Pope Francis Homilies

Pope Francis General Audience 05.10.22

Knowing yourself

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

Let us continue to explore the theme of discernment. Last time we considered prayer, understood as familiarity and confidence with God, as its indispensable element. Prayer, not like parrots. No: prayer as familiarity and confidence with God; prayer of the sons of the Father; prayer with an open heart. We saw this in the last Catechesis. Today I would like, in an almost complementary way, to emphasize that good discernment also requires self-knowledge. Self-knowledge. And this is not easy, eh! Indeed, it involves our human faculties: memory, intellect, will, affections. Often, we do not know how to discern because we do not know ourselves well enough, and so we do not know what we really want. You have heard many times: “But that person, why doesn’t he sort out his life? He has never known what he wants…”. And then, yes, his life goes like that, because not even he knows what he wants. Without arriving at that extreme, it happens to us too that we do not know clearly what we want, we do not know ourselves well.

Underlying spiritual doubts and vocational crises, there is not infrequently an insufficient dialogue between religious life and our human, cognitive and affective dimension. A writer on spirituality noted how many difficulties on the theme of discernment are indicative of problems of another kind, which must be recognized and explored. This author writes: “I have come to the conviction that the greatest obstacle to true discernment (and to real growth in prayer) is not the intangible nature of God, but the fact that we do not know ourselves sufficiently, and do not even want to know ourselves as we really are. Almost all of us hide behind a mask, not only in front of others, but also when we look in the mirror” (TH. GREEN, Weeds Among the Wheat, 1992). We all have the temptation to wear a mask, even in front of ourselves.

Forgetfulness of God’s presence in our life goes hand in hand with ignorance of ourselves – ignoring God and ignoring ourselves – ignorance of our personality traits and our deepest desires.

Knowing oneself is not difficult, but it is laborious: it implies patient soul-searching. It requires the capacity to stop, to “deactivate the autopilot”, to acquire awareness of our way of acting, of the feelings that dwell within us, of the recurrent thoughts that condition us, and often unconsciously. It also requires that we distinguish between emotions and spiritual faculties. “I feel” is not the same as “I am convinced”; “I feel like” is not the same as “I want”. Thus, we come to recognize that the view we have of ourselves and of reality is at times somewhat distorted. To realize this is a grace! Indeed, very often it can happen that erroneous convictions about reality, based on past experiences, strongly influence us, limiting our freedom to strive for what really matters in our lives.

Living in the age of information technology, we know how important it is to know the password in order to get into the programmes where the most personal and valuable information is stored. But spiritual life, too, has its “passwords”: there are words that touch the heart because they refer to what we are most sensitive too. The tempter, that is, the devil, knows these passwords well, and its important that we know them too, so as not to find ourselves where we do not want to be. Temptation does not necessarily suggest bad things, but often haphazard things, presented with excessive importance. In this way it hypnotizes us with the attraction that these things stir in us, things that are beautiful but illusory, that cannot deliver what they promise, and therefore leave us in the end with a sense of emptiness and sadness. That sense of emptiness and sadness is a sign that we have embarked on a path that was not right, that has disoriented us. They can be, for example, degrees, careers, relationships, all things that are in themselves praiseworthy, but towards which, if we are not free, we risk harbouring unreal expectations, such as confirmation of our worth. For example, when you think of a study you are undertaking, do you think only of promoting yourself, for your own interests, or also to serve the community? There, one can see the intentionality of each one of us. From this misunderstanding often comes the greatest suffering, because none of those things can be the guarantee of our dignity.

This is why, dear brothers and sisters, it is important to know ourselves, to know the passwords of our heart, what we are most sensitive to, in order to protect ourselves from those who present themselves with persuasive words to manipulate us, but also to recognize what is truly important for us, distinguishing it from current fads or flashy, superficial slogans. Many times, what is said in a television programme, in some advertisement that is made, touches our hearts and makes us go that way without freedom. Be careful about that: am I free, or do I let myself be swayed by the feelings of the moment, or the provocations of the moment?

An aid in this is examination of conscience, but I am not talking about the examination of conscience that we all do when we go to confession, no. This is: “But I sinned in this, that…”. No. A general examination of conscience of the day: what happened in my heart in this day? “Lots of things happened…”. Which? Why? What traces did they leave in my heart? Carrying out an examination of conscience, that is, the good habit of calmly rereading what happens in our day, learning to learn to note in our evaluations and choices what we give most importance to, what we are looking for and why, and what we eventually find. Above all, learning to recognize what satiates the heart. What satiates my heart? For only the Lord can give us confirmation of what we are worth. He tells us this every day from the cross: he died for us, to show us how precious we are in his eyes. There is no obstacle or failure that can prevent his tender embrace. The examination of conscience helps a great deal, because in this way we see that our heart is not a road where everything passes without us knowing about it. No. To see: what passed by today? What happened? What made me react? What made me sad? What made me joyful? What was bad, and did I harm others? Seeing the route our feelings took, the attractions in my heart during the day. Don’t forget! The other day we talked about prayer; today we are talking about self-awareness.

