, in the Church and also in society and politics.

Today as we were celebrating the Mass, I paused, touched by a phrase in the first reading from the book of Sirach. The phrase says, remember the end and stop hating. A beautiful phrase. But think of the end. Just think, you will be in a coffin… and you take your hatred there. Think about the end, stop hating, stop resenting. Let’s think of this phrase that is very touching. Remember the end and stop hating.

It is not easy to forgive because although in moments of calm we think “Yes, this person has done so many things to me but I have done many too. Better to forgive so as to be forgiven”, but then resentment returns like a bothersome fly in the summer that keeps coming back. Forgiveness isn’t something we do in a moment, it is a something continuous, against that resentment, that hatred that keeps coming back. Let’s think of our end and stop hating.

Today’s parable helps us to grasp fully the meaning of that phrase we recite in the Lord’s Prayer: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Mt 6:12). These words contain a decisive truth. We cannot demand God’s forgiveness for ourselves if we in turn do not grant forgiveness to our neighbour. It is a condition. Think of your end, of God’s forgiveness, and stop hating. Reject resentment, that bothersome fly that keeps coming back. If we do not strive to forgive and to love, we will not be forgiven and loved either.

Let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Mother of God: May she help us to realise how much we are in debt to God, and to remember that always, so that our hearts may be open to mercy and goodness.




Pope Francis General Audience 09.09.20

Love and the common good

Pope Francis Love and the common good 09.09.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The crisis we are living due to the pandemic is affecting everyone; we will emerge from it for the better if we all seek the common good together; the contrary is we will emerge for the worse. Unfortunately, we see partisan interests emerging. For example, some would like to appropriate possible solutions for themselves, as in the case of vaccines, to then sell them to others. Some are taking advantage of the situation to instigate divisions: by seeking economic or political advantages, generating or exacerbating conflicts. Others simply are not interesting themselves in the suffering of others, they pass by and go their own way. They are the devotees of Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of others’ suffering.

The Christian response to the pandemic and to the consequent socio-economic crisis is based on love, above all, love of God who always precedes us. He loves us first, He always precedes us in love and in solutions. He loves us unconditionally and when we welcome this divine love, then we can respond similarly. I love not only those who love me – my family, my friends, my group – but I also love those who do not love me, I also love those who do not know me or who are strangers, and even those who make me suffer or whom I consider enemies. This is Christian wisdom, this is how Jesus acted. And the highest point of holiness, let’s put it that way, is to love one’s enemies which is not easy, it is not easy. Certainly, to love everyone, including enemies, is difficult – I would say it is even an art! But an art that can be learned and improved. True love that makes us fruitful and free is always expansive, and true love is not only expansive, it is inclusive. This love cares, heals and does good. How many times a caress does more good than many arguments, a caress, we can think, of pardon instead of many arguments to defend oneself. It is inclusive love that heals.

So, love is not limited to the relationship between two or three people, or to friends or to family, it goes beyond. It comprises civil and political relationships, including a relationship with nature. Love is inclusive, everything. Since we are social and political beings, one of the highest expressions of love is specifically social and political which is decisive to human development and in order to face any type of crisis. We know that love makes families and friendships flourish; but it is good to remember that it also makes social, cultural, economic and political relationships flourish, allowing us to construct a “civilisation of love”, as Saint Paul VI used to love to say and, in turn, Saint John Paul II. Without this inspiration the egotistical, indifferent, throw-away culture prevails – that is to discard anything I do not like, whom I cannot love or those who seem to me to not to be useful in society. Today at the entrance, a married couple said to me: “Pray for me (us) because we have a disabled son.” I asked: “How old is he?” “He is pretty old.” “And what do you do?” “We accompany him, help him.” All of their lives as parents for that disabled son. This is love. And the enemies, the adversarial politicians, according to our opinion, seem to be “disabled” politicians, socially, but they seem to be that way. Only God knows if they are truly thus or not. But we must love them, we must dialogue, we must build this civilisation of love, this political and social civilisation of the unity of all humanity. Otherwise, wars, divisions, envy, even wars in families: because inclusive love is social, it is familial, it is political…love pervades everything.

The coronavirus is showing us that each person’s true good is a common good, not only individual, and, vice versa, the common good is a true good for the person. If a person only seeks his or her own good, that person is egotistical. Instead, the person is kinder, nobler, when his or her own good is open to everyone, when it is shared. Health, in addition to being an individual good, is also a public good. A healthy society is one that takes care of everyone’s health, of all.

A virus that does not recognise barriers, borders, or cultural or political distinctions must be faced with a love without barriers, borders or distinctions. This love can generate social structures that encourage us to share rather than to compete, that allow us to include the most vulnerable and not to cast them aside, that help us to express the best in our human nature and not the worst. True love does not know the throw-away culture, it does not know what it is. In fact, when we love and generate creativity, when we generate trust and solidarity, it is then that concrete initiatives emerge for the common good. And this is valid at both the level of the smallest and largest communities, as well as at the international level. What is done in the family, what is done in the neighbourhood, what is done in the village, what is done in the large cities and internationally is the same, it is the same seed that grows, grows, grows and bears fruit. If you in your family, in your neighbourhood start out with envy, with battles, there will be war in the end. Instead, if you start out with love, to share love, forgiveness, there will be love and forgiveness for everyone.

Conversely, if the solutions for the pandemic bear the imprint of egoism, whether it be by persons, businesses or nations, we may perhaps emerge from the coronavirus crisis, but certainly not from the human and social crisis that the virus has brought to light and accentuated. Therefore, be careful not to build on sand! To build a healthy, inclusive, just and peaceful society we must do so on the rock of the common good. The common good is a rock. And this is everyone’s task, not only that of a few specialists. Saint Thomas Aquinas used to say that the promotion of the common good is a duty of justice that falls on each citizen. Every citizen is responsible for the common good. And for Christians, it is also a mission. As Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught, to direct our daily efforts toward the common good is a way of receiving and spreading God’s glory.

Unfortunately, politics does not often have a good reputation, and we know why. This is not to say that all politicians are bad, no, I do not want to say this. I am only saying that unfortunately, politics do not often have a good reputation. Why? But it does not have to resign itself to this negative vision, but instead react to it by showing in deeds that good politics is possible, or rather that politics that puts the human person and the common good at the center is a duty. If you read history of humanity you will find many holy politicians who trod this path. It is possible insofar as every citizen, and especially those who assume social and political commitments and positions, roots what they do in ethical principles and nurtures it with social and political love. Christians, in a particular way the laity, are called to give good example of this and can do it thanks to the virtue of charity, cultivating its intrinsic social dimension.

It is therefore time to improve our social love – I want to highlight this: our social love – with everyone’s contribution, starting from our littleness. The common good requires everyone’s participation. If everyone contributes his or her part, and if no one is left out, we can regenerate good relationships on the communitarian, national and international level and even in harmony with the environment. Thus, through our gestures, even the most humble ones, something of the image of God we bear within us will be made visible, because God is the Trinity, God is love, God is love. This is the most beautiful definition of God that is in the Bible. The Apostle John, who loved Jesus so much, gives it to us. With His help, we can heal the world working, yes, all together for the common good, for everyone’s common good. Thank you.




Pope Francis Angelus 06.09.20

Fraternal Correction

Pope Francis Fraternal Correction 06.09.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday's Gospel passage (Mt 18:15-20) is taken from Jesus' fourth discourse in Matthew's account, known as the discourse on the 'community' or the 'ecclesial' discourse. Today's passage speaks about fraternal correction, and invites us to reflect on the twofold dimension of Christian existence: community, which demands safeguarding communion - that is, the unity of the Church - and personal, which obliges attention and respect for every individual conscience.

To correct a brother who has made a mistake, Jesus suggests a pedagogy of rehabilitation. And Jesus' pedagogy is always a pedagogy of rehabilitation, of salvation. And this pedagogy of rehabilitation is articulated in three passages. In the first place he says: “point out the fault when the two of you are alone” (v. 15), that is, do not air his sin in public. It is about going to your brother with discretion, not to judge him but to help him realize what he has done. How many times have we had this experience: someone comes and tells us: 'But listen, you were mistaken about this. You should change a little in this regard'. Perhaps in the beginning we get angry, but then we say 'thank you', because it is a gesture of brotherhood, of communion, of help, of rehabilitation.

And it is not easy to put this teaching of Jesus into practice, for various reasons. There is the fear that the brother or sister may react badly; at times you may lack sufficient confidence with him or with her. And other reasons. But every time we have done this, we have felt it was precisely the way of the Lord.

However, it may happen that, despite my good intentions, the first intervention may fail. In this case it is good not to give up and say: 'Make do, I wash my hands of it'. No, this is not Christian. Do not give up, but seek the support of some other brother or sister. Jesus says: “if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (v. 16). This is a precept of Mosaic law (Deut 19:15). Although it may seem a disadvantage to the accused, in reality it will serve to protect him against false accusers. But Jesus goes further: the two witnesses are called not to accuse and judge, but to help. 'But let us agree, you and I, let us go talk to this man or woman, who is mistaken, who is making a bad impression. Let us go as brothers and speak to him or her'. This is the attitude of rehabilitation that Jesus wants from us. In fact Jesus explains that even this approach – the second approach, with witnesses - may fail, unlike Mosaic law, for which the testimony of two or three witnesses was enough to convict.

Indeed, even the love of two or more brothers or sisters may be insufficient, because that man or woman is stubborn. In this case – Jesus adds – “tell it to the church” (v. 17), that is, the community. In some situations the entire community becomes involved. There are things that can have an impact on other brothers and sisters: it takes a greater love to rehabilitate the brother. But at times even this may not be enough. And Jesus says: “and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”. This expression, seemingly so scornful, in reality invites us to put the brother in God's hands: only the Father will be able to show a greater love than that of all brothers and sisters put together.

This teaching of Jesus helps us a great deal, because – let us consider an example – when we see a mistake, a fault, a slip, in that brother or sister, usually the first thing we do is to go and recount it to others, to gossip. And gossip closes the heart to the community, closes off the unity of the Church. The great gossiper is the devil, who always goes about telling bad things about others, because he is the liar who seeks to separate the Church to distance brothers and sisters and not create community. Please, brothers and sisters, let us make an effort not to gossip. Chatter is a plague more awful than Covid! Let us make an effort: no gossip. It is the love of Jesus, who had embraced the tax collectors and Gentiles, scandalizing the conformists of the time. However it is not a sentence without an appeal, but a recognition that at times our human attempts may fail, and that only being before God can bring the brother to face his own conscience and responsibility for his actions. If this matter does not work, then silence and prayer for the brother or sister who has made a mistake, but never gossip.

May the Virgin Mary help us to make fraternal correction a healthy practice, so that in our communities ever new fraternal relationships, founded on mutual forgiveness and above all on the invincible power of God's mercy, may be instilled.




Pope Francis General Audience 02.09.20

Do I think of the needs of others?

Pope Francis Do I think of the needs of others? 02.09.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The current pandemic has highlighted our interdependence: we are all linked to each other, for better or for worse. Therefore, to come out of this crisis better than before, we have to do so together; together, not alone. Either it is done together, or it is not done. We must do it together, all of us, in solidarity. I would like to underline this word today: solidarity.

As a human family we have our common origin in God; we dwell in a common home, the garden-planet, the earth where God placed us; and we have a common destination in Christ. But when we forget all this, our interdependence becomes dependence on others, we lose this harmony of interdependence and solidarity and we become dependent increasing inequality and marginalisation; it weakens the social fabric and the environment deteriorates. 

Therefore, the principle of solidarity is now more necessary than ever. In an interconnected world, we experience what it means to live in the same “global village”; this expression is beautiful, isn’t it? The big wide world is none other than a global village, because everything is interconnected, but we do not always transform this interdependence into solidarity. There is a long journey between interdependence and solidarity. Selfishness - individual, national and power-groups - and ideological rigidities instead sustain "structures of sin”. 
The word ‘solidarity’ is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts - the odd sporadic act - of generosity". Much more! “It presumes the creation of a new mindset; a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few. It is not merely a question of helping others - it is good to do so, but it is more than that - it is a matter of justice. ). Interdependence, in order to be in solidarity and to bear fruit, needs strong roots in the humanity and nature created by God; it needs respect for faces and for the land.

The Bible, from the very beginning, warns us of this. Think of the account of the Tower of Babel (see Gen 11: 1-9), which describes what happens when we try to reach heaven - that is, our destination - ignoring our bond with humanity, creation and the Creator. It is a figure of speech. This happens every time that someone wants to climb up and up, without taking others into consideration. Just myself, no? Think about the tower. We build towers and skyscrapers, but we destroy community. We unify buildings and languages, but we mortify cultural wealth. We want to be masters of the Earth, but we ruin biodiversity and ecological balance. In another audience I spoke about those fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto, who came this year, and they told me that this year: “We have taken 24 tonnes of waste out of the sea, half of which was plastic”. Just think! But this is ruining the earth - not having solidarity with the earth, which is a gift - and the ecological balance.

I remember a medieval account of this “Babel syndrome”, which occurs when there is no solidarity. This medieval account says that, during the building of the tower, when a man fell - they were slaves, weren’t they? - and died, no-one said anything, or at best, “Poor thing, he made a mistake and he fell”. Instead, if a brick fell, everyone complained. And if someone was to blame, he was punished. Why? Because a brick was costly to make, to prepare, to fire. A brick was worth more than a human life. Every one of us, think about what happens today. Unfortunately, something of the type can happen nowadays too. When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news - we have seen it in the newspapers in these days. Thousands of people fall due to hunger and poverty, and no-one talks about it.

Pentecost is diametrically opposed to Babel (see Acts 2: 1-3), we heard at the beginning of the audience. The Holy Spirit, descending from above like wind and fire, sweeps over the community closed up in the Cenacle, infuses it with the power of God, and inspires it to go out and announce the Lord Jesus to everyone. The Spirit creates unity in diversity; He creates harmony. In Pentecost, each one of us is an instrument, but a community instrument that participates fully in building up the community.

With Pentecost, God makes Himself present and inspires the faith of the community united in diversity and in solidarity. A diversity in solidarity possesses “antibodies” that ensure that the singularity of each person - which is a gift, unique and unrepeatable - not sicken with individualism, with selfishness. Diversity in solidarity also possesses antibodies that heal social structures and processes that have degenerated into systems of injustice, systems of oppression. Therefore, solidarity today is the road to take towards a post-pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social sicknesses. There is no other way. Either we go ahead along the road of solidarity, or things will worsen. One does not come out of a crisis the same as before. The pandemic is a crisis. We emerge from a crisis either better or worse than before. It is up to us to choose. And solidarity is, indeed, a way of coming out of the crisis better, not with superficial changes, with a fresh coat of paint so everything looks fine. No. Better!

In the midst of crises, a solidarity guided by faith enables us to translate the love of God in our globalised culture. By interweaving communities and sustaining processes of growth that are truly human and solid. I would like to ask a question: do I think of the needs of others? Everyone, answer in your heart.

In the midst of crises and tempests, the Lord calls to us and invites us to reawaken and activate this solidarity capable of giving solidity, support and meaning to these hours in which everything seems to be wrecked. May the creativity of the Holy Spirit encourage us to generate new forms of familiar hospitality, fruitful fraternity and universal solidarity. Thank you.



