Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit 2019 onwards

Pope Francis 

      

30.04.19 Holy Mass, Santa Marta     

John 3: 7B-15  

We can be reborn from our sinful existence only with the help of the same power that raised the Lord: the power of God. That’s why, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit, because alone, we cannot do it.

The message of the Lord's resurrection is this gift of the Holy Spirit and indeed the first appearance of Jesus to the apostles, on the Sunday of the Resurrection, the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”. "This is our strength! We cannot do anything without the Spirit”.

Christian life is not only about behaving well and do this don't do that. We can do this. We can write our lives in flourishing penmanship but the Christian is born again only by the Spirit, therefore we must make room for it:

It is the Spirit that allows us to rise from our limitations, from our deaths, because there are so many neuroses in our life and in our soul. The message of the resurrection is that of Jesus to Nicodemus: we must be born again. But how? A life, that may call itself Christian, but that leaves no room for the Spirit and does not allow itself to be carried forward by the Spirit, is a pagan life, disguised as Christian.

The Spirit is the protagonist of Christian life. The Holy Spirit, who accompanies us, transforms us, and overcomes sin with us.

No one has ever ascended to heaven except He who descended from heaven, that is Jesus. He came down from heaven, and at the moment of the resurrection, he said to us ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’, the companion of Christian life.

There cannot be a Christian life without the Holy Spirit, who is our daily companion, a gift from the Father, a gift from Jesus.

Let us ask the Lord, to give us this awareness that we cannot be Christians without walking with the Holy Spirit, without acting with the Holy Spirit, without letting the Holy Spirit be the protagonist of our lives.

We must, therefore, ask ourselves, what place does the Spirit have in our lives, and we must ask the Lord for the grace to understand this message: "Our companion on our way is the Holy Spirit”.

30.04.19

Pope Francis 

      

26.05.19   Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square    

6th Sunday of Easter Year C    

John 14: 23-29  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The Gospel of this Sixth Sunday of Easter presents us with a passage from the speech that Jesus gave to the Apostles at the last supper (cf. Jn -29 14.23). He speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit and makes a promise: "the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you" (v. 26). As the moment of the cross approaches, Jesus reassures the Apostles that they will not be left alone: the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, will always be there with them to support them in their mission of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the whole world. In the original Greek, the word "Paraclete" means the one who stands beside another, in order to support and console. Jesus returns to the Father, but He continues to instruct and animate His disciples through the action of the Holy Spirit.

What is the Mission of the Holy Spirit who Jesus promises as a gift? He himself says: "He will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you". In the course of His earthly life, Jesus has already transmitted all that He wanted to entrust to the Apostles: He brought divine revelation to completion, that is everything that the Father meant to say to humanity through the incarnation of the Son. The Holy Spirit's task is to make people remember, in other words to make them fully understand and encourage them to concretely implement the teachings of Jesus. And this is also the Mission of the Church, which carries it out through a precise way of life, characterized by certain requirements: faith in the Lord and the observance of His word; docility to the action of the spirit, who continually makes the risen Lord alive and present; the acceptance of His peace and the witness born of Him through an attitude of openness and encounter with others.

To accomplish this the Church cannot remain stationary, but, through the active participation of each baptized person, she is called upon to act as a community on a journey, animated and sustained by the light and power of the Holy Spirit who makes all things new. It is a question of freeing ourselves from the worldly bonds represented by our views, our strategies, our objectives, which often weigh down the journey of faith, and to ask us to listen to the word of the Lord. Thus it is the spirit of God who guides us and guides the Church so that her authentic face beautiful and luminous willed by Christ may shine forth.

Today the Lord invites us to open our hearts to the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that He may guide us along the paths of history. He teaches us, day by day, the logic of the Gospel, the logic of welcoming love, "teaching us everything" and "reminding us of all that the Lord has told us." May Mary, who in this month of May we venerate and to whom we pray with special devotion as our Heavenly Mother, always protect the Church and all humanity. May she who, with humble and courageous faith, cooperated fully with the Holy Spirit in the incarnation of the Son of God, also help us to let ourselves be instructed and guided by the Paraclete, so that we can accept the word of God and bear witness to it with our lives. 

26.05.19

Pope Francis 

      

28.05.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta 

Tuesday of 6th week of Easter Year C      

Acts 16: 22-34,       John 16: 5-11  

Sadness is not a Christian attitude. Even if life isn't a Carnival, and there are so many difficulties, you can overcome them and go forward but, it takes daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, the one who accompanies us.

The central figure of todays Gospel passage is the Holy Spirit. In the farewell speech to His disciples before ascending into heaven, Jesus gives us a true catechesis on the Holy Spirit, He explains who he is. The disciples are sad to hear that their master will soon will leave them and Jesus rebukes them for this, pointing out that although "grief has filled your hearts, (…) it is better for you that I go.

But how can one not be sad? To counter sadness, we pray to the Lord to keep the renewed youth of the spirit within us. It is the Holy Spirit, who ensures that we continue to be renewed and youthful in our faith.

A great Saint said: a Saint is a sad sad Saint. So, a Christian is a sad sad Christian: not right. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes us able to carry our crosses. Today's first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells the storey of Paul and Silas who had been stripped, beaten, chained and imprisoned, sang hymns to God.

The Holy Spirit renews everything. The Holy Spirit accompanies us in life and sustains us, is the Paraclete. But what a strange name! I remember when as a priest at a mass for children on a Pentecost Sunday I asked them if they knew who is the Holy Spirit. And a child answered: the paralytic. And we too often think that the Holy Spirit is a paralytic, who does nothing ....

Paraclete: the word paraclete means "He who is near me and supports me so that I don’t fall, so I keep my spirit youthful. A Christian is always young: always. and when the heart of a Christian begins to age, so does his Christian vocation.

Either you are young in heart and soul, or you are not fully Christian.

In life there will be pain, Paul and Silas had been beaten and were suffering, but they were full of joy, sang ...

He explained that this is where the "youthful" part comes in as youth looks ahead with hope. But to be able to have this youthful attitude, we need a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, who is always with. It is the great gift that Jesus left us this support, that keeps you going.

And even though we are sinners, the Spirit helps us to repent and makes us look ahead. Talk to the spirit, he will give you support and give you back your youth. Sin on the other hand ages: ages the soul, everything gets older. Never this pagan sadness.

In life there are difficult times but at such times we feel that the Spirit helps us move forward (...) and overcome the difficulties. Even martyrdom.

"Let us ask the Lord to not lose this renewed youthfulness, not to be Christians who have lost their joy and not allowed themselves to carry on ... A Christian should never retires; a Christian lives, lives because he is young – when he is a true Christian ".

28.05.19


Pope Francis          

29.05.19   General Audience, St Peter's Square   

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles  

Acts 1: 1-8 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a journey of catechesis through the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This biblical book, written by St. Luke the Evangelist, talks about the journey – a journey: but what journey? The journey of the Gospel in the world and shows us the wonderful combination of the word of God and the Holy Spirit that opens the time of evangelization. The protagonists of the Acts are precisely a lively and effective couple: the word of God and the Holy Spirit.

God sends upon the Earth his message and his Word runs quickly, says Psalm (147.4). The word of God runs, it is dynamic, irrigating every ground on which it falls. And what is its force? St. Luke tells us that the human Word becomes effective not thanks to rhetoric, which is the art of speaking well, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, which is  the dynamic of God, his strength, which has the power to purify the word , to make it the bearer of life. For example, in the Bible there are stories, human words; But what is the difference between the Bible and a history book? That the words of the Bible are filled by the Holy Spirit which gives it a huge strength, a different force and helps us as a seed of holiness and life and is effective. When the spirit visits the human word it becomes dynamic, like dynamite, capable of lighting up hearts and making strategies, resistances and walls of division break down, opening new routes and expanding the boundaries of God's people. And this is what happens through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, this new series of catechesis.

This gives vibrant sound and incisiveness to our human words which are so fragile, capable even of lying and dodging ones own responsibilities, it is only the Holy Spirit, through which the Son of God was created; the spirit who anointed and supported the mission; the spirit thanks to which he chose his Apostles and that ensured the announcement, perseverance and fertility.

The Gospel ends with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles begins precisely here, from the overabundance of the life of the risen one transfused in the Church. St. Luke tells us that Jesus "presented himself alive after His passion to them by many proofs, for forty days, appearing ... and speaking of the things about the Kingdom of God "(At 1.3). The risen Christ, the risen Jesus accomplishes very human acts such as sharing a meal with his friends, and invites them to live confident in the expectation of the fulfilment of the promise of the Father: "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (At 1.5).

The baptism in the Holy Spirit, in fact, is the experience that allows us to enter into a personal communion with God and to participate in His universal salvific will, by acquiring the gift of speaking candidly, courage, the ability to pronounce a word as a son of God, not just men, not just humanity but children of God: clear, open, effective words, full of love for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.

There is therefore nothing to fight for to achieve or merit this gift of God. Everything is given free of charge and in its time. The Lord gives everything for free. Salvation is not bought, you do not pay for it: it is a free gift. Before the anxiety of knowing in advance the time when the events will happen that he has announced, Jesus responds to those around him: "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth "(At 1.7 -8).

The risen one invites his friends to not live with anxiety of the present but to make an alliance with time to know how to wait for the unravelling of a sacred story that hasn't stopped but that advances, it always goes forward; and to be able to await the steps of God, the Lord of time and space. The risen Christ invites those around him to not fabricate from their own creation the mission, but to wait for the Father to dynamise their hearts with his spirit, in order to involve them in a missionary testimony capable of radiating from Jerusalem to Samaria and to beyond the boundaries of Israel to the peripheries of the world.

This expectation, the Apostles live it together, living as family of the Lord, in the upper room or cenacol, whose walls are still witnesses of the gift that Jesus gave himself to those around him in the Eucharist. And how do we await the strength, dýnamism of God? Praying with perseverance, as if we were not many but one. Praying in unity and with perseverance. It is through prayer that you defeat solitude, temptation, suspicion and opens ones hearts to communion. The presence of the women and of Mary the mother of Jesus, intensifies this experience: they learned first from the teacher to bear witness to the faithfulness of love and to the force of communion that overcomes every fear.

Let us ask the Lord for the patience to wait for his steps, to not want to fabricate ourselves his work and to remain docile, praying, invoking the spirit and cultivating the art of ecclesial communion.

29.05.19

Pope Francis          

08.06.19  St Peter's Square, Rome  

Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Year C     

Genesis  11: 1-9,    Exodus 3: 1-15,    

Joel 3: 1-5 

Once again tonight, the eve of the last day of Easter, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and proclaiming out loud, "if anyone thirsts, come to me and drink. As Scripture says: "rivers of living water will flow from him who believes in me "(Jn 7: -38 ).

He is the river of living water of the Holy Spirit that flows from Jesus's heart; from His side pierced by the spear (cf. Jn 19.36), which cleanses and makes the Church fruitful, the mystical spouse represented by Mary, the new Eve, at the foot of the cross.

The Holy Spirit pours forth from the heart of mercy of the risen Jesus, and fills our hearts with a good measure, pressed down, filled and to overflowing with mercy "(cf. Lk 6.38) and transforms us into the Church - with a womb filled with mercy, that is into a mother with an open heart for everyone! I wish the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us because of this being more merciful – not because they have more things – for this being more filled with humanity and tenderness, of which there is much need! That they would feel at home, in the maternal home where there is always welcome and where they can always return. That they would feel always welcome, listened to, understood, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the Kingdom of God ... As a mother knows how, even when the children have grown up.

This thought about the maternity of the church reminds me that 75 years ago, on 11 June 1944, Pope Pius XII carried out a special act of thanksgiving and supplication of the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome. He did this in the church of St Ignatius, where the venerated image of the divine Madonna had been brought. Divine love is the Holy Spirit that springs from the heart of Christ. It is He that is the spiritual rock that accompanied the people of God in the desert, so that they might draw water from it to quench their thirst along their journey (cf. 1 Cor 10.4). In the burning bush that is not consumed, an image of Mary, Virgin and mother, is the risen Christ who speaks to us, gives us the fire of the Holy Spirit, inviting us to descend in the midst of the people to hear their cry, inviting us to open the paths of freedom that lead to the land promised by God.

We know: there is even today, as in every age, people who seek to build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven "(cf. Gen 11.4). These are human projects, even our projects, done at the service of an ' I ' always greater, toward a heaven where there is no longer room for God. God lets us do that for a while, so that we might experience to what point of evil and sadness we are capable of arriving without him. But the spirit of Christ, the Lord of history, can't wait to knock it all down, to make us start over! We are always a bit narrow both in sight and heart; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; We arrive and convince ourselves as having understood everything, we have taken into account all the variables, of having foreseen what will happen and how it will happen... these are all of our own constructions that give us the illusion of touching heaven. Instead the spirit explodes into the world from on high, from the womb of God, where the son was created, and makes all things new.

What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome? We are celebrating the primacy of the spirit that makes us fall silent before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then fills us with joy: so it was this that God bore in his womb for us!: this journey as Church, this passage, this Exodus, this arrival in the promised land, at the city of Jerusalem of the doors that are always open for everyone, where the various languages spoken by man are composed in the harmony of the spirit, because the spirit is harmony.

And if we have in mind the pains of giving birth, we understand that our cry, that of the people who live in this city and the cry of creation as a whole is none other than the cry of the Spirit: it is the birth of a new world. God is the father and the mother, God is the midwife, God is the cry, God is the Son generated in the world and we, the Church, we are at the service of this birth. We are not at the service of ourselves, we are not at the service of our ambitions and all these dreams of power, no: we are at the service of God, at the marvels of God.

If the pride and presumed moral superiority do not dull our hearing, we realize that behind the cry of so many people there is none other than the authentic cry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who pushes us once again not to be content, to seek to put ourselves back on the road; It is the Spirit who will save us from every diocesan re-organisation (address to the Diocesan Convention, 9 may 2019). This is a danger, this desire to confuse the newness of the Spirit with a method of re-organising everything down. No, that is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upsets everything and makes us start not all over again, but as a new beginning.

Let us then allow the Spirit to take us by the hand and bring us to the heart of the city to hear its cry, the groan. God says to Moses that this hidden cry of the people has reached even up to him: He has heard, He has seen their oppression and sufferings ... And He has decided to take action by sending Moses to arose and nourish the dream of freedom in the Israelites and to reveal to them that this dream is His will: to make of Israel a free people, His people, bound to him by a Covenant of love, called to witness the faithfulness of the Lord before all the people.

But for Moses to be able to fulfil his mission, God instead wants him to descend with him in the midst of the Israelites. Moses heart must become God's, attentive and sensitive to the suffering and dreams of men and women, to those who cry in secret when they raise their hands towards heaven, because they have nothing else to hold onto on Earth. It is the groaning of the Spirit, and Moses must listen not with his ears but with his heart. Today we can ask ourselves, Christians, to learn how to listen with our heart. The one who teaches how to listen this way is the Spirit. He is the one who teaches us to listen with the heart. To open it.

And to listen to the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us go down, descend from our locations, among the brothers and sisters who live in our city, to hear their need for Salvation, the cry that goes up to Him, that we usually do not hear. It is not about explaining ideas, ideologies. I love it when I see a church who wants to update itself and then finds only functional ways to improve. These ways don't come from the Spirit of God. This church does not know how to descend, and if it does not know how to descend it is not the Holy Spirit that is commanding. It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, listening with your heart. Then we will truly be on the way. Then we will feel the fire of Pentecost within ourselves which pushes us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that it is Christ who is the way that leads to the city of heaven. And this needs faith, brothers and sisters. Let us ask today the gift of faith in order to take that path.

08.06.19

Pentecost arrived, for the disciples, after fifty days of uncertainty. True, Jesus had risen. Overjoyed, they had seen him, listened to his words and even shared a meal with him. Yet they had not overcome their doubts and fears: they met behind closed doors (cf. Jn 20:19.26), uncertain about the future and not ready to proclaim the risen Lord. Then the Holy Spirit comes and their worries disappear. Now the apostles show themselves fearless, even before those sent to arrest them. Previously, they had been worried about saving their lives; now they are unafraid of dying. Earlier, they had huddled in the Upper Room; now they go forth to preach to every nation. Before the ascension of Jesus, they waited for God’s kingdom to come to them (cf. Acts 1:6); now they are filled with zeal to travel to unknown lands. Before, they had almost never spoken in public, and when they did, they had often blundered, as when Peter denied Jesus; now they speak with parrhesia to everyone. The disciples’ journey seemed to have reached the end of the line, when suddenly they were rejuvenated by the Spirit. Overwhelmed with uncertainty, when they thought everything was over, they were transformed by a joy that gave them a new birth. The Holy Spirit did this. The Spirit is far from being an abstract reality: he is the Person who is most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives. How does he do this? Let us consider the Apostles. The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them, he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. Rather, the Spirit brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that had been lacking, his own harmony, for he is harmony.

