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05 2021




Pope Francis presides over the recitation of the Holy Rosary 31.05.21


Pope Francis Holy Rosary Vatican Gardens 31.05.21






Pope Francis Angelus 30.05.21

Trinity Sunday

Pope Francis Trinity Sunday Angelus 30.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

On this feast in which we celebrate God: the mystery of the one God. And this God is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, but God is one! The Father is God; the Son is God; the Spirit is God. But they are not three gods: it is one God in three Persons. It is a mystery that Jesus Christ revealed to us: the Holy Trinity. Today we stop to celebrate this mystery, because the Persons are not adjectives of God, no. They are real, diverse, different Persons; they are not – as that philosopher used to say – ‘emanations of God’, no, no! They are Persons. There is the Father to whom I pray with the Our Father; there is the Son, who gave me redemption, justification; there is the Holy Spirit who abides in us and inhabits the Church. And this speaks to our heart because we find it encompassed in that expression of Saint John which summarizes all of Revelation: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). The Father is love; the Son is love; the Holy Spirit is love. And inasmuch as he is love, God, while being one alone, is not solitude but communion, among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Because love is essentially a gift of self, and in its original and infinite reality it is the Father who gives himself by generating his Son, who in turn gives himself to the Father, and their mutual love is the Holy Spirit, the bond of their unity. It is not easy to understand, but we can live this mystery, all of us, we can live a great deal.

This mystery of the Trinity was revealed to us by Jesus himself. He showed us the face of God as merciful Father; he presented Himself, true man, as the Son of God and Word of the Father, the Saviour who gives his life for us; and he spoke of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Spirit of Truth, Paraclete Spirit – we spoke last Sunday about this word, ‘Paraclete’ – meaning Consoler and Advocate. And when Jesus appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection, Jesus invited them to evangelize “all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

Today’s celebration, therefore, makes us contemplate this marvellous mystery of love and of light from which we come and toward which our earthly journey is guided.

In the message of the Gospel and in every form of the Christian mission, one cannot overlook this unity to which Jesus calls, among us, following the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: one cannot overlook this unity. The beauty of the Gospel asks to be lived – unity – and proven in the harmony among us, who are so diverse! And this unity I dare say is essential to Christians: it is not an attitude, a manner of speaking, no; it is essential, because it is the unity that is born from love, from the mercy of God, from the justification of Jesus Christ and from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Mary Most Holy, in her simplicity and humility, reflects the Beauty of the Triune God, because she fully welcomed Jesus into her life. May she sustain our faith; may she make us worshipers of God and servants of our brothers and sisters.







Pope Francis General Audience 26.05.21

The certainty of being heard

Pope Francis - Unheard Prayers - General Audience 26.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

There is a radical objection to prayer, which derives from an observation that we all make: we pray, we ask, and yet sometimes our prayers seem to go unheard: what we have asked for - for ourselves or for others - is not fulfilled. We have this experience, very often… If the reason for which we prayed was noble, such as intercession for the health of a sick person, or for the end of a war, for instance, the non-fulfilment seems scandalous. For example, for wars: we are praying for wars to end, these wars in so many parts of the world. Think of Yemen, think of Syria, countries that have been at war for years, for years, ravaged by wars, and we pray, but they do not come to an end. But how can this be? “Some even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard”. But if God is Father, why does He not listen to us? He who has assured us that He gives good things to the children who ask Him for them (cf. Mt 7: 10), why does He not respond to our requests? We all have experience of this: we have prayed, prayed, for the illness of a friend, of a father, of a mother, and then they are gone. But God did not grant our request! It is an experience we have all had.

The Catechism offers us a good summary of the matter. It puts us on guard against the risk of not living an authentic experience of faith, but of transforming the relationship with God into something magical. Prayer is not a magic wand: it is a dialogue with the Lord. Indeed, when we pray we can give in to the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting Him to serve us. This is, then, a prayer that is always demanding, that wants to direct events according to our own design, that admits no plans other than our own desires. Jesus, on the other hand, had great wisdom in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer of questions only, as we know, but the first ones we utter are all on God's side. They ask for the fulfilment not of our plan, but of His will for the world. Better to leave it to Him: "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done" (Mt 6:9-10).

And the Apostle Paul reminds us that we do not even know what it is appropriate to ask for. When we pray, we need to be humble: this is the first attitude for going to pray. God will give me what it is right to give. He knows. When we pray we must be humble, so that our words are actually prayers and not just idle talk that God rejects. We can also pray for the wrong reasons: such as, to defeat the enemy in war, without asking ourselves what God thinks of such a war. In prayer, it is God Who must convert us, not we who must convert God. It is humility. I go to pray but You, Lord, convert my heart so that to ask for what is right, for what will be best for my spiritual health.

However, the scandal remains: when people pray with a sincere heart, when they ask for things that correspond to the Kingdom of God, when a mother prays for her sick child, why does it sometimes seem that God does not listen to them? To answer this question, we need to meditate calmly on the Gospels. The accounts of Jesus’ life are full of prayers: many people wounded in body and in spirit ask Him to be healed; there are those who pray for a friend who can no longer walk; there are fathers and mothers who bring sick sons and daughters… They are all prayers imbued with suffering. It is an immense choir that invokes: “Have mercy on us!”