Pope Francis Appeal for Lebanon 02.09.20



One month after the tragedy that struck the city of Beirut, my thoughts turn once again to Lebanon and its people, so sorely tried. The priest beside me has brought the Lebanese flag to this Audience.
Today, I would repeat the words spoken by Saint John Paul II thirty years ago, at a crucial moment in Lebanon’s history: “Faced with repeated tragedies which each of the land’s inhabitants knows, we are aware of the extreme danger that threatens the very existence of the country: Lebanon cannot be abandoned in its solitude.
For over a hundred years, Lebanon has been a country of hope. Even in the darkest periods of its history, the Lebanese people maintained their faith in God and proved capable of making their land a place of tolerance, respect and coexistence unique in that region. How true it is that Lebanon is more than a State: it is “a message of freedom and an example of pluralism, both for the East and for the West” (ibid.). For the good of the country and the world, we cannot let this legacy be lost.
I encourage all Lebanese to persevere in hope and to summon the strength and energy needed to start anew. I ask political and religious leaders to commit themselves with sincerity and openness to the work of rebuilding, setting aside all partisan interests and looking to the common good and the future of the nation. Once again, I ask the international community to support Lebanon and to help it emerge from this grave crisis, without becoming caught up in regional tensions.
In a special way, my thoughts turn to the people of Beirut, who have suffered so greatly from the explosion. Brothers and sisters, take courage once more! Let faith and prayer be your strength. Do not abandon your homes and your heritage. Do not abandon the dreams of those who believed in the dawn of a beautiful and prosperous country.
Dear bishops, priests, consecrated and lay persons, continue to accompany the faithful. Of you, bishops and priests, I ask apostolic zeal, poverty and austerity. Be poor together with your poor and suffering people. Be the first to give an example of poverty and humility. Help the faithful and your people to rise again and contribute actively to a new rebirth. May all alike foster concord and renewal in the name of the common good and a genuine culture of encounter, peaceful coexistence and fraternity. Fraternity: a word so dear to Saint Francis. May this concord be a source of renewal in the common interest. This will prove a sure basis for the continuity of the Christian presence and your own inestimable contribution to the country, the Arab world and the whole region, in a spirit of fraternity among all the religious traditions present in Lebanon.
For this reason, I would ask everyone to join in a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on Friday next, 4 September. I intend to sent my own representative to Lebanon that day to be present with its people: The Secretary of State will go in my name to express my spiritual closeness and solidarity. Let us pray for Lebanon as a whole and for Beirut. And let us demonstrate our closeness by concrete works of charity, as on other similar occasions. I also invite our brothers and sisters of other religious confessions to join in this initiative in whatever way they deem best, but together as one.
And now I ask you to entrust to Mary, Our Lady of Harissa, our hopes and our fears. May she sustain all who grieve for their loved ones and instil courage in those who have lost their homes and, with them, a part of their lives! May she intercede with the Lord Jesus so that the Land of Cedars may flourish once again and spread the fragrance of fraternal coexistence throughout the entire Middle East.




Pope Francis Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation 01.09.20

Pope Francis Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation 01.09.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October. During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home.
I am very pleased that the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the 2020 Season of Creation is Jubilee for the Earth, precisely in this year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. In the Holy Scriptures, a Jubilee is a sacred time to remember, return, rest, restore, and rejoice.
We exist only in relationships: with God the Creator, with our brothers and sisters as members of a common family, and with all of God’s creatures within our common home.
We need constantly to remember that “everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” .
The Jubilee season calls us to think once again of our fellow human beings, especially the poor and the most vulnerable. We are asked to re-appropriate God’s original and loving plan of creation as a common heritage, a banquet which all of our brothers and sisters share in a spirit of conviviality, not in competitive scramble but in joyful fellowship, supporting and protecting one another.
The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption.
The earth from which we were made is thus a place of prayer and meditation.
Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world. Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify and storms intensify. Creation is groaning.
Today we need to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy everyone with a sufficiency, without destroying the ecosystems that sustain us.
In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.
We should not forget the historic exploitation of the global South that has created an enormous ecological debt, due mainly to resource plundering and excessive use of common environmental space for waste disposal. It is a time for restorative justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19. 
We also need to restore the land. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world.
I invite all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.
Biodiversity restoration is also crucially important in the context of unprecedented loss of species and degradation of ecosystems. We need to support the U.N. call to safeguard 30% of the earth as protected habitats by 2030 in order to stem the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. I urge the international community to work together to guarantee that the Summit on Biodiversity (COP 15) in Kunming, China becomes a turning point in restoring the earth to be a home of life in abundance, as willed by the Creator.
We must restore with justice in mind, ensuring that those who have lived on the land for generations can regain control over its usage. Indigenous communities must be protected from companies, particularly multinational companies, that “operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home”, through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, timber and agroindustrial products.
We rejoice to see how young people and communities, particularly indigenous communities, are on the frontlines in responding to the ecological crisis.
We also rejoice to see how the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year is inspiring many initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor.
We rejoice too that faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.
Let us all rejoice that our loving Creator sustains our humble efforts to care for the earth, which is also God’s home where his Word “became flesh and lived among us” and which is constantly being renewed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30).



Pope Francis Angelus 30.08.20  

The Way of the True Disciple

Pope Francis The Way of the True Disciple 30.08.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today's Gospel passage (Mt 16:21-27) is linked to that of last Sunday (Mt 16:13-20). After Peter, on behalf of the other disciples as well, has professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, Jesus Himself begins to speak to them about His Passion. Along the path to Jerusalem, He openly explains to His friends what awaits Him at the end in the Holy City: He foretells the mystery of His death and Resurrection, of His humiliation and glory. He says that He will have to “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). But His words are not understood, because the disciples have a faith that is still immature and too closely tied to the mentality of this world (Rom 12:2). They think of too earthly a victory, and therefore they do not understand the language of the cross.

At the prospect that Jesus may fail and die on the cross, Peter himself resists and says to Him: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22). He believes in Jesus - Peter is like this, he has faith, he believes in Jesus, he believes - he wants to follow Him, but does not accept that His glory will pass through the Passion. For Peter and the other disciples – but for us too! - the cross is a stumbling block, a 'hindrance', whereas Jesus considers the 'hindrance' escaping the cross, which would mean avoiding the Father's will, the mission that the Father has entrusted to Him for our salvation. For this reason Jesus responds to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23). Ten minutes earlier, Jesus praised Peter, He promised him he would be the base of His Church, its foundation; ten minutes later He says to him, “Satan”. How can this be understood? It happens to us all! In moments of devotion, of fervour, of good will, of closeness to our neighbour, we look at Jesus and we go forward; but in moments in which we approach the cross, we flee. The devil, Satan - as Jesus says to Peter - tempts us. It typical of the evil spirit, it is typical of the devil to make us stray from the cross, from the cross of Jesus.

Addressing everyone then, Jesus adds: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24). In this way He indicates the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes. The first is 'to renounce oneself', which does not mean a superficial change, but a conversion, a reversal of mentality and of values. The other attitude is that of taking up one's own cross. It is not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil, and that part of suffering that the struggle against evil entails. The life of Christians is always a struggle. The Bible says that the life of Christians is a military undertaking: fighting against the evil spirit, fighting against Evil.

Thus the task of “taking up the cross” becomes participating with Christ in the salvation of the world. Considering this, we allow the cross hanging on the wall at home, or that little one that we wear around our neck, to be a sign of our wish to be united with Christ in lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and most fragile. The cross is the holy sign of God's Love, it is a sign of Jesus' Sacrifice, and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace. Each time we fix our gaze on the image of Christ crucified, let us contemplate that He, as the true Servant of the Lord, has accomplished His mission, giving life, spilling His blood for the pardoning of sins. And let us not allow ourselves to be drawn to the other side, by the temptation of the Evil One. As a result, if we want to be his disciples, we are called to imitate him, expending our life unreservedly out of love of God and neighbour.

May the Virgin Mary, united to her Son unto Calvary, help us not to retreat in the face of the trials and suffering that witnessing to the Gospel entails.





Pope Francis General Audience 26.08.20

Welcome the Gift of Hope

Pope Francis Welcome the Gift of Hope 26.08.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In the face of the pandemic and its social consequences, many risk losing hope. In this time of uncertainty and anguish, I invite everyone to welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ. It is He who helps us navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.
The pandemic has exposed and aggravated social problems, above all that of inequality. Some people can work from home, while this is impossible for many others. Certain children, notwithstanding the difficulties involved, can continue to receive an academic education, while this has been abruptly interrupted for many, many others. Some powerful nations can issue money to deal with the crisis, while this would mean mortgaging the future for others.
These symptoms of inequality reveal a social illness; it is a virus that comes from a sick economy. And we must say it simply: the economy is sick. It has become ill. It is sick. It is the fruit of unequal economic growth – this is the illness: the fruit of unequal economic growth – that disregards fundamental human values. In today’s world, a few rich people possess more than all the rest of humanity. I will repeat this so that it makes us think: a few rich people, a small group, possess more than all the rest of humanity. This is pure statistics. This is an injustice that cries out to heaven! At the same time, this economic model is indifferent to the damage inflicted on our common home. Care is not being taken of our common home. We are close to exceeding many limits of our wonderful planet, with serious and irreversible consequences: from the loss of biodiversity and climate change to rising sea levels and the destruction of the tropical forests. Social inequality and environmental degradation go together and have the same root (see Encyclical, Laudato Si’, 101): the sin of wanting to possess and wanting to dominate one’s brothers and sisters, of wanting to possess and dominate nature and God Himself. But this is not the design for creation.
“In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2402). God has called us to dominate the earth in His name (see Gen 1:28), tilling it and keeping it like a garden, everyone’s garden (see Gen 2:15). “‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving”. But be careful not to interpret this as a carte blanche to do whatever you want with the earth. No. There exists a “relationship of mutual responsibility” between ourselves and nature. A relationship of mutual responsibility between ourselves and nature. We receive from creation and we give back in return. “Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth”. It goes both ways.
In fact, the earth “was here before us and it has been given to us”, it has been given by God “for the whole human race”. And therefore it is our duty to make sure that its fruit reaches everyone, not just a few people. And this is a key element of our relationship with earthly goods. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recalled, they said: “Man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others”. In fact, “The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others”. We are administrators of the goods, not masters. Administrators. “Yes, but the good is mine”: that is true, it is yours, but to administer it, not to possess it selfishly for yourself.
To ensure that what we possess brings value to the community, “political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good”. The “subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, is a golden rule of social conduct and the first principle of the whole ethical and social order”.
Property and money are instruments that can serve mission. However, we easily transform them into ends, whether individual or collective. And when this happens, essential human values are affected. The homo sapiens is deformed and becomes a species of homo œconomicus – in a detrimental sense – a species of man that is individualistic, calculating and domineering. We forget that, being created in the image and likeness of God, we are social, creative and solidary beings with an immense capacity to love. We often forget this. In fact, from among all the species, we are the beings who are the most cooperative and we flourish in community, as is seen well in the experience of the saints. There is a saying in Spanish that inspired me to write this phrase. It says: “Florecemos en racimo, como los santos”: we flourish in community, as is seen well in the experience of the saints.
When the obsession to possess and dominate excludes millions of persons from having primary goods; when economic and technological inequality are such that the social fabric is torn; and when dependence on unlimited material progress threatens our common home, then we cannot stand by and watch. No, this is distressing. We cannot stand by and watch! With our gaze fixed on Jesus  and with the certainty that His love is operative through the community of His disciples, we must act all together, in the hope of generating something different and better. Christian hope, rooted in God, is our anchor. It moves the will to share, strengthening our mission as disciples of Christ, Who shared everything with us.
The first Christian communities understood this. They lived difficult times, like us. Aware that they formed one heart and one soul, they put all of their goods in common, bearing witness to Christ’s abundant grace in them (see Acts 4:32-35). We are experiencing a crisis. The pandemic has put all of us in crisis. But let us remember that after a crisis a person is not the same. We come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. This is our option. After the crisis, will we continue with this economic system of social injustice and depreciating care for the environment, for creation, for our common home? Let’s think about this. May the Christian communities of the twenty-first century recuperate this reality – care for creation and social justice: they go together … – thus bearing witness to the Lord’s Resurrection. If we take care of the goods that the Creator gives us, if we put what we possess in common in such a way that no one would be lacking, then we would truly inspire hope to regenerate a more healthy and equal world.
And in conclusion, let us think about the children. Read the statistics: how many children today are dying of hunger because the distribution of riches is not good, because of the economic system as I said above; and how many children today do not have the right to education for the same reason. May this image of children in want due to hunger and the lack of education help us understand that after this crisis we must come out of it better. Thank you.




Pope Francis Angelus 23.08.20

 Faith is Life  

Pope Francis Faith is Life 23.08.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 16:13-20) presents the moment in which Peter professes his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. The Apostle’s confession is provoked by Jesus Himself, who wishes to lead His disciples to take the decisive step in their relationship with Him. Indeed, the entirety of Jesus’s journey with those who follow Him, especially with the Twelve, is one of educating their faith. First of all, He asks: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v. 13). The Apostles liked talking about people, as we all do. We like to gossip. Speaking of others is not so demanding, this is why we like it. In this case the perspective of faith rather than gossip is already required, and so He asks, “What do the people say I am?”. And the disciples seem to compete in reporting the different opinions, which perhaps, to a large extent, they themselves shared. They too shared them. In essence, Jesus of Nazareth was considered to be a prophet (v. 14).

With the second question, Jesus touches them to the core: “But what about you? … Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). At this point, we seem to perceive a moment of silence, as each one of those present is called to put themselves on the line, manifesting the reason why they follow Jesus; therefore a certain hesitation is more than legitimate. Even if I were to ask you now, “For you, who is Jesus?”, there would be a little hesitation. Simon takes them off the hook by declaring forthrightly, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). This answer, so complete and enlightening, does not come from an impulse of his own, however generous - Peter was generous - but rather is the fruit of a particular grace of the heavenly Father. Indeed, Jesus Himself says, “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood” - that is, by culture, what you have studied, no this has not revealed it to you. It was revealed to you “by my Father in heaven” (v. 17). To confess Jesus is a grace of the Father. To say that Jesus is the Son of the living God, who is the Redeemer, is a grace that we must ask for: “Father, give me the grace of confessing Jesus”. At the same time, the Lord acknowledges Simon’s prompt response to the inspiration of grace and therefore adds, in a solemn tone, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it”. (v. 18). With this affirmation, Jesus makes Simon aware of the meaning of the new name He has given him, “Peter”: the faith he has just shown is the unshakeable “rock” on which the Son of God wishes to build His Church, that is, community. And the Church goes forward always on the basis of Peter’s faith, that faith that Jesus recognises in Peter and which makes him the head of the Church.