Harmony within human beings. Deep down, in their hearts, the disciples needed to be changed. Their story teaches us that even seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts. It is no use knowing that the Risen One is alive, unless we too live as risen ones. It is the Spirit who makes Jesus live within us; he raises us up from within. That is why when Jesus appears to his disciples, he repeats the words, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19.21), and bestows the Spirit. That is what peace really is, the peace bestowed on the Apostles. That peace does not have to do with resolving outward problems – God does not spare his disciples from tribulation and persecution. Rather, it has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us. Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings. Yet how often we choose to remain on the surface! Rather than seeking the Spirit, we try to keep afloat, thinking that everything will improve once this or that problem is over, once I no longer see that person, once things get better. But to do so is to stay on the surface: when one problem goes away, another arrives, and once more we grow anxious and ill at ease. Avoiding those who do not think as we do will not bring serenity. Resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit.

At today’s frenzied pace of life, harmony seems swept aside. Pulled in a thousand directions, we run the risk of nervous exhaustion and so we react badly to everything. Then we look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive. But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: he brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope. As Saint Paul tells us today, the Spirit keeps us from falling back into fear, for he makes us realize that we are beloved children (cf. Rom 8:15). He is the Consoler, who brings us the tender love of God. Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together. Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.

The Holy Spirit does not bring only harmony within us but also among us. He makes us Church, building different parts into one harmonious edifice. Saint Paul explains this well when, speaking of the Church, he often repeats a single word, “variety”: varieties of gifts, varieties of services, varieties of activities” (1 Cor 12:4-6). We differ in the variety of our qualities and gifts. The Holy Spirit distributes them creatively, so that they are not all identical. On the basis of this variety, he builds unity. From the beginning of creation, he has done this. Because he is a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos, in creating harmony. He is a specialist in creating diversity, enrichment, individuality. He is the creator of this diversity and, at the same time, the one who brings harmony and gives unity to diversity. He alone can do these two things.

In today’s world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born. In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family. May he regenerate us! There is always a temptation to build “nests”, to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect, even within the Church. How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something! The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness. He looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These nouns come before any adjectives. Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things. But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share. Later we come to realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life. Those who live by the Spirit, however, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.

To be spiritual, to savour the harmony of the Spirit, we need to adopt his way of seeing things. Then everything changes: with the Spirit, the Church is the holy People of God, mission is not proselytism but the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father. Without the Spirit, though, the Church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion. Many Churches spend time making pastoral plans, discussing any number of things. That seems to be the road to unity, but it is not the way of the Spirit; it is the road to division. The Spirit is the first and last need of the Church (cf. Saint Paul VI, General Audience, 29 November 1972). He “comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected” (Saint Bonaventure, Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter).

Brothers and sisters, let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centredness into self-gift, come to us. Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts. Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Holy Spirit, make us builders of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.

09.06.19


Pope Francis          

19.06.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square   

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles         

Acts 2: 1-4  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Fifty days after Easter, in that upper room that is now their home and where the presence of Mary, mother of God, is the element 0f cohesion, the Apostles live an event that exceeds their expectations. Gathered in prayer – prayer is the "Lung" continually gives breath to His disciples; without prayer you cannot be a disciple of Jesus; without prayer we cannot be Christians! It is the air, it is the lung of Christian life –, they are surprised by Gods powerful entry. This is an entry-that penetrates closed doors; opens the door through the force of a wind that is the Spirit, the primordial breath, and fulfils the promise of the "strength" made by the Risen before His departure (cf. At 1.8). Suddenly, from above, "a roar, like a rushing wind that comes crashing down, and it filled the whole house where they were" (At 2.2).

To the wind is then added the fire that recalls the burning Bush and the Sinai with the gift of the ten commandments (cf. Es 19.16 -19). In the biblical tradition fire accompanies the manifestation of God. In the fire God delivers his living and energetic word(cf. Heb 4.12) that opens up to the future; the fire symbolically expresses his work of warming, illuminating and testing hearts, his care in testing the resistance of human works, in purifying and revitalising them. While at Sinai God's voice is heard, in Jerusalem, on the feast of Pentecost, Peter speaks, the rock on which Christ chose to build his Church. His word, weak and incapable of denying the Lord, crossed by the fire of the spirit acquires strength, becomes capable to of piercing hearts and move to conversion. For God choses what is weak in the world to confuse the strong (cf. 1Cor 1.27).

The Church is therefore born from the fire of love and as a fire that burns at Pentecost and which manifests the power of the word of the risen one imbued with the Holy Spirit. The new and definitive Covenant is founded no longer on a law written on tablets of stone, but on the action of God's spirit which makes all things new and is etched into the hearts of the flesh.

The word of the Apostles is imbued with the spirit of the risen one and becomes a new different word, which can be understand, as if it were translated simultaneously into all languages: in fact each one heard them speaking in his own language (At 2.6). It is about the language of truth and love, which is the universal language: even the illiterate can understand it. It is a language of truth and love that everyone can understand. The truth is in your heart, it is in sincerity, and in love, everyone understands it. Even if you can't speak, but with a caress, which is truthful and loving.

The Holy Spirit not only manifests itself through a Symphony of sounds that harmoniously unites and composes diversity but he also presents himself as the conductor who plays the scores of the praises for the "mighty works" of God. The Holy Spirit is the author of communion, is the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove the barriers between Jews and Greeks, among slaves and free, to make it one body. He builds up the community of believers by harmonising the unity of the body and the multiplicity of its members. He makes the Church grow by helping it to go beyond human limits, sins and any scandal.

The wonder is so great, and some people wonder if those men are drunk. Then Peter intervenes on behalf of all the Apostles and reads that event in the light of Joel 3, where he announces a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The followers of Jesus are not drunk, but live with what Saint Ambrose calls "the sober intoxication of the spirit, which re-kindles the prophesy among the people of God through dreams and visions. This prophetic gift is not reserved only to some, but to all who those who invoke the name of the Lord.

From that moment, the spirit of God moves our hearts to welcome salvation which comes through a person, Jesus Christ, the one who men have nailed to the wood of the cross and whom God raised from the dead "freeing Him from pains of death (At 2.24). It is he who poured out that spirit who orchestrated the polyphony of praise that everyone can hear. As Benedict XVI said, "Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself comes to us and draws us into himself" (Homily, 3 June 2006). The spirit works the divine attraction: God seduces us with his love and so involves us, to move history and start processes by which it filters the new life. Only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize and fraternize every context, starting from those who receive it.

Let us ask the Lord to let us experience a new Pentecost that opens our hearts and tunes our feelings with those of Christ, so that we are able to announce without shame His transforming word.

19.06.19

Pope Francis          

18.08.19  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      

Luke  12: 49-53  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 49-53 ) Jesus warns his disciples that now is the time to decide. His coming into the world, in fact, coincides with the time of making decisive choices: the option in favour of the Gospel cannot be postponed. And in order to better explain His message, He uses the image of fire that He himself came to bring upon Earth. He says: "I have come to bring fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!» (see para. 49). These words are meant to help the disciples abandon every attitude of laziness, apathy, indifference and closure so as to welcome the fire of God's love; that love which, as Saint Paul reminds us was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5). Because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us love God and love our neighbour; It is the Holy Spirit that we all have inside.

Jesus reveals to his friends, and to us, his most ardent desire: to bring the fire ground of His Father's love to Earth, which kindles life and by which we are saved. Jesus calls us to spread this fire in the world, thanks to which we will be recognized as his true disciples. The fire of love, kindled by Christ into the world through the Holy Spirit, is a limitless fire, is a universal fire. This has been seen since the early days of Christianity: the witness of the Gospel has spread like beneficial wildfire overcoming every division between individuals, groups, peoples and nations. The evangelical message burns all forms of particularism and keeps charity open to all, with a preference for the poorest and most excluded.

The adherence to the fire of love that Jesus brought to Earth embraces our entire existence and adoring God and a willingness to serve     our neighbour.   Worshiping God and being available to serve our neighbour. The first, adoring God means learning the prayer of adoration, which we often forget. That is why I invite everyone to discover the beauty of the prayer of adoration and to practice it often. And then the second, a willingness to serve our neighbour: I think with admiration of so many communities and groups of young people who, even during the summer, are dedicated to this service for the sick, the poor, and people with disabilities. To live according to the spirit of the Gospel, it is necessary that in the face of ever changing needs that are emerging in the world, that there be disciples of Christ who can respond with new charitable initiatives. And so, by adoring God and serving our neighbours – both together, loving God and serving our neighbour – the Gospel might truly manifest itself as the fire that saves, that changes the world starting from a change in each one of our hearts.

In this perspective, we can also understand the other statement of Jesus in today's passage, that at first glance might disconcert us: "Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I say to you, division "(Lk 12.51). He came to "separate with fire". Separate what? Good from evil, right from wrong. In this sense He came to "divide", put into crisis – but in a healthy way – the lives of His disciples, breaking the easy illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life with compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against others. In other words, true religion with superstitious practices: how many people who say they are Christians go to sooth sayers or palm readers in order to have their future read! This is superstition, this is not of God. We are talking about not living as hypocrites, but of being willing to pay the price of consistent choices – this is the attitude that all of us should seek in life: consistent – pay the price to be consistent with the Gospel. Consistent with the Gospel. Because it is good to say that we are Christians, but above all we need to be Christians in concrete situations, witnessing to the Gospel which is essentially love for God and for our brothers and sisters.

May Mary Most Holy helps us to allow ourselves to allow our hearts to be purified by the fire brought by Jesus, and to spread it through our lives, decisive and courageous choices. 

18.08.19

Pope Francis          

18.09.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square, Rome

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles    

Acts 5: 39  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Let us continue the catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles. Before the prohibition of the Jews to teach in the name of Christ, Peter and the Apostles respond with courage that they cannot obey those who want to stop the gospel's journey around the world.

The Twelve thus show that they possess that "obedience of faith" that they would like then to arouse in all men (cf. Rm 1.5). Starting with Pentecost, in fact, they are no longer men who are alone. They experience that special synergy that makes them go out of themselves and makes them say "we and the Holy Spirit"(Acts 5.32) or "the Holy Spirit with us"(Acts 15:28). They feel that they can't just say "I," they're men who are decentralized from themselves. Strengthened by this alliance, the Apostles are not intimidated by anyone. They were so courageous! We think they were cowards: they all ran away, they fled when Jesus was arrested. But, from cowards they have become so brave. Why? Because the Holy Spirit was with them. The same happens to us: if we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will have the courage to move forward, the courage to overcome so many battles, not by ourselves but from the Spirit that is within us. They do not go backwards in their march of intrepid witnesses to Jesus Risen, as the martyrs of all times, including our own. The martyrs give their lives, they do not hide that they are Christians. We think, a few years ago - even today there are many - but think four years ago, those Coptic Orthodox Christians, who were on the beach of Libya: all were slaughtered. But the last word they said was "Jesus, Jesus." They did not loose the faith, because the Holy Spirit was with them. These are the martyrs of today! The Apostles are the megaphones of the Holy Spirit, sent out by the Risen One to spread the Word that gives salvation promptly and without hesitation.

And indeed, this determination shakes the Jewish religious system of that time, which feels threatened and responds with violence and death sentences. The persecution of Christians is always the same: people who do not want Christianity feel threatened and so they bring death to Christians. But, in the midst of the Sanhedrin, a voice arises that is different from the Pharisees that chooses to contain the reaction of those around him: he was called Gamaliel, a prudent man, a doctor of the law, esteemed by all the people. In his school, St. Paul learned to observe "the Laws of the Father" (cf. Acts 22,3). Gamaliel takes the floor and shows his brothers how to exercise the art of discernment in the face of situations that go beyond the usual frameworks.

He shows, citing some people who had passed themselves off as the Messiah, that every human project can first be approved and then end up shipwrecked, but everything that comes from above and bears the "signature" of God is destined to last. Human projects always fail; given time, like us. Think of so many political projects, and how they change from one side to the other, in all countries. Think of the great empires, think of the dictatorships of the last century: they felt very powerful, they thought they would dominate the world. And then they all collapsed. Think even today of the empires of today: they will collapse, if God is not with them, because the strength that men have within themselves does not last. Only God's strength lasts. Let us think of the history of Christians, also of the history of the Church, with so many sins, with so many scandals, with so many bad things in these two millennia. And why didn't it collapse? Because God is there. We are sinners, and so many times we cause scandal. But God is with us. And God saves us first, and then them; but the Lord always saves. The force is "God with us." Gamaliel proves, citing some characters who had pretended to be Messiah, that every human project can first win acclaim and then founder. Therefore Gamaliel concludes that if the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth believed in an impostor, they would be destined to disappear into thin air; but if they were following one who comes from God, it is better to stop fighting them; and warns: "You may even find yourselves fighting against God!" (Acts 5:39). It teaches us to make this discernment.

They are calm and forward-looking words, which allow us to see the Christian event in a new light and offers criteria that "know of the Gospel", because they invite us to recognize the tree by its fruits (cf. Mt 7.16). They touch hearts and achieve the desired effect: the other members of the Sanhedrin follow his opinion and renounce the intentions of death, that was, to kill the Apostles.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to work within us so that, both personally and in the community, we can acquire this habit of discernment. Let us ask him to know how to always see the unity of the history of salvation through the signs of God's passage in our time and on the faces of those around us, so that we may learn that time and human faces are messengers of the living God.

18.09.19


Pope Francis          

30.10.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square 

Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles        

Acts 16: 8-34 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Reading the Acts of the Apostles, we can see how the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church's mission: it is He who guides the path of the evangelizers by showing them the way forward.

We see this clearly when the Apostle Paul, who has arrived in Troas, receives a vision. A Macedonian begs him: "Come to Macedonia and help us!" (Acts 16:9). The people of Northern Macedonia are proud of this, they are so proud to have called Paul for Paul to announce Jesus Christ. I remember so well the beautiful people who welcomed me with such warmth: that conserves the faith that Paul preached to them! The Apostle did not hesitate and left for Macedonia, sure that it is God who sends him, and arrives at Philippi, "Roman colony" (Acts 16:12) on the Via Ignatia, to preach the Gospel. Paul stops there for several days. There are three events that characterize his stay in Philippi, in these three days: three important events. 1) The evangelization and baptism of Lydia and her family; 2) his arrest, along with Silas, after exorcizing a slave exploited by her owners; 3) the conversion and baptism of his prison warden and his family. Let's look at these three episodes in Paul's life.

The power of the Gospel is addressed, above all, to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lidia, a merchant of purple cloth, in the city of Thyatira, she is a believer in God in whom the Lord opens his heart "to adhere to Paul's words"(Acts 16:14). Lydia, in fact, welcomes Christ, receives Baptism with her family and welcomes those who are of Christ, giving a home to Paul and Silas in her home. Here we have the testimony of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that has lasted until today. It entered through Macedonia.

After the warmth experienced at Lydia's house, Paul and Silas then find themselves dealing with the harshness of prison: they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of the prison, where they are thrown for having freed in the name of Jesus "a slave who had a spirit of divination" and "provided much profit for her masters" as a fortune-teller (Acts 16:16). Her masters made a lot of money, and this poor slave did what fortune-tellers do: she saw the future, she read hands – as the song says, "take this hand, gypsy", and that's why people paid. Even today, dear brothers and sisters, there are people who pay for it. I remember in my diocese, a large park, there were more than 60 tables where the fortune-tellers would sit men and women and they would read the palms of hands and people believed these things! And they paid. And this also happened in the time of St Paul. Her owners, in retaliation, reported Paul and lead the Apostles before the magistrates on charges of public disorder.

What happens? Paul is in prison and during his captivity a surprising thing happens. There is desolation, but instead of complaining, Paul and Silas sing praise to God and this praise releases a power that frees them: during the prayer an earthquake shakes the foundations of the prison, opens the doors and the chains fall off of everyone (cf. 16:25-26). As the prayer of Pentecost, the prayer made in prison also has prodigious effects.

The prison warden, believing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to commit suicide, because the prison wardens paid with their own lives if a prisoner escaped; but Paul shouts to him: "We are all here!" (Acts 16:27-28). Then he asks, "What do I have to do to be saved?" (see 30). The answer is: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved" (v. 31). At this point a change happens: in the middle of the night, the prison warden listens to the word of the Lord together with his family, welcomes the apostles, he washes their wounds – because they had been beaten – and together with his family they receive Baptism. Then, "and with his family he rejoiced at having come to faith in God" (v. 34), he prepared a banquet and invited Paul and Silas to stay with them: the moment of consolation! In the middle of the night of this anonymous prison warden, the light of Christ shines and defeats the darkness: the chains of the heart fall and blossom in him and his family and they experience a joy they have never experienced. That is the Holy Spirit who is carrying out the mission: from the beginning, from Pentecost onwards the Holy Spirit instils the mission. And he carries us forward, we must be faithful to the vocation that the Holy Spirit moves us to do. To bring the gospel.

Let us today also ask the Holy Spirit for an open heart, sensitive to God and hospitable to our brothers and sisters, like that of Lydia, and a bold faith, like that of Paul and Silas, and also an openness of heart, like that of the prison warden who is touched by the Holy Spirit. 

30.10.19

Pope Francis          

07.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Tuesday after Epiphany Year A       

1 John 3: 22 - 4: 6 

The Christian life is to remain in God, following the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the world, which leads to corruption, and does not distinguish good from evil. In the first reading in the liturgy St. John the Apostle takes up the advice of Jesus to his disciples: "Remain in God".