We see that at times Jesus’ response is immediate, whereas in some other cases it is delayed: it seems that God does not answer. Think of the Canaanite woman who begs Jesus for her daughter: this woman has to insist for a long time to be heard. Courage in prayer. Or think of the paralytic brought by his four friends: Jesus initially forgives his sins and only later heals his body. On some occasions, therefore, the solution to the problem is not immediate. In our life too, each one of us has this experience. Let us look back a little: how many times have we asked for a grace, a miracle, let’s say, and nothing has happened. Then, over time, things have worked out but in God’s way, the divine way, not according to what we wanted in that moment. God’s time is not our time.

The healing of Jairus’ daughter is worthy of particular attention (cf. Mk 5: 21-33). There is a father who is in a hurry: his daughter is ill and for this reason he asks for Jesus' help. The Master immediately accepts, but on their way home another healing occurs, and then the news comes that the girl has died. It seems to be the end, but instead Jesus says to the father: “Do not fear, only believe” (Mk 5:36). “Continue to have faith”: because it is faith that sustains prayer. And indeed, Jesus will awaken that child from the sleep of death. But for a time, Jairus had to walk in the dark, with only the flame of faith. Ask for this grace, to have faith. Jesus, in the Gospel, says that faith moves mountains. But, having real faith. Jesus, before the faith of His poor, of His people, is won over; He feels special tenderness, before that faith. And He listens.

The prayer that Jesus addresses to the Father in Gethsemane also seems to go unheard. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”. It seems that the Father does not listen to Him. The Son must drink fully from the chalice of the passion. But Holy Saturday is not the final chapter, because on the third day, Sunday, is the Resurrection. Evil is lord of the penultimate day: remember this well. Evil is never the lord of the last day, no: the penultimate, the moment when the night is darkest, just before the dawn. Then, on the penultimate day, there is temptation, when the devil makes us think he has won: “Have you seen? I have won!”. The evil one is the lord of the penultimate day: on the last is the Resurrection. But the evil one is never lord of the last day: God is the Lord of the last day. Because that belongs to God alone, and it is the day when all human longings for salvation will be fulfilled. Let us learn this humble patience, to await the Lord’s grace, to await the final day. Very often, the penultimate is very hard, because human sufferings are hard. But the Lord is there. And on the last day, He solves everything. Thank you.







Pope Francis Video Message 25.05.21

To mark the Launch of the Laudato Si' Action Platform


Pope Francis Laudato Si' Action Platform Video Message 25.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

With the Encyclical Laudato Si’, promulgated in 2015, I invited all people of good will to take care of the Earth, which is our common home. For a long time now, this house that hosts us suffers as a result of wounds that we cause by our predatory attitude, which makes us feel that we are masters of the planet and its resources, and authorises us to make irresponsible use of the goods God has given us. Nowadays, these wounds manifest themselves dramatically in an ecological crisis without precedent, which affects the ground, the air, water and, in general, the ecosystem in which human beings live. The current pandemic has now brought to light in an even stronger way the cry of nature and that of the poor who suffer most the consequences, highlighting that everything is interconnected and interdependent and that our health is not separated from the health of the environment in which we live.

Therefore, we need a new ecological approach, that can transform our way of dwelling in the world, our styles of life, our relationship with the resources of the Earth and, in general, our way of looking at humanity and of living life. An integral human ecology, that involves not only environmental questions but also mankind in his entirety, that becomes capable of listening to the cry of the poor and of being leaven for a new society.

We have a great responsibility, especially with regard to the future generations. What world do we want to leave to our children and our young? Our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible ways are threatening the future of our children! I therefore renew my appeal: let us take care of our mother Earth, let us overcome the temptation of selfishness that makes us predators of resources, let us cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation, let us inaugurate a lifestyle and a society that is finally eco-sustainable: we have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. From God's hands we have received a garden, we cannot leave a desert to our children.

Today I am pleased to announce that the Laudato Si' Year will result in a concrete action project, the Laudato Si' Action Platform, a seven-year journey that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology.

I would therefore invite everyone to embark on this journey together, and in particular I address these seven environments: families - parishes and dioceses - schools and universities - hospitals - businesses and farms - organisations, groups and movements - religious institutes. Work together. Only in this way will we be able to create the future we want: a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world.

On a journey that will last for seven years, we will let ourselves be guided by the seven aims of Laudato Si’, which will show us the direction while we pursue the vision of integral ecology: the response to the cry of the Earth, the response to the cry of the poor, the ecological economy, the adoption of a simple way of life, ecological education, ecological spirituality and community engagement.

There is hope. We can all collaborate, each one with his own culture and experience, each one with her own initiatives and capacities, so that our mother Earth may be restored to her original beauty and creation may once again shine according to God’s plan.

God bless each one of you, and bless our mission to rebuild out common home. Thank you.





Laudato Si' Action Platform

A journey of integral ecology at every level of society


Laudato Si' Action Platform Video Message 25.05.21




The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development launches the Laudato Si' Action Platform, a seven-year journey of Ecological conversion in Action. The aim is to create a grassroots popular movement for the care of our common home. 25.05.21





Pope Francis Regina Caeli 23.05.21

Solemnity of Pentecost

Pope Francis Pentecost Regina Caeli 23.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

The book of the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:1-11) recounts what happens in Jerusalem 50 days after the Passover of Jesus. The disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, and the Virgin Mary was with them. The Risen Lord had told them to remain in the city until they received the gift of the Spirit from on High. And this was revealed with a “sound” they suddenly heard come from heaven, like the “rush of a mighty wind” that filled the house they were in (cf. v. 2). Thus, it concerns a real but also symbolic experience. Something that happened but also gives us a symbolic message for our whole life.