Today, we hear Jesus’s question directed to each one of us: “And you, who do you say I am?”. To each one of us. And every one of us must give not a theoretical answer, but one that involves faith, that is, life, because faith is life! “For me you are …” and then to confess Jesus. An answer that demands that we too, like the first disciples, inwardly listen to the voice of the Father and its consonance with what the Church, gathered around Peter, continues to proclaim. It is a matter of understanding who Christ is for us: if He is the centre of our life, if He is the goal of our commitment in the Church, our commitment in society. Who is Jesus Christ for me? Who is Jesus Christ for you, for you, for you …? An answer that we should give every day.

But beware: it is indispensable and praiseworthy that the pastoral care of our communities be open to many forms of poverty and crises, which are everywhere. Charity is always the high road of the journey of faith, of the perfection of faith. But it is necessary that works of solidarity, the works of charity that we carry out, not divert us from contact with the Lord Jesus. Christian charity is not simple philanthropy but, on the one hand, it is looking at others through the eyes of Jesus Himself and, on the other hand, seeing Jesus in the face of the poor. This is the true path of Christian charity, with Jesus at the centre, always.

May Mary Most Holy, blessed because she believed, be our guide and model on the path of faith in Christ, and make us aware that trust in Him gives full meaning to our charity and to all our existence.





Pope Francis General Audience 19.08.20

The Preferential Option for the Poor 

Pope Francis The preferential option for the poor 19.08.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The pandemic has exposed the plight of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world. And the virus, while it does not distinguish between people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discrimination. And it has exacerbated them!
Christ Himself, Who is God, despoiled Himself, making Himself similar to men; and he chose not a life of privilege, but he chose the condition of a servant (cf. Phil 2:6-7). He annihilated Himself by making Himself a servant. He was born into a humble family and worked as a craftsman. At the beginning of His preaching, He announced that in the Kingdom of God the poor are blessed (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20). He stood among the sick, the poor, the excluded, showing them God's merciful love. And many times He was judged an impure man because He went to the sick, to lepers… and this made people impure, according to the law of the age. And He took risks to be near to the poor.
Therefore, Jesus’ followers recognise themselves by their closeness to the poor, the little ones, the sick and the imprisoned, the excluded and the forgotten, those without food and clothing. We can read that famous protocol by which we will all be judged, we will all be judged. It is Matthew, chapter 25. This is a key criterion of Christian authenticity. Some mistakenly think that this preferential love for the poor is a task for the few, but in reality it is the mission of the Church as a whole, as Saint John Paul II said. “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor society”.
Faith, hope and love necessarily push us towards this preference for those most in need, which goes beyond necessary assistance. Indeed it implies walking together, letting ourselves be evangelised by them, who know the suffering Christ well, letting ourselves be “infected” by their experience of salvation, by their wisdom and by their creativity. Sharing with the poor means mutual enrichment. And, if there are unhealthy social structures that prevent them from dreaming of the future, we must work together to heal them, to change them. And we are led to this by the love of Christ, Who loved us to the extreme, and reaches the boundaries, the margins, the existential frontiers. Bringing the peripheries to the centre means focusing our life on Christ, Who “made Himself poor” for us, to enrich us “by His poverty” (2 Cor 8:9), as we have heard.
We are all worried about the social consequences of the pandemic. All of us. Many people want to return to normality and resume economic activities. Certainly, but this “normality” should not include social injustices and the degradation of the environment. The pandemic is a crisis, and we do not emerge from a crisis the same as before: either we come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. We must come out of it better, to counter social injustice and environmental damage. Today we have an opportunity to build something different. For example, we can nurture an economy of the integral development of the poor, and not of providing assistance. By this I do not wish to condemn assistance: aid is important. I am thinking of the voluntary sector, which is one of the best structures of the Italian Church. Yes, aid does this, but we must go beyond this, to resolve the problems that lead us to provide aid. An economy that does not resort to remedies that in fact poison society, such as profits not linked to the creation of dignified jobs. This type of profit is dissociated from the real economy, that which should bring benefits to the common people, and in addition is at times indifferent to the damage inflicted to our common home. The preferential option for the poor, this ethical-social need that comes from God’s love, inspires us to conceive of and design an economy where people, and especially the poorest, are at the centre. And it also encourages us to plan the treatment of viruses by prioritising those who are most in need. It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all. And what a scandal it would be if all the economic assistance we are observing - most of it with public money - were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation. There are criteria for choosing which industries should be helped: those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the last, to the common good and the care of creation. Four criteria.
If the virus were to intensify again in a world that is unjust to the poor and vulnerable, then we must change this world. Following the example of Jesus, the doctor of integral divine love, that is, of physical, social and spiritual healing - like the healing worked by Jesus - we must act now, to heal the epidemics caused by small, invisible viruses, and to heal those caused by the great and visible social injustices. I propose that this be done by starting from the love of God, placing the peripheries at the centre and the last in first place. Do not forget that protocol by which we will be judged, Matthew, chapter 25. Let us put it into practice in this recovery from the epidemic. And starting from this tangible love - as the Gospel says, there - anchored in hope and founded in faith, a healthier world will be possible. Otherwise, we will come out of the crisis worse. May the Lord help us, and give us the strength to come out of it better, responding to the needs of today’s world. Thank you.



Pope Francis Angelus 16.08.20

What type of Faith is great?

Pope Francis What type of Faith is great? - 16.08.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel (see Mt 15:21-28) describes the meeting between Jesus and the Canaanite woman. Jesus is to the north of Galilee, in foreign territory. The woman was not Jewish, she was Canaanite. Jesus is there to spend some time with His disciples away from the crowds, from the crowds whose numbers are always growing. And behold, a woman approached Him seeking help for her sick daughter: “Have mercy on me, Lord!” (v. 22). It is the cry that is born out of a life marked by suffering, from the sense of the helplessness of a mamma who sees her daughter tormented by evil who cannot be healed; she cannot heal her. Jesus initially ignores her, but this mother insists; she insists, even when the Master says to the disciples that His mission is directed only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24) and not to the pagans. She continues to beg Him, and at that point, He puts her to the test, citing a proverb. It’s a bit…this seems almost a bit cruel, but he puts her to the test: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (v. 26). And right away, the woman, quick, anguished, responds: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27).

And with these words, that mother shows that she has perceived the goodness of the Most High God present in Jesus who is open to any of His creatures necessities. And this wisdom, filled with trust, touches Jesus’s heart and provokes words of admiration: “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (v. 28). What type of faith is great? Great faith is that which brings its own story, marked even by wounds, and brings it to the Lord’s feet asking Him to heal it, to give it meaning.

Each one of us has our own story and it is not always a story “for export”, it is not always a clean story. Many times it is a difficult story, with a lot of pain, many misfortunes and many sins. What do I do with my story? Do I hide it? No! We must bring it before the Lord. “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” This is what this woman teaches us, this wonderful mother: the courage to bring our own painful story before God, before Jesus, to touch God’s tenderness, Jesus’s tenderness. Let’s try this story, this prayer: let each one of us think of his or her own story. There are always ugly things in a story, always. Let us go to Jesus, knock on Jesus’s heart and say to Him: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” And we can do this if we always have the face of Jesus before us, if we understand what Christ’s heart is like, what Jesus’s heart is like: a heart that feels compassion, that bears our pains, that bears our sins, our mistakes, our failures. But it is a heart that love us like that, as we are, without make-up: He loves us like that. “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” 

This is why it is necessary to understand Jesus, to be familiar with Jesus. I always go back to the advice that I give you: always carry a small pocket-size Gospel and read a passage every day. There you will find Jesus as He is, as He presents Himself; you will find Jesus who loves us, who loves us a lot, who tremendously wants our well-being. Let us remember the prayer: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!” A beautiful prayer. Carry the Gospel: in your purse, in your pocket and even on your mobile phone, to look at. May the Lord help us, all of us, to pray this beautiful prayer, that a pagan woman teaches us: not a Christian woman, not a Jewish woman, a pagan woman.

May the Virgin Mary intercede with her prayer so that the joy of faith might grow in every baptized person as well as the desire to communicate it through a consistent witness of life, that she give us the courage to approach Jesus and to say to Him: “Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!”



Pope Francis Angelus 15.08.20

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Francis Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary- 15.08.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

When man set foot on the moon, he said a phrase that became famous: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. In essence, humanity had reached a historical goal. But today, in Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, we celebrate an infinitely greater conquest. The Madonna has set foot in paradise: she went there not only in spirit, but with her body as well, with all of herself. This step of the lowly Virgin of Nazareth was the huge leap forward for humanity. Going to the moon serves us little if we do not live as brothers and sisters on Earth. But that one of us dwells in the flesh in Heaven gives us hope: we understand that we are precious, destined to rise again. God does not allow our bodies to vanish into nothing. With God, nothing is lost! In Mary, the goal has been reached and we have before our eyes the reasons why we journey: not to gain the things here below, which vanish, but to achieve the homeland above, which is forever. And Our Lady is the star that guides us. She went there first. She, as the Council teaches, shines “as a sign of sure hope and solace to the People of God during its sojourn on earth”.

What does our Mother advise us? Today in the Gospel the first thing she says is: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). We, accustomed to hearing these words, perhaps we no longer pay attention to their meaning. To “magnify” literally means “to make great”, to enlarge. Mary “aggrandises the Lord”: not problems, which she did not lack at the time, but the Lord. How often, instead, we let ourselves be overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears! Our Lady does not, because she puts God as the first greatness of life. From here the Magnificat springs forth, from here joy is born: not from the absence of problems, which come sooner or later, but joy is born from the presence of God who helps us, who is near us. Because God is great. And, above all, God looks on the lowly ones. We are His weakness of love: God looks on and loves the lowly.

Mary, in fact, acknowledges that she is small and exalts the “great things” (v. 49) the Lord has done for her. What are they? First and foremost, the unexpected gift of life: Mary is a virgin yet she becomes pregnant; and Elizabeth, too, who was elderly, is expecting a child. The Lord works wonders with those who are lowly, with those who do not believe that they are great but who give ample space to God in their life. He enlarges His mercy to those who trust in Him, and raises up the humble. Mary praises God for this.
And we - we might ask ourselves - do we remember to praise God? Do we thank Him for the great things He does for us? For every day that He gives us, because He always loves us and forgives us, for His tenderness? In addition, for having given us His Mother, for the brothers and sisters He puts on our path, and because He opened Heaven to us? Do we thank God, praise God for these things? If we forget the good, our hearts shrink. But if, like Mary, we remember the great things that the Lord does, if at least once a day we were to “magnify” Him, then we would take a great step forward. One time during the day to say: “I praise the Lord”, to say, “Blessed be the Lord”, which is a short prayer of praise. This is praising God. With this short prayer, our hearts will expand, joy will increase. Let us ask Our Lady, the Gate of Heaven, for the grace to begin each day by raising our eyes to Heaven, toward God, to say to Him: "Thank you!” as the lowly ones say to the great ones. “Thank you”.



Pope Francis General Audience 12.08.20

Faith and Human Dignity

Pope Francis Faith and Human Dignity 12.08.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation, we cannot heal the world.

Commendable is the effort of so many people who have been offering evidence of human and Christian love for neighbour, dedicating themselves to the sick even at the risk of their own health. They are heroes! However, the coronavirus is not the only disease to be fought, but rather, the pandemic has shed light on broader social ills. One of these is a distorted view of the person, a perspective that ignores the dignity and relationship of the person. At times we look at others as objects, to be used and discarded. In reality this type of perspective blinds and fosters an individualistic and aggressive throw-away culture, which transforms the human being into a consumer good.

In the light of faith we know, instead, that God looks at a man and a woman in another manner. He created us not as objects but as people loved and capable of loving; He has created us in His image and likeness (see Gen 1:27). In this way He has given us a unique dignity, calling us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers, with respect for all creation. In communion, in harmony, we might say. Creation is the harmony in which we are called to live. And in this communion, in this harmony that is communion, God gives us the ability to procreate and safeguard life (see Gen 1:28-29), to till and keep the land (see Gen 2:15; LS, 67). It is clear that one cannot procreate and safeguard life without harmony; it will be destroyed.

We have an example of that individualistic perspective, that which is not harmony, in the Gospels, in the request made to Jesus by the mother of the disciples James and John (cf. Mt 20:20-38). She wanted her sons to sit at the right and the left of the new king. But Jesus proposes another type of vision: that of service and of giving one’s life for others, and He confirms it by immediately restoring sight to two blind men and making them His disciples (see Mt 20:29-34). Seeking to climb in life, to be superior to others, destroys harmony. It is the logic of dominion, of dominating others. Harmony is something else: it is service.
Therefore, let us ask the Lord to give us eyes attentive to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering. As Jesus’s disciples we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic. These are the two unpleasant attitudes that run counter to harmony. Indifferent: I look the other way. Individualist: looking out only for one’s own interest. The harmony created by God asks that we look at others, the needs of others, the problems of others, in communion. We want to recognise the human dignity in every person, whatever his or her race, language or condition might be. Harmony leads you to recognise human dignity, that harmony created by God, with humanity at the centre.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Saint John Paul II defined as a “milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race”, and as “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience”. Rights are not only individual, but also social; they are of peoples, nations. The human being, indeed, in his or her personal dignity, is a social being, created in the image of God, One and Triune. We are social beings; we need to live in this social harmony, but when there is selfishness, our outlook does not reach others, the community, but focuses on ourselves, and this makes us ugly, nasty and selfish, destroying harmony.
This renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic and political implications. Looking at our brother and sister and the whole of creation as a gift received from the love of the Father inspires attentive behaviour, care and wonder. In this way the believer, contemplating his or her neighbour as a brother or sister, and not as a stranger, looks at him or her compassionately and empathetically, not contemptuously or with hostility. 

Contemplating the world in the light of faith, with the help of grace, we understand and develop our abilities as responsibilities that arise from this faith, as gifts from God to be placed at the service of humanity and of creation.

While we all work for a cure for a virus that strikes everyone without distinction, faith exhorts us to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combat indifference in the face of violations of human dignity. This culture of indifference that accompanies the throwaway culture: things that do not affect me, do not interest me. Faith always requires that we let ourselves be healed and converted from our individualism, whether personal or collective; party individualism, for example.

May the Lord “restore our sight” so as to rediscover what it means to be members of the human family. And may this sight be translated into concrete actions of compassion and respect for every person and of care and safeguarding of our common home.



Pope Francis Angelus 09.08.20

When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear

Pope Francis When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear 09.08.20 Angelus

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday's Gospel passage (see Mt 14:22-33) speaks of Jesus walking on the water of the stormy lake. After feeding the crowds with five loaves and two fish – as we saw last Sunday – Jesus commands the disciples to get into the boat and return to the other shore. He dismisses the people and then climbs the hill, alone, to pray. He immerses Himself in communion with the Father.

During the crossing of the lake by night, the disciples' boat is hindered by a sudden wind storm. This is normal on a lake. At a certain point, they see someone walking on the water, coming toward them. Upset, they think it is a ghost and cry out in fear. Jesus reassures them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”. Then Peter – Peter who was so decisive – answers: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”. A challenge. And Jesus tells him: “Come”. Peter gets out of the boat and takes a few steps; then the wind and waves frighten him and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me”, he cries, and Jesus grasps him by the hand and says to him: “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”.

