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03 2021




Pope Francis General Audience 31.03.21

The Easter Triduum


Pope Francis General Audience about Easter 31.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Already immersed in the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Week, we are on the eve of the Easter Triduum. From tomorrow until Sunday we will live the central days of the Liturgical Year, celebrating the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. And we live this mystery every time we celebrate the Eucharist. When we go to Mass, we do not go only to pray, no: we go to renew, to bring about again, this mystery, the Paschal mystery. It is important not to forget this. It is as though we were to go to Calvary – it is the same – to renew, to bring about again the Paschal mystery.

On the evening of Holy Thursday, as we enter the Easter Triduum, we will relive the Mass known as in Coena Domini, that is, the Mass in which we commemorate the Last Supper, there, in that moment. This is the evening when Christ left his disciples the testament of his love in the Eucharist, not as a remembrance, but as a memorial, as his everlasting presence. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, as I said at the beginning, we renew this mystery of redemption. In this Sacrament, Jesus substituted the sacrificial victim – the Paschal lamb - with himself: his Body and Blood grant us salvation from the slavery of sin and death. The salvation from every form of slavery is there. It is the evening in which he asks us to love one another by becoming servants to one another, as he did in washing the disciples' feet, a gesture that anticipates his bloody oblation on the cross. And indeed, the Master and Lord will die the next day to purify not the feet, but the hearts and the entire life of his disciples. It was an oblation of service to us all, because with that service of his sacrifice he redeemed us all.

Good Friday is the day of penance, fasting and prayer. Through the texts of the Sacred Scripture and the liturgical prayers, we will gather as though we were on Calvary to commemorate the redemptive Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. In the intensity of the rite, through the Liturgical Action, the Crucifix will be presented to us to adore. Adoring the Cross, we will relive the journey of the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our salvation. We will carry in our minds and hearts the sufferings of the sick, the poor, the rejected of this world; we will remember the "sacrificed lambs", the innocent victims of wars, dictatorships, everyday violence, abortions... Before the image of the crucified God, we will bring, in prayer, the many, the too many who are crucified in our time, who only from Him can receive comfort and meaning in their suffering. And nowadays there are many: do not forget the crucified of our time, who are the image of Jesus Crucified, and Jesus is in them.

Ever since Jesus took upon himself the wounds of humanity and death itself, God’s love has irrigated these deserts of ours, he has enlightened our darkness. Because the world is in darkness. Let us make a list of all the wars that are being fought in this moment; of all the children who die of hunger; of children who have no education; of entire populations destroyed by wars, by terrorism. Of the many, many people who, just to feel a bit better, need drugs, the drug industry that kills … It is a disaster, it is a desert! There are small “islands” of the people of God, both Christian and of all other faiths, that hold in their heart the desire to be better. But let us tell the truth: in this Calvary of death, it is Jesus who suffers in his disciples. During his ministry, the Son of God disseminated life by the handful, healing, forgiving, reviving… Now, in the hour of his supreme Sacrifice on the cross, he brings to fulfilment the task entrusted to him by the Father: he enters into the abyss of suffering, he enters into these disasters of this world, to redeem and transform. And also to free every one of us from the power of darkness, of pride, of resistance to being loved by God. And this, only God’s love can do this. By his wounds we have been healed (see 1 Pt 2: 24), the apostle Peter says, by his death we have been reborn, all of us. And thanks to him, abandoned on the cross, no-one will ever again be alone in the darkness of death. Never, he is always beside us: we need only open our heart and let ourselves be looked upon by him.

Holy Saturday is the day of silence, lived by the first disciples in mourning and bewilderment, shocked by Jesus’ ignominious death. While the Word is silent, while Life is in the tomb, those who had hoped in him were put to a difficult test, they feel like orphans, perhaps even orphaned by God. This Saturday is also Mary's day: she too lived it in tears, but her heart was full of faith, full of hope, full of love. The Mother of Jesus had followed her Son along the path of sorrows and remained at the foot of the cross, with her soul pierced. But when it all seemed to be over, she kept watch, she kept vigil, in expectation, maintaining her hope in the promise of God who raises the dead. Thus, in the world’s darkest hour, she became the Mother of believers, the Mother of the Church and sign of hope. Her witness and her intercession sustain us when the weight of the cross becomes too heavy for each one of us.

In the darkness of Holy Saturday, joy and light will break through with the rites of the Easter Vigil and, in the late evening, the festive singing of the Alleluia. It will be an encounter in faith with the Risen Christ, and the joy of Easter will continue throughout the following fifty days, until the coming of the Holy Spirit. He who was crucified is risen! All questions and uncertainties, hesitations and fears are dispelled by this revelation. The Risen One gives us the certainty that good always triumphs over evil, that life always conquers death, and it is not our end to descend lower and lower, from sorrow to sorrow, but rather to rise up high. The Risen One is the confirmation that Jesus is right in everything: in promising us life beyond death and forgiveness beyond sins. The disciples doubted, they did not believe. The first to believe and to see was Mary Magdalene; she was the apostle of the resurrection who went to announce that she had seen Jesus, who had called her by name. And then, all the disciples saw him. But, I would like to pause at this point: the guards, the soldiers, who were in the tomb to prevent the disciples from coming and taking his body, they saw him; they saw him alive and risen. His enemies saw him, and then they pretended not to have seen him. Why? Because they were paid. Here is the true mystery of what Jesus once said: “There are two masters in the world, two, no more: two. God and money. He who serves money is against God”. And here it is money that changed reality. They had seen the wonder of the resurrection, but they were paid to keep quiet. Think of the many times that Christian men and women have been paid not to acknowledge in practice the resurrection of Christ, and did not do what Christ asked us to do, as Christians.

Dear brothers and sisters, again this year we will live the Easter celebrations in the context of the pandemic. In many situations of suffering, especially when they are borne by people, families and populations already tried by poverty, disasters or conflicts, Christ’s Cross is like a beacon that indicates the port to ships that are still afloat on stormy seas. Christ’s Cross is a sign of the hope that does not disappoint; and it tells us that not even one tear, not one sigh is lost in God’s plan. Let us ask the Lord to grant us the grace of serving him and acknowledging him, and of not letting ourselves be paid to forget him.









Pope Francis Angelus 28.03.21 Palm Sunday

:Pope Francis  Angelus on Palm Sunday 28.03.21

We have begun Holy Week. For the second time we will live it within the context of the pandemic. Last year we were more shaken up; this year it is more trying for us. And the economic crisis has become heavy.

In this historical and social situation, what is God doing? He takes up the cross. Jesus takes up the cross, that is, he takes on the evil that this situation entails, the physical and psychological evil – and above all the spiritual evil – because the Evil One is taking advantage of the crisis to disseminate distrust, desperation, and discord.

And us? What should we do? The one who shows us is the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is also his first disciple. She followed her Son. She took upon herself her own portion of suffering, of darkness, of confusion, and she walked the way of the passion keeping the lamp of faith lit in her heart. With God’s grace, we too can make that journey. And, along the daily way of the cross, we meet the faces of so many brothers and sisters in difficulty: let us not pass by, let us allow our hearts to be moved with compassion, and let us draw near. When it happens, like the Cyrenian, we might think: “Why me?” But then we will discover the gift that, without our own merit, has touched us.

Let us pray for all the victims of violence, in particular the victims of this morning's attack in Indonesia, in front of the Cathedral of Makassar.

May the Madonna who always precedes us on the path of faith help us.






Pope Francis Palm Sunday 28.03.21

Passion of the Lord

Commemoration of the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem

Pope Francis - Palm Sunday  - 28.03.2021
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Every year this liturgy leaves us amazed: we pass from the joy of welcoming Jesus as he enters Jerusalem to the sorrow of watching him condemned to death and then crucified. That sense of interior amazement will remain with us throughout Holy Week. Let us reflect more deeply on it.

From the start, Jesus leaves us amazed. His people give him a solemn welcome, yet he enters Jerusalem on a lowly colt. His people expect a powerful liberator at Passover, yet he comes to bring the Passover to fulfilment by sacrificing himself. His people are hoping to triumph over the Romans by the sword, but Jesus comes to celebrate God’s triumph through the cross. What happened to those people who in a few days’ time went from shouting “Hosanna” to crying out “Crucify him”? What happened? They were following an idea of the Messiah rather than the Messiah. They admired Jesus, but they did not let themselves be amazed by him. Amazement is not the same as admiration. Admiration can be worldly, since it follows its own tastes and expectations. Amazement, on the other hand, remains open to others and to the newness they bring. Even today, there are many people who admire Jesus: he said beautiful things; he was filled with love and forgiveness; his example changed history, … and so on. They admire him, but their lives are not changed. To admire Jesus is not enough. We have to follow in his footsteps, to let ourselves be challenged by him; to pass from admiration to amazement.

What is most amazing about the Lord and his Passover? It is the fact that he achieves glory through humiliation. He triumphs by accepting suffering and death, things that we, in our quest for admiration and success, would rather avoid. Jesus – as Saint Paul tells us – “emptied himself… he humbled himself” (Phil 2:7.8). This is the amazing thing: to see the Almighty reduced to nothing. To see the Word who knows all things teach us in silence from the height of the cross. To see the king of kings enthroned on a gibbet. Seeing the God of the universe stripped of everything and crowned with thorns instead of glory. To see the One who is goodness personified, insulted and beaten. Why all this humiliation? Why, Lord, did you wish to endure all this?

Jesus did it for us, to plumb the depths of our human experience, our entire existence, all our evil. To draw near to us and not abandon us in our suffering and our death. To redeem us, to save us. Jesus was lifted high on the cross in order to descend to the abyss of our suffering. He experienced our deepest sorrows: failure, loss of everything, betrayal by a friend, even abandonment by God. By experiencing in the flesh our deepest struggles and conflicts, he redeemed and transformed them. His love draws close to our frailty; it touches the very things of which we are most ashamed. Yet now we know that we are not alone: God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs, but the palm of victory passes through the wood of the cross. For the palm and the cross are inseparable.