This experience reveals that the Holy Spirit is like a strong and freely flowing wind; that is, he brings us strength and brings us freedom: a strong and freely flowing wind. He cannot be controlled, stopped, nor measured; nor can his direction be foreseen. He cannot be understood within our human exigencies – we always try to frame things – he does not let himself be framed in our methods and our preconceptions. The Spirit proceeds from God the Father and from his Son Jesus Christ and bursts upon the Church; he bursts upon each one of us, giving life to our minds and our hearts. As the Creed states: he is “the Lord, the giver of life”. He has power because he is God, and he gives life.

On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were still disoriented and fearful. The did not yet have the courage to go out in the open. We too, at times, prefer to remain within the protective walls of our surroundings. But the Lord knows how to reach us and open the doors to our hearts. He sends upon us the Holy Spirit who envelops us and overpowers all our hesitations, tears down our defences, dismantles our false certainties. The Spirit makes us new beings, just as he did that day with the Apostles: he renews us, new beings.

After having received the Holy Spirit they were no longer as they were before – he changed them, but they went out and began to preach Jesus, to preach that Jesus is risen, that the Lord is with us, in such a way that each one understood them in his or her own language. Because the Spirit is universal; he does not remove cultural differences, differences of thought, no. He is for everyone, but each one understands him in his or her own culture, in his or her own language. The Spirit changes the heart, broadens the view of the disciples. He enables them to communicate to everyone the great, limitless works of God, surpassing the cultural confines and religious confines within which they were accustomed to thinking and living. The Apostles, he enables them to reach others, respecting their possibilities of listening and understanding, in the culture and language of each one (vv. 5-11). In other words, the Holy Spirit puts different people in communication, achieving the unity and universality of the Church.

And today this truth tells us so much, this reality of the Holy Spirit, where in the Church there are small groups who always seek division, to separate themselves from others. This is not the Spirit of God. The spirit of God is harmony, is unity, unites differences. A good Cardinal, who was the Archbishop of Genoa, said that the Church is like a river: the important thing is to be inside; if you are a little on that side and a little on the other side is not important; the Holy Spirit creates unity. He used the figure of a river. The important thing is to be inside, in the unity of the Spirit, and not look at the pettiness that you are a little on this side and a little on that side, that you pray in this way or the other…. This is not of God. The Church is for everyone, for everyone, as the Holy Spirit showed on the day of Pentecost.

Today let us ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to intercede so that the Holy Spirit descends in abundance, fills the hearts of the faithful and kindles the fire of his love in everyone.






Pope Francis Holy Mass 23.05.21

Solemnity of Pentecost

Pope Francis  Holy Mass at Pentecost 23.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

“When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send to you from the Father…” (Jn 15:26). With these words, Jesus promises to send his disciples the Holy Spirit, the ultimate gift, the gift of gifts. He uses an unusual and mysterious word to describe the Spirit: Paraclete. Today let us reflect on this word, which is not easy to translate, for it has a number of meanings. Essentially, it means two things: Comforter and Advocate.

The Paraclete is the Comforter. All of us, particularly at times of difficulty like those we are presently experiencing due to the pandemic, look for consolation. Often, though, we turn only to earthly comforts, ephemeral comforts that quickly fade. Today, Jesus offers us heavenly comfort, the Holy Spirit, who is “of comforters the best”. What is the difference? The comforts of the world are like a pain reliever: they can give momentary relief, but not cure the illness we carry deep within. They can soothe us, but not heal us at the core. They work on the surface, on the level of the senses, but hardly touch our hearts. Only someone who makes us feel loved for who we are can give peace to our hearts. The Holy Spirit, the love of God, does precisely that. He comes down within us; as the Spirit, he acts in our spirit. He comes down “within the heart”, as “the soul’s most welcome guest”. He is the very love of God, who does not abandon us; for being present to those who are alone is itself a source of comfort.

Dear sister, dear brother, if you feel the darkness of solitude, if you feel that an obstacle within you blocks the way to hope, if your heart has a festering wound, if you can see no way out, then open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “where the trials are greater, he brings greater comfort, not like the world, which comforts and flatters us when things go well, but derides and condemns us when they do not”. That is what the world does, that is especially what the hostile spirit, the devil, does. First, he flatters us and makes us feel invincible (for the blandishments of the devil feed our vanity); then he flings us down and makes us feel that we are failures. He toys with us. He does everything to cast us down, whereas the Spirit of the risen Lord wants to raise us up. Look at the apostles: they were alone that morning, alone and bewildered, cowering behind closed doors, living in fear and overwhelmed by their weaknesses, failings and their sins, for they had denied Christ. The years they had spent with Jesus had not changed them: they were no different than they had been. Then, they received the Spirit and everything changed: the problems and failings remained, yet they were no longer afraid of them, nor of any who would be hostile to them. They sensed comfort within and they wanted to overflow with the comfort of God. Before, they were fearful; now their only fear was that of not testifying to the love they had received. Jesus had foretold this: “The Spirit will testify on my behalf; you also are to testify”.