This Gospel narrative is an invitation to abandon ourselves trustingly to God in every moment of our life, especially in the moment of trial and turmoil. When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear and we seem to be sinking, in life’s difficult moments where everything becomes dark, we must not be ashamed to cry out like Peter: “Lord, save me” (v. 30). To knock on God’s heart, on Jesus’s heart. “Lord, save me.” It is a beautiful prayer! We can repeat it many times. “Lord, save me.” And Jesus’s gesture, who immediately reaches out His hand and grasps that of His friend, should be contemplated at length: this is Jesus. Jesus does this. Jesus is the Father’s hand who never abandons us, the strong and faithful hand of the Father, who always and only wants what is good for us. God is not in the loud sound, God is not the hurricane, He is not in the fire, He is not in the earthquake – as the narrative about the Prophet Elijah also recalls today that says God is the light breeze – literally it says this: He is in the “ thread of melodious silence” – that never imposes itself, but asks to be heard (see 1 Kgs 19:11-13). Having faith means keeping your heart turned to God, to His love, to His Fatherly tenderness, amid the storm. Jesus wanted to teach this to Peter and the disciples, and also to us today. In dark moments, in sad moments He is well aware that our faith is weak –all of us are people of little faith, all of us, myself included, everyone – and that our faith is weak our journey can be troubled, hindered by adverse forces. But He is the Risen One! Let’s not forget this: He is the Lord who passed through death in order to lead us to safety. Even before we begin to seek Him, He is present beside us lifting us back up after our falls, He helps us grow in faith. Maybe in the dark, we cry out: “Lord, Lord!” thinking He is far away. And He says, “I am here.” Ah, He was with me! That is the Lord.

The boat at the mercy of the storm is the image of the Church, which in every age encounters headwinds, very harsh trials at times: we recall certain long and ferocious persecutions of the last century and even today in certain places. In situations like that, she may be tempted to think that God has abandoned her. But in reality it is precisely in those moments that the witness of faith, the witness of love, the witness of hope shines the most. It is the presence of the Risen Christ in His Church that gives the grace of witness unto martyrdom, from which buds new Christians and fruit of reconciliation and peace for the entire world.

May the intercession of Mary help us to persevere in faith and fraternal love when the darkness and storms of life place our trust in God in crisis.




Pope Francis General Audience 05.08.20

To Heal the World

Pope Francis To heal the world 05.08.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The pandemic continues to cause deep wounds, exposing our vulnerability. On every continent there are many who have died, many are ill. Many people and many families are living a time of uncertainty because of socio-economic problems which especially affect the poorest.

Thus, we must keep our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus: in the midst of this pandemic, our eyes on Jesus; and with this faith embrace the hope of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Himself brings us. A Kingdom of healing and of salvation that is already present in our midst. A Kingdom of justice and of peace that is manifested through works of charity, which in their turn increase hope and strengthen faith. Within the Christian tradition, faith, hope and charity are much more than feelings or attitudes. They are virtues infused in us through the grace of the Holy Spirit: gifts that heal us and that make us healers, gifts that open us to new horizons, even while we are navigating the difficult waters of our time.
Renewed contact with the Gospel of faith, of hope and of love invites us to assume a creative and renewed spirit. In this way, we will be able to transform the roots of our physical, spiritual and social infirmities and the destructive practices that separate us from each other, threatening the human family and our planet.

Jesus’s ministry offers many examples of healing: when He heals those affected by fever, by leprosy, by paralysis; when He restores sight, speech or hearing. In reality, He heals not only the physical evil – which is true, physical evil – but He heals the entire person. In that way, He restores the person back to the community also, healed; He liberates the person from isolation because He has healed him or her.

Let’s think of the beautiful account of the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum (see Mk 2:1-12) that we heard at the beginning of the audience. While Jesus is preaching at the entrance to the house, four men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Not being able to enter because there was such a great crowd there, they make a hole in the roof and let the stretcher down in front of Him. Jesus who was preaching sees this stretcher coming down in front of Him. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven’ ” (v. 5). And then, as a visible sign, He adds: “Rise, pick up your mat, and go home” (v. 11).

What a wonderful example of healing! Christ’s action is a direct response to the faith of those people, to the hope they put in Him, to the love they show that they have for each other. And so, Jesus heals, but He does not simply heal the paralysis. Jesus heals everyone, He forgives sins, He renews the life of the paralyzed man and his friend. He makes him born again, let’s say it that way. It is a physical and spiritual healing, all together, the fruit of personal and social contact. Let’s imagine how this friendship, and the faith of all those present in that house, would have grown thanks to Jesus’s action, that healing encounter with Jesus!

And so we can ask ourselves: today, in what way can we help heal our world? As disciples of the Lord Jesus, who is the physician of our souls and bodies, we are called to continue “His work, work of healing and salvation” in a physical, social and spiritual sense.

Although the Church administers Christ’s healing grace through the Sacraments, and although she provides healthcare services in the remotest corners of the planet, she is not an expert in the prevention or the cure of the pandemic. She helps with the sick, but she is not an expert. Neither does she give specific socio-political pointers. This is the job of political and social leaders. Nevertheless, over the centuries, and by the light of the Gospel, the Church has developed several social principles which are fundamental, principles that can help us move forward in preparing the future that we need. I cite the main ones which are closely connected: the principle of the dignity of the person, the principle of the common good, the principle of the preferential option for the poor, the principle of the universal destination of goods, the principle of the solidarity, of subsidiarity, the principle of the care for our common home. These principles help the leaders, those responsible for society, to foster growth and also, as in the case of the pandemic, the healing of the personal and social fabric. All of these principles express in different ways the virtues of faith, hope and love.

In the next few weeks, I invite you to tackle together the pressing questions that the pandemic has brought to the fore, social ills above all. And we will do it in the light of the Gospel, of the theological virtues and of the principles of the Church’s social doctrine. We will explore together how our Catholic social tradition can help the human family heal this world that suffers from serious illnesses. It is my desire that everyone reflect and work together, as followers of Jesus who heals, to construct a better world, full of hope for future generations. Thank you.




Pope Francis Angelus 02.08.20

What does Providence offer us to share?

Pope Francis What does Providence offer us to share? 02.08.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel presents to us the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves (see Mt 14,13-21). The scene takes place in a deserted place, where Jesus had retired with His disciples. But the people found Him so as to listen to Him and to be healed: indeed, His words and His gestures restore and bring hope. At sundown, the crowd was still present and the disciples, practical men, invited Jesus to send them away so that they could go and find something to eat. But He answered: “You give them something to eat” (v. 16). We can imagine the disciples’ faces! Jesus was well aware of what He was about to do, but He wanted to change their attitude: not to say, “send them away,” “let them fend for themselves”, “let them find something to eat”, but rather, “what does Providence offer us to share?” These are two opposite ways of behaving. And Jesus wants to bring them to the second way of behaving because the first proposal is that of the practical person, but is not generous: “send them away so they can go and find, let them fend for themselves.” Jesus thinks another way. Jesus wants to use this situation to educate His friends, both then and now, about God’s logic. And what is God’s logic that we see here? The logic of taking responsibility for others. The logic of not washing one’s hands, the logic of not looking the other way. No. The logic of taking responsibility for others. That “let them fend for themselves” should not enter into the Christian vocabulary.

As soon as one of the Twelve says, realistically, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish”, Jesus answers, “Bring them here to me” (vv. 17-18). He takes the food in His hands, raises His eyes heavenward, recites the blessing and begins to break it and give the pieces to the disciples to hand out. And those loaves and fish did not run out; there was enough, and plenty left over for thousands of people.

With this gesture, Jesus demonstrates His power; not in a spectacular way but as a sign of charity, of God the Father’s generosity toward His weary and needy children. He is immersed in the life of His people, He understands their fatigue and their limitations, but He does not allow anyone to be lost, or to lose out: He nourishes them with His word and provides food in plenty for sustenance.
In this Gospel passage we can perceive a reference to the Eucharist, especially in the description of the blessing, the breaking of the bread, delivery to the disciples, and distribution to the people (v. 19). It is noteworthy how close the link is between the Eucharistic bread, nourishment for eternal life, and daily bread, necessary for earthly life. Before offering Himself to the Father as the Bread of salvation, Jesus ensures there is food for those who follow Him and who, in order to be with Him, forgot to make provisions. At times the spiritual and the material are in opposition, but in reality spiritualism, like materialism, is alien to the Bible. It is not biblical language.

The compassion and tenderness that Jesus showed towards the crowds is not sentimentality, but rather the concrete manifestation of the love that cares for the people’s needs. And we are called to approach the Eucharistic table with these same attitudes of Jesus: compassion for the needs of others, this word that is repeated in the Gospel when Jesus sees a problem, an illness or these people without food… “He had compassion.” “He had compassion”. 

Compassion is not a purely material feeling; true compassion is patire con [to suffer with], to take others’ sorrows on ourselves. Perhaps it would do us good today to ask ourselves: Do I feel compassion when I read news about war, about hunger, about the pandemic? So many things… Do I feel compassion toward those people? Do I feel compassion toward the people who are near to me? Am I capable of suffering with them, or do I look the other way, or “they can fend for themselves”? Let us not forget this word “compassion,” which is trust in the provident love of the Father, and means courageous sharing.

May Mary Most Holy help us to walk the path that the Lord shows us in today's Gospel. It is the journey of fraternity, which is essential in order to face the poverty and suffering of this world, especially in this tragic moment, and which projects us beyond the world itself, because it is a journey that begins with God and returns to God.




Pope Francis Angelus 26.07.20

The Kingdom of Heaven

Pope Francis The Kingdom of Heaven 26.07.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 13:44-52) consists of the final verses of the chapter Matthew devotes to the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. The passage includes three parables that are very briefly outlined: that of the hidden treasure, that of the precious pearl, and that of the net cast into the sea.

I will look at the first two in which the Kingdom of Heaven is compared to two different “precious” items, namely, the hidden treasure in the field and the pearl of great value. The reaction of he who finds the pearl or the treasure is practically the same: the man and the merchant sell everything to buy what is now most dear to them. With these two similes, Jesus proposes to involve us in the building of the Kingdom of Heaven, presenting an essential characteristic of Christian life, of the life of the Kingdom of heaven: those who fully pledge themselves to the Kingdom are those who are willing to stake everything, who are courageous. Indeed, both the man and the merchant in these two parables sell everything they have, thus renouncing their material security. From this it can be understood that the building of the Kingdom requires not only the grace of God, but also the active willingness of humanity. Everything is done by grace, everything! We need only have the willingness to receive it, not to resist grace: grace does everything but it takes “my” responsibility, “my” willingness … and who is responsible for this?

The gestures of the man and the merchant who seek to buy more precious treasures, depriving themselves of their goods, are decisive gestures, and radical gestures; but I would say that they are “one way” gestures, not a “round trip". Moreover, they are gestures made with joy because both of them have found treasure. We are called upon to assume the attitude of these two Gospel figures, so that we too may become healthily restless seekers of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a matter of abandoning the heavy burden of our worldly sureties that prevent us from searching and building up the Kingdom: the covetousness for possession, the thirst for profit and power, and thinking only of ourselves.

In our times, as we are all aware, some people’s lives can end up mediocre and dull because they probably do not go in search of real treasure: they are content with attractive but fleeting things, whose bright lights prove illusory as they give way to darkness. Instead the light of the Kingdom is not like fireworks, it is light: fireworks last only an instant, whereas the light of the Kingdom accompanies all our life.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of the superfluous things that the world offers, the opposite of a dull life: it is a treasure that renews life every day and leads it to extend towards wider horizons. Indeed, those who have found this treasure have a creative and inquisitive heart, which does not repeat but rather invents, tracing and setting out on new paths which lead us to love God, to love others, and to truly love ourselves. The sign of those who walk this path of the Kingdom is creativity, always trying to do more. And creativity is what takes life and gives life, and gives, and gives, and gives… It always looks for many other ways to give life.

Jesus, Who is the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value, cannot but inspire joy, all the joy of the world: the joy of discovering a meaning in life, the joy of committing oneself to the adventure of holiness.

May the Blessed Virgin help us to search every day for the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that the love God has given us through Jesus may be manifested in our words and gestures.



Pope Francis Angelus 19.07.20

God’s Patience

Pope Francis God’s Patience 19.07.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:24-43) we once again encounter Jesus who is intent on speaking to the crowd in parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. I will reflect only on the first one, that of the weeds, through which Jesus helps us understand God’s patience, opening our hearts to hope.

Jesus narrates that, in the field in which good seed was sown, weeds sprout up as well. This term sums up all the toxic vegetation that infests the soil. Among us, we can say that even today the soil has been devastated by so many herbicides and pesticides that, in the end, cause harm both to the weeds, to the earth, and to our health. The servants then go to the master to know where the weeds come from. He responds: “An enemy has done this!” (v. 28). Because we sowed good seed! An enemy, someone who is in competition, came to do this. They want to go right away to pull them up, the weeds that are growing. Instead, the master says no, because that would risk pulling the vegetation – the weeds – up together with the wheat. It is necessary to wait for harvest time: only then, will the weeds be separated and burned. This is also a common-sense story. 

A way of looking at history can be read in this parable. Alongside God – the master of the field – who only and always sows good seed, there is an adversary, who sows weeds to impede the wheat’s growth. The master acts in the open, in broad daylight, and his goal is a good harvest. Instead, the other, the adversary, takes advantage of the darkness of night and works out of envy and hostility to ruin everything. The adversary has a name – the adversary that Jesus refers to has a name: it is the devil, God’s quintessential opponent. The devil’s intention is to hinder the work of salvation, to stonewall the Kingdom of God through wicked workers, sowers of scandal. In fact, the good seed and the weeds do not represent good and bad in the abstract, no; but we human beings, who can follow God or the devil. Many times we have heard that a peaceful family begins to be at war, or envious... a neighbourhood that was peaceful, then nasty things begin to happen... And we are used to saying: “Eh, someone went and sowed weeds there”, or “that person in the family sowed weeds by gossiping”. 

Destruction always happens by sowing evil. It is always the devil who does this or our own temptations: when we fall into the temptation to gossip to destroy others.

The servants’ intention is to eliminate evil immediately, that is, evil people. But the master is wiser, he sees farther. They must learn to wait because enduring persecution and hostility is part of the Christian vocation. Certainly, evil must be rejected, but those who do evil are people with whom it is necessary to be patient. This does not mean that type of hypocritical tolerance that hides ambiguity; but rather, justice tempered by mercy. If Jesus came to seek sinners more than the righteous, to cure the sick first before the healthy, so must the actions of His disciples be focused not on suppressing the wicked, but on saving them. Patience lies here.

Today’s Gospel presents two ways of acting and of living history: on the one hand, the master’s vision who sees far; on the other, the vision of the servants who just see the problem. What the servants care about is a field without weeds; the master cares about good wheat. The Lord invites us to adopt His own vision, one that is focused on good wheat, that knows how to protect it even amidst the weeds. Those who are always hunting for the limitations and defects of others do not collaborate well with God, but, rather, those who know how to recognise the good that silently grows in the field of the Church and history, cultivating it until it becomes mature. And then, it will be God, and He alone, who will reward the good and punish the wicked.