One can be in the most sinful cities, in the most atheistic societies, but if one's heart remains in God, this man and this woman bring salvation. Remember the episode narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, who arrive in a city and meet Christians baptized by John. They ask them: "Have you received the Holy Spirit?", but they didn't even know he was there. How many Christians even today identify the Holy Spirit only with a dove and do not know that what makes you remain in the Lord is the guarantee, the strength to remain in the Lord.

The spirit of the world is contrary to the Holy Spirit. Jesus, at the Last Supper, does not ask the Father to remove the disciples from the world, because Christian life is in the world; but to protect them from the spirit of the world, which is the opposite. It is even worse than committing a sin. It is an atmosphere that renders you unconscious, leads you to a point that you do not know how to recognize good from evil.

Instead, to remain in God, we must ask for this gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee. From this we know that we remain in the Lord. But how can we know if we have the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the world? Saint Paul gives us this advice: "Do not sadden the Holy Spirit. When we go towards the spirit of the world we upset the Holy Spirit and ignore him, we cast him aside and our life goes another way.

The spirit of the world is forgetting, because sin does not turn you away from God if you realize it and ask forgiveness, but the spirit of the world makes you forget what sin is everything is permissible. In recent days a priest showed him a film of Christians celebrating the New Year in a tourist city, in a Christian country. They celebrated the New Year with a terrible worldliness, wasting money and many things. The spirit of the world. Is this a sin? - No dear: this is corruption, worse than sin. The Holy Spirit leads you to God, and if you sin, the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you to rise up, but the spirit of the world leads you to corruption, to the point that you do not know what is good and what is evil: everything is the same.

There is an Argentinean song that says: "Go, go, go... everything is the same that down there in the oven we will meet". The spirit of the world leads you to the unconsciousness of not distinguishing sin. And how do I know if I am on the road to worldliness, to the spirit of the world, or if am I following the Spirit of God?

The Apostle John gives us this advice: "Dear friends, do not give faith to every spirit (i.e. to every feeling, every inspiration, every idea), but test the spirits, to test whether they really come from God (or from the world)". But what does it mean to test the Spirit? It is simply this: when you feel something, you feel like doing something, or you come up with an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself: is this what I feel from the Spirit of God or from the spirit of the world?

And how do you do it? Ask yourself once, twice a day, or when you feel something that comes into your mind: This thing that I feel, that I want to do, where does it come from? From the spirit of the world or the Spirit of God? Will this make me good or will it throw me down the road of worldliness that is unconsciousness?

Many Christians live without knowing what goes on in their hearts. That is why St. Paul and St. John say: "Do not lend faith to every spirit", to what you feel, but put it to the test. And so we will know what happens in our hearts. Because "For many Christians their hearts are like a road and they do not know who comes and goes, they come and go, because they do not know how to examine what is going on inside".

That is why I recommend that you take some time every day before going to bed or at noon - when you want to - and ask yourself: what has happened in my heart today? What did I want to do, to think? What is the spirit that has moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit who always brings me forward to the encounter with the Lord or the spirit of the world who gently, slowly moves me away from the Lord; it is a slow, slow, slow slide.

Let us ask for this grace, to remain in the Lord and we pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may make us remain in the Lord and give us the grace to distinguish the spirits, that is, what moves within us. May our heart not be a road, may it be the meeting point between us and God.

07.01.20

Pope Francis          

01.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) 

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II 

John 8: 31-42    

In these days, the Church has us listen to the eighth chapter of John: there is a strong discussion between Jesus and the doctors of the Law. And above all, He is trying to reveal His true identity: John wants to bring us close to that argument to reveal the identity of Jesus through the doctors of the law. Jesus puts them in a corner by showing them their own contradictions. And they, in the end, find no other way out than insult: it's one of the saddest pages, it's blasphemy. They insult Our Lady.

But speaking of His identity, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, he advised them: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples." He returns to that word so dear to the Lord that He will repeat it so many times, and then at the Last Supper: remain. "Stay in me." Remain in the Lord. He doesn't say, "Study well, learn the arguments well": that is taken for granted. But He goes to the most important thing, the one that is most dangerous in life, if you do not do it: remain. "Remain in my word." And those who remain in the word of Jesus have their own Christian identity. And what is it? "You will truly be my disciples." Christian identity is not a card that says "I am a Christian", an identity card: no. It's discipleship. If you remain in the Lord, in the Word of the Lord, in the life of the Lord, you will be a disciple. If you do not remain you will be someone who sympathizes with doctrine, who follows Jesus as a man who does so much charity, is so good, that He has just values, but discipleship is precisely the true identity of the Christian.

And it will be discipleship that will give us freedom: the disciple is a someone who is free because they remain in the Lord. And "remain in the Lord," what does it mean? To allow the Holy Spirit guide you. The disciple allows himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, for this reason the disciple is always someone of tradition and but can embrace novelty, he is a free man. Free. Never subject to ideologies, to doctrines within Christian life, doctrines that can be discussed. He remains in the Lord, it is the Spirit who inspires them. When we sing to the Holy Spirit, we tell him that he is a guest of the soul, that he dwells in us. But this is true, only if we remain in the Lord.

I ask the Lord the grace to let us know this wisdom to remain in Him and to let us know familiarity with the Spirit: the Holy Spirit gives us freedom. And this is an anointing. Those who remain in the Lord are disciples, and the disciple is anointed, an anointment of the Spirit, someone who has received the anointment of the Spirit carries it forward and allows it to bear fruit. This is the path that Jesus shows us for freedom and also for life. And the discipleship is the anointing that those who remain in the Lord receive.

May the Lord help us understand this, it's not easy: because the doctors did not understand it, it is not understood only with the head; we understand with our minds and hearts, this wisdom of the anointing of the Holy Spirit which makes us disciples. 

01.04.20

Pope Francis          

20.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Monday of the Second Week of Easter        

Acts 4: 23-31,      

John 3: 1-8 

Let us pray today for men and women who have a vocation in political life: politics is a high form of charity. For all political parties in different countries, that at this time of the pandemic they seek together the good of the country and not the good of their own party.

This man, Nicodemus, is a leader of the Jews, an authoritative man; he felt the need to go to Jesus. He went at night, because he had to do some balancing, because those who went to talk to Jesus were not looked on well. He was a just Pharisee, because not all Pharisees were bad: no, no; there were also good Pharisees. This was a just Pharisee. He felt restless, because he is a man who had read the prophets and knew that what Jesus did had been announced by the prophets. He felt that restlessness and went to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God": it is a confession, up to a point. "For no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." And he stops. He stops in front of the "therefore." If I say this ... Therefore! ... And Jesus answered. He answered mysteriously, in a way that Nicodemus did not expect. He answered with that symbol of being born: if one is not born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. And Nicodemus feels confused, he doesn't understand and takes Jesus' answer literally: but how can a person be born again if one is an adult? Born from above, born from the Spirit. It's the step forward that Nicodemus has to make and he doesn't know how to do it. Because the Spirit is unpredictable. The definition of the Spirit that Jesus gives here is interesting: "The wind blows where it wants and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes: so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit", that is, free. A person who allows himself to be carried from one side to the other by the Holy Spirit: this is the freedom of the Spirit. And whoever does this is a docile person and here we are speaking about docility to the Spirit.

To be a Christian is not only to carry out the Commandments: they must be done, this is true; but if you stop there, you're not a good Christian. To be a good Christian is to let the Spirit enter into you and take you, take you where he wants. In our Christian life so often we stop like Nicodemus, before the "therefore", we do not know what step to take, we do not know how to do it or we do not have the confidence in God to take this step and let the Spirit enter. To be born again is to let the Spirit enter us and for the Spirit to lead us and not myself, and that is where the freedom is. With this freedom of the Spirit you will never know where you will end up.

The apostles, who were in the Cenacle, when the Spirit came they went out to preach with that courage, that boldness... they didn't know this was going to happen; and they did it, because the Spirit was guiding them. The Christian must never stop only at the fulfilment of the Commandments: it must be done, but go further, towards this new birth that is the birth in the Spirit, which gives you the freedom of the Spirit.

This is what happened to this Christian community in the first Reading, after John and Peter returned from that interrogation they had with the high priests. They went to their brothers in this community and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And the community, when they heard this, all together, they got a little scared. And what did they do? Pray. They did not stop at precautionary measures, "no, now let's do this, let's be a little quieter ...": no. They prayed that the Spirit should tell them what they should do. They raised their voices to God by saying, "Lord!" and prayed. This beautiful prayer in a dark moment, in a time when they had to make decisions and didn't know what to do. They want to be born of the Spirit, they open their hearts to the Spirit: let him tell us ... And they ask, "Lord, Herod and Pontius Pilate made an alliance with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel against your holy servant Jesus," they tell the story and say, "Lord, do something!" "And now, Lord, turn your gaze to their threats", that group of priests, "and allow your servants to proclaim your word with all boldness" – they ask for boldness, courage, not to be afraid – "stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of Jesus." "And when they had finished their prayers, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the word of God with boldness." A second Pentecost happened here.

Faced with difficulties, in front of a closed door, they did not know how to move forward, they go to the Lord, open their hearts and the Holy Spirit comes and gives them what they need and they go out to preach, courageously, and move forward. This is born of the Spirit, this is not to stop at the "therefore", at the "therefore" of the things I have always done, at the "therefore" that comes after the Commandments, at the "therefore" after religious habits: no! This is being born again. And how does one prepare to be born again? With prayer. Prayer is the thing that opens the door to the Spirit and gives us this freedom, this boldness, this courage of the Holy Spirit. And you'll never know where it's going to take you. But it's the Spirit.

May the Lord help us to always be open to the Spirit, for He will carry us forward in our lives of service to the Lord.

20.04.20

Pope Francis          

21.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter     

Acts 4: 32-37,    John 3: 7-15 

In this time there is so much silence. You can also hear the silence. May this silence, which is a little new in our habits, teach us to listen, make us grow in our ability to listen. Let us pray for it.

"To be born from above" (John 3:7) is to be born with the strength of the Holy Spirit. We cannot take hold of the Holy Spirit for ourselves; we can only allow him transform us. And our docility opens the door to the Holy Spirit: it is he who makes the change, transformation, this rebirth from above. It is Jesus' promise to send the (cf. Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is capable of doing wonders, things that we cannot even think of.

An example is this first Christian community, which is not a fantasy, what they tell us here: it is a model, which can be achieved when there is docility and let the Holy Spirit in and transform us. We can say that this is an "ideal" community. It is true that soon after this problems will begin, but the Lord shows us how far we can go if we are open to the Holy Spirit, if we are docile. In this community there is harmony (cf. Acts 4:32-37). The Holy Spirit is the master of harmony, he is capable of doing it and he has done it here. He must do it in our hearts, he must change so many things about us, to make harmony: because he himself is harmony. The harmony between the Father and the Son and he is also the love of harmony, He. And with harmony he creates things such as this harmonious community. But then, history tells us – the Book of Acts of the Apostles itself – of so many problems in the community. This is a model: the Lord has allowed this model of an almost "heavenly" community to show us where we should go.

But then the divisions began in the community. The Apostle James, in the second chapter of his Letter, says: "May your faith be immune from personal favouritism" (James 2:1): because they were there! "Don't discriminate": the apostles must go out and warn this. And Paul, in the first Letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 11, complains: "I have heard that there are divisions among you" (cf. 1Cor 11:18): internal divisions begin in communities. This "ideal" must be arrived at, but it is not easy: there are many things that divide a community, whether a Christian parish or diocesan community or of priests or religious. So many things come in to divide the community.

Seeing the things that have divided the first Christian communities, I find three: first, money. When the Apostle James says this, not to have personal favouritism, he gives an example because "if in your church, in your assembly someone enters with a golden ring, and they immediately bring him to the front of the community, and the poor person is left on the side" (cf. James 2:2). Money. Paul himself says the same: "The rich bring food and they eat, and the poor standing" (cf. 1Cor 11:20-22), we leave them there as if to say to them: "Take care of yourselves as you can." Money divides, the love of money divides the community, divides the Church.

Many times, in the history of the Church, where there are doctrinal deviations – not always, but often – behind it is money: the money of power, both political power, and cash, but it is money. Money divides the community. For this reason, poverty is the mother of the community, poverty is the wall that guards the community. Money and self-interest divide. Even in families: how many families have ended up divided by an inheritance? How many families? And they never speak anymore ... How many families ... An inheritance ... They divide: money divides.

Another thing that divides a community is vanity, that desire to feel better than others. "I thank you, Lord, because I am not like the others" (cf. Luke 18:11), the prayer of the Pharisee. Vanity, makes me feel this ... And even the vanity to be seen, vanity in habits, in dressing: how many times – not always but how many times – the celebration of a sacrament is an example of vanity, who goes with the best clothes, who does that and the other ... Vanity ... For the biggest party ... That's where vanity comes in. And vanity divides. Because vanity leads you to be like a peacock and where there is a peacock, there is division, always.

A third thing that divides a community is gossip: it is not the first time I have said this, but it is reality. It's reality. That thing the devil puts in us, like a need to talk about others. "But what a good person he is ..." – "Yes, yes, but ...": immediately the "but": that is a stone to disqualify the other person and right away I say something that I have heard and so the other person is diminished a little.

But the Holy Spirit always comes with his strength to save us from this worldliness of money, vanity and gossip, because the Spirit is not of the world: is against the world. He is capable of doing these miracles, these great things.

Let us ask the Lord for this docility to the Spirit so that he may transform us and transform our communities, our parish, diocesan, religious communities: transform them, to always move forward in the harmony that Jesus wants for the Christian community. 

21.04.20


Pope Francis       

09.05.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter 

Psalm 98: 1-4,     Acts 13: 44-52      

Today is the commemoration of Saint Luisa de Marillac. Let us pray for the Vincentian sisters who have been running this clinic, this hospital for almost 100 years and have worked here, in Santa Marta, for this hospital. May the Lord bless the sisters.

We recited in the Psalm "Sing a new song to the Lord for he has done wondrous deeds. His right hand and his holy arm have gave him victory. The Lord has made his salvation known. He has revealed his justice to the nations." (Psalm 98: 1-2) This is true. The Lord has done marvellous things but with how much effort. How much effort for Christian communities to carry on these marvellous deeds of Lord. We have heard in the Acts of the Apostles the joy (Acts 13: 44-52): the whole city of Antioch gathered to hear the word of the Lord, because Paul and the apostles preached strongly and the Holy Spirit helped them. But "when they saw the crowds, the Jews were filled with jealousy, and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said." (: 45).

On the one hand there is the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit that makes the Church grow, and grow more and more, this is true. But on the other hand is the evil spirit that seeks to destroy the Church. It's always like that. Always like this. You go on, but then comes the enemy trying to destroy. The balance is always positive in the long run, but how much effort, how much pain, how much martyrdom!

 This happened here, in Antioch, and it happens everywhere in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Think, for example, of Lystra, when they arrived and healed a crippled man and everyone believed they were gods and wanted to make sacrifices, and all the people were with them (Acts 14: 8-18). Then the others came and convinced them that it was not so. And how did Paul and his companion end up? Stoned ( Acts 14:9). Always this battle. Let us think of the magician Elymas, how he stopped the Gospel from reaching the consul (Acts 13: 6-12). Let us think of the owners of that girl who was a fortune teller: they exploited the girl, because she "read palms" and received the money that went into the pockets of her owners. And when Paul and the apostles showed others this lie that was not going well, immediately there was the revolution against them ( Acts 16: 16-24). Think of the artisans of the goddess Artèmis who lost business because they could not sell those figurines, because people no longer bought them, because they had converted. And so, one after the other. On the one hand, the Word of God that summons, that makes persecution grow, on the other hand persecution, and great persecution because it ends by driving them away, beating them.

And what is the devil's tool for destroying the Gospel proclamation? Envy. The Book of Wisdom says it clearly: "Because of the devils envy sin entered the world (Wisdom 2: 24) – envy, jealousy, here. Always this bitter, bitter feeling. These people saw how the Gospel was preached and they got angry, they were inflamed by anger. And this anger carried them on: it is the anger of the devil, it is the anger that destroys, the anger of that "crucify him! crucify him!"; of that torture of Jesus. It wants to destroy. Always. Always.

Seeing this battle, that very beautiful saying also applies to us: "The Church goes forward between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world" (cf. St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XVIII, 51,2). A Church that has no difficulty lacks something. The devil is too calm. And if the devil is calm, things are not going well. Always difficulty, temptation, struggle. Jealousy that destroys. The Holy Spirit makes the harmony of the Church, and the evil spirit destroys. Even today. Even today. Always this struggle. The instrument of this jealousy, of this envy, is the temporal power. Here it tells us that "the Jews incited the women of prominence who were worshipers"(Acts 13:50). They went to these women and said, "These are revolutionaries, expel them." The women talked to the others and expelled them: they were the women of prominence who were worshipers and also the leading men of the city (v:50). Those who have temporal power; and temporal power can be good: people can be good, but power of itself is always dangerous. The power of the world against the power of God moves all this; and always behind this, behind that power, is money.

What happens in the early Church: the work of the Holy Spirit to build the Church, to harmonize the Church, and the work of the evil spirit to destroy it, and the use of temporal powers to stop the Church, destroy the Church, is nothing more than a development of what happens on the morning of the Resurrection. The soldiers, seeing that triumph, went to the priests, and the priests "bought" the truth. And the truth has been silenced (Mt 28: 11-15). From the first morning of the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ, there is this betrayal, this silencing the word of Christ, silencing the triumph of the Resurrection with temporal power: the high priests and money.

Let us be careful, let us be careful with the preaching of the Gospel: never fall into putting trust in temporal powers and money. The trust of Christians is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that he has sent! And it is precisely the Holy Spirit that is the yeast, it is the strength that makes the Church grow! Yes, the Church goes forward, in peace, with resignation, joyful: between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world.

09.05.20


Pope Francis       

11.05.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter    

John 14: 21-26      

We join the faithful of Termoli on the feast of the discovery of the body of St. Timothy today. In these days many people have lost their jobs; they have not been re-employed, they worked illegally. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer from this lack of work.

Today's Gospel passage is Jesus' farewell at the Last Supper (John 14: 21-26). The Lord ends with this verse: "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and remind you of all I told you" (14: 25-26). It is the promise of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit who lives in us and who the Father and the Son send. "The Father will send him in my name," Jesus said, to accompany us in life. And they call him the Paraclete or Advocate. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. In Greek, the Paràclete is the one who supports, who accompanies so that you don't fall, who keeps you firm, who is close to you to support you. And the Lord has promised us this support, who is God like him: he is the Holy Spirit. What does the Holy Spirit do in us? The Lord tells us: "He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you"( 26). Teaching and remembering. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us: he teaches us the mystery of faith, he teaches us to enter into the mystery, to understand the mystery a little more. He teaches us the doctrine of Jesus and teaches us how to develop our faith without making mistakes, because doctrine grows, but always in the same direction: it grows in understanding. And the Holy Spirit helps us grow in understanding faith, understanding it more, understanding what faith says. Faith is not a static thing; doctrine is not a static thing: it grows. It grows as the trees grow, always the same, but larger, with fruit, but always the same, in the same direction. And the Holy Spirit prevents doctrine being wrong, it prevents it from standing still there, without growing in us. He will teach us the things that Jesus has taught us, he will develop in us an understanding of what Jesus has taught us, he will grow the doctrine of the Lord in us, to maturity.

And another thing Jesus says, that the Holy Spirit does, is to remind: "He will remind you of all that I have told you" (26). The Holy Spirit is like memory, he wakes us up: "But remember that, remember the other"; he keeps us awake, always awake in the Lord's things, and also reminds us of our lives: "Think of that moment, think about when you met the Lord, think about when you left the Lord."

I once heard that one person prayed before the Lord like this: "Lord, I am the same one who, as a child, as a boy, had these dreams. Then, I went along the wrong paths. Now you've called me." I am the same: this is the memory of the Holy Spirit in one's life. He brings you to the memory of salvation, to the memory of what Jesus taught, but also to the memory of one's life. And this made me think – this gentleman said – a beautiful way of praying, looking at the Lord: "I am the same. I've walked a lot, I've been wrong, but I'm the same and you love me." The memory of life's journey.

And in this memory, the Holy Spirit guides us; guides us to discern, to discern what I have to do now, what is the right path and what is wrong, even in small decisions. If we ask the Holy Spirit for light, He will help us discern to make the right decisions, the small ones of every day, and the greatest. He is who accompanies us, supports us in discernment. That is the Holy Spirit who teaches, will teach us everything, that is him who makes faith grow, who introduces us into the mystery, it is the Holy Spirit who reminds us. He reminds us of faith, he reminds us of our lives, and it is the Holy Spirit that in this teaching, in this memory, teaches us to discern the decisions we must make. And to the Gospel gives a name to the Holy Spirit: yes, Paràclete, because he supports you, but another more beautiful name: he is the Gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the Gift of God. The Holy Spirit is precisely the Gift. "I will not leave you alone, I will send you a Paràclete who will support you and help you move forward, remember, discern, and grow." The Gift of God is the Holy Spirit.

May the Lord help us to guard this gift that he has given us in Baptism and that we all have within us.

11.05.20


Pope Francis       

17.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     

Sixth Sunday of Easter      

John 14: 15-21    

Today our prayer is for the many people who clean hospitals, the streets, empty the trash cans, who go to houses to take away the garbage: a job that no one sees, but it is a job that is necessary to survive. Let the Lord bless them and help them.

When Jesus takes his leave of the disciples (John 14: 15-21), Jesus gives them tranquillity and peace, with a promise: "I will not leave you orphans" (v. 18). He defends them from that pain, from that painful sense of being orphans. Today in the world there is a great sense of being orphans: many have many things, but the Father is missing. And in the history of humanity this is repeated: when the Father is missing, something is lacking and there is always the desire to meet, to find the Father, even in ancient myths. Let us think of the myths of Oedipus, Telemachus and many others: always looking for the Father who is missing. 

Today we can say that we live in a society where the Father is missing, a sense of being orphans that touches belonging and fraternity. For this reason Jesus promises: "I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate" (v. 16). "I am leaving," Jesus says, "but another will come and teach you the way to the Father. He will remind you how to access the Father." The Holy Spirit does not come to make us his clients; he comes to show us the way to the Father, to remind us how to access the Father, which is what Jesus opened to us, what Jesus showed us. There is no spirituality only of the Son, only of the Holy Spirit: the centre is the Father. The Son is sent by the Father and returns to the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to remind us and teach us how to access the Father.

Only with this awareness of being children who are not orphans, can we live in peace among ourselves. Always wars, both small wars or big wars, always have a dimension of being orphans: the Father who makes peace is missing. For this reason, Peter at the first community says "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you why you are Christians, for a reason for your hope"( 1Pt 3: 15-18), "but, do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear" (v. 16), that is the gentleness that the Holy Spirit gives. The Holy Spirit teaches us this meekness, this sweetness of the Father's children. The Holy Spirit does not teach us to insult. And one of the consequences of the sense of orphanage is insult, wars, because if there is no Father there are no brothers and sisters, fraternity is lost. Sweetness, respect, meekness are attitudes of belonging, of belonging to a family that is sure they have a Father.

"I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate"(John 14: 16) who will remind you how to access the Father, he will remind you that we have a Father who is the centre of everything, the origin of everything, the unity of everything, the salvation of everyone because he sent his Son to save us all. And now he sends the Holy Spirt to remind us: how to access  the Father and this fatherhood, this fraternal attitude of meekness, of sweetness, of peace.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to always, always remind us of this access to the Father, that He reminds us that we have a Father, and to this civilization, which has a great sense of being orphaned. may He grant them the grace to find the Father, the Father who gives meaning to all life and makes men and women a family.

17.05.20


Pope Francis       

17.05.20 Regina Caeli, Apostolic Palace Library    

Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year A        

John 14: 15-21      

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday's Gospel passage (John 14: 15-21) presents two messages: the observance of the commandments and the promise of the Holy Spirit

Jesus links love for him to the observance of the commandments, and he insists on this in his farewell address: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (v. 15); "Whoever has my commandments and observes them, is the one who loves me." (14: 21) Jesus asks us to love him, but he explains: this love does not end in a desire for him, or in a feeling, no, it demands the willingness to follow his path, that is, the will of the Father. And this is summarised in the commandment of reciprocal love – the first love – given by Jesus himself: "Love one another, as I have loved you" (John 13: 34). He did not say, "Love me, as I have loved you," but "love one another as I have loved you." He loves us without asking us to do the same in return. Jesus love is gratuitous , he never asks us for love in return. And he wants his gratuitous love to become the concrete form of life among us: this is his will.

To help the disciples walk this path, Jesus promises that he will pray to the Father to send "another Paraclete" (v. 16), that is, a consoler, a defender who will take his place and give them the intelligence to listen and the courage to observe his words. This is the Holy Spirit, who is the Gift of God's Love that descends into the heart of the Christian. After Jesus died and rose again, his love is given to those who believe in him and are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit himself guides them, enlightens them, strengthens them, so that everyone can walk in life, even through adversity and difficulty, in joys and sorrows, remaining in Jesus' path. This is possible precisely by remaining docile to the Holy Spirit, so that, through His presence at work in us, He can not only console but transform hearts, opening them to truth and love.

Faced with the experience of error and sin – which we all do – the Holy Spirit helps us not to succumb and enables us to grasp and live fully the meaning of Jesus' words: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (v. 15). The commandments are not given to us as a kind of mirror, in which to see the reflection of our miseries, our inconsistencies. No, it's not like that. The Word of God is given to us as a Word of life, which transforms the heart, which renews, which does not judge to condemn, but heals and has forgiveness as its end. God's mercy is like this. A Word that is light for our steps. And all this is the work of the Holy Spirit! He is the Gift of God, he is God himself, who helps us to be free people, people who want and know how to love, people who have understood that life is a mission to proclaim the wonders that the Lord accomplishes in those who trust Him. 

May the Virgin Mary, a model of the Church who knows how to listen to the Word of God and welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit, help us to live the Gospel with joy, knowing that we are sustained by the Spirit, a divine fire who warms our hearts and illuminates our steps.

17.05.20  r


Pope Francis       

24.05.20  Regina Caeli, Apostolic Palace Library    

Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension   Year A   

Matthew 28: 16-20      

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the solemnity of the Lord's Ascension. The passage of the Gospel ( Mt 28: 16-20) shows us the Apostles who gather in Galilee, "on the mountain that Jesus had told them to go to" (v. 16). Here on the mountain the final meeting of the Risen Lord with his followers takes place. The "mountain" has a strong symbolic, evocative meaning. On a mountain Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5,1-12); on the mountains he would retreat to pray (cf. Mt 14.23); there he welcomed the crowds and healed the sick (cf. Mt 15.29). But this time, on the mountain, he is no longer the Master who acts and teaches, but he is the Risen One who asks the disciples to act and to proclaim, entrusting them with the mandate to continue his work.

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

 This promise ensures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us. But how is this presence be realized? Through his Spirit, which leads the Church to walk through history as a companion of every person. That Spirit, sent by Christ and the Father, works the remission of sins and sanctifies all those who are repentant and open themselves with confidence to his gift. With the promise to remain with us until the end of time, Jesus inaugurates the style of his presence in the world as the Risen One. Jesus is present in the world but in another style, the style of the Risen One, that is, a presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, in the constant and inner action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although having ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right of the Father, is still and is always among us: this is the source of our strength, our perseverance and our joy, precisely from the presence of Jesus among us with the strength of the Holy Spirit

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

24.05.20


Pope Francis       

31.05.20  Holy Mass, Vatican Basilica       

Solemnity of Pentecost        

1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13     

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4), as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians. He continues: “There are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (vv. 5-6). Diversity and unity: Saint Paul puts together two words that seem contradictory. He wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings together the many; and that the Church was born this way: we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit.

Let us go back to the origin of the Church, to the day of Pentecost. Let us look at the Apostles: some of them were fishermen, simple people accustomed to living by the work of their hands, but there were also others, like Matthew, who was an educated tax collector. They were from different backgrounds and social contexts, and they had Hebrew and Greek names. In terms of character, some were meek and others were excitable; they all had different ideas and sensibilities. They were all different. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. No. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. With the anointing comes their union – union in diversity. At Pentecost, the Apostles understand the unifying power of the Spirit. They see it with their own eyes when everyone, though speaking in different languages, comes together as one people: the people of God, shaped by the Spirit, who weaves unity from diversity and bestows harmony because in the Spirit there is harmony. He himself is harmony.

Let us now focus on ourselves, the Church of today. We can ask ourselves: “What is it that unites us, what is the basis of our unity?”. We too have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities. But the temptation is always fiercely to defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. This is a bad temptation that brings division. But this is a faith created in our own image; it is not what the Spirit wants. We might think that what unite us are our beliefs and our morality. But there is much more: our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children; all equal, in this respect, and all different. The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord – Jesus – and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters! Let us begin anew from here; let us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does. The world sees us only as on the right or left, with one ideology or the other; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus. The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy. The Spirit loves us and knows everyone’s place in the grand scheme of things: for him, we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.

If we go back to the day of Pentecost, we discover that the first task of the Church is proclamation. Yet we also see that the Apostles devised no strategy; when they were locked in there, in the Upper Room, they were not strategizing, no, they were not drafting any pastoral plan. They could have divided people into groups according to their roots, speaking first to those close by and then to those far away, in an orderly manner... They could have also waited a while before beginning their preaching in order to understand more deeply the teachings of Jesus, so as to avoid risks... No. The Spirit does not want the memory of the Master to be cultivated in small groups locked in upper rooms where it is easy to “nest”. This is a terrible disease that can also infect the Church: making her into a nest instead of a community, a family or a Mother. The Spirit himself opens doors and pushes us to press beyond what has already been said and done, beyond the precincts of a timid and wary faith. In the world, unless there is tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message. The Apostles set off: unprepared, yet putting their lives on the line. One thing kept them going: the desire to give what they received. The opening part of the First Letter of Saint John is beautiful: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you” (cf. 1:3).

Here we come to understand what the secret of unity is, the secret of the Spirit. The secret of unity in the Church, the secret of the Spirit is gift. For the Spirit himself is gift: he lives by giving himself and in this way he keeps us together, making us sharers in the same gift. It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving. Why is this important? Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and who imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God. The Spirit, the living memory of the Church, reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving: not by holding on but by giving of ourselves.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look within and ask ourselves what prevents us from giving ourselves. There are, so to speak, three main enemies of the gift, always lurking at the door of our hearts: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. Narcissism makes us idolize ourselves, to be concerned only with what is good for us. The narcissist thinks: “Life is good if I profit from it”. So he or she ends up saying: “Why should I give myself to others?”. In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is: the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others, and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes. But the second enemy, victimhood, is equally dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbour: “No one understands me, no one helps me, no one loves me, everyone has it in for me!”. How many times have we not heard these complaints! The victim’s heart is closed, as he or she asks, “Why aren’t others concerned about me?”. In the crisis we are experiencing, how ugly victimhood is! Thinking that no one understands us and experiences what we experience. This is victimhood. Finally, there is pessimism. Here the unending complaint is: “Nothing is going well, society, politics, the Church…”. The pessimist gets angry with the world, but sits back and does nothing, thinking: “What good is giving? That is useless”. At this moment, in the great effort of beginning anew, how damaging is pessimism, the tendency to see everything in the worst light and to keep saying that nothing will return as before! When someone thinks this way, the one thing that certainly does not return is hope. In these three – the narcissist idol of the mirror, the mirror-god; the complaint-god: “I feel human only when I complain”; and the negativity-god: “everything is dark, the future is bleak” – we experience a famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. He heals us from the mirror, complaints and darkness.

Brothers and sisters, let us pray to him: Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit: you are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family. Amen.

31.05.20


Pope Francis          

10.01.21  Angelus, Library of the Apostolic Palace       

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year B       

Mark 1: 7-11  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we are celebrating the Baptism of the Lord. A few days ago, we left Baby Jesus being visited by the Magi; today we find him as an adult on the banks of the Jordan. The Liturgy has us take a leap of some 30 years, 30 years about which we know one thing: they were years of hidden life, which Jesus spent with his family – some, first, in Egypt, as a migrant to escape Herod's persecution, the others in Nazareth, learning Joseph's trade – with family, obeying his parents, studying and working. It is striking that most of his time on Earth the Lord spent in this way: living an ordinary life, without standing out. We think that, according to the Gospels, there were three years of preaching, of miracles and many things. Three. And the others, all the others, were of a hidden life with his family. It is a fine message for us: it reveals the greatness of daily life, the importance in God's eyes of every gesture and moment of life, even the simplest, even the most hidden.

After these 30 years of hidden life, Jesus' public life begins. And indeed it begins with the baptism in the River Jordan. But Jesus is God; why does Jesus get baptized? John's baptism consisted in a penitential rite; it was a sign of one's willingness to convert, to be better, asking forgiveness of one's sins. Jesus surely did not need it. In fact, John the Baptist tries to prevent it, but Jesus insists. Why? Because he wants to be with the sinners: for this reason he gets in line with them and does the same thing they do. He does so with the attitude of the people, with the attitude of theirs [of the people] who, as a liturgical hymn says, approached “with bare soul and bare feet”. A bare soul, that is, without covering anything, like this, a sinner. This is the gesture Jesus makes, and he goes down into the river to immerse himself in the same condition we are in. Indeed, baptism actually means “immersion”. On the first day of his ministry, Jesus thus offers us his “programmatic manifesto”. He tells us that he does not save us from on high, with a sovereign decision or act of force, a decree, no: He saves us by coming to meet us and taking our sins upon himself. This is how God conquers worldly evil: by humbling himself, taking charge of it. It is also the way that we can lift up others: not by judging, not by suggesting what to do, but by becoming neighbours, empathizing, sharing God's love. Closeness is God's manner with us; he himself says says so to Moses: 'Think: what people has its gods as close as you have me?'. Closeness is God's manner with us.

After this act of compassion by Jesus, another extraordinary thing happens: the heavens open and the Trinity is finally revealed. The Holy Spirit descends from the heavens like a dove (Mk 1:10) and the Father says to Jesus: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (v. 11). God manifests himself when mercy appears. Do not forget this: God manifests himself when mercy appears, because that is his face. Jesus becomes the servant of sinners and is proclaimed the Son; he lowers himself upon us and the Spirit descends upon him. Love calls upon love. It also applies to us: in each act of service, in every work of mercy we perform, God manifests himself; God sets his gaze upon the world. This applies to us.

But, even before we do anything, our life was marked by mercy and it was laid upon us. We have been saved freely. Salvation is free. It is the freely given gesture of God's mercy toward us. Sacramentally this is done on the day of our Baptism; but even those who are not baptized always receive God's mercy, because God is there, waiting, waiting for them to open the doors of their hearts. He draws near, allow me to say, he caresses us with his mercy.

May Our Lady, to whom we now pray, help us to cherish our baptismal identity, that is, the identity to be merciful, which lies at the base of faith and life. 

10.01.21


Pope Francis       

17.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      

Catechesis on prayer: 26. Prayer and the Trinity. 2       

John 14: 15-17, 25-26     

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

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.

The Catechism, in this respect says: “Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? 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” (no. 2670). This is the work of the Spirit in us. He “reminds” us of Jesus and makes him present to us - we might say that he is our Trinitarian memory, he is the memory of God in us - and he makes it present to Jesus, 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. Yes, we will remember Jesus, there, far away but it is the Spirit that brings him today, now, in this moment, in our heart. But in the Spirit everything is brought to life: the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place. The possibility of encountering Christ, not only as a historical figure, is open. No: he attracts Christ to our hearts, it is the Spirit who makes us encounter Jesus. He is not distant, the Spirit is with us: Jesus still teaches his disciples by transforming their hearts, as he did with Peter, with Paul, with Mary Magdalene, with all the apostles. But why is Jesus present? Because it is the Spirit who brings him to 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.

Again we read in the Catechism: “The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, 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. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church” (no. 2672). 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”.

17.03.21


Pope Francis       

23.05.21  Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica           

Solemnity of Pentecost       Year B            

John 15: 26-27, 16: 12-15   

“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” (Sequence). 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” (ibid). 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” (Homily in the Octave of the Ascension). 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” (Jn 15:26-27).

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. Today, if we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left. When those become our criteria, then the Church has forgotten the Spirit. 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. 

23.05.21


Pope Francis       

23.05.21  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square     

Solemnity of Pentecost     Year B         

Acts 2: 1-11 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon!

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. 

23.05.21


Pope Francis       

27.10.21  General Audience,  Paul VI Audience Hall  

Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 13. The fruit of the Spirit   

Galatians 5: 19-24  

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Saint Paul’s preaching is completely centred on Jesus and his Paschal Mystery. In fact, the Apostle presents himself as a witness of Christ, and Christ crucified (cfr. 1 Cor 2:2). He reminds the Galatians, tempted to base their religiosity on the observance of precepts and traditions, that the centre of salvation and faith is the death and resurrection of the Lord. He does so by placing before them the reality of the cross of Jesus. He writes thus: “Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal 3:1). Who has bewitched you so that you would move away from Christ Crucified? It is an awful moment for the Galatians….

Today, there are many who still seek religious security rather than the living and true God, focusing on rituals and precepts instead of embracing God’s love with their whole being. And this is the temptation of the new fundamentalists, isn’t it? Of those who seem to be afraid to make progress, and who regress because they feel more secure: they seek the security of God and not the God of our security…. This is why Paul asks the Galatians to return to what is essential – to return to God, to the essential, not to the securities of God: to the essential – to the God who gives us life in Christ crucified. He testifies to this in the first person: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). And towards the end of the Letter, he affirms: “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14).

If we lose the thread of the spiritual life, if a thousand problems and thoughts assail us, let us heed Paul’s advice: let us place ourselves in front of Christ Crucified, let us begin again from Him. Let us take the Crucifix in our hands, holding it close to our heart. Or we can even take some time in adoration before the Eucharist, where Jesus is Bread broken for us, Crucified, Risen, the power of God who pours out his love into our hearts.

And now, still guided by Saint Paul, let us take another step. Let us ask ourselves: what happens when we meet Jesus Crucified in prayer? The same thing that happened under the cross: Jesus gave up his Spirit (cf. Jn 19:30), that is, he gives his own life. And the Spirit which flows forth from Jesus’ Passover is the origin of the spiritual life. He changes hearts: not our works. He is the one who changes the heart, not the things that we do, but the action of the Holy Spirit in us changes our heart! He guides the Church and we are called to be obedient to his action, who blows where and how he wills. Moreover, it was precisely the awareness that the Holy Spirit had descended over everyone, and that His grace was at work without excluding anyone, that convinced even the most reluctant of the Apostles that the Gospel was meant for everyone and not for a privileged few. And those who seek security, the small group, the things that were clear as they were back then, they live “as it was back then”, they distance themselves from the Spirit, they do not permit the freedom of the Spirit to enter into them. Thus, the life of the community is regenerated in the Holy Spirit; and it is always thanks to Him that we nourish our Christian lives and continue to engage in our spiritual battle.

It is precisely the spiritual combat that is another important teaching in the Letter to the Galatians. The Apostle presents two opposing fronts: on the one side, the “works of the flesh”, and on the other, the “fruit of the Spirit”. What are the works of the flesh? They are behaviours that are contrary to the Spirit of God. The Apostle calls them works of the flesh not because there is something erroneous or bad about our human bodies. Instead, we have seen how much he insisted on the reality of the human flesh that Christ brought to the cross! Flesh is a word that indicates the person’s earthly dimension, closed in on itself in a horizontal existence, following worldly instincts and closing the door to the Spirit who lifts us up and opens us up to God and others. But the flesh also reminds us that everything gets old, that it all passes, withers, while the Spirit gives life. Therefore, Paul lists the works of the flesh which refer to the selfish use of sexuality, to magical practices connected with idolatry and to all that undermines interpersonal relationships such as “enmity, jealousy, dissension, divisions, factions, envy…” (cf. Gal 5:19-21): all of this is the truth – we’ll put it this way – of the flesh, of behaviour that is solely “human”, sickly human. Because being human has its values, but this is sickly human.

The fruit of the Spirit, instead, is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23), as Paul says. Christians, who in baptism have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27), are called to live as such. It can be a good spiritual exercise, for example, to read Saint Paul’s list and take a look at our own behaviour to see if it corresponds, if we are truly living according to the Holy Spirit, if we are bearing these fruits. These fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: does my life bear these fruits? Is it the Spirit who gives? For example, the first three that are listed are love, peace and joy: a person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells can be recognized by these traits. A person who is in peace, who is joyful and who loves. With these three traits, the Spirit is seen.

The Apostle’s teaching poses quite a challenge for our communities too. Sometimes, those who approach the Church get the impression that they are dealing with a dense mass of rules and regulations: but no, this is not the Church! This can be whatever association. But, in reality, the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ cannot be grasped on the basis of so many commandments or of a moral vision developed in many layers which can make us forget the original fruitfulness of love nourished by prayer from which peace and joyful witness flow. In the same way, the life of the Spirit, expressed in the Sacraments, cannot be suffocated by a bureaucracy that prevents access to the grace of the Spirit, the initiator of conversion of heart. And how many times we ourselves, priests or bishops, follow so much bureaucracy to give a sacrament, to welcome people, so that people say: “No, I do not like this”, and they do not go, and many times they do not see in us the power of the Spirit who regenerates, who makes everyone new. We therefore have the huge responsibility of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen, enlivened by the breath of the Spirit of love. For it is this Love alone that possesses the power to attract and change the human heart. Thank you.

27.10.21


Pope Francis       

03.11.21 General Audience,  Paul VI Audience Hall  

Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 14. Walking according to the Spirit  

Galatians 5:  16-17,25

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the passage from the Letter to the Galatians we have just heard, Saint Paul exhorts Christians to walk according to the Holy Spirit (cf. 5:16, 25), that is a style: to walk according to the Holy Spirit. In effect, to believe in Jesus means to follow him, to go behind him along his way, just as the first disciples did. And at the same time, it means avoiding the opposite way, that of egoism, of seeking one’s own interests, which the Apostle calls the “desire of the flesh” (v. 16). The Spirit is the guide for this journey along the way of Christ, a stupendous but difficult journey that begins in Baptism and lasts our entire lives. We can think of it as a long excursion on the mountain heights: it is breath-taking, the destination is attractive, but it requires a lot of effort and tenaciousness.

This image can be helpful to understand the merit of the Apostle’s words “to walk according to the Spirit”, “allow ourselves to be guided” by Him. They are expressions indicating an action, a movement, a dynamism that prevents us from halting at the first difficulties, but elicit confidence in the “strength that comes from on high” (Shepherd of Hermas, 43, 21). Tredding along this way, the Christian acquires a positive vision of life. This does not mean that the evil present in the world disappears, or that the negative impulses of our egoism and pride diminish. Rather, it means that belief in God is always stronger than our resistance and greater than our sins. And this is important: to believe that God is greater, always. Greater than our resistances, greater than our sins.

As he exhorts the Galatians to follow this path, the Apostle places himself on their level. He abandons the verb in the imperative – “walk” (v. 16) – and uses the indicative “we”: “let us walk according to the Spirit” (v. 25). That is to say: let us walk along the same line and let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is an exhortation, a way of exhorting. Saint Paul feels this exhortation is necessary for himself as well. Even though he knows that Christ lives in him (cf. 2:20), he is also convinced that he has not yet reached the goal, the top of the mountain (cf. Phil. 3:12). The Apostle does not place himself above his community. He does not say: “I am the leader; you are those others; I have come from high up on the mountain and you are on the way”. He does not say this, but places himself in the midst of the journey everyone is on in order to provide a concrete example of how much it is necessary to obey God, corresponding better and better to the Spirit’s guidance. And how beautiful it is when we find pastors who journey with their people, who do not get tired – “No, I am more important, I am a pastor. You…”, “I am a priest”, “I am a bishop”, with their noses in the air. No: pastors who journey with the people. This is very beautiful. It does the soul good.

This “walking according to the Spirit” is not only an individual task: it also concerns the community as a whole. In fact, it is exciting, but demanding, to build up the community according to the way indicated by the Apostle. The “desires of the flesh”, “the temptations”, we can say, that all of us have – that is, our jealousies, prejudices, hypocrisies and resentments continue to make themselves felt – and having recourse to a rigid set of precepts can be an easy temptation. But doing this means straying from the path of freedom, and instead of climbing to the top, it means returning down below. In the first place, journeying along the way of the Spirit requires giving space to grace and charity. To make space for God’s grace. Not being afraid. After having made his voice heard in a severe way, Paul invites the Galatians to bear each other’s difficulties, and if someone should make a mistake, to use gentleness (cf. 5:22). Let us listen to his words: “Brethren, if someone is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (6:1-2). Quite different than gossiping, like when we see something and we talk behind the persons back about it, right? To gossip about our neighbour. No, this is not according to the Spirit. What is according to the Spirit is being gentle with a brother or sister when correcting him or her and keeping watch over ourselves so as not to fall into those sins, that is, humility.

In effect, when we are tempted to judge others badly, as often happens, we must rather reflect on our own weakness. How easy it is to criticise others! But there are people who seem to have a degree in gossip. Each and every day they criticise others. Take a look at yourself! It is good to ask ourselves what drives us to correct a brother or a sister, and if we are not in some way co-responsible for their mistake. In addition to giving us the gift of gentleness, the Holy Spirit invites us to be in solidarity, to bear other’s burdens. How many burdens there are in a person’s life: illness, lack of work, loneliness, pain…! And how many other trials that require the proximity and love of our brothers and sisters! The words of Saint Augustine when he commented on this same passage can also help us: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, whenever someone is caught in some fault, […] correct him in this way, gently, gently. And if you raise your voice, love within. If you encourage, if you present yourself as a father, if you reprove, if you are severe, love” (Discourse 163/B 3). Love always. The supreme rule regarding fraternal correction is love: to want the good of our brothers and sisters. It takes a lot of time to also tolerate others’ problems, others’ defects in the silence of prayer, so as to find the right way to help them to correct themselves. And this is not easy. The easiest path is to gossip. Talking behind someone else’s back as if I am perfect. And this should not be done. Gentleness. Patience. Prayer. Proximity.

Let us walk with joy and patience along this path, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Thank you.

03.11.21


Pope Francis   

10.11.21 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall  

Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 15. Let us not grow weary  

Galatians 6: 9-10, 18

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We have reached the end of the catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians. We could have reflected on so much other content contained in this writing of Saint Paul! The Word of God is an inexhaustible font. And in this letter, the Apostle has spoken to us as an evangeliser, as a theologian and as a pastor.

The holy bishop Ignatius of Antioch used a beautiful expression when he wrote: “There is then one Teacher, who spoke and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of the Father. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence” (To the Ephesians, 15: 1-2). We can say that the apostle Paul was capable of giving voice to this silence of God. His most original intuitions help us discover the shocking newness contained in the revelation of Jesus Christ. He was a true theologian who contemplated the mystery of Christ and transmitted it with his creative intelligence. And he was also capable of exercising his pastoral mission towards a lost and confused community. He did this with different methods: from time to time he used irony, firmness, gentleness… He revealed his own authority as an apostle, but at the same time he did not hide the weaknesses of his character. The strength of the Spirit had truly entered his heart: his meeting with the Risen Christ conquered and transformed his entire life, and he spent it entirely at the service of the Gospel. This is Paul.

Paul never conceived of Christianity in peaceful terms, lacking bite and force — on the contrary. With such passion he defended the freedom Christ brought that it stills moves us today, especially if we think of the suffering and loneliness he must have endured. He was convinced that he had received a call to which he alone could respond; and he wanted to explain to the Galatians that they too were called to that freedom which liberated them from every form of slavery because it made them heirs of the ancient promise and, in Christ, children of God. And aware of the risks that this concept of freedom brought, he never minimised the consequences. He was aware of the risks that Christian freedom brought. But he did not minimise the consequences. With parrhesia, that is, courageously, he repeated to the believers that freedom is in no way equal to debauchery, nor does it lead to forms of presumptuous self-sufficiency. Rather, Paul placed freedom in love’s shadow and based its consistent exercise on the service of charity. This entire vision was set within the panorama of a life according to the Holy Spirit that brings to fulfilment the Law given by God to Israel and prevents falling back into the slavery of sin. But the temptation is always to go backward, right? One definition of Christians found in the Scripture says that we Christians are not the type of people who go backward, who turn back. This is a beautiful definition. And the temptation is to turn back to be more secure. And in this case, to turn back to the Law, disregarding the new life of the Spirit. This is what Paul teaches us: the fulfilment of the true Law is found in this life of the Spirit given to us by Jesus. And this life of the Spirit can only be lived in freedom. Christian freedom. This is one of the most beautiful things, most beautiful.

At the end of this catechetical journey, it seems to me that a twofold attitude could rise within us. On the one hand, the Apostle’s teaching generates enthusiasm in us; we feel drawn to follow immediately the way of freedom, to “walk according to the Spirit”. Walking according to the Spirit always makes us free. On the other hand, we are aware of our limitations because we are daily in touch with how difficult it is to be docile to the Spirit, to surrender to his beneficial action. Then tiredness can set it that dampens enthusiasm. We feel discouraged, weak, sometimes marginalised with respect to a worldly life-style. Saint Augustine, referring to the Gospel episode of the storm on the lake, suggests how to react in this situation. This is what he says: “The faith of Christ in your heart is like Christ in the boat. You hear insults, you wear yourself out, you are upset, and Christ sleeps. Wake Christ up, rouse your faith! Even in tribulation you can do something. Rouse your faith. Christ awakes and speaks to you… Therefore, wake Christ up… Believe what has been said to you, and there will be tremendous calm in your heart” (Sermon 63). Saint Augustine says here that in difficult moments it is like we are in the boat at the moment of the storm. And what did the apostles do? They woke Christ up. Wake up Christ who sleeps and you are in the storm, but He is present. This is the only thing we can do in terrible moments: wake up Christ who is within us, but sleeps like [he did] in the boat. It is exactly like this. We must rouse Christ in our hearts and only then will we be able to contemplate things with his eyes for He sees beyond the storm. Through that serene gaze, we can see a panorama that is not even conceivable on our own.

In this challenging but captivating journey, the Apostle reminds us that we cannot let ourselves tire when it comes to doing good. “Let us not grow weary in well-doing” (Gal 6:9). We must trust that the Spirit always comes to assist us in our weakness and grants us the support we need. Let us, therefore, learn to invoke the Holy Spirit more often! “So, Father, how is the Holy Spirit invoked? I know how to pray to the Father with the Our Father. I know how to pray to Mary with the Hail Mary. I know how to pray to Jesus with the Prayer to His Holy Wounds. But to the Spirit… What is the prayer to the Holy Spirit?” The prayer to the Holy Spirit is spontaneous: it needs to come from your heart. In difficult moments, you need to ask: “Holy Spirit, come”. The key word is this: come. Come. But you need to say it yourself in your own words. Come, because I find myself in difficulty. Come, because I am in the dark. Come, because I don’t know what to do. Come, because I am about to fall. Come. Come. This is the Holy Spirit’s word – how to call upon the Spirit.  Let us learn to invoke the Holy Spirit often. We can do this with simple words at various moments during the day. And we can carry with us, perhaps inside the Gospel in our pocket, the beautiful prayer the Church recites on Pentecost: “Come, come Holy Spirit, / And from your celestial home / Shed a ray of light divine! / Come, come, Father of the poor! / Come, Source of all our store! / Come, within our bosoms shine! / You, of comforters the best; / You the soul’s most welcome Guest; / Sweet refreshment… Come…” And so it continues, it is a very beautiful prayer. But only if you have the prayer – or if you cannot find it, the gist of the prayer is “Come”, as the Madonna and the Apostles prayed during the days when Christ ascended into Heaven. They were alone in the Upper Room begging: Come, that the Spirit would come. It would be good for us to pray it often. Come, Holy Spirit. And with the presence of the Spirit, we will protect our freedom. We are free, free Christians, not attached to the past in the bad sense of the word, not chained to practices. Christian freedom is what makes us grow. This prayer will help us walk in the Spirit, in freedom and in joy because when the Holy Spirit comes, joy, true joy comes. May the Lord bless you. Thank you.

10.11.21


Pope Francis       

30.03.22 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall   

Catechesis on Old Age - 5. Faithfulness to God's visit for future generations   

Luke 2:  25-30

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In our path of catecheses on the theme of old age, today we will look at the tender picture painted by the evangelist Saint Luke, who depicts two elderly figures, Simeon and Anna. Their reason for living, before taking leave of this world, is to await God’s visit. They were waiting for God, that is, Jesus, to visit them. Simeon knows, by a premonition of the Holy Spirit, that he will not die before seeing the Messiah. Anna attends the temple every day, devoting herself to his service. Both of them recognize the presence of the Lord in the child Jesus, who fills their long wait with consolation and reassures them as they bid farewell to life. This is a scene of encounter with Jesus, and of farewell.

What can we learn from these two elderly figures filled with spiritual vitality?

First, we learn that the fidelity of waiting sharpens the senses. Besides, as we know, the Holy Spirit does precisely this: enlightens the senses. In the ancient hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, with which we continue to this day to invoke the Holy Spirit, we say: “Accende lumen sensibus”, “Guide our minds with your blest light”, enlighten our senses. The Spirit is capable of doing this: of sharpening the senses of the soul, despite the limits and the wounds of the senses of the body. Old age weakens, in one way or another, the sensibility of the body: one is going blind, another one deaf. However, an old age spent in awaiting God’s visit will not miss his passage; on the contrary, it will be even more ready to grasp it, will have greater sensitivity to welcome the Lord when he passes. Remember that it is typical of the Christian to be attentive to the visits of the Lord, because the Lord passes in our life, with inspirations, with invitations to better ourselves. And Saint Augustine used to say: “I fear that Jesus will pass me by unnoticed”. It is the Holy Spirit who prepares the senses to understand when the Lord is visiting us, just as he did with Simeon and Anna.

Today we need this more than ever: we need an old age gifted with lively spiritual senses capable of recognizing the signs of God, or rather, the Sign of God, who is Jesus. A sign that challenges us, always: Jesus challenges us because he is “a sign that is spoken against” (Lk 2: 34) – but which fills us with joy. Because crisis does not necessarily bring sadness, no: being in crisis in service to the Lord very often gives you peace and joy. The anaesthesia of the spiritual senses – and this is bad – the anaesthesia of the spiritual senses, in the excitement and stultification of those of the body, is a widespread syndrome in a society that cultivates the illusion of eternal youth, and its most dangerous feature lies in the fact that it is mostly unaware. We do not realize we are anaesthetized. And this happens. It happens. It has always happened and it happens in our times. Numbed senses, without understanding what is happening: when they are numb, the inner senses, the senses of the Spirit that enable us to understand the presence of God or the presence of evil, cannot distinguish between them.

When you lose the sense of touch or of taste, you realize immediately. However, you can ignore that of the soul, that sensitivity of the soul, for a long time, living without realizing that you have lost the sensitivity of the soul. It is not simply a matter of thinking of God or religion. The insensitivity of the spiritual senses relates to compassion and pity, shame and remorse, fidelity and devotion, tenderness and honour, responsibility for oneself and for others. It is curious: insensitivity stops you understanding compassion, it stops you understanding pity, it stops you feeling shame or having remorse for having done something bad… It is like that. The numbed spiritual senses confuse you and you no longer feel those things, spiritually. And old age becomes, so to speak, the first casualty, the first victim of this loss of sensibility. In a society that exercises sensibility primarily for enjoyment, there cannot but be a lack of attention to the frail, and the competition of the winners prevails. And this is how sensitivity is lost. Certainly, the rhetoric of inclusion is the ritual formula of every politically correct discourse. But it still does not bring about a real correction of the practices of normal co-existence: a culture of social tenderness struggles to grow. The spirit of human fraternity – which I felt it was necessary to relaunch forcefully – is like a discarded garment, to be admired, but … in a museum. One loses human sensibility, these movements of the Spirit that make us human.

It is true, in real life we can observe, with moving gratitude, many young people capable of honouring this fraternity to its fullest. But herein, exactly, lies the problem: there is a gap, a shameful gap, between the testimony of this lifeblood of social tenderness and the conformism that compels youth to present itself in an entirely different way. What can we do to bridge this gap?

From the story of Simeon and Anna, but also from other biblical accounts of the Spirit-sensitive elderly, comes a hidden indication that deserves to be brought to the forefront. In what, in real terms, does the revelation that kindles the sensitivity of Simeon and Anna consist? It consists in recognizing in a child, whom they did not beget and whom they see for the first time, the sure sign of God's visitation. They accept not to be protagonists, but only witnesses. And when one accepts not being a protagonist, but gets involved as a witness, it is good: that man or that woman is maturing well. But those who always want to be protagonist and nothing else, never mature on that journey towards the fullness of old age. God's visitation is not embodied in their lives, it does not bring them onto the scene as saviours: God does not take flesh in their generation, but in the generation to come. They lose their spirit, they lose the desire to live with maturity, and as one usually says, they live in a superficial way. It is the great generation of the superficial, who do not allow themselves to feel things with the sensibility of the Spirit. But why do they not let themselves? Partly out of laziness, and partly because they are already unable: they have lost it. It is bad when a civilization loses the sensibility of the Spirit. On the contrary, it is wonderful when we find elderly people like Simeon and Anna who conserve this sensibility of the Spirit, and who are capable of understanding the different situations, just as these two understood the situation in front of them, which was the manifestation of the Messiah. There is no resentment and no recrimination for this, when they are in this state of stillness, of being still. Instead, great emotion and great comfort when the spiritual senses are still lively. The emotion and comfort of being able to see and announce that the history of their generation is not lost or wasted, thanks to an event that is incarnate and manifested in the generation that follows. And this is what elderly people feel when the grandchildren come to speak with them: they feel revived. “Ah, my life is still here”. It is so important to go to see the elderly; it is so important to listen to them. It is so important to speak with them, because there is this exchange of civilization, this exchange of maturity between the young and the elderly. And in this way, our civilization advances in a mature way.

Only spiritual old age can give this witness, humble and dazzling, making it authoritative and exemplary for all. Old age that has cultivated the sensitivity of the soul extinguishes all envy between generations, all resentment, all recrimination for an advent of God in the generation to come, which arrives together with the departure of one’s own. And this is what happens to an elderly person who is open to a young person who is open: he or she bids farewell to life while, so to speak, “handing over” life to the new generation. And this is the farewell of Simeon and Anna: “Let your servant depart in peace”. The spiritual sensitivity of old age is capable of breaking down competition and conflict between generations in a credible and definitive way. This is certainly impossible for men, but possible for God. And nowadays we are in great need of this, of the sensibility of the spirit, the maturity of the spirit; we need wise, elders, mature in spirit, who give hope for life! Thank you.

30.03.22


Pope Francis   


22.05.22 Regina Caeli,  St Peter's Square   


6th Sunday of Easter Year C  


John 14: 23-29 

Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!

In the Gospel of today’s Liturgy, bidding his disciples goodbye during the Last Supper, Jesus says almost as a sort of testament: Peace I leave with you”. And he adds immediately, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). Let us reflect on these short phrases.

First of all, peace I leave with you. Jesus bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene. Judas has left to betray him, Peter is about to deny him, and almost everyone else to abandon him. The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches. Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end. There is a proverb that says you die the way you have lived. In effect, the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace, a peace that comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust. This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us. For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.

Peace I leave with you: Jesus demonstrates that meekness is possible. He incarnated it specifically in the most difficult moment, and he wants us to behave that way too, since we too are heirs of his peace. He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons. The witness of peace. As disciples of Jesus, let us ask ourselves if we behave like this where we live – do we ease tensions, and defuse conflicts? Are we too at odds with someone, always ready to react, explode, or do we know how to respond nonviolently, do we know how to respond with peaceful actions? How do I react? Everyone can ask themselves this.

Certainly, this meekness is not easy. How difficult it is, at every level, to defuse conflicts! Jesus’ second phrase comes to our aid here: my peace I give you. Jesus knows that on our own we are not able to cultivate peace, that we need help, that we need a gift. Peace, which is our obligation, is first of all a gift of God. In fact, Jesus says: “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (v. 27). What is this peace that the world does not know and the Lord gives us? This peace is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus. It is the presence of God in us, it is God’s “power of peace”. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who loosens rigidity and extinguishes the temptations to attack others. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out anew because we cannot do this with our own strength. And it is with Him, with the Holy Spirit, that we become men and women of peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace. The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace. Let us learn to say every day: “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. This is a beautiful prayer. Shall we say it together? “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. I didn’t hear it well. One more time: “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.

May Our Lady help us welcome the Holy Spirit so we can be peacemakers.

22.05.22


Pope Francis       

05.06.22 Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica  

Solemnity of Pentecost   Year C  

Romans 8: 8-17

John 14: 15-16, 23b-26

In the final words of the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus says something that can offer us hope and make us think. He tells his disciples: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you (Jn 14:26). “Everything”, “all” – these words are striking; they make us wonder: how does the Spirit give this new and full understanding to those who receive him? It is not about quantity, or an academic question: God does not want to make us encyclopaedias or polymaths. No. It is a question of quality, perspective, perception. The Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, with the eyes of Jesus. I would put it this way: in the great journey of life, the Spirit teaches us where to begin, what paths to take, and how to walk.

First, where to begin. The Spirit points out to us the starting point of the spiritual life. What is it? Jesus speaks of it in the first verse of the Gospel, when he says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v. 15). If you love me, you will keep…. This is the “logic” of the Spirit. We tend to think the exact opposite: if we keep the commandments, we will love Jesus. We tend to think that love comes from our keeping, our fidelity and our devotion. Yet the Spirit reminds us that without love as our basis, all the rest is in vain. And that love comes not so much from our abilities, but as his gift. He teaches us to love and we have to ask for this gift. The Spirit of love pours love into our hearts, he makes us feel loved and he teaches us how to love. He is the “motor” of our spiritual lives. He set it in motion within us. But if we do not begin from the Spirit, or with the Spirit or through the Spirit, we will get nowhere.

The Spirit himself reminds us of this, because he is the memory of God, the one who brings to our minds all that Jesus has said (cf. v. 26). The Holy Spirit is an active memory; he constantly rekindles the love of God in our hearts. We have experienced his presence in the forgiveness of our sins, in moments when we are filled with his peace, his freedom and his consolation. It is essential to cherish this spiritual memory. We always remember the things that go wrong; we listen to the voice within us that reminds us of our failures and failings, the voice that keeps saying: “Look, yet another failure, yet another disappointment. You will never succeed; you cannot do it”. This is a terrible thing to be told. Yet the Holy Spirit tells us something completely different. He reminds us: “Have you fallen? You are a son or daughter of God. You are a unique, elect, precious and beloved child. Even when you lose confidence in yourself, God has confidence in you!” This is the “memory” of the Spirit, what the Spirit constantly reminds us: God knows you. You may forget about God, but he does not forget about you. He remembers you always.

You, however, may well object: these are nice words, but I have problems, hurts and worries that cannot be removed by facile words of comfort! Yet that is precisely where the Holy Spirit asks you to let him in. Because he, the Consoler, is the Spirit of healing, of resurrection, who can transform the hurts burning within you. He teaches us not to harbour the memory of all those people and situations that have hurt us, but to let him purify those memories by his presence. That is what he did with the apostles and their failures. They had deserted Jesus before the Passion; Peter had denied him; Paul had persecuted Christians. We too think of our own mistakes. How many of them, and so much guilt! Left to themselves, they had no way out. Left to themselves, no. But with the Comforter, yes. Because the Spirit heals memories. How? By putting at the top of the list the thing that really matters: the memory of God’s love, his loving gaze. In this way, he sets our lives in order. He teaches us to accept one another, to forgive one another and to forgive ourselves; he teaches us to be reconciled with the past. And to set out anew.

In addition to reminding us where to begin, the Spirit teaches us what paths to take. We see this in the second reading, where Saint Paul explains that those “led by the Spirit of God” (Rom 8:14) “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4). The Spirit, at every crossroads in our lives, suggests to us the best path to follow. It is important, then, to be able to distinguish his voice from the voice of the spirit of evil. Both speak to us: we need to learn to distinguish the voice of the Spirit, to be able to recognize that voice and follow its lead, to follow the things he tells us.

Let us consider some examples. The Holy Spirit will never tell you that on your journey everything is going just fine. He will never tell you this, because it isn’t true. No, he corrects you; he makes you weep for your sins; he pushes you to change, to fight against your lies and deceptions, even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice. The evil spirit, on the contrary, pushes you to do always what you want, what you find pleasing. He makes you think that you have the right to use your freedom any way you want. Then, once you are left feeling empty inside – and how many of us have known that terrible feeling of emptiness! – then he blames you and casts you down.  The evil spirit blames you, he becomes the accuser. He casts you down and destroys you. The Holy Spirit, correcting you along the way, never leaves you lying on the ground: He takes you by the hand, comforts you and constantly encourages you.

Then again, whenever you feel troubled by bitterness, pessimism and negativity – how many times have we fallen into this! – then it is good to remember that these things never come from the Holy Spirit. Bitterness, pessimism, sad thoughts, these never come from the Holy Spirit. They come from evil, which is at home with negativity. It often uses this strategy: it stokes impatience and self-pity, and with self-pity the need to blame others for all our problems. It makes us edgy, suspicious, querulous. Complaining is the language of the evil spirit; he wants to make you complain, to be gloomy, to put on a funeral face. The Holy Spirit on the other hand urges us never to lose heart and always to start over again. He always encourages you to get up. He takes you by the hand and says: “Get up!” How do we do that? By jumping right in, without waiting for someone else. And by spreading hope and joy, not complaints; never envying others. Never! Envy is the door through which the evil spirit enters. The Bible tells us this: by the envy of the devil, evil entered the world. So never be envious! The Holy Spirit brings you goodness; he leads you to rejoice in the success of others.

The Holy Spirit is practical, he is not an idealist. He wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled. These are they concrete times and places of grace, here and now. That is where the Holy Spirit is leading us. The spirit of evil, however, would pull us away from the here and now, and put us somewhere else. Often he anchors us to the past: to our regrets, our nostalgia, our disappointments. Or else he points us to the future, fueling our fears, illusions and false hopes . But not the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love, concretely, here and now, not an ideal world or an ideal Church, an ideal religious congregation, but the real ones, as they are, seen in broad light of day, with transparency and simplicity. How very different from the evil one, who instigates gossip and idle chatter. Idle chatter is a nasty habit; it destroys a person’s identity.

The Holy Spirit wants us to be together; he makes us Church and today – here is the third and final aspect – he teaches the Church how to walk. The disciples were cowering in the Upper Room; the Spirit then came down and made them go forth. Without the Spirit, they were alone, by themselves, huddled together. With the Spirit, they were open to all. In every age, the Spirit overturns our preconceived notions and opens us to his newness. God, the Spirit, is always new! He constantly teaches the Church the vital importance of going forth, impelled to proclaim the Gospel. The importance of our being, not a secure sheepfold, but an open pasture where all can graze on God’s beauty. He teaches us to be an open house without walls of division. The worldly spirit drives us to concentrate on our own problems and interests, on our need to appear relevant, on our strenuous defence of the nation or group to which we belong. That is not the way of the Holy Spirit. He invites to forget ourselves and to open our hearts to all. In that way, he makes the Church grow young. We need to remember this: the Spirit rejuvenates the Church. Not us and our efforts to dress her up a bit. For the Church cannot be “programmed” and every effort at “modernization” is not enough. The Spirit liberates us from obsession with emergencies. He beckons us to walk his paths, ever ancient and ever new, the paths of witness, poverty and mission, and in this way, he sets us free from ourselves and sends us forth into the world.

And finally, oddly, the Holy Spirit is the author of division, of ruckus, of a certain disorder. Think of the morning of Pentecost: he is the author… he creates division of languages and attitudes… it was a ruckus, that! Yet at the same time, he is the author of harmony. He divides with the variety of charisms, but it is a false division, because true division is part of harmony. He creates division with charisms and he creates harmony with all this division. This is the richness of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, let us sit at the school of the Holy Spirit, so that he can teach us all things. Let us invoke him each day, so that he can remind us to make God’s gaze upon us our starting point, to make decisions by listening to his voice, and to journey together as Church, docile to him and open to the world. Amen.

05.06.22


Pope Francis       

05.06.22 Regina Caeli, Saint Peter's Square  

Solemnity of Pentecost   Year C  

John 14: 15-16, 23b-26

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon, happy Sunday!

And today, happy feast day too, because today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. We celebrate the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, which took place fifty days after Easter. Jesus had promised it several times. In today’s Liturgy, the Gospel recounts one of these promises, when Jesus said to the disciples: “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). This is what the Spirit does: he teaches and reminds us of what Christ said. Let us reflect on these two actions, to teach and to remind, because it is in this way the he makes the Gospel of Jesus enter into our hearts.

First of all, the Holy Spirit teaches. In this way he helps us to overcome an obstacle that presents itself to us in the experience of faith: that of distance. He teaches us to overcome the obstacle of distance in the experience of faith. Indeed, the doubt may arise that between the Gospel and everyday life there is a great distance: Jesus lived two thousand years ago, they were other times, other situations, and therefore the Gospel seems to be outdated, it seems unable to speak to our current moment, with its demands and its problems. The question also comes to us: what does the Gospel have to say in the age of the internet, in the age of globalization? What impact can its word have?

We can say that the Holy Spirit is a specialist in bridging distances, he knows how to bridge distances; he teaches us how to overcome them. It is he who connects the teaching of Jesus with every time and every person. With him Christ’s words are not a memory, no: Christ’s words, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, come alive today! The Spirit makes them alive for us: through Scripture he speaks to us and directs us in the present. The Holy Spirit does not fear the passing of the centuries; rather, He makes believers attentive to the problems and events of their time. Indeed, for when the Holy Spirit teaches, he actualizes: he keeps faith ever young. We risk making faith a museum piece: it is a risk! He, on the other hand, brings it up to date, always up to date, the faith up to date: this is his job. For the Holy Spirit does not bind himself to passing epochs or fashions, but brings into today the relevance of Jesus, risen and living.

And how does the Spirit do this? By making us remember. Here is the second verb, to remind, ri-cordare. What does remind mean? To remind means to restore to the heart, ri-cordare: the Spirit restores the Gospel to our heart. It happens as it did for the Apostles: they had listened to Jesus many times, yet they had understood little. The same thing happens to us. But from Pentecost forth, with the Holy Spirit, they remember and they understand. They welcome his words as made specially for them, and they pass from an outward knowledge, an awareness of memory, to a living relationship, a convinced, joyful relationship with the Lord. It is the Spirit who does this, who moves from “hearsay” to personal knowledge of Jesus, who enters the heart. Thus, the Spirit changes our lives: he makes Jesus’ thoughts become our thoughts. And he does this by reminding us of his words, bringing Jesus’ words to our heart, today.

Brothers and sisters, without the Spirit reminding us of Jesus, faith becomes forgetful. Very often, faith becomes a recollection without memory; instead, memory is living and living memory is brought by the Spirit. And we – let us try to ask ourselves – are we forgetful Christians? Maybe all it takes is a setback, a struggle, a crisis to forget Jesus’ love and fall into doubt and fear? Woe to us, should we become forgetful Christians! The remedy is to invoke the Holy Spirit. Let us do this often, especially in important moments, before difficult decisions and in difficult situations. Let us take the Gospel in our hands and invoke the Spirit. We can say, “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. This is a beautiful prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. Shall we say it together? “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. Then, let us open the Gospel and read a small passage slowly. And the Spirit will make it speak to our lives.

May the Virgin Mary, filled with of the Holy Spirit, kindle in us the desire to pray to him and receive the Word of God.

05.06.22 rc


Pope Francis       

06.11.22 Prayer Meeting and Angelus with Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians and Pastoral Workers,

Sacred Heart Church, Manama, Bahrain  

John 7: 37-39

Dear Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Men and Women, Seminarians and Pastoral Workers, good morning!

I am pleased to be here, in the midst of this Christian community that clearly manifests its “Catholic” face: a universal face, a Church made up of people from various parts of the world who come together to profess our one faith in Christ. Yesterday, Bishop Hinder – whom I thank for his service and his words of introduction – talked about “a small flock made up of migrants”.  In greeting you, then, my thoughts also turn to the peoples from whom you come, to your dear families, whom you remember with a touch of nostalgia, and to your countries of origin. In particular, since I see that some of you are from Lebanon, I assure you of my prayers and closeness to your beloved country, so weary and sorely tried, as well as to all peoples suffering in the Middle East. It is beautiful to be part of a Church composed of different histories and different faces that find their harmony in the one face of Jesus. And this variety – as I have seen in these days – is a mirror of this country, of the people who dwell here in it, but also of its landscape that, though mostly desert, boasts a rich variety of plants and living creatures.

The words of Jesus that we heard speak of the living water flowing from Christ and his followers (cf. Jn 7:37-39). They made me think about this very land. While it is true that there is a large expanse of desert, there are springs of fresh water flowing underground that irrigate it. That is a beautiful image of who you are and, above all, of how faith operates in our lives: on the surface our humanity seems parched by any number of weaknesses, fears, challenges and personal or social problems of various types. Yet, truly within the depths of the soul, in the intimacy of the heart, there flows the calm and silent fresh water of the Spirit, who refreshes our deserts and restores life to what is parched, who washes away all that soils us and quenches our thirst for happiness. The Spirit always restores life. This is the water of which Jesus speaks. This is the wellspring of new life that he promises us. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the tender, loving and rejuvenating presence of God within us.

It is helpful, then, to focus on the scene described in the Gospel. Jesus is in the Temple in Jerusalem, where they are celebrating one of the most important feasts, when the people bless the Lord for the gifts of the land and the harvest, in remembrance of the Covenant. On that festive day, an important rite took place: the High Priest went to the pool of Siloam to draw water while the people sang and rejoiced; he then poured out the water outside the walls of the city in order to indicate that from Jerusalem would flow a great blessing for everyone. Indeed, the psalmist had sung of Jerusalem: “All my springs are in you” (Ps. 87:7), and the prophet Ezekiel had spoken of a fountain flowing like a river from the Temple, to irrigate the land and make it fruitful (cf. Ezek 47:1-12).

Against this backdrop, we can better appreciate what the Gospel of John wants to tells us with this scene. It is the last day of the feast, and Jesus “stood up and proclaimed, ‘If any one thirst, let them come to me and drink?’” (Jn. 7:37), for “rivers of living water” will flow from his heart (v. 38). What a beautiful invitation! The evangelist explains: “Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (v. 39). The reference is to the moment when Jesus dies on the cross: at that moment, no longer from the temple of stone, but from the open side of Christ, will the water of new life flow forth, the life-giving water of the Holy Spirit, destined to give new birth to all humanity, setting it free from sin and death.

Brothers and sisters, let us always remember this: the Church was born there, born from the pierced side of Christ, from the water of rebirth in the Holy Spirit (cf. Tit 3:5). We are not Christians by our own merit or simply because we profess a creed, but because the living water of the Spirit was given to us in baptism, making us beloved children of God, brothers and sisters of one another and a new creation. Everything flows from grace – everything is grace! Everything comes from the Holy Spirit. Allow me, then, to focus briefly on three great gifts that the Holy Spirit grants us and asks us to receive and to reflect in our lives: joy, unity and prophecy.  Joy, unity and prophecy.

First, the Spirit is a wellspring of joy. The fresh water that the Lord wants to make flow in the “deserts” of our humanity, earthly and frail, is the certainty that we are never alone on the journey of life. The Spirit is the One who does not leave us on our own. He is the Comforter, who consoles us by his quiet and soothing presence, who accompanies us with love, supports us in struggles and difficulties, encourages our most beautiful dreams and deepest desires, and opens us to the wonder and beauty of life. The joy of the Spirit, however, is not an occasional feeling or a momentary emotion; still less is it that kind of “joy held out by today’s individualistic and consumerist culture” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 128). The joy of the Spirit is instead a joy born of a relationship with God, from knowing that despite the struggles and dark nights that we sometimes endure, we are not alone, lost or defeated, because he is with us. With God, we can face and overcome everything, even the abyss of pain and death.

To all of you who have discovered this joy and experience it in community, I would say: preserve this joy, indeed, let it grow ever greater. Do you know the best way to do that? By giving it away. Yes, Christian joy is naturally contagious, since the Gospel makes us go beyond ourselves to share the beauty of God’s love. It is essential, therefore, that this joy not be dimmed or left unshared in Christian communities, that we do not restrict ourselves to doing things by force of habit, without enthusiasm or creativity. Otherwise we will lose faith and become a dull community, and this is awful! In addition to the liturgy, and especially the celebration of Mass, the source and summit of Christian life (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), it is important that we spread the joy of the Gospel through a lively pastoral outreach, especially to young people and families, and through fostering vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. We cannot keep Christian joy to ourselves. It multiplies once we start spreading it around.

Second, the Holy Spirit is a wellspring of unity. All those who receive him receive the Father’s love and are made his sons and daughters (cf. Rom 8:15-16), and, if children of God, also brothers and sisters to one another. There can no longer be room for the works of the flesh, acts of selfishness, such as factions, quarrels, slander and gossip. Beware of gossip, please: gossip destroys a community. Worldly divisions, but also ethnic, cultural and ritual differences, cannot injure or compromise the unity of the Spirit. On the contrary, his fire burns away worldly desires and kindles in our lives the warm and compassionate love with which Jesus loves us, so that we in turn can love one another. For this reason, when the Spirit of the risen Jesus descends on his disciples, he becomes the source of unity and fraternity, opposed to every form of selfishness. He inaugurates the one language of love, so that different human languages no longer remain distant and incomprehensible. He breaks down the barriers of distrust and hate, in order to create space for acceptance and dialogue. He frees us from fear and instills the courage to go out and meet others with the unarmed and disarming force of mercy.

This is what the Holy Spirit does, and in this way he has shaped the Church from her very beginnings: starting with Pentecost, when a variety of backgrounds, sensibilities and visions were harmonized in communion, forged in a unity that is not uniformity; it was a harmony because the Holy Spirit is harmony. If we have received the Spirit, our ecclesial vocation is above all to preserve unity and cultivate it together – or as Saint Paul says – “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope” (Eph 4:3-4).

In her testimony, Chris said that when she was very young, what fascinated her about the Catholic Church was “the shared devotion of all the faithful”, quite apart from the colour of their skin, their country of origin and their language: everyone was gathered as a single family, singing the praises of the Lord. This is the strength of the Christian community; it is the first testimony that we are able to give to the world. Let us seek to be guardians and builders of unity! In order to be credible when we dialogue with others, let us live in fraternity among ourselves. Let us do so in our communities, valuing the charisms of each person without humiliating anyone. Let us do so in our religious houses, as living signs of harmony and peace. Let us do so in our families, so that the sacramental bond of love is seen daily in service and forgiveness. Let us do so in the multi-religious and multi-cultural societies in which we find ourselves, as ever tireless promoters of dialogue and weavers of fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other creeds and confessions. I know that you are already offering a good example of walking this path, but fraternity and communion are gifts that we must never tire of imploring from the Spirit. In this way, we can fend off the enemy who always sows weeds.

Finally, the Spirit is a wellspring of prophecy. Salvation history, as we know, is full of prophets whom God calls, consecrates and sends into the midst of the people in order to speak in his name. The prophets receive an interior light from the Holy Spirit, which makes them attentive interpreters of reality, capable of perceiving God’s presence amid the frequently obscure course of history and making it known to the people. The words of the prophets are often scathing: they call by name the evil designs lurking in the hearts of the people; they call into question false human and religious certainties, and they invite everyone to conversion.

We too have this prophetic vocation. All who are baptized have received the Spirit and so all become prophets. As such, we cannot pretend not to see the works of evil, so as to live a “quiet life” and not get our hands dirty. Sooner or later, Christians must get their hands dirty in order to live the Christian life and bear witness. On the contrary, we received a Spirit of prophecy to proclaim the Gospel by our living witness. In this regard, Saint Paul tells us: “Desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor 14:1). Prophecy makes us capable of putting the Beatitudes into practice in everyday situations, building meekly, yet resolutely God’s kingdom, in which love, justice and peace are opposed to every form of selfishness, violence and degradation. I am grateful that Sister Rose spoke of the ministry carried out for those in prison, and this is noble! This is something for which we should be grateful. The prophecy that builds up and consoles those prisoners is our sharing time with them, breaking open the word of God and praying with them. It is our showing concern for them, for where there are brothers and sisters in need, like those in prison, there is also Jesus, who himself suffers in all those who suffer (cf. Mt 25:40). Do you know what I think about when I go into a prison? “Why them and not me?” It is the mercy of God. Caring for prisoners is good for everyone, as a human community, since the way in which these “least ones” are treated is a measure of the dignity and the hope of a society.

Dear brothers and sisters, during these months we have been praying a great deal for peace. In this context, the agreement that was signed and which concerns the situation in Ethiopia represents hope. I encourage everyone to support this commitment for a lasting peace, so that, with the help of God, those involved may continue to journey on the paths of dialogue and that the population may soon find once more a peaceful and dignified life. And also I do not want to forget to pray, and to tell you to pray, for tormented Ukraine, for that war to end.

Now, dear brothers and sisters, we have come to the end. I would like to say “thank you” for these days together, and remember: joy, unity and prophecy – remember these! With a heart full of gratitude I bless all of you, especially those who worked to prepare for this journey. Since these are my last public words, I thank His Majesty the King and the authorities of this country, and also the Minister of Justice who is here with us, for their exquisite hospitality. I encourage you to persevere in your spiritual and ecclesial journey with steadfastness and joy. Let us now invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom I am happy to venerate as Our Lady of Arabia. May she help us always to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and keep us joyful and united in affection and love. I am counting on you: do not to forget to pray for me.

06.11.22


Pope Francis       

14.05.23 Regina Caeli, Saint Peter's Square  

Sixth Sunday of Easter  Year A  

John 14: 15-21


Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

The Gospel for today, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, speaks to us about the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:15-17). Paraclete is a word that comes from Greek, which means both consoler and advocate at the same time. This means that the Holy Spirit never leaves us alone, he is near to us, like an advocate who assists the accused person, standing by his or her side. And he suggests to us how to defend ourselves from those who accuses us. Let us recall that the great accuser is always the devil, who puts sin inside of you, the desire to sin, wickedness. Let us reflect on these two aspects: his closeness to us, and his assistance against those who accuse us.

His closeness: the Holy Spirt, Jesus says, “dwells with you and will be in you” (cf. v. 17). He never abandons us. The Holy Spirit wants to stay with us: he is not a passing guest who comes to pay us a courtesy visit. He is a companion for life, a stable presence. He is Spirit and desires to dwell in our spirits. He is patient and stays with us even when we fall. He remains because he truly loves us; he does not pretend to love us, and then leave us alone when things get difficult. No. He is faithful, he is transparent, he is authentic.

On the contrary! If we find ourselves in a moment of trial, the Holy Spirit consoles us, bringing us God’s pardon and strength. And when he places our errors before us and corrects us, he does so gently – there is always the timbre of tenderness and the warmth of love in his voice that speaks to the heart. Certainly, the Spirit, the Paraclete, is demanding, because he is a true, faithful friend, who does not hide anything, who suggests what needs to change and where growth needs to take place. But when he corrects us, he never humiliates us, and never instills distrust. Rather, he conveys the certainty that with God, we can always make it. This is his closeness. This is a beautiful certainty.

The Spirit as Paraclete is the second aspect. He is our advocate and he defends us. He defends us from those who accuse us: from ourselves when we do not appreciate and forgive ourselves, when we go so far as perhaps saying to ourselves that we have failed, that we are good for nothing; from the world who discards those who do not fit into to its dictates and patterns; from the devil who is the “accuser” par excellence and the divider (cf. Rev 12:10), and does everything to make us feel incapable and unhappy.

In the face of all these accusing thoughts, the Holy Spirit suggests to us how to respond. How? The Paraclete, Jesus says, is the One who “reminds us of everything Jesus told us” (cf. Jn 14:26). He reminds us, therefore, of the words of the Gospel, and thus enables us to respond to the accusing devil, not with our own words, but with the Lord’s own words. He reminds us, above all, that Jesus always spoke of the Father who is in heaven, he made the Father known to us, and revealed the Father’s love for us, that we are his children. If we call on the Spirit, we will learn to embrace and recall the most important truth of life that protects us from the accusations of the evil one. And what is the most important truth in life? That we are beloved children of God. We are God’s beloved children: this is the most important truth, and the Spirit reminds us of this.

Brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves today: Do we call on the Holy Spirit? Do we pray to him often? Let us not forget about the one who is close to us, or rather, is within us! Then: Do we listen to his voice, both when he encourages us and when he corrects us? Do we respond with Jesus’s words to the accusations from the evil one, to the “tribunals” of life? Do we remember that we are beloved children of God? May Mary make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit and sensitive to his presence.

14.05.23

Pope Francis       

28.05.23 Holy Mass,  St Peter's Basilica  

The Feast of Pentecost Year A   

Acts 2: 1-11

1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13

John 20: 19-23

Today the word of God shows us the Holy Spirit in action.  We see him acting in three ways: in the world he created, in the Church, and in our hearts.

1.  First, in the world he created, in creation.  From the beginning, the Holy Spirit was at work.  We prayed with the Psalm (104:30): “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created”.  He is in fact the Creator Spiritus (cf. SAINT AUGUSTINE, In Ps. XXXII, 2.2), the Creator Spirit: for centuries the Church has invoked him as such.  Yet we can ask ourselves: What does the Spirit do in the creation of the world?  If everything has its origin from the Father, and if everything is created through the Son, what is the specific role of the Spirit?  One great Father of the Church, Saint Basil, wrote: “if you attempt to remove the Spirit from creation, all things become confused and their life appears unruly and lacking order” (De Sancto Spiritu, XVI, 38).  That is the role of the Spirit: at the beginning and at all times, he makes created realities pass from disorder to order, from dispersion to cohesion, from confusion to harmony.  We will always see this way of acting in the Church’s life.  In a word, he gives harmony to the world; in this way, he “directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth” (Gaudium et Spes, 26; Ps 104:30).  He does renew the earth, but listen carefully: He does this not by changing reality, but rather by harmonizing it.  That is his “style”, because in himself he is harmony: ipse harmonia est (cf. SAINT BASIL, In Ps. XXIX, 1).

In our world today, there is so much discord, such great division.  We are all “connected”, yet find ourselves disconnected from one another, anesthetized by indifference and overwhelmed by solitude.  So many wars, so many conflicts: it seems incredible the evil of which we are capable!  Yet in fact, fueling our hostilities is the spirit of division, the devil, whose very name means “divider”.  Yes, preceding and exceeding our own evil, our own divisions, there is the evil spirit who is “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12:9).  He rejoices in conflict, injustice, slander; that is his joy.  To counter the evil of discord, our efforts to create harmony are not sufficient.  Hence, the Lord, at the culmination of his Passover from death to life, at the culmination of salvation, pours out upon the created world his good Spirit: the Holy Spirit, who opposes the spirit of division because he is harmony, the Spirit of unity, the bringer of peace.  Let us invoke the Spirit daily upon our whole world, upon our lives and upon any kind of division!

2.  Along with his work in creation, we see the Holy Spirit at work in the Church, beginning with the day of Pentecost.  We notice, however, that the Spirit does not inaugurate the Church by providing the community with rules and regulations, but by descending upon each of the apostles: every one of them receives particular graces and different charisms.  Such an abundance of differing gifts could generate confusion, but, as in creation, the Holy Spirit loves to create harmony out of diversity.  The harmony of the Spirit is not a mandatory, uniform order; in the Church, there is indeed an order, but it is “structured in accordance with the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts” (SAINT BASIL, De Spiritu Sancto, XVI, 39).  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends in tongues of fire: he bestows upon each person the ability to speak other languages (cf. Acts 2:4) and to understand in his or her own language what is spoken by others (cf. Acts 2:6.11).  In a word, the Spirit does not create a single language, one that is the same for all.  He does not eliminate differences or cultures, but harmonizes everything without reducing them to bland uniformity.  And this must make us stop and reflect at this current time, when the temptation of “back-stepping” seeks to homogenise everything into merely apparent disciplines lacking any substance.  Let us think about this: the Spirit does not begin with a clearly outlined programme, as we would, who so often become caught up in our plans and projects.  No, he begins by bestowing gratuitous and superabundant gifts.  Indeed, on that day of Pentecost, as the Scripture emphasizes, “all were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).  All were filled: that is how the life of the Church began, not from a precise and detailed plan, but from the shared experience of God’s love.  That is how the Spirit creates harmony; he invites us to experience amazement at his love and at his gifts present in others.  As Saint Paul tells us: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:4.13).  To see each of our brothers and sisters in the faith as part of the same body of which I am a member: this is the harmonious approach of the Spirit, this is the path that he points out to us!

And the Synod now taking place is – and should be – a journey in accordance with the Spirit, not a Parliament for demanding rights and claiming needs in accordance with the agenda of the world, nor an occasion for following wherever the wind is blowing, but the opportunity to be docile to the breath of the Spirit.  For on the sea of history, the Church sets sail only with him, for he is “the soul of the Church” (SAINT PAUL VI, Address to the Sacred College, 21 June 1976), the heart of synodality, the driving force of evangelization.  Without him, the Church is lifeless, faith is mere doctrine, morality mere duty, pastoral work mere toil.  Sometimes we hear so-called thinkers or theologians, who suggest seemingly mathematical theories that leave us cold because they lack the Spirit within.  With the Spirit, on the other hand, faith is life, the love of the Lord convinces us, and hope is reborn.  Let us put the Holy Spirit back at the centre of the Church; otherwise, our hearts will not be consumed by love for Jesus, but by love for ourselves.  Let us put the Spirit at the start and heart of the Synod’s work.  For “it is he above all whom the Church needs today!  Let us say to him each day: Come!” (cf. ID., General Audience, 29 November 1972).  And let us journey together because, as at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit loves to descend when “all come together” (cf. Acts 2:1).  Yes, to manifest himself to the world, he chose the time and place where all were gathered together.  The People of God, in order to be filled with the Spirit, must therefore journey together, “do Synod”.  That is how harmony in the Church is renewed: by journeying together with the Spirit at the centre.  Brothers and sister, let us build harmony in the Church!

3.  Finally, the Holy Spirit creates harmony in our hearts.  We see this in the Gospel, where Jesus, on the evening of Easter, breathes upon the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).  He bestows the Spirit for a precise purpose: to forgive sins, to reconcile minds and to harmonize hearts wounded by evil, broken by hurts, led astray by feelings of guilt.  Only the Spirit restores harmony in the heart, for he is the one who creates “intimacy with God” (SAINT BASIL, De Spiritu Sancto, XIX, 49).  If we want harmony let us seek him, not worldly substitutes.  Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day.  Let us begin our day by praying to him.  Let us become docile to him!

And today, on his feast, let us ask ourselves: Am I docile to the harmony of the Spirit?  Or do I pursue my projects, my own ideas, without letting myself be shaped and changed by him?  Is my way of living the faith docile to the Spirit or is it obstinate?  Am I stubbornly attached to texts or so-called doctrines that are only cold expressions of life?  Am I quick to judge?  Do I point fingers and slam doors in the face of others, considering myself a victim of everyone and everything?  Or do I welcome the Spirit’s harmonious and creative power, the “grace of wholeness” that he inspires, his forgiveness that brings us peace?  And in turn, do I forgive?  Forgiveness is making room for the Spirit to come.  Do I foster reconciliation and build communion, or am I always on the lookout, poking my nose into problems and causing hurt, spite, division and breakdown?  Do I forgive, promote reconciliation and build communion?  If the world is divided, if the Church is polarized, if hearts are broken, let us not waste time in criticizing others and growing angry with one another; instead, let us invoke the Spirit.  He is able to resolve all of this.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus and of the Father, inexhaustible wellspring of harmony, to you we entrust the world; to you we consecrate the Church and our hearts.  Come, Creator Spirit, harmony of humanity, renew the face of the earth.  Come, Gift of gifts, harmony of the Church, make us one in you.  Come, Spirit of forgiveness and harmony of the heart, transform us as only you can, through the intercession of Mary.

28.05.23 m


Pope Francis       

28.05.23 Regina Caeli,  Saint Peter's Square, 

The Feast of Pentecost Year A   

John 20: 19-23


Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

Today, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Gospel takes us to the upper room, where the apostles had taken refuge after the death of Jesus (Jn 20: 19-23). The Risen One, on the evening of Passover, presents himself precisely in that situation of fear and anguish and, breathing on them, says: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v. 22). In this way, with the gift of the Spirit, Jesus wishes to free the disciples from fear, from this fear that keeps them shut away at home, and he frees them so that they may be able to go out and become witnesses and proclaimers of the Gospel. Let us dwell a little on what the Spirit does: he frees from fear.

The disciples had closed the doors, the Gospel says, “for fear” (v. 19). The death of Jesus had shocked them, their dreams had been shattered, their hopes had vanished. And they closed themselves inside. Not only in that room, but within, in the heart. I would like to underline this: closed inside. How often do we too shut ourselves in? How often, because of some difficult situation, because of some personal or family problem, because of a suffering that marks us or the evil we breathe around us, do we risk slipping slowly into a loss of hope and lack the courage to go on? This happens many times. And then, like the apostles, we shut ourselves in, barricading ourselves in the labyrinth of worries.

Brothers and sisters, this “shutting ourselves in” happens when, in the most difficult situations, we allow fear to take the upper hand and let its loud voice dominate within us. The cause, therefore, is fear: fear of not being able to cope, of having to face everyday battles alone, of risking and then being disappointed, of making the wrong decisions. Brothers, sisters, fear blocks, fear paralyses. And it also isolates: think of the fear of others, of those who are foreign, who are different, who think in another way. And there can even be the fear of God: that he will punish me, that he will be angry with me… If we give space to these false fears, the doors close: the doors of the heart, the doors of society, and even the doors of the Church! Where there is fear, there is closure. And this will not do.

However, the Gospel offers us the remedy of the Risen One: the Holy Spirit. He frees us from the prisons of fear. When they receive the Spirit, the apostles – we celebrate this today – come out of the upper room and go out into the world to forgive sins and to proclaim the good news. Thanks to him, fears are overcome and doors open. Because this is what the Spirit does: he makes us feel God’s proximity, and so thus his love casts out fear, illuminates the way, consoles, sustains in adversity. Faced with fears and closure, then, let us invoke the Holy Spirit for us, for the Church and for the whole world: let a new Pentecost cast out the fears that assail us and revive the flame of God’s love.

May Mary Most Holy, the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit, intercede for us.

28.05.23 rc


Pope Francis       

19.05.24 Holy Mass, St Peter's Basilica  

Feast  of Pentecost  Year B 

Acts 2: 1-11

Galatians 5: 16-25

The account of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1-11) shows us two areas of the Holy Spirit’s working in the Church: in us and in mission, with two characteristics: power and gentleness.

The Spirit’s work in us is powerful, as symbolized by the signs of wind and fire, which are often associated with God’s power in the Bible (cf. Ex 19:16-19). Without such power we would never be able to defeat evil on our own, nor overcome the “desires of the flesh” that Saint Paul refers to, those drives of the soul: “impurity, idolatry, dissension, and envy” (cf. Gal 5:19-21). They can be overcome with the Spirit who gives us the power to do so, for he enters into our hearts that are “parched, stiff and cold” (cf. Sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus). These drives spoil our relationships with others and divide our communities, yet the Spirit enters into our hearts and heals everything.

Jesus too shows us this when, prompted by the Spirit, he withdraws for forty days and is tempted in the desert (cf. Mt. 4:1-11). During that time his humanity also grows, is strengthened and prepared for mission.

At the same time, the Paraclete’s working in us is also gentle: powerful and gentle. The wind and the fire do not destroy or reduce to ashes whatever they touch: the one fills the house where the disciples are, and the other rests gently, in the form of flames, on the head of each. This gentleness, too, is a feature of God’s way of acting, one that we frequently encounter in the Scriptures.

It is reassuring to see how the same sturdy, calloused hand that first breaks up the clods of our passions, then gently, after planting the seeds of virtue, “waters” them and “tends” them (cf. Sequence). He lovingly protects these virtues, so that they can grow stronger and so that, after the toil of combatting evil, we may taste the sweetness of mercy and communion with God. The Spirit is like this: powerful, giving us the power to overcome, and also gentle. We speak about the anointing of the Spirit, the Spirit anoints us for he is with us. As a beautiful prayer of the early Church says: “Let your gentleness, O Lord, and the fruits of your love, abide with me” (Odes of Solomon, 14:6).

The Holy Spirit, who descended upon the disciples and remained at their side, that is, as the “Paraclete”, transformed their hearts and instilled in them “a serene courage which impelled them to pass on to others their experience of Jesus and the hope which motivated them” (SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Missio, 24). Peter and John would later testify before the Sanhedrin, after being told “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18): “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (v. 20). And they possessed the power of the Holy Spirit to speak of these things.

This is also true of us, who received the Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. From the “Upper Room” of this Basilica, like the Apostles, we too are being sent forth, particularly at the present time, to proclaim the Gospel to all. We are sent into the world “not only geographically but also beyond the frontiers of race and religion, for a truly universal mission” (Redemptoris Missio, 25). Thanks to the Spirit, we can and must do this with his own power and gentleness.

With the same power: that is, not with arrogance and impositions – a Christian is not arrogant, for his or her power is something else, it is the power of the Spirit – nor with calculation and cunning, but with the energy born of fidelity to the truth that the Spirit teaches us in our hearts and causes to grow within us. Consequently, we surrender to the Spirit, not to worldly power. We tirelessly proclaim peace to those who desire war, proclaim forgiveness to those who seek revenge, we proclaim welcome and solidarity to those who bar their doors and erect barriers, we proclaim life to those who choose death, we proclaim respect to those who love to humiliate, insult and reject, we proclaim fidelity to those who would sever every bond, thereby confusing freedom with a bleak and empty individualism. Nor are we intimidated by hardship, derision or opposition, which, today as always, are never lacking in the apostolate (cf. Acts 4:1-31).

At the same time that we act with this power, our proclamation seeks to be gentle, welcoming to everyone. Let us not forget this: everyone, everyone, everyone. Let us not forget the parable of those who were invited to the feast but did not want to go: “Go therefore to the streets and bring everyone, everyone, everyone, both the bad and the good, everyone” (cf. Mt 22:9-10). The Spirit grants us the power to go forth and call everyone with gentleness, he grants us the gentleness to welcome everyone.

All of us, brothers and sisters, are in great need of hope, which is not optimism; no, it is something else. We need hope. Hope is depicted as an anchor, there at the shore, and in clinging to its rope, we move toward hope. We need hope, we need to lift our gaze to horizons of peace, fraternity, justice and solidarity. This alone is the way of life, there is no other. Naturally, it is not always easy; indeed, there are times that the path is winding and uphill. Yet we know that we are not alone, we have the certainty that, by the help of the Holy Spirit and by his gifts, we can walk together and make that path more and more inviting for others as well.

Brothers and sisters, let us renew our faith in the presence of the Comforter, who is at our side, and continue to pray:

Come, Creator Spirit, enlighten our minds,

fill our hearts with your grace, guide our steps,

grant your peace to our world. Amen.

19.05.24 m


Pope Francis       

19.05.24 Regina Caeli, Saint Peter's Square  

Feast of Pentecost  Year B 

John 15: 26-27  16: 12-15


Dear brothers and sisters, happy Feast of Pentecost, good day!

Today, Solemnity of Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles. In the Gospel of the liturgy, Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit and says that He will teach us “whatever He hears” (cf. Jn 16:13). But what does this expression mean? What has the Holy Spirit heard? What will He speak about?

He speaks to us with words that express wonderful sentiments, such as affection, gratitude, entrustment, mercy. Words that make us know a beautiful, luminous, concrete and lasting relationship such as the eternal Love of God: the words that the Father and the Son say to each other. They are precisely the transformative words of love, which the Holy Spirit repeats in us, and which it is good for us to listen to, because these words engender and make grow the same sentiments and the same intentions in our heart: they are fruitful words.

This is why it is important that we nourish ourselves every day with the Words of God, the Words of Jesus, inspired by the Spirit. And many times I say: read a passage from the Gospel, get a little pocket-sized Gospel and keep it with you, making the most of favourable moments to read it. The priest and poet Clemente Rebora, speaking of his conversion, wrote in his diary: “And the Word silenced my chatter!” (Curriculum vitae). The Word of God silences our superficial chatter and makes us say serious words, beautiful words, joyful words. “And the Word silenced my chatter!” Listening to the Word of God makes the chatter stop. This is how to give space in us to the voice of the Holy Spirit. And then in the Adoration – let us not forget the prayer of Adoration in silence - especially that which is simple, silent, like adoration. And there, saying good words within ourselves, saying them to the heart so as to be able to say them to others, afterwards, to each other. And in this way we see that they come from the voice of the Consoler, of the Spirit.

Dear sisters and brothers, reading and meditating on the Gospel, praying in silence, saying good words: they are not difficult things, no, we can all do them. They are easier than insulting, getting angry… And so, let us ask ourselves: what place do these words have in my life? How can I cultivate them, in order to listen better to the Holy Spirit, and become an echo of Him for others?

May Mary, present at Pentecost with the Apostles, make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

19.05.24 rc