Let us go another step. We too are called to testify in the Holy Spirit, to become paracletes, comforters. The Spirit is asking us to embody the comfort he brings. How can we do this? Not by making great speeches, but by drawing near to others. Not with trite words, but with prayer and closeness. Let us remember that closeness, compassion and tenderness are God’s “trademark”, always. The Paraclete is telling the Church that today is the time for comforting. It is more the time for joyfully proclaiming the Gospel than for combatting paganism. It is the time for bringing the joy of the Risen Lord, not for lamenting the drama of secularization. It is the time for pouring out love upon the world, yet not embracing worldliness. It is more the time for testifying to mercy, than for inculcating rules and regulations. It is the time of the Paraclete! It is the time of freedom of heart, in the Paraclete.

The Paraclete is also the Advocate. In Jesus’ day, advocates did not do what they do today: rather than speaking in the place of defendants, they simply stood next to them and suggested arguments they could use in their own defence. That is what the Paraclete does, for he is “the spirit of truth” (v. 26). He does not take our place, but defends us from the deceits of evil by inspiring thoughts and feelings. He does so discreetly, without forcing us: he proposes but does not impose. The spirit of deceit, the evil one, does the opposite: he tries to force us; he wants to make us think that we must always yield to the allure and the promptings of vice. Let us try to accept three suggestions that are typical of the Paraclete, our Advocate. They are three fundamental antidotes to three temptations that today are so widespread.

The first advice offered by the Holy Spirit is, “Live in the present”. The present, not the past or the future. The Paraclete affirms the primacy of today, against the temptation to let ourselves be paralyzed by rancour or memories of the past, or by uncertainty or fear about the future. The Spirit reminds us of the grace of the present moment. There is no better time for us: now, here and now, is the one and only time to do good, to make our life a gift. Let us live in the present!

The Spirit also tells us, “Look to the whole”. The whole, not the part. The Spirit does not mould isolated individuals, but shapes us into a Church in the wide variety of our charisms, into a unity that is never uniformity. The Paraclete affirms the primacy of the whole. There, in the whole, in the community, the Spirit prefers to work and to bring newness. Let us look at the apostles. They were all quite different. They included, for example, Matthew, a tax collector who collaborated with the Romans, and Simon called the zealot, who fought them. They had contrary political ideas, different visions of the world. Yet once they received the Spirit, they learned to give primacy not to their human viewpoints but to the “whole” that is God’s plan. The Paraclete impels us to unity, to concord, to the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another. Let us look to the whole! The enemy wants diversity to become opposition and so he makes them become ideologies. Say no to ideologies, yes to the whole.

The third advice of the Spirit is, “Put God before yourself”. This is the decisive step in the spiritual life, which is not the sum of our own merits and achievements, but a humble openness to God. The Spirit affirms the primacy of grace. Only by emptying ourselves, do we leave room for the Lord; only by giving ourselves to him, do we find ourselves; only by becoming poor in spirit, do we become rich in the Holy Spirit. This is also true of the Church. We save no one, not even ourselves, by our own efforts. If we give priority to our own projects, our structures, our plans for reform, we will be concerned only about effectiveness, efficiency, we will think only in horizontal terms and, as a result, we will bear no fruit. An “-ism” is an ideology that divides and separates. The Church is human, but it is not merely a human organization, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus brought the fire of the Spirit to the earth and the Church is reformed by the anointing of grace, the gratuity of the anointing of grace, the power of prayer, the joy of mission and the disarming beauty of poverty. Let us put God in first place!

Holy Spirit, Paraclete Spirit, comfort our hearts. Make us missionaries of your comfort, paracletes of your mercy before the world. Our Advocate, sweet counsellor of the soul, make us witnesses of the “today” of God, prophets of unity for the Church and humanity, and apostles grounded in your grace, which creates and renews all things. Amen.




Pope Francis General Audience 19.05.21

Prayer - Distractions, time of barrenness, sloth

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

In this catechesis we refer to the lived experience of prayer, trying to show some very common difficulties, which must be identified and overcome. Praying is not easy: many difficulties present themselves in prayer. It is necessary to know them, recognise them and overcome them.

The first problem that emerges to those who pray is distraction. You start to pray and then your mind wanders, it wanders all over the place; your heart is here, your mind is there… distraction from prayer. Prayer often co-exists with distraction. Indeed, the human mind finds it hard to dwell for long on a single thought. We all experience this constant whirlwind of images and illusions in perpetual motion, which accompanies us even during sleep. And we all know that it is not good to follow this inclination to disorder.

The battle to achieve and maintain concentration does not relate only to prayer. If one does not attain a sufficient level of concentration one cannot study profitably, nor can one work well. 

Distractions are not guilty, but they must be fought. In the heritage of our faith there is a virtue that is often forgotten, but which is so present in the Gospel. It is called “vigilance”. In a moment that we do not know, the voice of our Lord will resound: on that day, blessed will be those servants whom He will find industrious, still focused on what really matters. The imagination wanders, it wanders and wanders.  We must stop it and cage it, with attention.

The time of barrenness warrants a different discourse.  Barrenness makes us think of Good Friday, at night, and Holy Saturday, all the day: Jesus is not there, He is in the tomb; Jesus is dead, we are alone.  Very often we are “down”, or rather, we don’t have feelings, we don’t have consolation, we are unable. They are those grey days … and there are so many of them in life! But the danger is having a grey heart: when this “feeling down” reaches the heart and it sickens. This is terrible: one cannot pray, one cannot feel consolation with a grey heart! Or, one cannot emerge from spiritual barrenness with a grey heart. The heart must be open and luminous, so that the light of the Lord can enter. And if it does not enter, wait for it, with hope. But do not close it up in greyness.

Then, a different thing is sloth, another flaw, another vice, which is a real temptation against prayer and, more generally, against the Christian life. Sloth is “a form of depression due to lax ascetically practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart”. It is one of the seven “deadly sins” because, fuelled by conceit, it can lead to the death of the soul.

So what can we do in this succession of enthusiasms and discouragements? One must learn to go forward always. True progress in the spiritual life does not consist in multiplying ecstasies, but in being able to persevere in difficult times. Let us remember Saint Francis’ parable on perfect joy: it is not in the infinite fortunes rained down from Heaven that the ability of a friar is measured, but in walking steadily, even when one is not recognised, even when one is mistreated, even when everything has lost its initial flavour. All the saints have passed through this “dark valley”, and let us not be scandalised if, reading their diaries, we find accounts of evenings of listless prayer, lived without enthusiasm. We must learn to say: “Even though You, my God, seem to be doing everything to make me stop believing in You, I still continue to pray to You”. Believers never stop praying! It may sometimes resemble the prayer of Job, who does not accept that God treats him unjustly, protests and calls him to judgment. But, very often, even protesting before God is a way of praying.

And we too, who are far less holy and patient than Job, know that in the end, at the end of this time of desolation, during which we have raised to Heaven silent cries and asked “why?” many times, God will answer us. Do not forget the prayer that asks “why?”. It is the prayer of children when they begin not to understand things. When we get a bit angry with God and start asking why, we are attracting the heart of our Father towards our misery, towards our difficulties, towards our life. But yes, have the courage to say to God: “But why?”. Because at times, getting a bit angry is good for you, because it reawakens that son-father, daughter-father relationship we must have with God. And He will accept even our harshest and bitterest expressions with a father’s love, and will consider them as an act of faith, as a prayer. Thank you.






Pope Francis Regina Caeli 16.05.21

Ascension of the Lord

Pope Francis - the Ascension of the Lord - 16.05.21Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above
Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. The Gospel passage (Mk 16:15-20) – the conclusion of the Gospel of Mark – presents us the Risen One’s final encounter with the disciples before he ascends to the right hand of the Father. Usually, as we know, farewell scenes are sad. They cause a feeling of loss, of abandonment in those who remain; instead, none of this happens to the disciples. Despite their separation from the Lord, they do not appear grief-stricken, but rather, they are joyful and ready to go out into the world as missionaries.

Why are the disciples not sad? Why should we too rejoice at seeing Jesus ascending into heaven? Because the Ascension completes Jesus’ mission among us. Indeed, if it is for us that Jesus descended from heaven, it is also for us that he ascends there. After having descended into our humanity and redeeming it he now ascends into heaven, taking our flesh with him. He is the first man who enters heaven, because Jesus is man, true man; he is God, true God; our flesh is in heaven and this gives us joy. Now at the right hand of the Father sits a human body, for the first time, the body of Jesus, and in this mystery each of us contemplates our own future destination. This is not at all an abandonment; Jesus remains forever with the disciples – with us. He remains in prayer, because he, as man, prays to the Father, and as God, man and God, shows Him his wounds, the wounds by which he has redeemed us. Jesus’ prayer is there, with our flesh: he is one of us, God man, and he prays for us.

And this has to give us confidence, or rather joy, great joy! And the second reason for joy is Jesus’ promise. He told us: “I will send you the Holy Spirit”. And there, with the Holy Spirit, that commandment is made which he gives in his farewell: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”. And it will be the power of the Holy Spirit that leads us there into the world, to bring the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit of that day, that Jesus promised, and then nine days later he will come in the Feast of Pentecost. It is precisely the Holy Spirit who made it possible for us to be this way today. 

Brothers and sisters, on this Feast of the Ascension, while we contemplate Heaven, where Christ has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, let us ask Mary, Queen of Heaven, to help us be courageous witnesses to the Risen One in the world, in the concrete situations of life.







Pope Francis Holy Mass 16.05.21

for the Myanmar community in Rome


Holy Mass for the Myanmar resident in Rome 16.05.21Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In the last hours of his life, Jesus prays. In those sorrowful moments, as he prepares to take leave of his disciples and this world, Jesus prays for his friends. Even though he bears in his heart and in his flesh all the sin of the world, Jesus continues to love us and pray for us. From his prayer, we learn how to deal with dramatic and painful moments in our own lives. Let us think about one particular word that Jesus uses in his prayer to Father: it is the word “keep”. Dear brothers and sisters, in these days when your beloved country of Myanmar is experiencing violence, conflict and repression, let us ask ourselves: what we are being called to keep?

In the first place, to keep the faith. We need to keep the faith lest we yield to grief or plunge into the despair of those who no longer see a way out. In the Gospel, John tells us that Jesus, before uttering a word, “looked up to heaven” (Jn 17:1). In these, the final hours of his life, Jesus is weighed down by anguish at the prospect of his passion, conscious of the dark night he is about to endure, feeling betrayed and abandoned. Yet in same moment, he looks up to heaven. Jesus lifts his eyes to God. He does not resign himself to evil; he does not let himself be overwhelmed by grief; he does not retreat into the bitterness of the defeated and disappointed; instead, he looks to heaven. This was the same advice he had given his disciples. To keep the faith is to keep our gaze lifted up to heaven, as here on earth, battles are fought and innocent blood is shed. To keep the faith is to refuse to yield to the logic of hatred and vengeance, but to keep our gaze fixed on the God of love, who calls us to be brothers and sisters to one another.

Prayer leads us to trust in God even in times of difficulty. It helps us to hope when things seem hopeless and it sustains us in our everyday struggles. Prayer is not a retreat, an escape, in the face of problems. Instead, it is the only weapon at our disposal for keeping love and hope alive amid the weapons of death. It is not easy to lift our gaze when we are hurting, but faith helps us resist the temptation to turn in on ourselves. We may want to protest, to cry out to God in our pain. We should not be afraid to do so, for this too is prayer.  At times it is a prayer that God hears more than others, since it comes from a wounded heart and the Lord always hears the cry of his people and dries their tears.

Second, to keep unity. Jesus asks the Father to preserve the unity of his disciples, so that they may be “completely one” (Jn 17:21), one family in which love and fraternity reign. He knew what was in the heart of his disciples; he had seen them argue at times about who was the greatest, who should be in charge. This is a deadly disease: the disease of division. We experience it in our hearts, because we are divided within; we experience it in families and communities, among peoples, even in the Church. Sins against unity abound: envy, jealousy, the pursuit of personal interests rather than the common good, the tendency to judge others. Those little conflicts of ours find a reflection in great conflicts, like the one your country is experiencing in these days. Once partisan interests and the thirst for profit and power take over, conflicts and divisions inevitably break out. The final appeal that Jesus makes before his Passover is an appeal for unity. For division is of the devil, the great divider and the great liar who always creates division.

We are called to keep unity, to take seriously this heartfelt plea of Jesus to the Father: to be completely one, to be a family, to find the courage live in friendship, love and fraternity. What great need we have, especially today, for fraternity! I know that some political and social situations are bigger than we are. Yet commitment to peace and fraternity always comes from below: each person, in little things, can play his or her part. Each of you can make an effort to be, in little things, a builder of fraternity, a sower of fraternity, someone who works to rebuild what is broken rather than fomenting violence. We are also called to do this as a Church; let us promote dialogue, respect for others, care for our brothers and sisters, communion! 

Finally, and third, we are called to keep the truth. Jesus asks the Father to consecrate his disciples in truth as they will be sent throughout the world to carry on his mission. Keeping the truth does not mean defending ideas, becoming guardians of a system of doctrines and dogmas, but remaining bound to Christ and being devoted to his Gospel. Jesus prays that his disciples, although living in the world, will not follow the criteria of this world. They are not to let themselves be enticed by idols, but to keep their friendship with him; they are not to bend the Gospel to human and worldly ways of thinking, but to preserve his message in its integrity.  At times, we Christians want to compromise, but the Gospel asks us to be steadfast in the truth and for the truth, offering our lives for others. Amid war, violence and hatred, fidelity to the Gospel and being peacemakers calls for commitment, also through social and political choices, even at the risk of our lives. Only in this way can things change. 

Dear brothers and sisters, today I wish to lay upon the Lord’s altar the sufferings of his people and to join you in praying that God will convert all hearts to peace. Jesus’ prayer helps us keep the faith, even in times of difficulty, to be builders of unity and to risk our lives for the truth of the Gospel. Please, do not lose hope: even today, Jesus is interceding before the Father, he stands before the Father in his prayer. He shows the Father, in his prayer, the wounds with which he paid for our salvation. In this prayer Jesus intercedes for all of us, praying that the Father will keep us from the evil one and set us free from evil’s power.






Pope Francis General Audience 12.05.21

The Struggle of Prayer

Pope Francis - The struggle of prayer - 12.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

Christian prayer, like all Christian life, is not a “walk in the park”. None of the great people of prayer we meet in the Bible and in the history of the Church found prayer “comfortable”. Yes, one can pray like a parrot – blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – but that is not prayer. Prayer certainly gives great peace, but through inner struggle, at times hard, which can accompany even long periods of life. Praying is not something easy, and this is why we flee from it. Every time we want to pray, we are immediately reminded of many other activities, which at that moment seem more important and more urgent. This happens to me too! It happens to me. I go to pray a little… and no, I must do this and that… We flee from prayer, I don’t know why, but that is how it is. Almost always, after putting off prayer, we realise that those things were not essential at all, and that we may have wasted time. This is how the Enemy deceives us.

All Godly men and women report not only the joy of prayer, but also the tediousness and fatigue it can bring: at times it is a difficult struggle to keep to the time and ways of praying. Some saints continued it for years without finding any satisfaction in it, without perceiving its usefulness. Silence, prayer and concentration are difficult exercises, and sometimes human nature rebels. We would rather be anywhere else in the world, but not there, in that church pew, praying. Those who want to pray must remember that faith is not easy, and sometimes it moves forward in almost total darkness, without points of reference. There are moments in the life of faith that are dark, and therefore some saints call this “the dark night”, because we hear nothing. But I continue to pray.

The Catechism lists a long series of enemies of prayer, those that make it difficult to pray, that put us in difficulty. Some doubt that prayer can truly reach the Almighty: why does God remain silent? If God is Almighty, He could say a couple of words and end the matter. Faced with the elusiveness of the divine, others suspect that prayer is a merely psychological operation; something that may be useful, but is neither true nor necessary: and one could even be a practitioner without being a believer. And so it goes on, many explanations.

However, the worst enemies of prayer are found within us. The Catechism describes them thus: “Discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have ‘great possessions’, we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift” (2728). This is clearly a summary that could be extended.

What should be done in time of temptation, when everything seems to waver? If we look at the history of spirituality, it is immediately seen that the masters of the soul were very clear about the situation we have described. To overcome it, each of them offered some type of contribution: a word of wisdom, or a suggestion for dealing moments fraught with difficulty. It is not a question of elaborate theories, of preconceived theories, no, but of advice born of experience, which shows the importance of resisting and persevering in prayer.

For example, the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is a short book of great wisdom that teaches how to put one’s life in order. It makes us understand that the Christian vocation is militancy, it is the decision to stand beneath the standard of Jesus Christ and not under that of the devil, trying to do good even when it becomes difficult.

In times of trial, it is good to remember that we are not alone, that someone is watching over us and protecting us. Saint Anthony the Abbot, the founder of Christian monasticism, also faced terrible times in Egypt, when prayer became a difficult struggle.  And very often, prayer is combat. There was a married couple with a daughter aged nine, the doctor said to the  father, “The child will not survive the night. There is nothing we can do to stop this infection”. Perhaps that man did not attend Mass every Sunday, but he had great faith. He left, weeping; he left his wife there with the child in the hospital, he took the train and he travelled seventy kilometres towards the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina. And there – the Basilica was already closed, it was almost ten o’clock at night, in the evening – he clung to the grates of the Basilica and spent all night praying to Our Lady, fighting for his daughter’s health. This is not a figment of the imagination: I saw him! I saw him myself. That man there, fighting. At the end, at six o’clock in the morning, the Church opened, he entered to salute Our Lady, and returned home.  Then he went to see [his wife], and she was smiling, saying: “I don’t know what happened. The doctors said that something changed, and now she is cured”. That man, fighting with prayer, received the grace of Our Lady. Our Lady listened to him. And I saw this: prayer works miracles, because prayer goes directly to the heart of the tenderness of God, who cares for us like a father. And when He does not grant us a grace, He will grant us another which in time we will see. But always, combat in prayer to ask for grace. Prayer is combat, and the Lord is always with us.

If in a moment of blindness we cannot see His presence, we will in the future. We will also end up repeating the same sentence that the patriarch Jacob said one day: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it” (Gen 28:16). At the end of our lives, looking back, we too will be able to say: “I thought I was alone, but no, I was not: Jesus was with me”. We will all be able to say this. Thank you.






Pope Francis Regina Caeli 09.05.21
 
Love

  Pope Francis - Homily about Love - 09.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In this Sunday’s Gospel passage (Jn 15:9-17) after having compared Himself to the vine and us to the branches, Jesus, explains what fruit is borne by those who remain united to Him: this fruit is love. He again repeats the key-verb: abide. He invites us to abide in his love so that his joy may be in us and our joy may be full (vv. 9-11). To abide in Jesus’ love.

Let us ask ourselves: what this love is in which Jesus tells us to abide to have his joy? What is this love? It is the love that originates in the Father, because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). This love of God, of the Father, flows like a river in his Son Jesus and through Him comes to us, his creatures. Indeed, he says: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (Jn 15:9). The love Jesus gives us is the same with which the Father loves Him: pure love, unconditional, freely given love. It cannot be bought, it is free. By giving it to us, Jesus treats us like friends – with this love –, making us know the Father, and he involves us in his same mission for the life of the world.

And then, we can ask ourselves the question, how do we abide in this love? Jesus says: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (v. 10). Jesus summarized his commandments in a single one, this: “that you love one another as I have loved you” (v. 12). To love as Jesus means to offer yourself in service, at the service of your brothers and sisters, as he did in washing the feet of the disciples. It also means going outside of ourselves, detaching ourselves from our own human certainties, from earthly comforts, in order to open ourselves up to others, especially those in greater need. It means making ourselves available, as we are and with what we have. This means to love not in word but in deeds.

To love like Christ means saying ‘no’ to other ‘loves’ that the world offers us: love of money – those who love money do not love as Jesus loves -, love of success, vanity, [love] of power…. These deceptive paths of “love” distance us from the Lord’s love and lead us to become more and more selfish, narcissistic, overbearing. And being overbearing leads to a degeneration of love, to the abuse others, to making our loved ones suffer. To love as the Lord loves us means to appreciate the people beside us, to respect their freedom, to love them as they are, not as we want them to be, gratuitously. Ultimately, Jesus asks us to abide in his love, to dwell in his love, not in our ideas, not in our own self-worship. Those who dwell in self-worship live in the mirror: always looking at themselves. Those who overcome the ambition to control and manage others. Not controlling, serving them. Opening our heart to others, this is love, giving ourselves to others.

Dear brothers and sisters, where does this abiding in the Lord’s love lead? Where does it lead us? Jesus told us: “That my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11). And the Lord wants the joy he possesses, because he is in complete communion with the Father, to be in us insofar as we are united to Him. The joy of knowing we are loved by God despite our infidelities enables us to face the trials of life confidently, makes us live through crises so as to emerge from them better. Our being true witnesses consists in living this joy, because joy is the distinctive sign of a true Christian. True Christians are not sad; they always have that joy inside, even in difficult moments.

May the Virgin Mary help us to abide in Jesus’ love and to grow in love for everyone, witnessing to the joy of the Risen Lord.







Pope Francis Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021

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

TOWARDS AN EVER WIDER “WE”

In the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, I expressed a concern and a hope that remain uppermost in my thoughts: “Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’” (No. 35).

For this reason, I have wished to devote the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the theme, Towards An Ever Wider “We”, in order to indicate a clear horizon for our common journey in this world.






Pope Francis General Audience 05.05.21

Contemplative prayer

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

We continue the catechesis on prayer and in this catechesis, I would like to reflect on contemplative prayer.

The contemplative dimension of the human being – which is not yet contemplative prayer – is a bit like the “salt” of life: it gives flavour, it seasons our day. We can contemplate by gazing at the sun that rises in the morning, or at the trees that deck themselves out in spring green; we can contemplate by listening to music or to the sounds of the birds, reading a book, gazing at a work of art or at that masterpiece that is the human face. The truth is that those who live in a large city, where everything – we can say – is artificial and where everything is functional, risk losing the capacity to contemplate. To contemplate is not primarily a way of doing, but a way of being. To be contemplative.

And being contemplatives does not depend on the eyes, but on the heart. And here prayer enters into play as an act of faith and love, as the “breath” of our relationship with God. Prayer purifies the heart and, with it, also sharpens our gaze, allowing it to grasp reality from another point of view. The Catechism describes this transformation of the heart that prayer effects, citing a famous testimony of the Holy Curé of Ars who said this: “Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. ‘I look at him and he looks at me’: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to the holy curé while praying before the tabernacle. […] The light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men”. Everything comes from this: from a heart that feels that it is looked on with love. Then reality is contemplated with different eyes.

Loving contemplation, typical of the most intimate prayer, does not need many words. A gaze is enough. It is enough to be convinced that our life is surrounded by an immense and faithful love that nothing can ever separate us from.

Jesus was a master of this gaze. His life never lacked the time, space, silence, the loving communion that allows one’s existence not to be devastated by the inevitable trials, but to maintain beauty intact. His secret is his relationship with his heavenly Father.

There is no opposition between contemplation and action. No. In the Gospel and in Jesus there is no contradiction.

There is only one great call, one great call in the Gospel, and it is that of following Jesus on the way of love. This is the summit and it is the centre of everything. In this sense, charity and contemplation are synonymous, they say the same thing. Saint John of the Cross believed that a small act of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the other works combined. What is born of prayer and not from the presumption of our ego, what is purified by humility, even if it is a hidden and silent act of love, is the greatest miracle that a Christian can perform. And this is the path of contemplative prayer: I look at Him and He looks at me. It is that act of love in silent dialogue with Jesus that does so much good for the Church. Thank you.







Pope Francis Regina Caeli 02.05.21

Remain in Jesus

Pope Francis - Remain in Jesus - Regina Caeli 02.05.21
Excerpt below, for the full transcript click on the picture link above

In the Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Easter (Jn 15:1-8), the Lord presents himself as the true vine, and speaks of us as the branches that cannot live without being united to Him. And so He says: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (v. 5). There is no vine without branches, and vice versa. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, which is the source of their existence.

Jesus insists on the verb “to abide”. He repeats it seven times in today’s Gospel reading. Before leaving this world and going to the Father, Jesus wants to reassure His disciples that they can continue to be united with Him. He says, “Abide in me, and I in you” (v. 4). This abiding is not a question of abiding passively, of “slumbering” in the Lord, letting oneself be lulled by life: no, no! It is not this. The abiding in Him, the abiding in Jesus that He proposes to us is abiding actively, and also reciprocally. Why? Because the branches without the vine can do nothing, they need sap to grow and to bear fruit; but the vine, too, needs the branches, since fruit does not grow on the tree trunk. It is a reciprocal need, it is a question of a reciprocal abiding so as to bear fruit. We abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us.

First of all, we need Him. The Lord wants to say to us that before the observance of His commandments, before the beatitudes, before works of mercy, it is necessary to be united to Him, to remain in him. We cannot be good Christians if we do not remain in Jesus. With Him, instead, we can do everything.

But even Jesus needs us, like the vine with the branches. Perhaps to say this seems audacious to us, and so we ask ourselves: in what sense does Jesus need us? He needs our witness. Like the branches the fruit we must give is the witness to our lives as Christians. After Jesus ascended to the Father, the task of the disciples - it is our task - is to continue to proclaim the Gospel in words and in deeds. And the disciples - we, Jesus’ disciples - do so by bearing witness to His love: the fruit to be borne is love. Attached to Christ, we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in this way we can do good to our neighbour, we can do good to society, to the Church. The tree is known by its fruit. A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ.

And how can we succeed in doing this? Jesus says to us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (v.7). This too is bold: the certainty that what we ask for will be given to us. The fruitfulness of our life depends on prayer. We can ask to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and things with the eyes of Jesus. And in this way, to love our brothers and sisters, starting from the poorest and those who suffer most, like He did, and to love them with His heart and to bring to the world fruits of goodness, fruits of charity, fruits of peace.

Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She always remained completely united to Jesus and bore much fruit. May she help us abide in Christ, in his love, in his word, to bear witness to the Risen Lord in the world.







Pope Francis The Holy Rosary 01.05.21


  
Pope Francis Rosary Prayer 01.05.21

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity, and continued health.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen





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