May the Virgin Mary help us to understand and imitate God’s patience, who wants none of His children to be lost, whom He loves with the love of a Father.




Pope Francis Angelus 12.07.20

The Parable of the Sower

Pope Francis The Parable of the Sower 12.07.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In this Sunday's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 13:1-23), Jesus tells a great crowd the Parable - which we all know well - of the Sower, who casts seed over four different types of terrain. The Word of God, symbolized by the seeds is not an abstract Word, but is Christ himself, the Word of the Father who became flesh in Mary's womb. Therefore, embracing the Word of God means embracing the personage of Christ; of Christ Himself.
There are many ways to receive the Word of God. We may do so like a path, where birds immediately come and eat the seeds. This would be distraction, a great danger of our time. Beset by lots of small talk, by many ideologies, by continuous opportunities to be distracted inside and outside the home, we can lose our zest for silence, for reflection, for dialogue with the Lord, such that we risk losing our faith, not receiving the Word of God, as we are seeing everything, distracted by everything, by worldly things.
Another possibility: we may receive the Word of God like rocky ground, with little soil. There the seeds spring up quickly, but they soon wither away, because they are unable to sink roots to any depth. This is the image of those who receive the Word of God with momentary enthusiasm, though it remains superficial; it does not assimilate the Word of God. In this way, at the first difficulty, such as a discomfort or disturbance of life, that still-feeble faith dissolves, as the seed withers that falls among the rocks.
Again - a third possibility that of which Jesus speaks in the parable - we may receive the Word of God like ground where thorny bushes grow. And the thorns are the deceit of wealth, of success, of worldly concerns... There, the word grows a little, but becomes choked, it is not strong, and it dies or does not bear fruit.
Lastly - the fourth possibility - we may receive it like good soil. Here, and only here the seed takes root and bears fruit. The seed fallen upon this fertile soil represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, safeguard it in their heart and put it into practice in everyday life.
This Parable of the Sower is somewhat the 'mother' of all parables, because it speaks about listening to the Word. It reminds us that the Word of God is a seed which in itself is fruitful and effective; and God scatters it everywhere, paying no mind to waste. Such is the heart of God! Each one of us is ground on which the seed of the Word falls; no one is excluded! We can ask ourselves: what type of terrain am I? Do I resemble the path, the rocky ground, the bramble bush? But, if we want, we can become good soil, ploughed and carefully cultivated, to help ripen the seed of the Word. It is already present in our heart, but making it fruitful depends on us; it depends on the embrace that we reserve for this seed.
Often one is distracted by too many interests, by too many enticements, and it is difficult to distinguish, among the many voices and many words, that of the Lord, the only one that makes us free. This is why it is important to accustom oneself to listening to the Word of God, to reading it. And I return once more to that advice: always keep with you a handy copy of the Gospel, a pocket edition of the Gospel, in your pocket, in your purse… and so, every day, read a short passage, so that you become used to reading the Word of God, understanding well the seed that God offers you, and thinking about the earth that receives it.
May the Virgin Mary, perfect model of good and fertile soil, help us, with her prayer, to become willing soil without thorns or rocks, so that we may bear good fruit for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters.





Pope Francis Mass at Casa Santa Marta 08.07.20

The Lord’s face  

Pope Francis The Lord’s face 08.07.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The Responsorial Psalm invites us always to seek the Lord’s face: “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Ps 105:4). This quest is fundamental for the life of every believer, for we have come to realize that our ultimate goal in life is the encounter with God.
To seek the face of God is an assurance that our journey through this world will end well. It is an exodus towards the Promised Land, our heavenly home. The face of God is our destination and the guiding star that helps us not to lose our way.
The people of Israel, as described by the prophet Hosea in the first reading (cf. 10:1-3.7-8.12), had gone astray. They had lost sight of the Promised Land and were wandering in the desert of iniquity. Abundance, prosperity and wealth had caused their hearts to drift away from the Lord and had filled them instead with falsehood and injustice.
We too, as Christians today, are not immune to this sin. “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!” 
Hosea’s words reach us today as a renewed summons to conversion, a call to turn our eyes to the Lord and recognize his face.
Our efforts to seek the face of God are born of the desire for an encounter with the Lord, a personal encounter, an encounter with his immense love, with his saving power. The twelve apostles described in today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:1-7) received the grace to encounter him physically in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, entails a mission: “As you go”, Jesus tells them, proclaim the good news: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (v. 7). Encounter and mission must not be separated.
This kind of personal encounter with Jesus Christ is possible also for us, who are the disciples of the third millennium. In our effort to seek the Lord’s face, we can recognize him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. This encounter becomes also for us a time of grace and salvation, and summons us to the same mission entrusted to the Apostles.
Today marks the seventh year, the seventh anniversary of my visit to Lampedusa. In the light of God’s word, I would like to repeat what I said to those taking part in the meeting “Free from Fear” in February last year: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us this. He is the one knocking on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned; he is the one seeking an encounter with us, asking our help, asking to come ashore. And lest we have any doubt, he tells us categorically: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me’” (Mt 25:40).
“Whatever you did...” for better or for worse! This admonition is all the more timely today. We ought to use it as a basic starting point for our daily examination of conscience. Here I think of Libya, detention camps, the abuses and violence to which migrants are subjected; I think of journeys of hope, rescue operations, and cases of rejection. “Whatever you did… you did to me.”
I remember that day, seven years ago, in the very south of Europe, on that island… A number of people told me their stories and all that they had gone through to get there. There were interpreters present. One person was telling me about terrible things in his language, and the interpreter seemed to translate well. There was a lady; she understood the language and she had seen our conversation on television. She said this to me. “Listen, what the Ethiopian translator told you is not even a quarter of the torture and suffering that those people experienced”. They gave me the “distilled” version. This is what is happening today with Libya: they are giving us a “distilled version”. The war is indeed horrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that people are living there, in that detention camp. And those people came only with hope of crossing the sea.
May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, “Solace of Migrants”, help us discover the face of her Son in all our brothers and sisters forced to flee their homeland because of the many injustices that continue to afflict our world.







Pope Francis Angelus 05.07.20

Wisdom of the Heart

Pope Francis Wisdom of the Heart 05.07.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel reading (see Mt 11:25-30) is divided into three parts: first of all, Jesus raises a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving to the Father, because He revealed to the poor and to the simple the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven; then He reveals the intimate and unique relationship between Himself and the Father; and finally He invites us to go to Him and to follow Him to find solace.
In the first place, Jesus praises the Father, because He has kept the secrets of His Kingdom, of His truth, hidden from “from the wise and the learned” (v. 25). He calls them so with a veil of irony, because they presume to be wise, learned, and therefore have a closed heart, very often. True wisdom comes also from the heart, it is not only a matter of understanding ideas: true wisdom also enters into the heart. And if you know many things but have a closed heart, you are not wise. Jesus says that the mysteries of His Father are revealed to the “little ones”, to those who confidently open themselves to His Word of salvation, who open their heart to the Word of salvation, who feel the need for Him and expect everything from Him. The heart that is open and trustful towards the Lord.
Then, Jesus explains that He has received everything from the Father, and He calls Him “my Father”, to affirm the unique nature of His relationship with Him. Indeed, there is total reciprocity only between the Son and the Father: each one knows the other, each one lives in the other. But this unique communion is like a flower that unfurls, to reveal freely its beauty and its goodness. And here, then, is Jesus’s invitation: “Come to me…” (v. 28). He wishes to give what He receives from the Father. He wants to give us the Truth, and Jesus’ Truth is always free: it is a gift, it is the Holy Spirit, the Truth.
Just as the Father has a preference for the “little ones”, Jesus also addresses those “who labour and are burdened”. Indeed, He places Himself among them, because He is “meek and humble of heart” (v. 29): this is how He describes Himself. It is the same in the first and third Beatitudes, that of the humble and poor in spirit, and that of the meek (see Mt 5:35): the meekness of Jesus. In this way Jesus, “meek and humble”, is not a model for the resigned, nor is He simply a victim, but rather He is the man who lives this condition "from the heart" in full transparency to the love of the Father, that is, to the Holy Spirit. He is the model of the “poor in spirit" and of all the other “blesseds" of the Gospel, who do the will of God and bear witness to His Kingdom.
And then, Jesus says that if we go to Him, we will find refreshment. The “refreshment" that Christ offers to the weary and oppressed is not merely psychological solace or a lavish handout, but the joy of the poor who are evangelised and are builders of the new humanity. The joy that Jesus gives us. It is unique. It is the joy that He Himself has. It is a message for all of us, for all people of good will, which Jesus still conveys today in the world that exalts those who become rich and powerful. The world exalts those who are rich and powerful, no matter by what means, and at times tramples upon the human being and his or her dignity. And we see this every day, the poor who are trampled underfoot… And it is a message for the Church, called to live works of mercy and to evangelise the poor, to be meek and humble. This is how the Lord wants His Church, that is, us, to be.
May Mary, the humblest and highest of creatures, implore from God wisdom of the heart for us - the wisdom of the heart - that we may discern its signs in our lives and be sharers in those mysteries which, hidden from the proud, are revealed to the humble.




Pope Francis Angelus 29.06.20

Saints Peter and Paul

Pope Francis Saints Peter and Paul 29.06.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today we celebrate the patron saints of Rome, the Apostles Peter and Paul. And it is a gift to find ourselves praying here, near the place where Peter died a martyr and is buried. However, today's liturgy recalls an entirely different episode: it tells us that several years earlier Peter was freed from death. He had been arrested, he was in prison, and the Church, fearing for his life, prayed incessantly for him. Then an angel came down to free him from prison (cf. Acts 12:1-11). But years later, too, when Peter was a prisoner in Rome, the Church would certainly have prayed. On that occasion, however, his life was not spared. How come he was first spared the trial, and then not?
Because there is a journey in Peter's life that can illuminate the path of our own. The Lord granted him many graces and freed him from evil: He does this with us too. Indeed, often we go to Him only in moments of need, to ask for help. But God sees further and invites us to go further, to seek not only His gifts, but to look for Him, the Lord of all gifts; to entrust to Him not only our problems, but to entrust to Him our life. In this way He can finally give us the greatest grace, that of giving life. The most important thing in life is to make life a gift. And this is true for everyone: for parents towards their children and for children towards their elderly parents. And here many elderly people come to mind, who have been left alone by their family, as if - I dare say - as if they were discarded material. And this is a tragedy of our times: the solitude of the elderly. God desires making us grow in giving: only in this way can we become great. We grow if we give ourselves to others. Look at Saint Peter: he did not become a hero because he was freed from prison, but because he gave his life here. His gift transformed a place of execution into the beautiful place of hope in which we find ourselves.
Here is what to ask of God: not only the grace of the moment, but the grace of life. Today’s Gospel shows us the very dialogue that changes Peter’s life. He hears Jesus ask him: “Who do you say I am?”. And he answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus continues, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah” (Mt 16: 16-17). Jesus says “blessed”, that is, literally, happy. You are happy for having said this. What is the secret of a happy life? Recognising Jesus, but Jesus as the living God, not like a statue. Because it is not important to know that Jesus was great in history, it is not so important to appreciate what He said or did; what matters is the place I give Him in my life, the place I give to Jesus in my heart. It is at this point that Simon hears Jesus say: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (v. 18). He was not called “Peter”, “rock”, because he was a solid and trustworthy man. No, he will make many mistakes afterwards, he was not so reliable, he will make many mistakes; he will even reach the point of denying the Master. But he chose to build his life on Jesus, the rock; not - as the text says - “on flesh and blood”, that is, on himself, on his capacities, but on Jesus (cf. v. 17), who is rock. And Jesus is the rock on which Simon became stone. We can say the same of the Apostle Paul, who gave himself totally to the Gospel, considering all the rest to be worthless, so as to earn Christ.
Today, we can ask ourselves: “And I, how do I arrange my life? Do I think only of the needs of the moment or do I believe that my real need is Jesus, who makes me a gift? And how do I build life, on my capacities or on the living God?". May Our Lady, who entrusted everything to God, help us to put Him at the base of every day, and may she intercede for us so that, with the grace of God, we may make a gift of our life.





Pope Francis Holy Mass Saints Peter and Paul 29.06.20

Pope Francis Holy Mass Saints Peter and Paul 29.06.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

On the feast of the two Apostles of this City, I would like to share with you two key words: unity and prophecy.
Unity. We celebrate together two very different individuals: Peter, a fisherman who spent his days amid boats and nets, and Paul, a learned Pharisee who taught in synagogues. When they went forth on mission, Peter spoke to Jews, and Paul to pagans. And when their paths crossed, they could argue heatedly, as Paul is unashamed to admit in one of his letters (cf. Gal 2:11). Yet they saw one another as brothers, as happens in close-knit families where there may be frequent arguments but unfailing love. Yet the closeness that joined Peter and Paul did not come from natural inclinations, but from the Lord. He did not command us to like one another, but to love one another. He is the one who unites us, without making us all alike. He unites us in our differences.
Today’s first reading brings us to the source of this unity. It relates how the newly born Church was experiencing a moment of crisis: Herod was furious, a violent persecution had broken out, and the Apostle James had been killed. And now Peter had been arrested. The community seemed headless, everyone fearing for his life. Yet at that tragic moment no one ran away, no one thought about saving his own skin, no one abandoned the others, but all joined in prayer. From prayer they drew strength, from prayer came a unity more powerful than any threat. Unity is the fruit of prayer, for prayer allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, opening our hearts to hope, shortening distances and holding us together at times of difficulty.
Let us notice something else: at that dramatic moment, no one complained about Herod’s evil and his persecution. No one abused Herod – and we are so accustomed to abuse those who are in charge. It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right. Complaints change nothing. Let us remember that complaining is the second door that closes us off from the Holy Spirit, as I said on Pentecost Sunday. The first is narcissism, the second discouragement, the third pessimism. Narcissism makes you look at yourself constantly in a mirror; discouragement leads to complaining and pessimism to thinking everything is dark and bleak. These three attitudes close the door to the Holy Spirit. Those Christians did not cast blame; rather, they prayed. In that community, no one said: “If Peter had been more careful, we would not be in this situation”. They did not complain about Peter; they prayed for him. They did not talk about Peter behind his back; they talked to God. We today can ask: “Are we protecting our unity, our unity in the Church, with prayer? Are we praying for one another?” What would happen if we prayed more and complained less, if we had a more tranquil tongue? The same thing that happened to Peter in prison: now as then, so many closed doors would be opened, so many chains that bind would be broken. Let us ask for the grace to be able to pray for one another. Saint Paul urged Christians to pray for everyone, especially those who govern. Let God judge them; let us pray for those who govern! Let us pray: for they need prayer. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. God expects that when we pray we will also be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive. Only prayer unlocks chains, as it did for Peter; only prayer paves the way to unity.
Today we bless the pallia to be bestowed on the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Metropolitan Archbishops named in the last year. The pallium is a sign of the unity between the sheep and the Shepherd who, like Jesus, carries the sheep on his shoulders. Today too, we are united in a particular way with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Peter and Andrew were brothers, and, whenever possible, we exchange fraternal visits on our respective feast days. We do so not only out of courtesy, but as a means of journeying together towards the goal that the Lord points out to us: that of full unity.
The second word is prophecy. The Apostles were challenged by Jesus. Peter heard Jesus’ question: “Who do you say I am?” (cf. Mt 16:15). At that moment he realized that the Lord was not interested in what others thought, but in Peter’s personal decision to follow him. Paul’s life changed after a similar challenge from Jesus: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). The Lord shook Paul to the core: more than just knocking him to the ground on the road to Damascus, he shattered Paul’s illusion of being respectably religious. As a result, the proud Saul turned into Paul, a name that means “small”. These challenges and reversals are followed by prophecies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16:18); and, for Paul: “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Prophecy is born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control. Prophecy is not born from my thoughts, from my closed heart. It is born if we allow ourselves to be challenged by God. When the Gospel overturns certainties, prophecy arises. Only someone who is open to God’s surprises can become a prophet. And there they are: Peter and Paul, prophets who look to the future. Peter is the first to proclaim that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). Paul, who considers his impending death: “From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me” (2 Tim 4:8).
Today we need prophecy, but real prophecy: not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the Gospel is possible. What is needed are not miraculous shows. It makes me sad when I hear someone say, “We want a prophetic Church”. All right. But what are you doing, so that the Church can be prophetic? We need lives that show the miracle of God’s love. Do you want a prophetic Church? Then start serving and be quiet. We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. 
Just as the Lord turned Simon into Peter, so he is calling each one of us, in order to make us living stones with which to build a renewed Church and a renewed humanity. There are always those who destroy unity and stifle prophecy, yet the Lord believes in us and he asks you: “Do you want to be a builder of unity? Do you want to be a prophet of my heaven on earth?” Brothers and sisters, let us be challenged by Jesus, and find the courage to say to him: “Yes, I do!”