Prayer and self-knowledge enable us to grow in freedom. This is to grow in freedom! They are basic elements of Christian existence, precious elements for finding one’s place in life. Thank you.

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Pope Francis General Audience 05.10.22

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, India, Vietnam and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the new seminarians from the Pontifical Beda College and to the Catholic Association of Preachers from England. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of Christ our Lord. God bless you!

And let us not forget to pray for the tormented Ukraine, always asking the Lord for the gift of peace.

Finally, as usual, my thoughts go to the young, the sick, the elderly and the newlyweds. I also urge you to put yourselves at the school of the Poverello of Assisi, imitating him in love and contemplation of the Crucified One.

My blessing to you all.

05.10.22

Pope Francis Angelus 02.10.22

The war in Ukraine

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

The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening, as to cause great concern. Therefore, today I would like to devote the entire reflection before the Angelus to this. Indeed, this terrible and inconceivable wound to humanity, instead of healing, continues to shed even more blood, risking to spread further.

I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months. I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threaten vast territories with cold and hunger. Certain actions can never be justified, never! It is disturbing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaparizhzhia and other areas, which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear. And what about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd.

What is to happen next? How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction? In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire. Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable. And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.

I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.

My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the President of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people. On the other hand, saddened by the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have suffered, I address an equally confident appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace. I urge all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue. Please let the younger generations breathe the salutary air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness!

After seven months of hostilities, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is an error and a horror!

Let us trust in the mercy of God, who can change hearts, and in the maternal intercession of the Queen of Peace, as we raise our Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, spiritually united with the faithful gathered at her Shrine and in so many parts of the world.

02.10.22

Pope Francis Angelus 02.10.22

I am close to the populations of Cuba and Florida, afflicted by a violent hurricane. May the Lord receive the victims, give consolation and hope to those who suffer, and sustain the solidarity efforts.

And I also pray for those who have lost their life and those who have been injured in the clashes that broke out after a football match in Malang in Indonesia.

I wish you all a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch, and arrivederci!

02.10.22

Pope Francis October 2022

For a Church open to everyone

We pray for the Church; ever faithful to, and courageous in preaching the Gospel, may the Church be a community of solidarity, fraternity and welcome, always living in an atmosphere of synodality.

What does it mean “to synod”? It means walking together: syn-od. This is what it means in Greek: “to walk together” and to walk on the same road.

And this is what God expects of the Church of the third millennium –that it regain its awareness of being a people on the road and of having to travel together.

A Church with this synodal style is a Church that listens, that knows that listening is more than just hearing.

It means listening to each other in our diversity and opening doors to those outside the Church. It’s not about gathering opinions, nor holding a parliament. The synod isn’t a survey; it’s about listening to the protagonist, the Holy Spirit. It’s about praying. Without prayer, there will be no Synod.

Let us take advantage of this opportunity to be a Church of closeness, which is God’s style –closeness. And let us give thanks to all the people of God who, with their attentive listening, are walking the synodal way.

Let us pray that the Church, ever faithful to the Gospel and courageous in preaching it, may live in an increasing atmosphere of synodality and be a community of solidarity, fraternity, and welcome.

October 2022

Pope Francis Eucharistic Congress in Matera 25.09.22

The Gospel in your pocket

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

Always carry a small Gospel with you in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day. Not so much to learn something, but mostly to find Jesus, because Jesus actually is in His Word, in His Gospel. Every time I read the Gospel, I find Jesus. - Pope Francis 01.09.14

Daily Readings - read the entire New Testament over a 2 year period (reading plan courtesy of Gideon International)

The Bible Online

Pope Francis General Audience 28.09.22

Familiarity with the Lord

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

We resume our catecheses on the theme of discernment — because the theme of discernment is very important in order to know what is going on within us, to know about our feelings and ideas, we have to discern where they come from, where they lead me, to what decisions — and today we focus on the first of its constituent elements, which is prayer. To discern we need to be in an environment, in a state of prayer.

Prayer is an indispensable aid for spiritual discernment, especially when it involves the affective dimension, enabling us to address God with simplicity and familiarity, as one would speak to a friend. It is knowing how to go beyond thoughts, to enter into intimacy with the Lord, with an affectionate spontaneity. The secret of the lives of the saints is familiarity and confidence with God, which grows in them and makes it ever easier to recognize what is pleasing to Him. True prayer is familiarity with and confidence in God. It is not reciting prayers like a parrot, blah, blah, blah, no. True prayer is this spontaneity and affection for the Lord. This familiarity overcomes fear or doubt that His will is not for our good, a temptation that sometimes runs through our thoughts and makes our heart restless and uncertain, or even bitter.

Discernment does not claim absolute certainty, it is not a chemically pure method, it does not claim absolute certainty, because it is about life, and life is not always logical, it has many aspects that cannot be enclosed in one category of thought. We would like to know precisely what should be done, yet even when it happens, we do not always act accordingly. How many times have we, too, had the experience described by the apostle Paul, who says: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want” (Rom. 7:19). We are not just reason, we are not machines, it is not enough to be given instructions to carry them out: the obstacles, like the supports, to deciding for the Lord are primarily affective, from the heart.

It is significant that the first miracle performed by Jesus in Mark's Gospel is an exorcism (cf. 1:21-28). In the synagogue at Capernaum He delivers a man from the devil, freeing him from the false image of God that Satan has been suggesting since the beginning: that of a God who does not want our happiness. The possessed man in that passage of the Gospel knows that Jesus is God, but this does not lead him to believe in Him. In fact, he says, "You have come to ruin us" (v. 24).

Many people, even Christians, think the same thing: that is, that Jesus may well be the Son of God, but they doubt that He wants our happiness; indeed, some fear that taking his proposal seriously, that which Jesus proposes to us, means ruining our lives, mortifying our desires, our strongest aspirations. These thoughts sometimes creep up inside us: that God asks too much of us, we fear that God asks too much of us, that He doesn't really love us. Instead, in our first encounter we saw that the sign of meeting the Lord is joy. When I encounter the Lord in prayer, I become joyful. Each one of us becomes joyful, a beautiful thing. Sadness, or fear, on the other hand, are signs of distance from God: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments,” Jesus says to the rich young man (Mt 19:17). Unfortunately for that young man, some obstacles did not allow him to implement the desire in his heart to follow the "good teacher" more closely. He was an interested, enterprising young man, he had taken the initiative to meet Jesus, but he was also very divided in his affections, for him riches were too important. Jesus does not force him to make up his mind, but the text notes that the young man turns away from Jesus “sad” (v. 22). Those who turn away from the Lord are never happy, even though they have an abundance of possessions and possibilities at their disposal. Jesus never forces you to follow Him, never. Jesus lets you know His will, with all His heart He lets you know things, but He leaves you free. And this is the most beautiful thing about prayer with Jesus: the freedom that He allows you. On the other hand, when we distance ourselves from the Lord, we are left with something sad, something ugly in our heart.

Discerning what is happening within us is not easy, for appearances are deceptive, but familiarity with God can melt doubts and fears in a gentle way, making our lives increasingly receptive to His “gentle light,” according to the beautiful expression of Saint John Henry Newman. The saints shine with reflected light and show in the simple gestures of their day the loving presence of God, who makes the impossible possible. It is said that two spouses who have lived together for so long loving each other end up resembling each other. Something similar can be said about affective prayer: in a gradual but effective way it makes us more and more able to recognize what counts through connaturality, as something that springs from the depths of our being. To be in prayer does not mean saying words, words, no: being in prayer means opening my heart to Jesus, drawing close to Jesus, allowing Jesus to enter into my heart and making us feel His presence. And there we can discern when it is Jesus and when it is us with our thoughts, that so many times are far from what Jesus wants.

Let us ask for this grace: to live a relationship of friendship with the Lord, as a friend speaks to a friend (cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 53). I knew an old religious brother who was the doorman of a boarding school, and every time he could he would approach the chapel, look at the altar, and say, “Hello,” because he was close to Jesus. He didn't need to say blah blah blah, no: “Hello, I am close to you and you are close to me.” This is the relationship we must have in prayer: closeness, affective closeness, as brothers and sisters, closeness with Jesus. A smile, a simple gesture, and not reciting words that do not reach the heart. As I said, talk to Jesus as a friend talks to another friend. It is a grace we must ask for one another: to see Jesus as our friend, as our greatest friend, our faithful friend, who does not blackmail, above all who never abandons us, even when we turn away from Him. He remains at the door of our heart. “No, with you I don’t want to know anything,” we say. And He remains silent, He remains close at hand, at heart’s reach because He is always faithful. Let us go forward with this prayer, we could say the prayer of “Ciao,” the prayer of greeting the Lord with our heart, the prayer of affection, the prayer of closeness, with few words but with acts and good works. Thank you.

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