Let us ask for the grace to be amazed. A Christian life without amazement becomes drab and dreary. How can we talk about the joy of meeting Jesus, unless we are daily astonished and amazed by his love, which brings us forgiveness and the possibility of a new beginning? When faith no longer experiences amazement, it grows dull: it becomes blind to the wonders of grace; it can no longer taste the Bread of life and hear the Word; it can no longer perceive the beauty of our brothers and sisters and the gift of creation. It has no other course than to take refuge in legalisms, in clericalisms and in all these things that Jesus condemns in chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew.

During this Holy Week, let us lift our eyes to the cross, in order to receive the grace of amazement. Can we still be moved by God’s love? Have we lost the ability to be amazed by him? Why? Maybe our faith has grown dull from habit. Maybe we remain trapped in our regrets and allow ourselves to be crippled by our disappointments. Maybe we have lost all our trust or even feel worthless. But perhaps, behind all these “maybes”, lies the fact that we are not open to the gift of the Spirit who gives us the grace of amazement.

Let us start over from amazement. Let us gaze upon Jesus on the cross and say to him: “Lord, how much you love me! How precious I am to you!” Let us be amazed by Jesus so that we can start living again, for the grandeur of life lies not in possessions and promotions, but in realizing that we are loved. And the grandeur of life lies precisely in the beauty of love. In the crucified Jesus, we see God humiliated, the Almighty dismissed and discarded. And with the grace of amazement we come to realize that in welcoming the dismissed and discarded, in drawing close to those ill-treated by life, we are loving Jesus. For that is where he is: in the least of our brothers and sisters, in the rejected and discarded, in those whom our self-righteous culture condemns.

Today’s Gospel shows us, immediately after the death of Jesus, a splendid icon of amazement. It is the scene of the centurion who, upon seeing that Jesus had died, said: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39). He was amazed by love. How did he see Jesus die? He saw him die in love, and this amazed him. Jesus suffered immensely, but he never stopped loving. This is what it is to be amazed before God, who can fill even death with love. In that gratuitous and unprecedented love, the pagan centurion found God. His words – Truly this man was the Son of God! – “seal” the Passion narrative. The Gospels tell us that many others before him had admired Jesus for his miracles and prodigious works, and had acknowledged that he was the Son of God. Yet Christ silenced them, because they risked remaining purely on the level of worldly admiration at the idea of a God to be adored and feared for his power and might. Now it can no longer be so, for at the foot of the cross there can be no mistake: God has revealed himself and reigns only with the disarmed and disarming power of love.

Brothers and sisters, today God continues to fill our minds and hearts with amazement. Let us be filled with that amazement as we gaze upon the crucified Lord. May we too say: “You are truly the Son of God. You are my God”.





Pope Francis General Audience 24.03.21

Prayer in communion with Mary

Pope Francis  To pray in communion with Mary  General Audience 24.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today the catechesis is dedicated to prayer in communion with Mary. It occurs precisely on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation. We know that the main pathway of Christian prayer is the humanity of Jesus. In fact, the confidence typical of Christian prayer would be meaningless if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit His filial relationship with the Father. 

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place.

Due to Christ’s one mediation, other references that Christians find for their prayer and devotion take on meaning, first among them being the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

She occupies a privileged place in the lives of Christians, and therefore, in their prayer as well, because she is the Mother of Jesus. Her hands, her eyes, her behaviour are a living “catechism”, always indicating the hinge, she always points out the centre: Jesus. Mary is completely directed toward Him (see CCC, 2674) to such an extent that we can say she is more disciple than Mother. She is the first disciple.

This is the role Mary fulfilled throughout her entire earthly life and which she forever retains: to be the humble handmaid of the Lord, nothing more.

Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle. But as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer.

And so, we began to pray to her using several expressions present in the Gospels directed to her: “full of grace”, “blessed are you among women” (see CCC, 2676f.).  With the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask that Mary pray for us sinners, that she might intercede with her tenderness, “now and at the hour of our death”. Now, in the concrete situations of life, and in the final moment, so that she might accompany us – as Mother, as the first disciple – in our passage to eternal life.

Mary is always present at the bedside of her children when they depart this world. If someone is alone and abandoned, she is Mother, she is there, near, as she was next to her Son when everyone else abandoned him.

Mary was and is present in these days of the pandemic, near to the people who, unfortunately, have concluded their earthly journey all alone, without the comfort of or the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there next to us, with her maternal tenderness.

Prayers said to her are not in vain. The Woman who said “yes”, who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered but which God knows better that we ourselves do. She listens as Mother. Just like, and more than, every good mother, Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.






Pope Francis Angelus 21.03.21

We wish to see Jesus

Pope Francis  We wish to see Jesus - 21.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the liturgy proclaims the Gospel in which Saint John refers to an episode that occurred in the final days of Christ’s life, shortly before the Passion (cf. Jn 12:20-33). While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, several Greeks, curious because of what he had been doing, express the wish to see him. They approach the apostle Philip and say to him: “We wish to see Jesus” (v. 21). “We wish to see Jesus”. Philip tells Andrew and then together they report it to the Teacher. In the request of those Greeks we can glimpse the request that many men and women, of every place and every time, pose to the Church and also to each one of us: “We wish to see Jesus”.

And how does Jesus respond to that request? In a way that makes us think. He says: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (vv. 23-24). These words do not seem to respond to the request those Greeks made. In reality, they surpass it. In fact, Jesus reveals that for every man and woman who wants to find him, He is the hidden seed ready to die in order to bear much fruit. As if to say: if you wish to know me, if you wish to understand me, look at the grain of wheat that dies in soil, that is, look at the cross.

The sign of the Cross comes to mind, which over the centuries has become the symbol par excellence of Christians. Even today, those who wish to “see Jesus”, perhaps coming from countries and cultures where Christianity is not well-known, what do they see first? What is the most common sign they encounter? The Crucifix, the Cross. In churches, in the homes of Christians, even worn on their persons. The important thing is that the sign be consistent with the Gospel: the cross cannot but express love, service, unreserved self-giving: only in this way is it truly the “tree of life”, of overabundant life.

Today too, many people, often without saying so, implicitly would like to “see Jesus”, to meet him, to know him. This is how we understand the great responsibility we Christians and of our communities have. We too must respond with the witness of a life that is given in service, a life that takes upon itself the style of God – closeness, compassion and tenderness – and is given in service. It means sowing seeds of love, not with fleeting words but through concrete, simple and courageous examples, not with theoretical condemnations, but with gestures of love. Then the Lord, with his grace, makes us bear fruit, even when the soil is dry due to misunderstandings, difficulty or persecution, or claims of legalism or clerical moralism. This is barren soil. Precisely then, in trials and in solitude, while the seed is dying, that is the moment in which life blossoms, to bear ripe fruit in due time. It is in this intertwining of death and life that we can experience the joy and true fruitfulness of love, which always, I repeat, is given in God’s style: closeness, compassion, tenderness.

May the Virgin Mary help us to follow Jesus, to walk, strong and joyful, on the path of service, so that the love of Christ may shine in our every attitude and become more and more the style of our daily life.








Pope Francis Video Message for Ireland's Knock Shrine 19.03.21

On the elevation of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland to an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion

Pope Francis Knock Video Message 19.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click here

Ever since the apparition of August 21, 1879, when the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Apostle, appeared to some villagers, the Irish people, wherever they have found themselves, have expressed their faith and devotion to Our Lady of Knock. You have been a missionary people. We cannot forget how many priests left their homeland in order to become missionaries of the Gospel. Nor can we forget the many lay people who emigrated to far-away lands but still kept their devotion to Our Lady.

The arms of the Virgin, out stretched in prayer, continue to show us the importance of prayer as the message of hope which goes out from this Shrine.
 
The elevation of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock to an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion is a great responsibility. You accept to always have your arms wide open as a sign of welcome to every pilgrim who may arrive from any part of the world, asking nothing in return but only recognizing him as a brother or a sister who desires to share the same experience of fraternal prayer.






Pope Francis Message for World Day of Vocations 19.03.21

Saint Joseph: The Dream of Vocation

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

8 December last, the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, marked the beginning of a special year devoted to him.  He was not famous or even noteworthy: the Gospels do not report even a single word of his. Still, through his ordinary life, he accomplished something extraordinary in the eyes of God.

God looks on the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), and in Saint Joseph he recognized the heart of a father, able to give and generate life in the midst of daily routines. Vocations have this same goal: to beget and renew lives every day.





Pope Francis General Audience 17.03.21

Prayer and the Holy Spirit


Pope Francis - Prayer and the Holy Spirit  General Audience 17.03.2021
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Today we will complete the catechesis on prayer as a relationship with the Holy Trinity, in particular with the Holy Spirit.

The first gift of every Christian existence is the Holy Spirit. It is not one of many gifts, but rather the fundamental Gift. The Spirit is the gift that Jesus had promised to send us. Without the Spirit there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father, because the Spirit opens our heart to God’s presence and draws it into that “vortex” of love that is the very heart of God. We are not merely guests and pilgrims on a journey on this earth; we are also guests and pilgrims of the Trinity. We are like Abraham, who one day, welcoming three wayfarers in his own tent, encountered God. If we can truly invoke God, calling him “Abba - Daddy”, it is because the Holy Spirit dwells in us; He is the One who transforms us deep within and makes us experience the moving joy of being loved by God as his true children. All the spiritual work within us towards God is performed by the Holy Spirit, this gift. He works within us to carry forward out Christian life towards the Father, with Jesus.

That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action. This is the work of the Spirit in us. He “reminds” us of Jesus and makes him present to us, so that he is not reduced to a character from the past: that is, the Spirit brings Jesus to the present in our consciousness. If Christ were only far away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world. But in the Spirit everything is brought to life: the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place. He is not distant, the Spirit is with us.

This is the experience of so many people who pray: men and women whom the Holy Spirit has formed according to the “measure” of Christ, in mercy, in service, in prayer, in catechesis… It is a grace to be able to meet people like this: you realise that a different life pulses in them, the way they look “beyond”. We can think not only of monks and hermits; they are also found among ordinary people, people who have woven a long history of dialogue with God, sometimes of inner struggle, that purifies their faith. These humble witnesses have sought God in the Gospel, in the Eucharist received and adored, in the face of a brother or sister in difficulty, and they safeguard his presence like a secret flame.

The first task of Christians is precisely to keep alive this flame that Jesus brought to the earth (see Lk 12:49), and what is this flame? It is love, the Love of God, the Holy Spirit. Without the fire of the Spirit, His prophecies are extinguished, sorrow supplants joy, routine substitutes love, and service turns into slavery. The image of the lighted lamp next to the Tabernacle, where the Eucharist is reserved, comes to mind. Even when the church empties and evening falls, even when the church is closed, that lamp remains lit, and continues to burn; no one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord. This is how the Spirit is in our heart, always present like that lamp.

There are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. Very often it happens that we do not pray, we don’t feel like praying, or many times we pray like parrots, with the mouth, but our heart is not in it. This is the moment to say to the Spirit: “Come, come Holy Spirit, warm my heart. Come and teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, to look to the Son. Teach me the path of faith. Teach me how to love and, above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope”. It means calling on the Spirit continually, so he may be present in our lives.

It is therefore the Spirit who writes the history of the Church and of the world. We are open books, willing to receive his handwriting. And in each of us the Spirit composes original works, because there is never one Christian who is completely identical to another. In the infinite field of holiness, the one God, the Trinity of Love, allows the variety of witnesses to flourish: all are equal in dignity, but also unique in the beauty that the Spirit has willed to be released in each of those whom God's mercy has made his children. Let us not forget, the Spirit is present, he is present in us. Let us listen to the Spirit, let us call to the Spirit - he is the gift, the present that God has given us - and say to him: “Holy Spirit, I do not know your face - we do not know it - but I know that you are the strength, that you are the light, that you are able to make me go forth, and to teach me how to pray. Come, Holy Spirit”. This is a beautiful prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit”.




Pope Francis Angelus 14.03.21

God’s love

Pope Francis Angelus - 4th Sunday of Lent - 14.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

On this fourth Sunday of Lent, the Eucharistic liturgy begins with this invitation: “Rejoice, Jerusalem...". (see Is 66:10). What is the reason for this joy? In the middle of Lent, what is the reason for this joy? Today’s Gospel tells us: God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This joyful message is the heart of the Christian faith: God’s love found its summit in the gift of his Son to a weak and sinful humanity. He gave his Son to us, to all of us.

This is what appears in the nocturnal dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus, like every member of the people of Israel, awaited the Messiah, identifying him as a strong man who would judge the world with power. Instead, Jesus challenges this expectation by presenting himself in three forms: the Son of man exalted on the cross; the Son of God sent into the world for salvation; and that of the light that distinguishes those who follow the truth from those who follow lies.

Jesus presents himself first of all as the Son of man (vv. 14-15). The text alludes to the account of the bronze serpent (see Nm 21: 4-9) which, by God's will, was mounted by Moses in the desert when the people were attacked by poisonous snakes; whoever had been bitten and looked at the bronze serpent was healed. Similarly, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and those who believe in him are healed of sin and live.

The second aspect is that of the Son of God (vv.16-18). God the Father loves humanity to the point of “giving” his Son: he gave him in the Incarnation and he gave him in handing him over to death. The purpose of God's gift is the eternal life of every person: in fact, God sends his Son into the world not to condemn it, but so that the world that it might be saved through Jesus. Jesus' mission is a mission of salvation, of salvation for everyone.

The third name that Jesus gives himself is “light” (vv. 19-21). The Gospel says: "The light has come into the world, but people have loved darkness more than light" (v. 19). The coming of Jesus into the world leads to a choice: whoever chooses darkness will face a judgment of condemnation, whoever chooses light will have a judgment of salvation. The judgement is always the consequence of the free choice of each person: whoever practices evil seeks the darkness, evil always hides, it covers itself. Whoever seeks the truth, that is, who practices what is good, comes to the light, illuminates the paths of life. Whoever walks in the light, whoever approaches the light, cannot but do good works. This is what we are called to do with greater dedication during Lent: to welcome the light into our conscience, to open our hearts to God's infinite love, to his mercy full of tenderness and goodness, to his forgiveness. Do not forget that God always forgives, always, if we humbly ask for forgiveness. It is enough just to ask for forgiveness, and he forgives. In this way we will find true joy and be able to rejoice in God's forgiveness, which regenerates and gives life.

May Mary Most Holy help us not to be afraid of letting ourselves be “thrown into crisis” by Jesus. It is a healthy crisis, for our healing: so that our joy may be full






Pope Francis Holy Mass 14.03.21

500 years of Christianity in the Philippines

Pope Francis Mass for Philippines 14.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). This is the heart of the Gospel; this is the source of our joy. The Gospel message is not an idea or a doctrine. It is Jesus himself: the Son whom the Father has given us so that we might have life. The source of our joy is not some lovely theory about how to find happiness, but the actual experience of being accompanied and loved throughout the journey of life. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son”. Brothers and sisters, let us dwell on these two thoughts for a moment: “God so loved” and “God gave”.
First of all, God so loved. Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – a Jewish elder who wanted to know the Master – help us to see the true face of God. He has always looked at us with love, and for the sake of love, he came among us in the flesh of his Son. In Jesus, he went in search of us when we were lost. In Jesus, he came to raise us up when we fell. In Jesus, he wept with us and healed our wounds. In Jesus, he blessed our life forever. The Gospel tells us that whoever believes in him will not perish (ibid.). In Jesus, God spoke the definitive word about our life: you are not lost, you are loved. Loved forever.

If hearing the Gospel and practicing our faith don’t enlarge our hearts and make us grasp the immensity of God’s love – maybe because we prefer a glum, sorrowful and self-absorbed religiosity – then this is a sign that we need to stop and listen once more to the preaching of the Good News. God loves you so much that he gave you his entire life. He is not a god who looks down upon us from on high, indifferent, but a loving Father who becomes part of our history. He is not a god who takes pleasure in the death of sinners, but a Father concerned that that no one be lost. He is not a god who condemns, but a Father who saves us with the comforting embrace of his love.

We now come to the second aspect: God “gave” his Son. Precisely because he loves us so much, God gives himself; he offers us his life. Those who love always go out of themselves. Love always offers itself, gives itself, expends itself. That is the power of love: it shatters the shell of our selfishness, breaks out of our carefully constructed security zones, tears down walls and overcomes fears, so as to give freely of itself. That is what loves does: it gives itself. And that is how lovers are: they prefer to risk self-giving over self-preservation. That is why God comes to us: because he “so loved” us. His love is so great that he cannot fail to give himself to us. When the people were attacked by poisonous serpents in the desert, God told Moses to make the bronze serpent. In Jesus, however, exalted on the cross, he himself came to heal us of the venom of death; he became sin to save us from sin. God does not love us in words: he gives us his Son, so that whoever looks at him and believes in him will be saved (cf. Jn 3:14-15).

The more we love, the more we become capable of giving. That is also the key to understanding our life. It is wonderful to meet people who love one another and share their lives in love. We can say about them what we say about God: they so love each other that they give their lives. It is not only what we can make or earn that matters; in the end, it is the love we are able to give.

This is the source of joy!  Sometimes we look for joy where it is not to be found: in illusions that vanish, in dreams of glory, in the apparent security of material possessions, in the cult of our image, and in so many other things. But life teaches us that true joy comes from realizing that we are loved gratuitously, knowing that we are not alone, having someone who shares our dreams and who, when we experience shipwreck, is there to help us and lead us to a safe harbour.

Dear brothers and sisters, five hundred years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel: the good news that God so loved us that he gave his Son for us. And this joy is evident in your people. We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands. I have often said that here in Rome Filipino women are “smugglers” of faith! Because wherever they go to work, they sow the faith. It is part of your genes, a blessed “infectiousness” that I urge you to preserve. Keeping bringing the faith, the good news you received five hundred years ago, to others. I want to thank you, then, for the joy you bring to the whole world and to our Christian communities. I think, as I mentioned, of the many beautiful experiences in families here in Rome – but also throughout the world – where your discreet and hardworking presence became a testimony of faith. In the footsteps of Mary and Joseph, for God loves to bring the joy of faith through humble, hidden, courageous and persevering service.

On this very important anniversary for God’s holy people in the Philippines, I also want to urge you to persevere in the work of evangelization – not proselytism, which is something else. The Christian proclamation that you have received needs constantly to be brought to others. The Gospel message of God’s closeness cries out to be expressed in love for our brothers and sisters. God desires that no one perish. For this reason, he asks the Church to care for those who are hurting and living on the fringes of life. God so loves us that he gives himself to us, and the Church has this same mission. The Church is called not to judge but to welcome; not to make demands, but to sow seeds; not to condemn, but to bring Christ who is our salvation.

I know that this is the pastoral program of your Church: a missionary commitment that involves everyone and reaches everyone. Never be discouraged as you walk this path. Never be afraid to proclaim the Gospel, to serve and to love. With your joy, you will help people to say of the Church too: “she so loved the world!” How beautiful and attractive is a Church that loves the world without judging, a Church that gives herself to the world. May it be so, dear brothers and sisters, in the Philippines and in every part of the earth.





Pope Francis General Audience 10.03.21

The Apostolic Journey to Iraq

Pope Francis - Who sells weapons today to the terrorists? - General Audience 10.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In the past few days, the Lord allowed me to visit Iraq, carrying out a project of Saint John Paul II. Never before has a Pope been in the land of Abraham. Providence willed that this should happen now, as a sign of hope, after years of war and terrorism, and during a severe pandemic.

After this Visit, my soul is filled with gratitude – gratitude to God and to all those who made it possible: to the President of the Republic and the Government of Iraq; to the country’s Patriarchs and Bishops, together to all the ministers and members of the faithful of the respective Churches; to the religious Authorities, beginning with the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani, with whom I had an unforgettable meeting in his residence in Najaf.

I strongly felt a penitential sense regarding this pilgrimage: I could not draw near to that tortured people, to that martyr-Church, without taking upon myself, in the name of the Catholic Church, the cross they have been carrying for years. I felt it particularly seeing the wounds still open from the destruction, and even more so when meeting and hearing the testimony of those who survived the violence, persecution, exile… And at the same time, I saw around me the joy of welcoming Christ’s messenger; I saw the hope of being open to a horizon of peace and fraternity, summed up in Jesus’s words that were the motto of the Visit: “You are all brothers” (Mt 23:8).

The Iraqi people have the right to live in peace; they have the right to rediscover the dignity that belongs to them. Their religious and cultural roots go back thousands of years: Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization. Historically, Baghdad is a city of primary importance. For centuries, it housed the richest library in the world. And what destroyed it? War. War is always that monster that transforms itself with the change of epochs and continues to devour humanity. But the response to war is not another war; the response to weapons is not other weapons. And I asked myself: who was selling the weapons to the terrorists? Who sells weapons today to the terrorists – which are causing massacres in other areas, let’s think of Africa, for example? It is a question that I would like someone to answer.

The response is not war, but the response is fraternity. This is the challenge not only for Iraq. It is the challenge for many regions in conflict and, ultimately, the challenge for the entire world is fraternity. Will we be capable of creating fraternity among us? Of building a culture of brothers and sisters? Or will we continue the logic Cain began: war. Brothers and sisters. Fraternity.

For this reason, we met and we prayed with Christians and Muslims, with representatives of other religions, in Ur, where Abraham received God’s call about four thousand years ago. God is faithful to His promises and guides our steps toward peace still today.

The ISIS occupation caused thousands and thousands of inhabitants to flee, among them many Christians of a variety of confessions and other persecuted minorities, especially the Yazidi. The ancient identity of these cities has been ruined. Now they are trying hard to rebuild. The Muslims are inviting the Christians to return and together they are restoring churches and mosques. Fraternity is there. And, please, let us continue to pray for them, our sorely tried brothers and sisters, so they might have the strength to start over. And thinking of the many Iraqis who have emigrated, I want to say to them: you have left everything, like Abraham; like him, keep the faith and hope. Be weavers of friendship and of fraternity wherever you are. And if you can, return.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us praise God for this historic Visit and let us continue to pray for that land and for the Middle East. In Iraq, despite the roar of destruction and weapons, the palm, a symbol of the country and of its hope, has continued to grow and bear fruit. So it is for fraternity: like the fruit of the palm, it does not make noise, but the palm is fruitful and grows. May God, who is peace, grant a future of fraternity to Iraq, the Middle East and the entire world!





Pope Francis Holy Mass Erbil Iraq 07.03.2021


Pope Francis Holy Mass Erbil 07.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Saint Paul has told us that “Christ is the power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-25). Jesus revealed that power and wisdom above all by offering forgiveness and showing mercy. He chose to do so not by displays of strength or by speaking to us from on high, in lengthy and learned discourses. He did so by giving his life on the cross. He revealed his wisdom and power by showing us, to the very end, the faithfulness of the Father’s love; the faithfulness of the God of the covenant, who brought his people forth from slavery and led them on a journey of freedom (cf. Ex 20:1-2).

How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we have to show others that we are powerful or wise, into the trap of fashioning false images of God that can give us security. 

In the Gospel reading we have just heard (Jn 2:13-25), we see how Jesus drove out from the Temple in Jerusalem the moneychangers and all the buyers and sellers. Why did Jesus do something this forceful and provocative? He did it because the Father sent him to cleanse the temple: not only the Temple of stone, but above all the temple of our heart. We need to be cleansed of the deceptive securities that would barter our faith in God with passing things, with temporary advantages. We need the baneful temptations of power and money to be swept from our hearts and from the Church. How do we purify our hearts? By our own efforts, we cannot; we need Jesus. He has the power to conquer our evils, to heal our diseases, to rebuild the temple of our heart.

God does not let us die in our sins. Even when we turn our backs on him, he never leaves us to our own devices. He seeks us out, runs after us, to call us to repentance and to cleanse us of our sins. The Lord wants us to be saved and to become living temples of his love, in fraternity, in service, in mercy.

Jesus not only cleanses us of our sins, but gives us a share in his own power and wisdom. He liberates us from the narrow and divisive notions of family, faith and community that divide, oppose and exclude, so that we can build a Church and a society open to everyone and concerned for our brothers and sisters in greatest need. At the same time, he strengthens us to resist the temptation to seek revenge, which only plunges us into a spiral of endless retaliation. The risen Lord makes us instruments of God’s mercy and peace, patient and courageous artisans of a new social order. Christian communities made up of simple and lowly people become a sign of the coming of his kingdom, a kingdom of love, justice and peace.

The Lord promises us that, by the power of the resurrection, he can raise us, and our communities, from the ruins left by injustice, division and hatred. For he, like the Good Samaritan of humanity, wants to anoint every hurt, to heal every painful memory and to inspire a future of peace and fraternity in this land.

Even amid great poverty and difficulty, many of you have generously offered concrete help and solidarity to the poor and suffering. Today, I can see at first hand that the Church in Iraq is alive, that Christ is alive and at work in this, his holy and faithful people.

Dear brothers and sisters, I commend you, your families and your communities, to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who was united to her Son in his passion and death, and who shared in the joy of his resurrection. May she intercede for us and lead us to Christ, the power and wisdom of God.




Pope Francis Holy Mass at Baghdad 06.03.21


Pope Francis Holy Mass Baghdad 06.03.21


Click here for the full transcript of the homily




Pope Francis Interreligious Meeting 06.03.21

Plain of Ur, Iraq


Pope Francis Interreligious Meeting Plain of Ur 06.03.21


Click here for the full speech





Pope Francis Meeting with Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians, Catechists
Syro-Catholic Cathedral of “Our Lady of Salvation” in Baghdad 05.03.2021



Pope Francis meeting with Bishops - Baghdad 05.03.21



Click here for the full speech





Pope Francis Video message 04.03.21 
on the upcoming Apostolic Journey to Iraq 
5 to 8 March 2021 

Pope Francis Video message ahead of visit to Iraq 04.03.2021



Click here for the full message





Pope Francis General Audience 03.03.21  

Prayer and the Trinity

Pope Francis - Prayer and the Trinity  - General Audience  03.03.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In our journey of catechesis on prayer, today and next week we will see how, thanks to Jesus Christ, prayer opens us up to the Trinity –to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - to the immense sea of God who is Love. It is Jesus who opened up Heaven to us and projected us into a relationship with God. It was he who did this: he opened up to us this relationship with the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We really did not know how to pray: what words, what feelings and what language were appropriate for God.

Not all prayers are equal, and not all are convenient: the Bible itself attests to the negative outcome of many prayers, which are rejected. Perhaps God at times is not content with our prayers and we are not even aware of this. God looks at the hands of those who pray: to make them pure it is not necessary to wash them; if anything, one must refrain from evil acts.

But perhaps the most moving acknowledgment of the poverty of our prayer came from the lips of the Roman centurion who one day begged Jesus to heal his sick servant. He felt totally inadequate: he was not a Jew, he was an officer in the detested occupying army. But his concern for his servant emboldens him, and he says: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 8). It is the phrase we also repeat in every Eucharistic liturgy. To dialogue with God is a grace: we are not worthy of it, we have no rights to claim, we “limp” with every word and every thought... But Jesus is the door that opens us to this dialogue with God.

Why should humanity be loved by God? There are no obvious reasons, there is no proportion… So much so that most mythologies do not contemplate the possibility of a god who cares about human affairs; on the contrary, they are considered bothersome and boring, entirely negligible. Remember God’s phrase to his people, repeated in Deuteronomy: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us?” This closeness of God is the revelation! This is God’s closeness, that opens us up to dialogue with him.

A God who loves humanity: we would never have had the courage to believe in him, had we not known Jesus. It is the scandal – it is a scandal! - that we find inscribed in the parable of the merciful father, or in that of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep (cf. Lk 15). We would not have been able to conceive or even comprehend such stories if we had not met Jesus. What kind of God is prepared to die for people? Which one? What kind of God loves always and patiently, without demanding to be loved in return? What God accepts the tremendous lack of gratitude of a son who asks for his inheritance in advance and leaves home, squandering everything?

It is Jesus who reveals God’s heart. Thus Jesus tells us through his life the extent to which God is a Father. The paternity that is closeness, compassion and tenderness. Do not forget these three words, that are God’s style. It is his way of expressing his paternity towards us. It is difficult for us to imagine from afar the love with which the Holy Trinity is filled, and the depth of the reciprocal benevolence that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eastern icons offer us a glimpse of this mystery that is the origin and joy of the whole universe.

Above all, it was beyond us to believe that this divine love would expand, landing on our human shore: we are the recipients of a love that has no equal on earth. The Catechism explains: “The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father”. And this is the grace of our faith. We really could not have hoped for a higher vocation: the humanity of Jesus – God who came close to us in Jesus - made available to us the very life of the Trinity, and threw wide open this door of the mystery of the love of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.