Pope Francis Angelus 28.06.20

What Jesus asks of His disciples

Pope Francis What Jesus asks of His disciples 28.06.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 10:37-42) forcefully echoes the invitation to live out our union with the Lord completely and without hesitation. Jesus asks His disciples to take the demands of the Gospel seriously, even when that requires sacrifice and effort.

The first demanding request that He addresses to those who follow Him is that of putting love for Him above family affection. He says: “Whoever loves father or mother […] son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (v. 37). Jesus certainly does not intend to undervalue love for parents and children, but He knows that family bonds, if put in first place, can deviate from the true good. We see this: some forms of corruption in governments come about precisely because love for the family is greater than love for one’s country, and so they place family members in office. The same with Jesus: when love is greater than Him, it is not good. When, instead, love toward parents and children is inspired and purified by love for the Lord, it then becomes totally fruitful and produces fruit for the good of the family itself as well as beyond it.

Then, Jesus says to His disciples: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (v. 28). This means following Him along the path that He Himself trod, without looking for shortcuts. There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay. And many mothers, many fathers who sacrifice many things to their child, and bear true sacrifices, crosses, but because they love them. And when borne with Jesus, the cross is not scary because He is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage. Nor is it necessary to get agitated to preserve one’s own life through fearful or egotistical behaviour. Jesus admonishes: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” - that is, for love, for love of Jesus, love for one’s neighbour, for service towards others (v. 39). This is the Gospel paradox. We have many, many examples, thank God! We see it in these days, how many people, how many people, are bearing crosses to help others, they sacrifice themselves to help others who are in need in this pandemic. … But, always with Jesus, it can be done. The fullness of life and joy is found by giving oneself for the Gospel and for others, through openness, welcoming and goodness.

In so doing, we can experience God’s generosity and gratitude. "Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones […] will surely not lose his reward” (vv. 40-42). God’s generous gratitude takes into account even the smallest gesture of love and service given to our brothers and sisters. It is a contagious gratitude that helps every one of us to be grateful toward those who take care of our needs. Think of volunteer work, which is one of the greatest things about Italian society. Volunteers… and how many of them have lost their lives in this pandemic. They do it our of love, simply to serve. 

Gratitude, appreciation is, first of all, good manners, but it is also characteristic of a Christian. It is a simple but genuine sign of the kingdom of God which is the kingdom of gratuitous and grateful love.

May Mary Most Holy, who loved Jesus more than life itself and who followed Him even to the cross, help us to always put ourselves before God with willing hearts, allowing His Word to judge our behaviour and our choices.





Pope Francis General Audience 24.06.20 

The Prayer of David 

Pope Francis The Prayer of David 24.06.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

On the itinerary for the catechesis on prayer, today we meet King David. Favoured by God even from his youth, he is chosen for a unique mission that would play a central role in the history of the people of God and in our own faith. In the Gospels, Jesus is called “son of David” a number of times; like him, in fact, He is born in Bethlehem. According to the promises, the Messiah would come from the descendants of David: a King completely after God’s heart, in perfect obedience to the Father, whose action faithfully realises His plan of salvation.
David’s story begins on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, where he grazes the flock of his father, Jesse. He is still a boy, the last of many brothers. So much so that when the prophet Samuel, acting on God’s order, goes in search of the new king, it almost seems that his father has forgotten about his youngest son (see 1 Sam 16:1-13). He worked in the open air: we can think of him as a friend of the wind, of the sounds of nature, of the sun’s rays. He has only one companion to comfort his soul: his harp; and during those long days spent in solitude, he loves to play and to sing to his God. He also played with the slingshot.
David is, therefore, first of all a shepherd: a man who takes care of animals, who defends them from oncoming danger, who provides for their sustenance. When by God’s will David will have to care for his people, the things he will do will not be very different. This is why the image of the shepherd frequently occurs in the Bible. Even Jesus defined Himself as “the good shepherd”, whose behaviour is different than that of the mercenary; He offers His life on behalf of the sheep, He guides them, He knows each one by name.
David had learned a lot from his previous job. So, when the prophet Nathan reproves him for his very serious sin (see 2 Sam 12:1-15), David understands right away that he had been a bad shepherd, that he had despoiled another man of his only sheep that he loved, that he was no longer a humble servant, but a man who was crazy for power, a poacher who looted and preyed on others.
A second characteristic trait present in David’s vocation is his poet’s soul. From this small observation, we can deduce that David was not a vulgar man, as is often the case with individuals who are forced to live for long periods in isolation from society. He is, instead, a sensitive person who loves music and singing. His harp would accompany him always: sometimes to raise a hymn of joy to God, other times to express a lament, or to confess his own sin.
As things unravelled before his gaze he observed a greater mystery. That is exactly where prayer arises: from the conviction that life is not something that takes us by surprise, but a stupefying mystery that inspires poetry, music, gratitude, praise, even lament and supplication in us. When a person lacks that poetic dimension his or her soul limps. Thus, tradition has it that David is the great artist behind the composition of the Psalms. Many of them at the beginning bear an explicit reference to the king of Israel, and to some of the more or less noble events of his life.
David, therefore, has a dream: that of being a good shepherd. Sometimes he will live up that that task, other times less so; what is important, however, in the context of the history of salvation, is that he is a prophecy of another King, whom he merely announces and prefigures.
Look at David, think about David. Holy and sinful, persecuted and persecutor, victim and murderer, which is a contradiction. David was all of this, together. And we too have recorded events in our lives that are often opposed to each other; in the drama of life, all people often sin because of inconsistency. There is one single golden thread running through David’s life, that gave unity to everything that happened: his prayer. That is the voice that was never extinguished. David the saint prays: David the sinner prays; David, persecuted, prays; David the persecutor prays. Even David the murderer prays. This is the golden thread running through his life. A man of prayer. That is the voice that is never silenced. Whether it assumed tones of jubilation or lament, it is always the same prayer, it is only the melody that changes. In so doing, David teaches us to let everything enter into dialogue with God: joy as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness. Everything can become a word spoken to the “You” who always listens to us.
David, who knew solitude, was in reality never alone! In the end, this is the power of prayer in all those who make space for it in their lives. Prayer is capable of securing the relationship with God who is the true Companion on the journey of every man and woman, in the midst of life’s thousand adversities, good or bad: but always prayer. Thank you, Lord. I am afraid, Lord. Help me, Lord. Forgive me, Lord. David’s trust is so great that, when he was persecuted and had to flee, he did not let anyone defend him: “If my God humiliates me thus, He knows what He is doing”, because the nobility of prayer leaves us in God’s hands. Those hands wounded by love: the only sure hands we have.





Pope Francis Angelus 21.06.20

Do not be Afraid

Pope Francis Do not be Afraid 21.06.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In this Sunday's Gospel (cf. Mt 10:26-33) the invitation Jesus addresses to His disciples resonates: to have no fear, to be strong and confident in the face of life's challenges, as He forewarns them of the adversities that await them. Today's passage is part of the missionary discourse, with which the Teacher prepares the Apostles for their first experience of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Jesus persistently exhorts them “not to be afraid”, “do not be afraid”, and Jesus describes three tangible situations that they will find themselves facing.
First and foremost the hostility of those who would like to stifle the Word of God by sugar-coating it, by watering it down or by silencing those who proclaim it. Jesus encourages the Apostles to spread the message of salvation that He has entrusted to them. He has transmitted it cautiously, somewhat covertly within the small group of the disciples. But they are to utter His Gospel “in the light”, that is, openly; and are to proclaim it “from the housetops” - as Jesus says - that is, publicly.
The second difficulty that Christ's missionaries will encounter is the physical threat against them, that is, direct persecution against them personally, to the point of being killed. Jesus’s prophesy is fulfilled in every age. How many Christians are persecuted even today throughout the world! They suffer for the Gospel with love, they are the martyrs of our day. And we can say with certainty that there are more of them than the martyrs of the early times: so many martyrs, merely for the fact of being Christians. Jesus advises these disciples of yesterday and today who suffer persecution: “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. The only fear that a disciple should have is to lose this divine gift, this closeness to and friendship with God, to stop living according to the Gospel, thereby experiencing moral death, which is the effect of sin.
The third type of trial that Jesus indicates the Apostles will find themselves facing is the sensation, which some may feel, that God Himself has abandoned them, remaining distant and silent. Here too, Jesus exhorts them not to fear, because even while experiencing these and other pitfalls, the lives of the disciples rest firmly in the hands of God, who loves us and looks after us. Even Jesus suffered this trial in the garden of olives and on the cross. At times one feels this spiritual aridness. We must not be afraid of it. The Father takes care of us, because we are greatly valued in His eyes. What is important is the frankness, the courage of our witness, of our witness of faith: “recognizing Jesus before others” and continuing to do good.
May Mary Most Holy, model of trust and abandonment in God in the hour of adversity and danger, help us never to surrender to despair, but rather always to entrust ourselves to Him and to His grace, since the grace of God is always more powerful than evil.






Press Conference: JOURNEYING TOWARDS CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME. 
Five Years after Laudato Si’ 18.06.20

JOURNEYING TOWARDS CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME. Five Years after Laudato Si’ 18.06.20



Pope Francis General Audience 17.06.20

The Prayer of Moses

Pope Francis Prayer of Moses 17.06.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In our itinerary on the theme of prayer, we are realising that God never liked to have anything to do with those who prayed the “easy” way. And Moses was not a “weak” dialogue partner either, from the very first day of his vocation.
When God called him, Moses was in human terms a “failure”. The Book of Exodus depicts him in the land of Midian as a fugitive. As a young man he had felt compassion for his people, and had aligned himself in defence of the oppressed. But he soon discovered that, despite his good intentions, it was not justice, but violence that came from his hands. His dreams of glory shattered, Moses was no longer a promising official, destined to rise rapidly in his career, but rather one who gambled away opportunities, and now grazed a flock that was not even his own. And it was precisely in the silence of the desert of Midian that God summoned Moses to the revelation of the burning bush: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Ex 3:6).
Moses opposes God who speaks, who invites him to take care of the people of Israel once more with his fears and his objections: he is not worthy of that mission, he does not know the name of God, he will not be believed by the Israelites, he has a stammering tongue… so many other objections. The word that appears most frequently on Moses’s lips, in every prayer he addresses to God, is the question: “Why?” Why have you sent me? Why do you want to free this people? Why? There is even a dramatic passage in the Pentateuch, where God reproaches Moses for his lack of trust, a lack that will prevent him from entering the promised land (cf. Nm 20:12).
With these fears, with this heart that often falters, how can Moses pray? Rather, Moses appears human like us. And this happens to us too: when we have doubts, how can we pray? It is not easy for us to pray. And it is because of his weakness, as well as his strength, that we are impressed. Entrusted by God to transmit the Law to his people, founder of divine worship, mediator of the highest mysteries, he will not for this reason cease to maintain close bonds of solidarity with his people, especially in the hour of temptation and sin. He was always attached to his people. Moses never forgets his people. And this is the greatness of pastors: not forgetting the people, not forgetting one’s roots. 
Moses is so friendly with God that he can speak with Him face to face (see Ex 33:11); and he will remain so friendly with other people that he feels mercy for their sins, for their temptations, for the sudden nostalgia that the exiles feel for the past, recalling when they were in Egypt.
Moses does not reject God, but nor does he reject his people. He is faithful to his flesh and blood, he is faithful to God’s voice. Moses is not therefore an authoritarian and despotic leader; the Book of Numbers defines him rather as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Nm 12:3). Despite his privileged status, Moses never ceased to belong to the numbers of the poor in spirit. He is a man of his people.
Thus, the way of praying most proper to Moses is through intercession. His faith in God is completely at one with his sense of fatherhood towards his people. Scripture habitually depicts him with his hands outstretched towards God, as if to form a bridge between heaven and earth with his own person. Even in the most difficult moments, even on the day when the people repudiate God and him as a guide and make themselves a golden calf, Moses does not feel like putting his people aside. They are my people. They are your people. He does not reject either God or his people. And he says to God: “Ah, this people has committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! Now if you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not” - if you do not forgive this sin - “then blot me out of the book that you have written” (Ex 32:31-32). Moses does not barter his people. He is the bridge, the one intercessor. He does not sell out his people to advance his career. He does not climb the ladder, he is an intercessor. What a beautiful example for all pastors who must be “bridges”. This is why they are called pontifex, bridges. Pastors are the bridges between the people, to whom they belong, and God, to whom they belong by vocation. 
And this is the prayer that true believers cultivate in their spiritual life. Even if they experience the shortcomings of people and their distance from God, in prayer they do not condemn them, they do not reject them. The intercessory attitude is proper to the saints who, in imitation of Jesus, are “bridges” between God and His people. And today, too, Jesus is the pontifex, He is the bridge between us and the Father. And Jesus intercedes for us.
Moses urges us to pray with the same ardour as Jesus, to intercede for the world, to remember that despite all its frailties, it still belongs to God. Everyone belongs to God. The worst sinners, the wickedest people, the most corrupt leaders, they are children of God, and Jesus feels this and intercedes for everyone. And the world lives and thrives thanks to the blessing of the righteous, to the prayer for mercy, this prayer for mercy that the saint, the righteous, the intercessor, the priest, the bishop, the Pope, the layperson, any baptised person incessantly raises up for humanity, in every place and time in history.
Let us think of Moses, the intercessor. And when we want to condemn someone and we become angry inside… to get angry is good it can be healthy - while to condemn does no good, let us intercede for him or her; this will help us a lot.


Pope Francis Message to Maritime personnel, Fishermen and their Families 17.06.20


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These are difficult times for our world, for we have had to deal with the suffering caused by the coronavirus. Your work as maritime personnel and fishermen has thus become even more important, since it is providing our greater human family with food and other primary needs. For this, we are grateful to you. But also because we know the risks involved in your work.

In these past months, your lives and your work have seen significant changes; you have had to make, and are continuing to make, many sacrifices. Long periods spent aboard ships without being able to disembark, separation from families, friends and native countries, fear of infection… All these things are a heavy burden to bear, now more than ever.

I would like to say something to all of you. Know that you are not alone and that you are not forgotten. Your work at sea often keeps you apart from others, but you are close to me in my thoughts and prayers, and in those of your chaplains and the volunteers of Stella Maris. The Gospel itself reminds us of this, when it speaks to us of Jesus and his first disciples, who were fishermen.

Today I would like to offer you a message and a prayer of hope, comfort and consolation in the face of whatever hardships you have to endure. I would also offer a word of encouragement to all those who work with you in providing pastoral care for maritime personnel.

Make the Lord bless each of you, your work and your families, and may the Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, protect you always. I too give you my blessing and I keep you in my prayers. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuTWFXJq3bk


Pope Francis Angelus 14.06.20

Corpus Christi

Pope Francis Corpus Christi 14.06.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today, in Italy and in other nations, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, is celebrated. In the second Reading of today’s liturgy, Saint Paul describes the Eucharistic celebration (see 1 Cor 10:16-17). He highlights two effects of the shared chalice and the broken bread: the mystical effect and the communal effect.
First, the Apostle states that: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (v. 16). These words express the mystical, or let us say, spiritual effect of the Eucharist: it relates to the union with Christ, who in the bread and the wine offers Himself for the salvation of all. Jesus is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist to be our nourishment, to be assimilated and to become in us that renewing force that gives once again the energy and the desire to set out again after every pause or after every fall. But this requires our assent, our willingness to let ourselves be transformed – our way of thinking and acting. Otherwise the Eucharistic celebrations in which we participate are reduced to empty and formal rites. And many times, someone goes to Mass because they have to go, as if it is a social event, respectful but social. But the mystery is something else. It is Jesus who is present, who comes to nourish us.
The second effect is the communal one and is expressed by Saint Paul in these words: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body” (v. 17). It is the mutual communion of those who participate in the Eucharist, to the point of becoming one body together, in the same way that one loaf is broken and distributed. We are a community, nourished by the body and blood of Christ. One cannot participate in the Eucharist without committing oneself to mutual fraternity. But the Lord knows well that our human strength alone is not enough for this. He knows that there will always be the temptation of rivalry, envy, prejudice, division ... among His disciples. For this reason too He left us the Sacrament of His real, tangible and permanent Presence, so that, remaining united to Him, we may always receive the gift of fraternal love. 
This dual fruit of the Eucharist: first, union with Christ and second, communion between those who are nourished by Him, generates and continually renews the Christian community. The Eucharist makes the Church, and allows her to be her mission. This is the mystery of communion, of the Eucharist: to receive Jesus so He might transform us from within and to receive Jesus so that in Him we might be united, not divided.
May the Blessed Virgin help us to always welcome with wonder and gratitude the great gift that Jesus gave us by leaving us the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood.





Pope Francis Holy Mass Corpus Christi 14.06.20


Pope Francis Holy Mass Corpus Christi 14.06.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

“Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you” (Deut 8:2). Today’s Scripture readings begin with this command of Moses: Remember! Shortly afterwards Moses reiterates: “Do not forget the Lord, your God” (v.14). Scripture has been given to us that we might overcome our forgetfulness of God. How important it is to remember this when we pray! All those wonders that the Lord has worked in our own lives.

It is vital to remember the good we have received. If we do not remember it, we become strangers to ourselves, “passers-by” of existence. Without memory, we uproot ourselves from the soil that nourishes us and allow ourselves to be carried away like leaves in the wind. Memory is not something private; it is the path that unites us to God and to others. This is why in the Bible the memory of the Lord must be passed on from generation to generation. 

God knows how difficult it is, he knows how weak our memory is, and he has done something remarkable: he left us a memorial. He did not just leave us words, for it is easy to forget what we hear. He did not just leave us the Scriptures, for it is easy to forget what we read. He did not just leave us signs, for we can forget even what we see. He gave us Food, for it is not easy to forget something we have actually tasted. He left us Bread in which he is truly present, alive and true, with all the flavour of his love. Receiving him we can say: “He is the Lord; he remembers me!” That is why Jesus told us: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24). Do! The Eucharist is not simply an act of remembrance; it is a fact: the Lord’s Passover is made present once again for us. In Mass the death and resurrection of Jesus are set before us. Do this in remembrance of me: come together and celebrate the Eucharist as a community, as a people, as a family, in order to remember me. We cannot do without the Eucharist, for it is God’s memorial. And it heals our wounded memory.

So many people have memories marked by a lack of affection and bitter disappointments caused by those who should have given them love and instead orphaned their hearts. We would like to go back and change the past, but we cannot. God, however, can heal these wounds by placing within our memory a greater love: his own love. The Eucharist brings us the Father’s faithful love, which heals our sense of being orphans. It gives us Jesus’ love, which transformed a tomb from an end to a beginning, and in the same way can transform our lives. It fills our hearts with the consoling love of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us alone and always heals our wounds.
Through the Eucharist, the Lord also heals our negative memory, that negativity which seeps so often into our hearts. The Lord heals this negative memory, which drags to the surface things that have gone wrong and leaves us with the sorry notion that we are useless, that we only make mistakes, that we are ourselves a mistake. Jesus reminds us that we are precious, that we are guests he has invited to his banquet, friends with whom he wants to dine. And not only because he is generous, but because he is truly in love with us. He sees and loves the beauty and goodness that we are. The Lord knows that evil and sins do not define us; they are diseases, infections. And he comes to heal them with the Eucharist, which contains the antibodies to our negative memory. With Jesus, we can become immune to sadness. We will always remember our failures, troubles, problems at home and at work, our unrealised dreams. But their weight will not crush us because Jesus is present even more deeply, encouraging us with his love. This is the strength of the Eucharist, which transforms us into bringers of God, bringers of joy, not negativity. We who go to Mass can ask: What is it that we bring to the world? Is it our sadness and bitterness, or the joy of the Lord? Do we receive Holy Communion and then carry on complaining, criticizing and feeling sorry for ourselves? This does not improve anything, whereas the joy of the Lord can change lives.

Finally, the Eucharist heals our closed memory. The wounds we keep inside create problems not only for us, but also for others. They make us fearful and suspicious. We start with being closed, and end up cynical and indifferent. Our wounds can lead us to react to others with detachment and arrogance, in the illusion that in this way we can control situations. Yet that is indeed an illusion, for only love can heal fear at its root and free us from the self-centredness that imprisons us. Jesus gives of himself in order to teach us that only by opening our hearts can we be set free from our interior barriers, from the paralysis of the heart.

The Lord, offering himself to us in the simplicity of bread, also invites us not to waste our lives in chasing the myriad illusions that we think we cannot do without, yet that leave us empty within. The Eucharist satisfies our hunger for material things and kindles our desire to serve. It raises us from our comfortable and lazy lifestyle and reminds us that we are not only mouths to be fed, but also his hands, to be used to help feed others. It is especially urgent now to take care of those who hunger for food and for dignity, of those without work and those who struggle to carry on. Let us not turn away from those around us!

Let us never forget: the Mass is the Memorial that heals memory, the memory of the heart. The Mass is the treasure that should be foremost both in the Church and in our lives. And let us also rediscover Eucharistic adoration, which continues the work of the Mass within us. This will do us much good, for it heals us within. Especially now, when our need is so great.




Pope Francis  General Audience 10.06.20

Jacob's Prayer

Pope Francis Jacob's Prayer 10.06.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Let us continue with our catechesis on the subject of prayer. The Book of  Genesis, through the occurrences of men and women of a far off time, tells us stories that we can reflect on in our own lives. We also find that of a man who shrewdly developed his best talent: Jacob. The biblical account tells us about the difficult relationship Jacob had with his brother Esau. Ever since childhood, there was a rivalry between them, which was never overcome later on. Jacob is the second-born - they were twins - but through trickery he manages to obtain the blessing and birthright of their father Isaac (cf. Gen 25:19-34). It is only the first in a long series of ploys of which this unscrupulous man is capable. Even the name “Jacob” means someone who is cunning in his movements.

Forced to flee far from his brother, he seems to succeed in every undertaking in his life. He is adept at business: he greatly enriches himself, becoming the owner of an enormous flock. With tenacity and patience he manages to marry Laban's most beautiful daughter, with whom he is truly in love. Jacob – as we would say in modern terms – is a “self-made” man; with his ingenuity, his cunning, he manages to obtain everything he wants. But he lacks something. He lacks a living relationship with his own roots.

And one day he hears the call of home, of his ancient homeland, where his brother Esau, with whom he has always had a terrible relationship, still lives. Jacob sets out, undertaking a long journey with a caravan of many people and animals, until he reaches the final step, the Jabbok stream. The patriarch, after having all of his people and all the livestock - and they were many - cross the stream, remains alone on the bank of the river on the foreign side. And he ponders: What awaits him the following day? What attitude will his brother Esau, from whom he stole his birthright, assume? As it is getting dark, suddenly a stranger grabs him and begins to wrestle with him. 

Jacob wrestles the entire night, never letting go of his adversary. In the end he is beaten, his sciatic nerve is struck by his opponent, and thereafter he will walk with a limp for the rest of his life. That mysterious wrestler asks the patriarch for his name and tells him: “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). As if to say: you will never be the man who walks this way, straight. He changes his name, he changes his life, he changes his attitude. You will be called Israel. Then Jacob also asks the other: “Tell me, I pray, your name”. The other does not reveal it to him, but blesses him instead. Then Jacob understands he has encountered God “face to face” (vv. 29-30).

Wrestling with God: a metaphor for prayer. Other times Jacob has shown himself able to dialogue with God, to sense Him as a friendly and close presence. But that night, through a lengthy struggle that nearly makes him succumb,  the patriarch emerges changed. A change of name, a change in his way of life and a personality change: he comes out of it a changed man. For once he is no longer master of the situation - his cunning is no use to him - he is no longer a strategic and calculating man. God returns him to his truth as a mortal man who trembles and fears, because in the struggle, Jacob was afraid. For once Jacob has only his frailty and powerlessness, and also his sins, to present to God. And it is this Jacob who receives God's blessing, with which he limps into the promised land: vulnerable and wounded, but with a new heart. God saved what had been lost. He made him understand that he was limited, that he was a sinner who was in need of mercy, and He saved him.

We all have an appointment during the night with God, in the night of our life, in the many nights of our life: dark moments, moments of sin, moments of disorientation. And there we have an appointment with God, always. He will surprise us at the moment we least expect, when we find ourselves truly alone. That same night, struggling against the unknown, we will realize that we are only poor men and women - “poor things”, I dare say - but right then, in that moment in which we feel we are “poor things”, we need not fear: because God will give us a new name, which contains the meaning of our entire life; He will change our heart and He will offer us the blessing reserved to those who have allowed themselves to be changed by Him.
 
This is a beautiful invitation to let ourselves be changed by God. He knows how to do it, because He knows each one of us. “Lord, You know me”, every one of us might say. “Lord, You know me. Change me”.




Pope Francis Angelus 07.06.20 

The Most Holy Trinity

Pope Francis The Most Holy Trinity 07.06.20 Angelus
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today’s Gospel (see Jn 3: 16-18), on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, demonstrates - with the apostle John’s succinct language - the mystery of God’s love for the world, His creation. In the brief dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus presents Himself as He who brings to fulfilment the Father’s plan of salvation for the world. He affirms: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (v. 16). These words are to indicate that the action of the three divine Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is all a single plan of love that saves humanity and the world. It is a plan of salvation: for us.

The world God created was good, beautiful, but after sin, the world is marked by evil and corruption, and we men and women are sinners; therefore, God could intervene to judge the world, to destroy evil and castigate sinners. Instead, He loves the world, despite its sins; God loves every one of us even when we make mistakes and distance ourselves from Him. God the Father loves the world so much that, to save it, He gives what is most precious to Him: His only-begotten Son, who gives His life for humanity, rises again, returns to the Father and together with Him sends the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is therefore Love, all in the service of the world, which He wishes to save and recreate. And today, thinking of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we think of God’s love! And it would be beautiful if we felt that we were loved: “God loves me!”. This is today’s sentiment.

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s feast day invites us to let ourselves once again be fascinated by the beauty of God; beauty, goodness and inexhaustible truth. Who became flesh in order to enter into our life, into our history, into my history, into the history of each one of us, so that every man and woman may encounter it and have eternal life. And this is faith to welcome God-as-Love.  Who gives Himself in Christ, who moves us in the Holy Spirit; to let ourselves be encountered by Him and to trust in Him. This is Christian life. Love, to encounter God, to search for God, and He seeks us first. He encounters us first.

May the Virgin Mary, dwelling-place of the Trinity, help us to welcome with an open heart the love of God, which fills us with joy and gives meaning to our journey in this world, always guiding us towards our destination, which is Heaven.




Pope Francis  General Audience 03.06.20 

Abraham's Prayer

Pope Francis Abraham's Prayer 03.06.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

There is a voice that suddenly resonates in Abraham's life. A voice that invites him to set out on a path that sounds absurd: a voice that encourages him to uproot himself from his homeland, from the roots of his family, to move towards a new future, a different future. And all on the basis of a promise, which only needs to be trusted. And trusting a promise is not easy, it takes courage. And Abraham trusted himself to God.
The Lord, in fact, promises him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars that dot the sky.
And Abraham leaves. He listens to God's voice and trusts his word. This is important: he trusts God's word. And with his departure a new way of conceiving the relationship with God is born; it is for this reason that the patriarch Abraham is present in the great Jewish, Christian and Islamic spiritual traditions as the perfect man of God, capable of submitting to him, even when his will proves difficult, if not downright incomprehensible.

Abraham is therefore the man of the Word. When God speaks, man becomes the receptor of that Word and his life the place where it seeks to be incarnated. This is a great novelty in the religious journey of man: the life of the believer begins to be conceived as a vocation, that is, as a call, as a place where a promise is fulfilled; and he moves in the world not so much under the weight of an enigma, but with the strength of that promise, which will one day come true. And Abraham believed in God's promise. He believed and went, not knowing where he was going. But he trusted.
Reading the book of Genesis, we discover how Abraham lived prayer in continuous fidelity to that Word, which periodically appeared along his path. In summary, we can say that in Abraham's life faith becomes history.
Abraham, with his life, by his example, teaches us this path, this road on which faith becomes history. God is no longer seen only in cosmic phenomena, like a distant God who can strike terror. The God of Abraham becomes "my God", the God of my personal story, who guides my steps, who does not abandon me; the God of my days, the companion of my adventures; the God of providence. I ask myself and I ask you: do we have this experience of God?
.A surprising God, as when he visits him in the figure of three guests, whom he and Sara welcome with care and who announce to them the birth of their son Isaac (cf. Gen 18: 1-15). Abraham was a hundred years old, and his wife ninety, more or less. And they believed, they trusted God. And Sara, his wife, conceived. At that age! This is the God of Abraham, our God, who accompanies us.
Thus Abraham becomes familiar with God, able also to discuss with him, but always faithful. To talk to God and discuss. Until the supreme trial, when God asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Here Abraham lives the faith as a drama, like a stumbling walk in the night, under a sky this time devoid of stars. And so often it also happens to us, to walk in the dark, but with faith. God himself will stop Abraham's hand ready to strike, because he has seen his truly total obedience (cf. Gen 22,1-19).
Brothers and sisters, let us learn from Abraham, let us learn to pray with faith: to listen to the Lord, to walk, to dialogue, even to argue. Let us not be afraid to argue with God! I will also say something that sounds like heresy. Many times I have heard people say to me: "You know, this happened to me and I got angry with God" – "You had the courage to be angry with God?" – "Yes, I got angry" – "But this is a form of prayer". Because only a son is able to get angry with dad and then make up with him.
Let us learn from Abraham to pray with faith, to dialogue, to discuss, but always be willing to accept the word of God and to put it into practice. With God, let us learn to speak like a son with his father: listen to him, answer him, discuss. But be transparent, like a son with his dad. This is how Abraham teaches us to pray. Thank you.





Pope Francis Regina Caeli  31.05.20 

Solemnity of Pentecost

Pope Francis Solemnity of Pentecost Regina Caeli 31.05.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, in memory of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first Christian Community. Today's Gospel  (John 20: 19-23) takes us back to Easter evening and shows us the risen Jesus appearing in the Upper Room, where the disciples have taken refuge. They were afraid. "He stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you!" (see 19). These first words spoken by the Risen One: "Peace be with you" are to be considered more than a greeting: they express forgiveness, the forgiveness granted to the disciples who, to tell the truth, had abandoned him. They are words of reconciliation and forgiveness. And we too, when we wish peace to others, are giving forgiveness and also asking for forgiveness. Jesus offers his peace precisely to these disciples who are afraid, who find it difficult to believe what they have seen, that is, the empty tomb, and underestimate the testimony of Mary of Magdala and the other women. Jesus forgives, always forgives, and offers his peace to his friends. Don't forget: Jesus never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness.
By forgiving and gathering the disciples around them, Jesus makes them a Church, his Church, which is a reconciled and mission-ready community. The encounter with the risen Lord turns the lives of the Apostles upside down and turns them into courageous witnesses. In fact, immediately afterwards he says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (v. 21). These words make it clear that the Apostles are sent to prolong the same mission that the Father has entrusted to Jesus. "I send you": it is not time to be locked up, nor to regret: to regret the "good times", those times passed with the Master. The joy of the resurrection is great, but it is an expansive joy, which should not be kept for itself, it is to give it.

And in order to inspire mission, Jesus gives the Apostles his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is fire that burns away sins and creates new men and women; he is the fire of love with which the disciples can set the world on fire, that love of tenderness that prefers the little ones, the poor, the excluded.
The feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that within us dwells the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. He also gives us the courage to go out of the protective walls of our "Upper Rooms", our groups, without getting used to a quiet life or closing ourselves up in sterile habits. Let us now raise our thoughts to Mary. She was there, with the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit came, the protagonist of the first Community of the wonderful experience of Pentecost, and let us pray that she may obtain for the Church an ardent missionary spirit.



Pope Francis Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost 31.05.20

Pope Francis Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost 31.05.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4), as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians. He continues: “There are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (vv. 5-6). Diversity and unity: Saint Paul puts together two words that seem contradictory. He wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings together the many; and that the Church was born this way: we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit.
Let us go back to the origin of the Church, to the day of Pentecost. Let us look at the Apostles: some of them were fishermen, simple people accustomed to living by the work of their hands, but there were also others, like Matthew, who was an educated tax collector. They were from different backgrounds and social contexts, and they had Hebrew and Greek names. In terms of character, some were meek and others were excitable; they all had different ideas and sensibilities. They were all different. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. No. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. With the anointing comes their union – union in diversity.

Let us now focus on ourselves, the Church of today. We can ask ourselves: “What is it that unites us, what is the basis of our unity?”. We too have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities. But the temptation is always fiercely to defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. This is a bad temptation that brings division.
We might think that what unite us are our beliefs and our morality. But there is much more: our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children; all equal, in this respect, and all different. The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord – Jesus – and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters!  Let us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does. The world sees us only as on the right or left, with one ideology or the other; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus. The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy. The Spirit loves us and knows everyone’s place in the grand scheme of things: for him, we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.
If we go back to the day of Pentecost, we discover that the first task of the Church is proclamation. Yet we also see that the Apostles devised no strategy. In the world, unless there is tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message.

The secret of unity in the Church, the secret of the Spirit is gift. It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving. Why is this important? Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and who imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. If we realize that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God. 
There are, so to speak, three main enemies of the gift, always lurking at the door of our hearts: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. Narcissism makes us idolize ourselves, to be concerned only with what is good for us. The narcissist thinks: “Life is good if I profit from it”. Victimhood, is equally dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbour: “No one understands me, no one helps me, no one loves me, everyone has it in for me!” The victim’s heart is closed. Finally, there is pessimism. Here the unending complaint is: “Nothing is going well, society, politics, the Church…”. The pessimist gets angry with the world, but sits back and does nothing, thinking: “What good is giving? That is useless”. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. He heals us from the mirror, complaints and darkness.
Let us pray to him: Holy Spirit, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit: you are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family. Amen.





Pope Francis Pentecost Message 31.05.20

Pope Francis Pentecost Message 31.05.20 Thy Kingdom Come
For the full transcript and video click on the picture link above



Pope Francis presides over the recitation of the Holy Rosary on the eve of Pentecost Sunday

Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens 30.05.20  

Pope Francis Holy Rosary 30.50.20


United in prayer to invoke the help and assistance of Our Lady in the pandemic, and to entrust the whole of humanity to the Lord.

Shrines all over the world will join in the prayer, with special participation on the part of families. Some women and men representing various categories of people particularly affected by the virus will pray the Mysteries.

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/home/the%20Holy%20Rosary.png






Pope Francis  General Audience 27.05.20 

Prayer of the Just

Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Let us dedicate today's catechesis to the prayer of the just.
God's plan towards humanity is for the good, but in our every day lives we experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience. The first chapters of the book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human life. Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3: 1-7) doubt God's good intentions, thinking they are dealing with a jealous god who prevents their happiness. Hence the rebellion: they no longer believe in a generous Creator, who desires their happiness. Their hearts, yielding to the temptation of the evil one, are taken in by the delirium of omnipotence: "When you eat the fruit of the tree, you will become like God . But the experience goes in the opposite direction: their eyes open and they discover that they are naked (see 7), they don't have anything. Don't forget this: the tempter is a bad payer, he pays badly.

Evil becomes even more disruptive with the second human generation: it is the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gen 4: 1-16). And so the story of the first fraternity ends in a murder. I think, today, of human fraternity .... wars everywhere.
Cain's descendants develop crafts and arts, but violence also develops, expressed by the sinister song of Lamech, which sounds like a hymn of revenge. And so evil spreads like wildfire.
Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is also written, less apparent, much more humble and devout, which represents the redemption of hope. Even though almost everyone behaves  atrociously, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people capable of praying to God with sincerity, able to write the destiny of man in a different way. And finally there is the story of Noah, a just man who "walked with God".
Reading these stories, one gets the impression that prayer is an embankment, and man's refuge from the wave of evil that grows in the world. We also pray to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: "Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions." The prayers of the first pages of the Bible are men who work for peace: in fact, prayer, when it is authentic, liberates from the instincts of violence and is a gaze toward God, so that he might return to take care of the heart of man.
Prayer cultivates flower beds of rebirth in places where human hatred has only been able to sow a desert. And prayer is powerful, because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life, and he renews us.
That is why the God's lordship passes through the chain of these men and women, who are often misunderstood or marginalized in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to the power of God that these servants attract with their prayers. It is important that children learn to pray. Perhaps, they will be forgotten, take another path; but the first prayers learned as a child remain in the heart, because they are a seed of life, the seed of dialogue with God.
God's path and God's story has passed down through the remnant  of humanity that has not conformed to the law of the strongest, but has asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.





Pope Francis Regina Caeli  24.05.20

  Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension

Pope Francis Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension Regina Caeli 24.05.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the solemnity of the Lord's Ascension. The passage of the Gospel ( Mt 28: 16-20) shows us the Apostles who gather in Galilee, "on the mountain that Jesus had told them to go to" (v. 16). Here on the mountain the final meeting of the Risen Lord with his followers takes place. 

This time, on the mountain, he is no longer the Master who acts and teaches, but he is the Risen One who asks the disciples to act and to proclaim, entrusting them with the mandate to continue his work.

He invests them with the mission to all the people. He says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (28: 19-20). The contents of the mission entrusted to the Apostles are these: to proclaim, baptize, and to teach how to walk the path laid down by the Master, that is the living Gospel. This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of witness - without witness one cannot proclaim - to which we, today's disciples, are also called to explain the reason for our faith. Faced with such a demanding task, and thinking of our weaknesses, we feel inadequate, as the Apostles themselves surely felt. But we should not be discouraged, remembering the words Jesus addressed to them before ascending to Heaven: "I am with you always until the end of the age" (see 20). 

This promise ensures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us. But how is this presence be realized? Through his Spirit, which leads the Church to walk through history as a companion of every person. That Spirit, sent by Christ and the Father, works the remission of sins and sanctifies all those who are repentant and open themselves with confidence to his gift. 

Jesus is present in the world but in another style. A presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, in the constant and inner action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although having ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right of the Father, is still and is always among us: this is the source of our strength, our perseverance and our joy, precisely from the presence of Jesus among us with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary accompany our journey with her maternal protection: from her may we learn the gentleness and courage to be witnesses in the world of the Risen Lord.







Pope Francis  General Audience 20.05.20 

The Mystery of Creation

Pope Francis The Mystery of Creation 20.05.20 General Audience
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Let us continue the catechesis on prayer, considering the mystery of creation. Life, the simple fact that we exist, opens the heart of man to prayer.
The first page of the Bible resembles a great hymn of thanksgiving. God, with his word, calls into life, and everything enters existence. With the word, he separates light from darkness, alternates day and night, alternates the seasons, opens a colour palette with the variety of plants and animals. In this overflowing forest that quickly overcomes chaos, man finally appears. So good, but also beautiful: you see the beauty of all creation!
The beauty and mystery of creation generate in the heart of man the first movement that stirs prayer. 

This is how the Eighth Psalm, which we heard at the beginning, says: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?" (Psalm 8: 4-5). Man in prayer contemplates the mystery of existence around him, he sees the starry sky that towers over him and wonders what the design of love must be behind such a wonderful work!... And, in this boundless vastness, what is man? "Almost nothing," says another Psalm (89: 48): a being who is born, a being that dies, a very fragile creature. Yet, throughout the universe, the human being is the only creature aware of so much profusion of beauty. A small being who is born, dies, here today and gone tomorrow, he is the only one aware of this beauty. We are aware of this beauty!
By nature we are almost nothing, today we are and tomorrow we are not, but by vocation, by our calling we are the children of the great King!
It's an experience that many of us have had. If the story of life, with all its bitterness, sometimes risks suffocating the gift of prayer in us, it is enough to contemplate a starry sky, a sunset, a flower, to rekindle the spark of thanksgiving. This experience is perhaps the basis of the first page of the Bible.

Starting from the great account of creation, someone begins to find reasons for thanksgiving, to praise God for existence. Prayer is the first force of hope. You pray and hope grows, it goes on. I would say that prayer opens the door to hope.
The men and women who pray know that hope is stronger than discouragement. They believe that love is more powerful than death, and that one day it will triumph, albeit in times and ways that we do not know. The men and women of prayer reflect light on their faces: because, even on the darkest days, the sun does not stop illuminating them. Prayer illuminates you: it brightens your soul, brightens your heart and brightens your face. Even in the darkest times, even in times of greatest pain.
We are all bearers of joy. Have you thought about this? Or do you prefer to bring bad news, things that are sad? This life is the gift that God has given us: and it is too short to consume it in sadness, in bitterness. We praise God, content simply to exist.  
We are the children of the Creator, able to read his signature in all creation; that creation that we do not care about today, but in that creation there is the signature of God who did it out of love. The Lord makes us understand this more and more deeply and leads us to say "thank you": and that "thank you" is a beautiful prayer.





Pope Francis  Holy Mass in Memory of the Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II 18.05.20

Pope Francis Holy Mass in Memory of the Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II 18.05.20
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

"The Lord loves his people" (Psalm 149: 4 ) we sang this refrain in the chorus and also a truth that the people of Israel repeated, they liked to repeat: "The Lord loves his people" and in difficult times, "the Lord loves" you have to wait to see how this love will manifest itself. When the Lord sent out of  this love a prophet, or a man of God, the reaction of the people was: "The Lord has visited his people"), because he loves them, he has visited them.
And today we can say here: a hundred years ago the Lord visited his people, sent a man, prepared him to be a bishop and lead the Church. By remembering St. John Paul II we repeat this: "The Lord loves his people," the Lord visited his people, sent a pastor.
And what are, let's say, "the traits" of a good shepherd that we can find in St. John Paul II? Many! But let's just talk about three.  Prayer, closeness to the people, and love for justice. St. John Paul II was a man of God because he prayed and prayed so much. He knew well that the first task of a bishop is to pray and this was not said by Vatican II, St Peter said it, when he made the Deacons with the Twelve, they said: "And to us bishops, prayer and the proclamation of the Word" (Acts 6: 4). A bishop's first task is to pray. And he taught us that when a bishop examines his conscience in the evening, he has to ask himself: how many hours today have I prayed?

The second trait, a man of closeness. He was not a man detached from the people, indeed he went to visit the people and travelled the whole world, finding his people, searching for his people, making himself close. And closeness is one of God's traits with his people. Let us remember that the Lord said to the people of Israel, "Look, what other people have their gods as close as I am with you?"  A shepherd is close to the people, on the contrary, if he is not, he is not a shepherd, he is a manager, he is an administrator, perhaps good but he is not a shepherd. And St. John Paul II gave us the example of this closeness: close to the great and the small, the neighbours and the distant, always close, he was close.
The third trait, a love for justice. But complete justice! A man who wanted justice, social justice, the justice for the people, justice to drive out war. For this reason St. John Paul II was a man of mercy because justice and mercy go together, they cannot be distinguished, they are together: justice is justice, mercy is mercy, but one without the other is not found. Let us think about how he promoted the devotion to Saint Faustina whose liturgical memory from today will be for the whole Church. He had felt that God's justice had this face of mercy, this attitude of mercy. And this is a gift that he has left us: justice in mercy and merciful justice.
Let us pray to him today, that he will grant to all of us, especially the pastors of the Church but to all, the grace of prayer, the grace of closeness and the grace of justice in mercy, merciful justice.





Pope Francis - Christ is Alive! 

Pope Francis - Christ is Alive

Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive.