Pope Francis       

Message for COP28 in Dubai 03.12.23


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

It is important to see ourselves, beyond our differences, as brothers and sisters in the one human family, and, as believers, to remind ourselves and the world that, as sojourners on this earth, we have a duty to protect our common home.  

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Pope Francis  Angelus  03.12.23

Keeping the Heart Ready

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

Today, first Sunday of Advent, in the brief Gospel the liturgy offers us (cf. Mk 13: 33-37), Jesus addresses a simple and direct exhortation to us, three times: “Watch” (vv. 33, 35, 37).

Thus, the theme is vigilance. How should we understand it? Sometimes we think of this virtue as an attitude motivated by fear of impending doom, as if a meteorite were about to plunge from the sky and threaten, if we do not avoid it in time, to overwhelm us. But this is certainly not what Christian vigilance is all about!

Jesus illustrates it with a parable, speaking about a master who will return, and about his servants who await him (cf. v. 34). The servant in the Bible is the “trusted person” of the master, with whom there is often a relationship of collaboration and affection. Think, for example, that Moses is defined as the servant of God (cf. Nm 12: 7), and that even Mary says of herself, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1: 38). So, the servants’ vigilance is not one of fear, but of longing, of waiting to go forth to meet their Lord who is coming. They remain in readiness for his return because they care for him, because they have in mind that when he returns, they will make him find a welcoming and orderly home; they are happy to see him, to the point that they look forward to his return as a feast for the whole great family of which they are a part.

It is with this expectation filled with affection that we also want to prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus: at Christmas, which we will celebrate in a few weeks; at the end of time, when He will return in glory; every day, as He comes to meet us in the Eucharist, in His Word, in our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need.

So, in a special way during these weeks, let us prepare the house of the heart with care, so that it is orderly and hospitable. In fact, keeping watch means keeping the heart ready. It is the attitude of the sentinel, who in the night is not tempted by weariness, does not fall asleep, but remains awake awaiting the coming light. The Lord is our light and it is good to dispose the heart to welcome him with prayer and to host him with charity, the two preparations that, so to speak, make him comfortable. In this regard, the story goes that Saint Martin of Tours, a man of prayer, after giving half of his cloak to a poor man, dreamed of Jesus clad in that very part of the cloak he had given. Here is a good program for Advent: to encounter Jesus coming in every brother and sister who needs us and to share with them what we can: listening, time, concrete assistance.

Dear friends, it will be good for us today to ask ourselves how we can prepare a welcoming heart for the Lord. We can do so by approaching His forgiveness, His Word, His Table, finding space for prayer, welcoming those in need. Let us cultivate His expectation without letting ourselves be distracted by so many pointless things, and without complaining all the time, but keeping our hearts alert, that is, eager for Him, awake and ready, impatient to meet Him.

May the Virgin Mary, woman of expectation, help us to receive her coming Son.


Pope Francis  General Audience  29.11.23  

Proclamation is for today

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

The last few times we saw that Christian proclamation is a joy, and it is for everyone; today we will see a third aspect: it is for today.

One almost always hears bad things being said about today. Certainly, with wars, climate change, worldwide injustice and migration, family and hope crises, there is no shortage of cause for concern. In general, today seems to be inhabited by a culture that puts the individual above all else and technology at the centre of everything, with its ability to solve many problems and its gigantic advances in so many fields. But at the same time, this culture of technical-individual progress leads to the affirmation of a freedom that does not want to set itself limits and is indifferent to those who fall behind. And so, it consigns great human aspirations to the often voracious logic of the economy, with a vision of life that discards those who do not produce and struggles to look beyond the immanent. We could even say that we find ourselves in the first civilization in history that globally seeks to organize a human society without the presence of God, concentrated in huge cities that remain horizontal despite their vertiginous skyscrapers.

The account of the city of Babel and its tower comes to mind (cf. Gen 11:1-9). It narrates a social project that involves sacrificing all individuality to the efficiency of the collective. Humanity speaks just one language – we might say that it has a “single way of thinking” – as if enveloped in a kind of general spell that absorbs the uniqueness of each into a bubble of uniformity. Then God confuses the languages, that is, He re-establishes differences, recreates the conditions for uniqueness to develop, revives the multiple where ideology would like to impose the single. The Lord also distracts humanity from its delirium of omnipotence: “Let us make a name for ourselves”, say the exalting inhabitants of Babel (v. 4), who want to reach up to heaven, to put themselves in God’s place. But these are dangerous, alienating, destructive ambitions, and the Lord, by confounding these expectations, protects mankind, preventing an impending disaster. This story really does seem topical: even today, cohesion, instead of fraternity and peace, is often based on ambition, nationalism, homologation, and techno-economic structures that inculcate the persuasion that God is insignificant and useless: not so much because one seeks more knowledge, but above all for the sake of more power. It is a temptation that pervades the great challenges of today’s culture.

In Evangelii Gaudium I tried to describe others (cf. nos. 52-75), but above all I called for “an evangelization capable of shedding light on these new ways of relating to God, to others and to the world around us, and inspiring essential values. It must reach the places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed, bringing the word of Jesus to the inmost soul of our cities” (no. 74). In other words, Jesus can be proclaimed only by inhabiting the culture of one’s own time; and always taking to heart the words of the Apostle Paul about the present: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). There is therefore no need to contrast today with alternative visions from the past. Nor is it sufficient to simply reiterate acquired religious convictions that, however true, become abstract with the passage of time. A truth does not become more credible because one raises one’s voice in speaking it, but because it is witnessed with one’s life.

Apostolic zeal is never a simple repetition of an acquired style, but testimony that the Gospel is alive today here for us. Aware of this, let us therefore look at our age and our culture as a gift. They are ours, and evangelizing them does not mean judging them from afar, nor is it standing on a balcony and shouting out Jesus’ name, but rather going down onto the streets, going to the places where one lives, frequenting the spaces where one suffers, works, studies and reflects, inhabiting the crossroads where human beings share what has meaning for their lives. It means being, as a Church, a leaven for “dialogue, encounter, unity. After all, our own formulations of faith are the fruit of dialogue and encounter among cultures, communities and various situations. We must not fear dialogue: on the contrary, it is precisely confrontation and criticism that help us to preserve theology from being transformed into ideology” (Address at the Fifth National Congress of the Italian Church, Florence, 10 November 2015).

It is necessary to stand at the crossroads of today. Leaving them would impoverish the Gospel and reduce the Church to a sect. Frequenting them, on the other hand, helps us Christians to understand in a renewed way the reasons for our hope, to extract and share from the treasure of faith “what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52). In short, more than wanting to convert the world of today, we need to convert pastoral care so that it better incarnates the Gospel in today (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 25). Let us make Jesus’ desire our own: to help fellow travellers not to lose the desire for God, to open their hearts to Him and find the only One who, today and always, gives peace and joy to humanity.


Pope Francis  Angelus  26.11.23

Christ the King

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

Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year and Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the Gospel speaks to us about the final judgement (Mt 25: 31-46) and tells us that it will be based on charity.

The scene that it presents to us is that of a regal hall, in which Jesus, “the Son of man” (v. 31) is seated on a throne. All the peoples are gathered at His feet and conspicuous among them are “the blessed” (v. 34), the friends of the King. But who are they? What is so special about these friends in the eyes of their Lord? According to the criteria of the world, the king's friends should be those who have given him wealth and power, who have helped him to conquer territories, to win battles, to make himself great among other rulers, perhaps to appear as a star on the front pages of newspapers or on social media, and to them he should say: “Thank you, because you have made me rich and famous, envied and feared”. This is according to the criteria of the world.

However, according to the criteria of Jesus, friends are others: they are those who have served the weakest people. This is because the Son of man is a completely different King, who calls the poor “brethren”, who identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, the outsiders, the sick, the imprisoned, and says: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (v. 40). He is a King sensitive to the problem of hunger, the need for a home, sickness and imprisonment (cf. vv. 35-36): all realities that are unfortunately all too current. The hungry, the homeless, often dressed as they can, crowd our streets: we meet them every day. And also with regard to infirmity and prison, we all know what it means to be sick, to make mistakes and to pay the consequences.

Well, the Gospel today tells us that the “blessed” are those who respond to these forms of poverty with love, with service: not by turning away, but by giving food and drink, clothing, sheltering, visiting; in a word, by being close to those in need. And this is because Jesus, our King who calls himself the Son of man, finds his favourite sisters and brothers in the most fragile women and men. His “royal court” is held where there are those who suffer and need help. This is the “court” of our King. And the style with which his friends, those who have Jesus for Lord, are called to distinguish themselves is his own style: compassion, mercy, tenderness. They ennoble the heart and descend like oil on the wounds of those wounded by life.

So, brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves: do we believe that true kingship consists in mercy? Do we believe in the power of love? Do we believe that charity is the most kingly manifestation of man, and is an indispensable requirement for the Christian? And finally, a particular question: am I a friend of the King, that is, do I feel personally involved in the needs of the suffering people I find on my path?

May Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, help us to love Jesus our King in the least of his brethren.


Pope Francis  General Audience  22.11.23  

Proclamation is for everyone

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

After having seen, last time, that the Christian proclamation is joy, today let us focus on a second aspect: it is for everyone, Christian proclamation is a joy for everyone. When we truly meet the Lord Jesus, the wonder of this encounter pervades our life and demands to be taken beyond us. He desires this, that His Gospel is for everyone. Indeed, in it there is a “humanizing power”, a fulfilment of life that is destined for every man and woman, because Christ was born, died, and rose again for everyone. For everyone: no-one excluded.

In Evangelii Gaudium we read that everyone has “a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction’” (no. 14). Brothers, sisters, let us feel that we are at the service of the universal destination of the Gospel, it is for everyone; and let us distinguish ourselves for our capacity to come out of ourselves. A proclamation, in order to be true, must leave behind one’s own selfishness – and let us also have the capacity to cross all borders. Christians meet on the parvis more than in the sacristy, and go “to the streets and lanes of the city” (Lk14:21). They must be open and expansive, Christians must be “extrovert”, and this character of theirs comes from Jesus, who make his presence in the world a continuous journey, aimed at reaching out to everyone, even learning from some of his encounters.

In this sense, the Gospel reports Jesus’ surprising encounter with a foreign woman, a Canaanite who begs him to cure her sick daughter (cf. Mt 15:21-28). Jesus refuses, saying that he was sent only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and that “it is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (vv. 24, 26). But the woman, with the insistence typical of the simple, replies that “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (v. 27). Jesus is struck by this and says, “woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (v. 28). The encounter with this woman has something unique about it. Not only does someone make Jesus change his mind, and a woman, foreign and a pagan, but the Lord himself finds confirmation that his preaching should not be limited to the people to whom he belongs, but open to all.

The Bible shows us that when God calls a person and makes a pact with some of them, the criterion is always this: elect someone to reach others, this is the criterion of God, of God’s calling. All the Lord’s friends have experienced the beauty, but also the responsibility and the burden of being “chosen” by him. And everyone has felt discouragement in the face of their own weaknesses or the loss of their certainties. But perhaps the greatest temptation is that of considering the calling received as a privilege: please, no, the calling is not a privilege, ever. We cannot say that we are privileged compared to others – no. The calling is for a service. And God chooses one in order to love everyone, to reach everyone.

It is also to prevent the temptation of identifying Christianity with a culture, with an ethnicity, with a system. In this way, though, it loses its truly Catholic nature, or rather for everyone, universal: it is not a little group of first-class, chosen people. Let us not forget: God chooses some to love all. This horizon of universality. The Gospel is not only for me, it is for everyone; let us not forget this. Thank you.


Pope Francis  Angelus  19.11.23

Trust in the Lord

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

Today’s Gospel presents us the parable of the talents (cf. Mt 25:14-30). A master departs on a journey and entrusts his talents, or rather his possessions, his “capital”, to his servants: talents were a monetary unit. He distributes them according to the abilities of each one. On his return, he asks for an account of what they have done. Two of them have doubled what they received, and the lord praises them, while the third, out of fear, buried his talent and can only return it, the reason for which he receives a severe rebuke. Looking at this parable, we can learn two different ways of approaching God.

The first way is that of the one who buries the talent he has received, who cannot see the riches God has given him: he trusts neither his master nor himself. In fact, he says to his master: “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow” (v. 24). He is afraid of him. He does not see the esteem, he does not see the trust that the lord places in him, but sees only the actions of a master who demands more than he gives, of a judge. This is his image of God: he cannot believe in His goodness; he cannot believe in the Lord’s goodness towards him. That is why he gets stuck and does not allow himself to be involved in the mission he has received.

We then see this second way, in the other two protagonists, who repay their lord’s trust by in turn trusting in him.

These two invest everything they have received, even though they do not know at the outset if everything will go well: they study, they see the possibilities, and prudently seek out the best; they accept the risk and put themselves on the line. They trust, they study and they risk. Thus, they have the courage to act freely, creatively, generating new wealth (cf. vv. 20-23).

Brothers and sisters, this is the crossroads we face with God: fear or trust. Either you are afraid before God, or you trust in the Lord. And we, like the protagonists of the parable – all of us – have received talents, all of us, far more precious than money. But much of how we invest them depends on our trust in the Lord, which frees our hearts, makes us active and creative in goodness. Do not forget this: trust frees, always; fear paralyses. Remember: fear paralyses, trust liberates. This also applies to the education of children. And let us ask ourselves: do I believe that God is the Father and entrusts gifts to me because He trusts me? And do I trust in Him to the point of putting myself on the line, even when the results are neither certain nor to be taken for granted? Am I able to say every day in prayer, “Lord, I trust in You, give me the strength to keep going; I trust in You, in the things You have given me: let me know how to carry them forward”.

Finally, also as Church: do we cultivate a climate of trust, of mutual esteem in our environments, that helps us to move forward together, that unlocks people and stimulates the creativity of love in everyone? Let us think about it.

And may the Virgin Mary help us to overcome fear – never be afraid of God! Awe, yes; fear, no – and to trust the Lord.

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass 19.11.23

World Day of the Poor

Three men find themselves given an enormous sum of money, thanks to the generosity of their master, who is departing on a long journey. That master will come back one day and summon those servants, trusting that he might rejoice with them on how they had made his wealth increase and bear fruit. The parable that we have just listened to (cf. Mt 25:14-30) invites us to reflect on two journeys: the journey of Jesus and the journey of our lives.

The journey of Jesus. At the beginning of the parable, the Lord speaks of “a man going on a journey, [who] summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them” (v. 14). This “journey” reminds us of Christ’s own journey, in his incarnation, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  Christ, who came down from the Father to dwell among us, by his death destroyed death and after rising from the dead, returned to the Father. At the conclusion of his earthly mission, then, Jesus made a “return journey” to the Father. Yet before departing, he left us his wealth, a genuine “capital”. He left us himself in the Eucharist. He left us his words of life, he gave us his holy Mother to be our Mother, and he distributed the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we might continue his work on earth. These “talents” are given, the Gospel tell us, “according to the ability of each” (v. 15) and thus for a personal mission that the Lord entrusts to us in our daily lives, in society and in the Church.  The apostle Paul says the same thing: “each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift”. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high, he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people” (Eph 4:7-8).

Let us look once more to Jesus, who received everything from the hands of the Father, yet did not keep this treasure for himself: “He did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Phil 2:7). He clothed himself in our frail humanity. As a good Samaritan, he poured oil on our wounds. He became poor in order to make us rich (2 Cor 8:9), and was lifted up on the cross. “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21). For our sake.  Jesus lived for us, for our sake. That was the purpose of his journey in the world, before his return to the Father.

Today’s parable also tells us that “the master of those slaves returned and settled accounts with them” (Mt 25:19). Jesus’ first journey to the Father will be followed by another journey, at the end of time, when he will return in glory and meet us once more, in order to “settle the accounts” of history and bring us into the joy of eternal life. We need, then, to ask ourselves: In what state will the Lord find us when he returns? How will I appear before him at the appointed time?

This question brings us to our second reflection: the journey of our lives. What path will we take in our lives: the path of Jesus, whose very life was gift, or the path of selfishness? The path with hands open towards others in order to give, give of ourselves, or that of closed hands so that we have more things and only care about ourselves? The parable tells us that, according to our own abilities and possibilities, each of us has received certain “talents”. Lest we be led astray by common parlance, we need to realize that those “talents” are not our own abilities, but as we said, the Lord’s gifts which Christ left to us when he returned to the Father. Together with those gifts, he has given us his Spirit, in whom we became God’s children and thanks to which we can spend our lives in bearing witness to the Gospel and working for the coming of God’s kingdom. The immense “capital” that was placed in our keeping is the love of the Lord, the foundation of our lives and our source of strength on our journey.

Consequently, we have to ask ourselves: What am I doing with this “talent” on the journey of my life? The parable tells us that the first two servants increased the value of the gift they had received, while the third, instead of trusting his master who had given him the talent, was afraid, paralyzed by fear. Refusing to take a risk, not putting himself on the line, he ended up burying his talent. This holds true for us as well. We can multiply the wealth we have been given, and make our lives an offering of love for the sake of others. Or we can live our lives blocked by a false image of God, and out of fear bury the treasure we received, thinking only of ourselves, unconcerned about anything but our own convenience and interests, remaining uncommitted and disengaged. The question is very clear: the first two take a risk through their transactions. And the question we must ask is: “Do I take a risk in my life? Do I take a risk through the power of my faith? As a Christian, do I know how to take a risk or do I close myself off out of fear or cowardice?  

Brothers and sisters, on this World Day of the Poor the parable of the talents is a summons to examine the spirit with which we confront the journey of our lives. We have received from the Lord the gift of his love and we are called to become a gift for others. The love with which Jesus cared for us, the balm of his mercy, the compassion with which he tended our wounds, the flame of the Spirit by which he filled our hearts with joy and hope – all these are treasures that we cannot simply keep to ourselves, use for our own purposes or bury beneath the soil. Showered with gifts, we are called in turn to make ourselves a gift. Those of us who have received many gifts must make ourselves a gift for others. The images used by the parable are very eloquent: if we do not spread love all around us, our lives recede into the darkness; if we do not make good use of the talents we have received, our lives end up buried in the ground, as if we were already dead (cf. vv. 25.30). Brothers and sisters, so many Christians are “buried underground”! Many Christians live their faith as if they lived underground!  

Let us think, then, of all those material, cultural and spiritual forms of poverty that exist in our world, of the great suffering present in our cities, of the forgotten poor whose cry of pain goes unheard in the generalized indifference of a bustling and distracted society. When we think of poverty, we must not forget about its discretion: poverty is discrete; it hides itself. We must courageously go and look for it. Let us think of all those who are oppressed, weary or marginalized, the victims of war and those forced to leave their homelands at the risk of their lives, those who go hungry and those without work and without hope. So much poverty on a daily basis: not one, two or three but a multitude. The poor are a multitude. When we think of the immense numbers of the poor in our midst, the message of today’s Gospel is clear: let us not bury the wealth of the Lord! Let us spread the wealth of charity, share our bread and multiply love! Poverty is a scandal. When the Lord returns, he will settle accounts with us and – in the words of Saint Ambrose – he will say to us: “Why did you allow so many of the poor to die of hunger when you possessed gold to buy food for them? Why were so many slaves sold and mistreated by the enemy, without anyone making an effort to ransom them?” (De Officiis: PL 16, 148-149).

Let us pray that each of us, according to the gift we received and the mission entrusted to us, may strive “to make charity bear fruit” and draw near to some poor person. Let us pray that at the end of our journey, having welcomed Christ in our brothers and sisters with whom he identified himself (cf. Mt 25:40), we too may hear it said to us: “Well done, good and trustworthy servant… Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21). 

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Pope Francis  General Audience  15.11.23  

Proclamation is joy

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

After encountering several witnesses of the proclamation of the Gospel, I propose summarizing this cycle of catechesis on apostolic zeal in four points, inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, whose tenth anniversary we celebrate this month. The first point, which we will see today, the first of the four, cannot but relate to the attitude on which the substance of the evangelizing gesture depends: joy. Joy. The Christian message, as we have heard from the angel’s words to the shepherds, is the proclamation of “a great joy” (Lk 2: 10). And the reason? Good news, a surprise, a beautiful event? Much more, a Person: Jesus! He is the God made man who came to us. The question, dear brothers and sisters, is therefore not whether to proclaim it, but how to proclaim it, and this “how” is joy. Either we proclaim Jesus with joy, or we do not proclaim him, because another way of proclaiming him is not capable of bringing the true reality of Jesus.

This is why a Christian who is discontented, a sad Christian, a dissatisfied, or worse still, resentful or rancorous Christian, is not credible. This person will talk about Jesus but no-one will believe him! Once someone said to me, talking about these Christians, “But these are po-faced Christians!”, that is, they express nothing, they are like that, and joy is essential. It is essential to keep watch over our sentiments. Evangelization works in gratuitousness, because it comes from fullness, not from pressure. And when one evangelizes – one would try to do this, but it does not work – on the basis of ideologies: the Gospel is a proclamation, a proclamation of joy. Ideologies are cold, all of them. The Gospel has the warmth of joy. Ideologies do not know how to smile; the Gospel is a smile, it makes you smile because it touches the soul with the Good News.

The birth of Jesus, in history as in life, is the source of joy: think of what happened to the disciples of Emmaus, who could not believe their joy, and the others, then, the disciples all together, when Jesus goes to the Upper Room, could not believe their joy. The joy of having the risen Jesus. An encounter with Jesus always brings you joy, and if this does not happen to you, it is not a true encounter with Jesus.

And what Jesus does with the disciples tells us that the first to need to be evangelized are the disciples. The first who to need to be evangelized are us: we Christians. And this is very important. Immersed in today’s fast-pace and confused environment, we too indeed may find ourselves living our faith with a subtle sense of renunciation, persuaded that the Gospel is no longer heard and no longer worth striving to proclaim. We might even be tempted by the idea of letting “others” go their own way. Instead, this is precisely the time to return to the Gospel to discover that Christ “is forever young, he is forever a constant source of newness” (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 11).

Thus, like the two at Emmaus, one returns to daily life with the enthusiasm of one who has found treasure: they were joyful, those two, because they had found Jesus, and he changed their life. And one discovers that humanity abounds with brothers and sisters waiting for a word of hope. The Gospel is awaited even today. People of today are like people of all times: they need it. Even the civilization of programmed unbelief and institutionalized secularity; indeed, especially the society that leaves the spaces of religious meaning deserted, needs Jesus. This is the right moment for the proclamation of Jesus. Therefore, I would like to say again to everyone: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew”. Do not forget this. And if anyone does not perceive this joy, they should ask themselves if they have found Jesus. An inner joy. The Gospel takes the path of joy, always, it is the great proclamation. “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed … encounter with Jesus Christ (ibid., 1, 1.3) Each one of you, take a little time and think: “Jesus, you are within me. I want to encounter you every day. You are a Person, you are not an idea; you are a travelling companion, you are not a programme. You, Jesus, are the source of joy. You are the beginning of evangelization. You, Jesus, are the source of joy!”. Amen.


Pope Francis  Angelus  12.11.23

How is the oil of my soul?

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

Today’s Gospel offers us a story regarding the meaning of life of each person. It is the parable of the ten virgins, called to go out to meet the bridegroom (cf. Mt 25:1-13). Living is this: a grand preparation for the day when we will be called to go to Jesus! However, in the parable of the ten virgins, five are wise and five foolish. Let us see what constitutes wisdom and foolishness. Wisdom in life, and foolishness in life.

All those bridesmaids are there to welcome the bridegroom, that is, they want to meet him, just as we too desire a happy fulfilment of life: the difference between wisdom and foolishness is therefore not in goodwill. Nor does it lie in the punctuality with which they arrive at the meeting: they were all there. The difference between the wise and the foolish is another: preparation. The text says: the wise "took flasks of oil with their lamps” (v. 4); the foolish, on the other hand, did not. Here is the difference: the oil. And what is one of the characteristics of the oil? That it cannot be seen: it is inside the lamps, it is not conspicuous, but without it the lamps have no light.

Let us look at ourselves, and we will see that our life runs the same risk: many times, we are very careful about our appearance – the important thing is to take good care of one’s image, to make a good impression in front of others. But Jesus says that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but which is more important, taking care of the heart. Nurturing the inner life. This means knowing how to stop and listen to one’s heart, to keep watch over one’s own thoughts and feelings. How many times are we unaware of what has happened in our heart in that day? What happens within each one of us? Wisdom means knowing how to make room for silence, so as to be capable of listening to ourselves and others. It means knowing how to give up some of the time passed in front of the telephone screen to look at the light in the eyes of others, in one’s own heart, in God’s gaze upon us. It means not falling into the trap of activism, but devoting time to the Lord, to listening to His Word.

And the Gospel gives us the right advice so not to neglect the oil of inner life, the “oil of the soul”: it tells us that it is important to prepare it. And in the account, we see, in fact, that the virgins already possess the lamps, but they must prepare the oil: they must go to the sellers, buy it, put it in the lamps… (cf. vv. 7-9). It is the same for us: the inner life cannot be improvised, it is not a matter of a moment, of once in a while, of once and for all; the inner life must be prepared by dedicating a little time every day, with constancy, as one does for every important thing.

So, we can ask ourselves: what am I preparing at this moment in life? Within myself, what am I preparing? Perhaps I am trying to put aside some savings, I am thinking about a house or a new car, concrete plans… They are good things; they are not bad things. They are good things. But am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life? In short, how is the oil of my soul? Each one of us, let us ask ourselves this: how is the oil of my soul? Do I nourish it, do I keep it well?

May Our Lady help us to cherish the oil of inner life.


Pope Francis  General Audience  08.11.23  

The Apostolic zeal of Madeleine Delbrêl

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

Among the many witnesses of the passion for the proclamation of the Gospel, those impassioned evangelizers, today I will present a twentieth-century French woman, the venerable servant of God Madeleine Delbrêl. She was born in 1904 and died in 1964, a social worker, writer and mystic, and lived for more than thirty years in the poor, working class outskirts of Paris. Dazzled by the encounter with the Lord, she wrote: “Once we have come to know the word of God, we have no right not to receive it; once we have received it, we have no right not to let it be incarnated in us; once it has been incarnated in us, we have no right to keep it for ourselves: from that moment on, we belong to those who await it” (La santità della gente comune, Milan 2020, 71). Beautiful: what she wrote is beautiful.

After an adolescence of agnosticism – she believed in nothing – at the age of around twenty Madeleine encountered the Lord, struck by the witness of some friends who were believers. She set out in search of God, giving voice to a profound thirst that she felt within, and came to learn that the “emptiness that cried out her anguish in her” was God who sought her (Abbagliata da Dio. Corrispondenza, 1910-1941, Milan 2007, 96). The joy of faith led her to evolve towards the choice of a life entirely given to God, in the heart of the Church and in the heart of the world, simply sharing in fraternity the life of the “street people”. Thus, she poetically addressed Jesus: “To be with you on your path, we must go, even when our laziness begs us to stay. You have chosen us to stay in a strange balance, a balance that can be achieved and maintained only in movement, only in momentum. A bit like a bicycle, which does not stay upright unless its wheels turn. … We can stay upright only by going forward, moving, in a surge of charity”. It is what she calls the “spirituality of the bicycle” (Umorismo nell’Amore. Meditazioni e poesie, Milan 2011, 56). Only on the move, on the go, do we live in the balance of faith, which is an imbalance, but it is like that: like the bicycle. If you stop, it does not stay upright.

Madeleine had a constantly outgoing heart, and she let herself be challenged by the cry of the poor. She felt that the Living God of the Gospel should burn within us until we have taken his name to those who have not yet found it. In this spirit, oriented towards the stirrings of the world and the cry of the poor, Madeleine felt called to “live Jesus’ love entirely and to the letter, from the oil of the good Samaritan to the vinegar of Calvary, thus giving him love for love … because, by loving him without reserve and letting ourselves be loved completely, the two great commandments of charity are incarnated in us and become but one” (La vocation de la charité, 1, Œuvres complètes XIII, Bruyères-le-Châtel, 138-139).

Finally, Madeleine teaches us yet another thing: that by evangelizing one is evangelized: by evangelizing we are evangelized. Therefore, she used to say, echoing Saint Paul: “Woe to me if evangelizing, I do not evangelize myself”. Indeed, evangelizing evangelizes one. And this is a beautiful doctrine.

Looking at this witness of the Gospel, we too learn that in every personal or social situation or circumstance of our life, the Lord is present and calls to us to inhabit our own time, to share our life with others, to mingle with the joys and sorrows of the world. In particular, he teaches us that even secularized environments are helpful for conversion, because contact with non-believers prompts the believer to a continual revision of his or her way of believing and rediscovering faith it its essentiality (cf. Noi dell estrade, Milan 1988, 268s).

May Madeleine Delbrêl teach us to live this faith “on the move”, so to speak, this fruitful faith that makes every act of faith an act of charity in the proclamation of the Gospel. Thank you.


Pope Francis  Angelus  05.11.23

Do we try to practice what we preach?

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

From the Gospel of today’s liturgy, we hear some of Jesus’ words about the scribes and pharisees, the religious leaders of the people. Regarding these people in authority, Jesus uses very severe words, “for they preach, but do not practice” (Mt 23:3) and “they do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v. 5). This is what Jesus says – they preach and don’t practice and everything they do they do to be seen.

So, let us pause on these two aspects: the distance between saying and doing, and the primacy of the exterior over the interior.

The distance between saying and doing. Jesus contests the duplicity of the lives of these teachers of Israel, who claimed to teach others the Word of God and to be respected as Temple authorities. They preached one thing, but then lived another. These words of Jesus recall those of the prophets, in particular the prophet Isaiah: “This people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Is 29:13). This is the danger to be on guard for: duplicity of heart. We too have this danger. This duplicity of heart puts the authenticity of our witness as well as our credibility as persons and as Christians at risk.

Because of our weakness, we all experience a certain distance between what we say and what we do. But having a duplicitous heart is something else instead. It is living with “one foot on both sides of the fence” without any problem. Let us remember this, especially when we are called to exercise a role of responsibility – in life, in society or in the Church – no to duplicity! This rule is always valid for a priest, a pastoral worker, a politician, a teacher, or a parent: be committed to living first yourself what you say, what you preach to others. To be authentic teachers, we first need to be credible witnesses.

The second aspect follows as a consequence: the primacy of the exterior over the interior. In fact, living in duplicity, the scribes and pharisees were concerned about having to hide their inconsistency to save their outward reputation. Indeed, if the people knew what was truly in their hearts, they would have been ashamed, losing all credibility. And so, they performed works to appear righteous, to “save face”, as we say. This trick is very common – they put make-up on their faces, make-up on their life, make-up on their hearts… And these “made-up” people do not know how to live the truth. And many times, even we experience the temptation of duplicity.

Brothers and sisters, accepting this warning from Jesus, let us too ask ourselves: Do we try to practice what we preach, or do we live duplicitously? Do we say one thing and do something else? Are we concerned only about showing how impeccable we are on the outside, made-up, or do we also cultivate our interior life in sincerity of heart?

Let us turn to the Holy Virgin. May she who lived in integrity and humility of heart according to the will of God help us to become credible witnesses of the Gospel.


Pope Francis  Holy Mass 03.11.23

in memory Benedict XVI  and the Cardinals and Bishops who died over the past year 

Jesus is about to enter Nain; the disciples and “a great crowd” are walking with him (cf. Lk 7:11). As he approaches the city gate, another procession is setting out, but in the opposite direction: it is going to bury the only son of a widowed mother. The Gospel tells us that, “when the Lord saw her, he had compassion” (Lk 7:13). Jesus saw what happened and he was moved by compassion. Benedict XVI, whom we remember today, together with the Cardinals and Bishops who died in the past year, wrote in his first Encyclical that the programme of Jesus is “a heart that sees” (Deus Caritas Est, 31). How many times did he keep reminding us that faith is not primarily an idea to be understood or a moral precept to be followed, but a person to be encountered. That person is Jesus Christ, whose heart beats with love for us, whose eyes look with pity upon our suffering.

The Lord halts before the tragedy of death. It is significant that this is the first time that Luke’s Gospel calls Jesus “Lord”: “the Lord was moved with great compassion”. He is called Lord – the God who exercises lordship over all things – in the very act of showing compassion for a widowed mother who lost, along with her only son, her reason for living. Here we see our God, whose divinity shines forth in contact with our sorrow and grief, for his is a heart full of compassion. The raising of that young man, the gift of life that overcomes death, has its source precisely there, in the compassion of the Lord, who is moved by death, the greatest cause of our suffering. How important it is to communicate that same look of compassion to all those who grieve for the death of their loved ones!

Jesus’ compassion is concrete. The Gospel tells us that he “came forward and touched the bier” (cf. Lk 7:14). He did not have to do that, and in any event, in those days, touching the bier of a dead person was considered something unclean, defiling those who did so. Jesus, however, cares nothing about that; his compassion makes him reach out to all those who suffer. That is God’s “style”, one of closeness, compassion and tenderness. And one of few words. Christ does not start preaching about death, but simply tells the young man’s mother: “Do not weep!” (Lk 7:13). Why? Is it wrong to weep? No, Jesus himself weeps in the Gospels. He says to the mother, “Do not weep”, because with the Lord tears do not last forever; they have an end. Jesus is the God who, as Scripture prophesies, will “swallow up death” and “wipe away tears from all faces” (Is 25:8; cf. Rev 21:4). He has made our tears his own in order to take them away.

Here, then, we see the Lord’s compassion, which leads him to raise that young son. Yet here, unlike other miracles he performed, Jesus does not first ask the mother to have faith. Why this extraordinary and unusual miracle? Because it has to do with an orphan and a widow, those whom the Bible, along with strangers, considers most alone and forsaken, having no one else to trust but God. The widow, the orphan, the stranger: these are the people closest and dearest to the Lord. We cannot be close and dear to God if we ignore those who enjoy his protection and preferential love, for one day they will be the ones to welcome us to heaven: the widow, the orphan, the stranger.

Considering them too, we discover another important point, which I would condense into today’s second word: humility. For the orphan and the widow are “the humble” par excellence: those who, placing all their hope in the Lord and not in themselves, have made God the centre of their lives. They no longer rely on their own strength, but on him and his unfailing care. Rejecting any presumption of self-sufficiency, they recognize their need for God and put their trust in him. It is the humble, the poor in spirit, who reveal to us the “littleness” so pleasing to the Lord, the path that leads to heaven. God seeks the humble, those who hope in him and not in themselves and their own plans. Dear brothers and sisters, this is Christian humility, which is not simply one virtue among others, but the basic disposition of life: believing ourselves to be in need of God, making room for him and putting all our trust in him. This is Christian humility.

God loves humility because it permits him to interact with us. Even more, God loves humility because he himself is humble. He comes down to us; he lowers himself; he does not impose himself; he makes room for us. God is not only humble; he is humility itself. “You are humility, Lord” was the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi (Cf. Lodi: FF 261). We think of the Father, whose name is entirely a reference to the Son rather than to himself, and of the Son, whose name is completely in relation to the Father. God loves those who do not put themselves at the centre: the humble, who most resemble him. That is why, as Jesus says, “those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lk 14:11). I like to recall the very first words with which Pope Benedict described himself following his election: “a humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord.” Indeed, Christians, especially the Pope, the Cardinals and the Bishops, are called to be humble labourers: to serve, not to be served and to put the fruits of the Lord’s vineyard before their advantage. What a fine thing it is to renounce ourselves for the Church of Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, let us ask God to grant us a compassionate gaze and a humble heart. May we never tire of asking this, for it is on the path of compassion and humility that the Lord gives us his life, which triumphs over death. Let us pray for our beloved deceased brethren. Their hearts were pastoral, compassionate and humble, for the Lord was the centre of their lives. In him may they find eternal peace. May they rejoice with Mary, whom the Lord raised up by looking upon her humility (cf. Lk 1:48).


Pope Francis  Holy Mass 02.11.23

Commemoration of all the faithful departed

The celebration of a day like today leads us to two thoughts: memory and hope.

Memory of those who have gone before us, who have lived their lives, who have ended this life; We remember so many people who have done much good: their families, their friends... And we remember also those who did not manage to do so much good, but in the memory of God and in God's mercy they have been received. It is the mystery of the Lord's great mercy.

And then hope. This is a memory that looks forward, it looks at our journey, our path. We are journeying towards an encounter with the Lord and with everyone. And we must ask the Lord for this grace of hope: the hope that never disappoints; Hope, which is the everyday virtue that carries us forward, helps us to solve problems and to look for ways out. But always forward, forward. That fruitful hope, that theological virtue of every day, of every moment: I will call it the theological virtue "of the kitchen", because it is easy-going and always comes to our aid. The hope that does not disappoint: we live in this tension between memory and hope.

I would like to dwell on something that happened to me at the entrance. I looked at the age of these fallen. The majority are between 20 and 30 years old. Lives cut short, lives without a future. And I thought of the parents, the mothers who received that letter: "Madam, I have the honour of telling you that you have a heroic son." "Yes, a hero, but you took my son away from me!" So many tears in those lives cut short. And I couldn't help but think of today's wars. The same thing happens today: many young and not so young people... In the wars of the world, even in those closest to us, in Europe and beyond: how many deaths! Life is destroyed without being aware of it.

Today, thinking of the dead, guarding the memory of the dead and guarding hope, let us ask the Lord for peace, so that people may no longer kill each other in wars. So many innocent dead, so many soldiers who give their lives there. But why? Wars are always a defeat, always. There is no total victory, no. Yes, one wins over the other, but behind it there is always the defeat of the price paid. Let us pray to the Lord for our dead, for everyone, for everyone: may the Lord receive them all. And let us also pray that the Lord will have mercy on us and give us hope: the hope of going forward and being able to find them all together with Him, when He calls us. Amen.


Pope Francis  Angelus 01.11.23

Solemnity of All Saints

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

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. In the light of this feast day, let us pause and think a little on holiness, in particular on two of the characteristics of true holiness: it is a gift – it is a gift, it cannot be bought – and at the same time it is a journey. A gift and a journey.

First of all, a gift. Holiness is a gift from God which we have received with Baptism: if we let it grow, it can completely change our life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudate et exsultate, 15). Saints are not unreachable or distant heroes, but people like us, our friends, whose starting point is the same gift we have received: Baptism. Indeed, if we think about it, we have certainly met some of them, some everyday saints: some righteous person, someone who lives the Christian life seriously, with simplicity… they are those I like to call “the saints next door”, who live normally among us. Holiness is a gift offered to everyone for a happy life. And after all, when we receive a gift, what is our first reaction? It is precisely that we are happy, because it means that someone loves us; and the gift of holiness makes us happy because God loves us.

But every gift, however, must be accepted, and it carries with it the responsibility of a response, a “thank you”. But how can we say this “thank you”? It is an invitation to commit oneself so that it is not squandered. All the baptized have received the same calling to hold on to and complete in our lives the holiness we have received (cf. Lumen gentium, 40). This is how we come to the second point –holiness is also a journey, a journey to be made together, helping each other, united with those excellent companions who are the Saints.

They are our elder brothers and our sisters, on whom we can always count: the saints support us and, when we take a wrong turn along the way, with their silent presence they never fail to correct us; they are sincere friends, whom we can trust, because they desire our wellbeing. In their lives we find an example, in their prayers we receive help and friendship, and with them we are bound in a bond of brotherly love.

Holiness is a journey, it is a gift. So, we can ask ourselves: do I remember having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who calls me to holiness and helps me arrive there? Do I thank the Holy Spirit for this, for the gift of holiness? Do I feel that the saints are close to me, do I talk to them, do I turn to them? Do I know the story of some of them? It is good for us to know the lives of the saints and to be moved by their examples. And it does us a great deal of good to address them in prayer.

May Mary, Queen of all Saints, make us feel the joy of the gift received and increase in us the desire for the eternal destination.


Pope Francis  Angelus 29.10.23

Reflecting God’s love

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

Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the greatest of the commandments (cf. Mt 22:34-40). A doctor of the law questions Jesus about this and He responds with the “great commandment of love”: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (…) and (…) your neighbour as yourself” (vv. 37.39). Love of God and neighbour are inseparable from each other. So, let us pause a bit to reflect on this.

The first: the fact that love for the Lord comes first reminds us that God always precedes us, he anticipates us with his infinite tenderness (cf. Jn 4:19), with his closeness, with his mercy, for He is always near, tender and merciful. A baby learns to love on their mommy’s and daddy’s knees, and we learn it in God’s arms. The Psalm says, “Like a weaned child in the arms of its mother” (cf. 131:2). This is how we should feel in God’s arms. And there, we absorb the Lord’s affection; there, we encounter the love that impels us to give ourselves generously. Saint Paul recalls this when he says that the charity of Christ possesses a power that propels toward loving (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). And everything originates in Him. You cannot truly love others if you do not have this root, which is love of God, love for Jesus.

And now the second aspect that emerges from the commandment of love. It connects love for God to love for neighbour: it means that by loving our brothers and sisters, we reflect the Father’s love like mirrors. To reflect God’s love, this is the point – to love Him whom we do not see through the brother/sisters whom we do see (cf. 1 Jn 4:20). One day, Saint Teresa of Calcutta responded to a journalist who asked her if she had illusions about changing the world by which she was doing, “I no, I never thought I could change the world! I only wanted to be a drop of clean water, through which God’s love could shine” (Meeting with journalists after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Rome, 1979). This is how she, who was so little, was able to do so much good – by reflecting God’s love like a drop. And if at times, looking at her and other saints, we might be moved to think that they are heroes that cannot be imitated, let us think again about that small drop: love is a drop that can change many things. And how can this be done? Taking the first step, always. Sometimes it is not easy to take the first step, to forget things…, to take the first step – let’s do that. This is the drop – to take the first step.

So, dear brothers and sisters, thinking about God’s love that always precedes us, we can ask ourselves: Am I grateful to the Lord that he loves me first? Do I feel God’s love and am I grateful to him? And do I try to reflect His love? Do I strive to love my brothers and sisters, and take this second step?

May the Virgin Mary help us live the great commandment of love in our daily life: to love and to allow God to love us, and to love our brothers and sisters.

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass  29.10.23

Conclusion of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

A doctor of the Law comes to Jesus under a pretext, in order to test him. The question he asks, however, is an important and enduring one that, at times, arises in our own hearts and in the life of the Church: “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36). We too, immersed in the living stream of Tradition, can ask: “What is the most important thing? What is the driving force?” What matters so much as to be the guiding principle of everything? Jesus’ answer is clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:37-39).

Brother Cardinals, Bishops and priests, men and women Religious, dear brothers and sisters, at the conclusion of this stage of our journey, it is important to look at the “principle and foundation” from which everything begins ever anew: by loving. Loving God with our whole life and loving our neighbour as ourselves. Not our strategies, our human calculations, the ways of the world, but love of God and neighbour: that is the heart of everything. And how do we channel this momentum of love? I would propose two verbs, two movements of the heart, on which I would like to reflect: to adore and to serve. We love God through adoration and service.

The first verb, adore. To love is to adore. Adoration is the first response we can offer to God’s gratuitous and astonishing love. The amazement of adoration, the wonder of worship, is something essential in the life of the Church, especially in our own day in which we have abandoned the practice of adoration. To adore God means to acknowledge in faith that he alone is Lord and that our individual lives, the Church’s pilgrim way and the ultimate outcome of history all depend on the tenderness of his love. He gives meaning to our lives.

In worshiping God, we rediscover that we are free. That is why the Scriptures frequently associate love of the Lord with the fight against every form of idolatry. Those who worship God reject idols because whereas God liberates, idols enslave. Idols deceive us and never bring to pass what they promise, because they are “the work of men’s hands” (Ps 115:4). Scripture is unbending with regard to idolatry, because idols are made and manipulated by men, while God, the Living God, is present and transcendent; he is the one “who is not what I imagine him to be, who does not depend on what I expect from him and who can thus upset my expectations, precisely because he is alive. The proof that we do not always have the right idea about God is that at times we are disappointed: We think: ‘I expected one thing, I imagined that God would behave like this, and instead I was wrong’. But in this way, we turn back to the path of idolatry, wanting the Lord to act according to the image we have of him” (C.M. Martini, I grandi della Bibbia. Esercizi spirituali con l’Antico Testamento, Florence, 2022, 826-827). We are always at risk of thinking that we can “control God”, that we can confine his love to our own agenda. Instead, the way he acts is always unpredictable, it transcends our thinking, and God’s way of acting consequently demands amazement and adoration. Amazement is very important!

We must constantly struggle against all types of idolatry; not only the worldly kinds, which often stem from vainglory, such as lust for success, self-centredness, greed for money – let us not forget that the devil enters “through the pockets”, the enticements of careerism; but also those forms of idolatry disguised as spirituality – my own spirituality: my own religious ideas, my own pastoral skills... Let us be vigilant, lest we find that we are putting ourselves at the centre rather than him. And let us return to worship. May worship be central for those of us who are pastors: let us devote time every day to intimacy with Jesus the Good Shepherd, adoring him in the tabernacle. May the Church adore: in every diocese, in every parish, in every community, let us adore the Lord! Only in this way will we turn to Jesus and not to ourselves. For only through silent adoration will the Word of God live in our words; only in his presence will we be purified, transformed and renewed by the fire of his Spirit. Brothers and sisters, let us adore the Lord Jesus!

The second verb is to serve. To love is to serve. In the great commandment, Christ binds God and neighbour together so that they will never be disconnected. There can be no true religious experience that is deaf to the cry of the world. There is no love of God without care and concern for our neighbour; otherwise, we risk becoming pharisaic. We may have plenty of good ideas on how to reform the Church, but let us remember: to adore God and to love our brothers and sisters with his love, that is the great and perennial reform. To be a worshiping Church and a Church of service, washing the feet of wounded humanity, accompanying those who are frail, weak and cast aside, going out lovingly to encounter the poor. We heard in the first reading how God commanded this.

Brothers and sisters, I think of the victims of the atrocities of war; the sufferings of migrants, the hidden pain of those who are living alone and in poverty; those who are crushed by the burdens of life; those who have no more tears to shed, those who have no voice. And I think too of how often, behind fine words and attractive promises, people are exploited or nothing is done to prevent that from happening. It is a grave sin to exploit the vulnerable, a grave sin that corrodes fraternity and devastates society. As disciples of Jesus, we desire to bring to the world a different type of leaven, that of the Gospel. To put God in first place and, together with him, those whom he especially loves: the poor and the weak.

This, brothers and sisters, is the Church we are called to “dream”: a Church that is the servant of all, the servant of the least of our brothers and sisters. A Church that never demands an attestation of “good behaviour,” but welcomes, serves, loves and forgives. A Church with open doors that is a haven of mercy. “The merciful man”, said John Chrysostom, “is as a harbour to those who are in need; and the harbour receives all who are escaping shipwreck, and frees them from danger, whether they be evil or good; whatsoever kind of men they be that are in peril, it receives them into its shelter. You also, when you see a man suffering shipwreck on land through poverty, do not sit in judgment on him, nor require explanations, but relieve his distress.” (In pauperem Lazarum, II, 5).

Brothers and sisters, the General Assembly of the Synod has now concluded. In this “conversation of the Spirit,” we have experienced the loving presence of the Lord and discovered the beauty of fraternity. We have listened to one another and above all, in the rich variety of our backgrounds and concerns, we have listened to the Holy Spirit. Today we do not see the full fruit of this process, but with farsightedness we look to the horizon opening up before us. The Lord will guide us and help us to be a more synodal and missionary Church, a Church that adores God and serves the women and men of our time, going forth to bring to everyone the consoling joy of the Gospel.

Brothers and sisters, I thank you for all that you have done during the Synod and for all you continue to do. Thank you for the journey we have made together, for your listening and your dialogue. In expressing my gratitude, I would also like to offer a prayer for all of us: may we grow in our worship of God and in our service to our neighbour. To adore and to serve. May the Lord accompany us. Let us go forward with joy!

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Pope Francis  Prayer for Peace 27.10.23

Mary, look at us! We stand here before you. You are our Mother, and you know our struggles and our hurts. Queen of Peace, you suffer with us and for us, as you see so many of your children suffering from the conflicts and wars that are tearing our world apart.

This is a dark hour. This is a dark hour, Mother. In this dark hour, we look to you, and in the light of your countenance we entrust ourselves and our problems to your maternal Heart, which knows our anxieties and fears. How great was your concern when there was no place for Jesus at the inn! How great was your fear when you fled in haste to Egypt because Herod sought to kill him! How great was your anguish before you found him in the Temple! Yet, Mother, amid those trials, you showed your strength, you acted boldly: you trusted in God and responded to concern with tender care, to fear with love, to anguish with acceptance. Mother, you did not step back, but at decisive moments you always took initiative: with haste you visited Elizabeth; at the wedding feast of Cana you prompted Jesus’ first miracle; in the Upper Room you kept the disciples united. And when, on Calvary, a sword pierced your heart, Mother, by your humility and strength you kept alive the hope of Easter through the night of sorrow.

Now, Mother, once more take the initiative for us, in these times rent by conflicts and laid waste by the fire of arms. Turn your eyes of mercy towards our human family, which has strayed from the path of peace, preferred Cain to Abel and lost the ability to see each other as brothers and sisters dwelling in a common home. Intercede for our world, in such turmoil and great danger. Teach us to cherish and care for life – each and every human life! – and to repudiate the folly of war, which sows death and eliminates the future.

Mary, how many times have you come, urging prayer and repentance. Yet, caught up in our own needs and distracted by the things of this world, we have turned a deaf ear to your appeal. In your love for us, you never abandon us, Mother. Lead us by the hand. Lead us by the hand and bring us to conversion; help us once again to put God first. Help us to preserve unity in the Church and to be artisans of communion in our world. Make us realize once more the importance of the role we play; strengthen our sense of responsibility for the cause of peace as men and women called to pray, worship, intercede and make reparation for the whole human race.

By ourselves, Mother, we cannot succeed; without your Son, we can do nothing. But you bring us back to Jesus, who is our Peace. Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, we come before you and we seek refuge in your Immaculate Heart. Mother of mercy, we appeal for mercy! Queen of Peace, we appeal for peace! Touch the hearts of those imprisoned by hatred; convert those who fuel and foment conflict. Dry the tears of children – at this hour, so many are weeping! – be present to those who are elderly and alone; strengthen the wounded and the sick; protect those forced to leave their lands and their loved ones; console the crestfallen; awaken new hope.

To you we entrust and consecrate our lives and every fibre of our being, all that we possess and all that we are, forever. To you we consecrate the Church, so that in her witness to the love of Jesus before the world, she may be a sign of harmony and an instrument of peace. To you we consecrate our world, to you we consecrate especially those countries and regions at war.

Your faithful people call you the dawn of salvation; Mother, grant that glimmers of light may illumine the dark night of conflict. Dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, inspire the leaders of nations to seek paths of peace.  Queen of all peoples, reconcile your children, seduced by evil, blinded by power and hate. You, who are close to all, shorten our distances. You, who have compassion on everyone, teach us to care for one another. You, who reveal the Lord’s tender love, make us witnesses of his consolation and peace. Mother, Queen of Peace, pour forth into our hearts God’s gift of harmony. Amen.


Pope Francis  General Audience  25.10.23  

The Apostolic zeal of Saints Cyril and Methodius 

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

Today I will talk to you about two brothers, very famous in the east, to the point of being called “the apostles of the Slavs”: Saints Cyril and Methodius. Born in Greece in the ninth century into an aristocratic family, they renounced a political career to devote themselves to monastic life. But their dream of a secluded existence was short-lived. They were sent as missionaries to Great Moravia, which at the time included various peoples, already partly evangelized, but among whom many pagan customs and traditions survived. Their prince asked for a teacher to explain the Christian faith in their language.

Cyril and Methodius' first task was therefore to study the culture of those peoples in depth. Always the same refrain: faith must be inculturated and the culture evangelized. Inculturation of faith, evangelization of culture, always. Cyril asked if they had an alphabet; they told him they did not. He replied: “Who can write a speech on water?”. Indeed, to proclaim the Gospel and to pray, one needed a proper, suitable, specific tool. So, he invented the Glagolitic alphabet. He translated the Bible and liturgical texts. People felt that the Christian faith was no longer ‘foreign’, but rather it became their faith, spoken in their mother tongue. Just think: two Greek monks giving an alphabet to the Slavs. It is this openness of heart that rooted the Gospel among them. Those two had no fear, they were courageous.

Very soon, however, some opposition emerged on the part of some Latins, who saw themselves deprived of their monopoly on preaching to the Slavs; that fight within the Church, it is always that way. Their objection was religious, but only in appearance: God can be praised, they said, only in the three languages written on the cross: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. They had a closed mindset, to defend their own autonomy. But Cyril responded forcefully: God wants every people to praise Him in their own language. Together with his brother Methodius, he appealed to the Pope and the latter approved their liturgical texts in the Slavic language. He had them placed on the altar of the Church of Saint Mary Major, and sang with them the Lord’s praises according to those books. Cyril died a few days later, and his relics are still venerated here in Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Clement. Methodius, instead, was ordained a bishop and sent back to the Slav territories. Here he would suffer a great deal: he would even be imprisoned, but, brothers and sisters, we know that the Word of God was not shackled and spread throughout those peoples.

Looking at the witness of these two evangelizers, whom Saint John Paul II chose as co-patrons of Europe and on whom he wrote the Encyclical Slavorum Apostoli, let us look at three important aspects.

First of all, unity. The Greeks, the Pope, the Slavs: at that time, there was an undivided Christianity in Europe, which collaborated in order to evangelize.

A second important aspect is inculturation, of which I said something earlier: evangelizing the culture and inculturation show that evangelization and culture are closely connected. One cannot preach the Gospel in an abstract, distilled way, no: the Gospel must be inculturated and it is also an expression of culture.

A final aspect is freedom. Preaching requires freedom, but freedom always needs courage; a person is free to the extent that they are courageous and do not let themselves be shackled by many things that take away their freedom.

Brothers and sisters, let us ask Saints Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slavs, that we may be instruments of “freedom in charity” for others. To be creative, to be constant and to be humble, with prayer and with service.

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Pope Francis  Angelus 22.10.23

What image do I carry inside myself?

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

The Gospel of today’s Liturgy tells us about some pharisees who join with the Herodians to set a trap for Jesus. They were always trying to set traps for Him. They go to Him and ask: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Mt 22:17). It is a ruse: if Jesus legitimizes the tax, He places Himself on the side of a political power that is ill-supported by the people, whereas if He says not to pay it, He can be accused of rebellion against the empire. A veritable trap. However, He escapes this snare. He asks them to show Him a coin, which bears the image of Caesar, and says to them: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21). What does this mean?

These words of Jesus have become commonplace, but at times they have been used incorrectly – or at least reductively – to talk about the relations between Church and State, Christians and politics; often they are interpreted as though Jesus wanted to separate “Caesar” from “God”, that is, earthly from spiritual reality. At times we too think in this way: faith with its practices is one thing, and daily life is another. And this will not do. No. This is a form of “schizophrenia”, as if faith had nothing to do with real life, with the challenges of society, with social justice, with politics and so forth.

In reality, Jesus wants to help us place “Caesar” and “God” each in their proper place. The care for earthly order belongs to Caesar – that is, to politics, to civil institutions, to social and economic processes, and we who are immersed in this reality must give back to society what it offers us, through our contribution as responsible citizens, taking care of what is entrusted to us, promoting law and justice in the world of work, paying our taxes honestly, committing ourselves to the common good, and so on. At the same time, though, Jesus affirms the fundamental reality: that man belongs to God: all of man and every human being. And this means that we do not belong to any earthly reality, to any “Caesar”. We are the Lord’s, and we must not be slaves to any earthly power. On the coin, then, there is the image of the emperor, but Jesus reminds us that our lives are imprinted with the image of God, which nothing and no-one can obscure. The things of this world belong to Caesar, but man and the world itself belong to God: do not forget this!

We understand, then, that Jesus is restoring each one of us to his or her own identity: on the coin of this world there is the image of Caesar, but you – each one of us - which image do you carry within yourself? Let us ask ourselves this question: what image do I carry inside myself? You - whose is the image of your life? Do we remember that we belong to the Lord, or do we let ourselves be shaped by the logic of the world and make work, politics and money our idols to be worshipped?

May the Holy Virgin help us to recognize and honour our dignity and that of every human being.

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Pope Francis  Moment of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees 19.10.23

We can never be grateful enough to Saint Luke for passing on to us this parable of the Lord (cf. Lk 10:25-37). This parable is also at the heart of the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti because it is a key, I would say the key, to moving from the closure of a world to an open world, from a world at war to the peace of another world. Tonight we listened to this parable thinking of the migrants whom we see represented in this large sculpture: men and women of all ages and backgrounds, and in their midst are angels guiding them.

The road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho was not a safe route, just as today the many migration routes that traverse deserts, forests, rivers and seas are not safe. How many of our brothers and sisters find themselves today in the same condition as the traveller in the parable? Many! How many are robbed, stripped and beaten along the way? They leave their homes deceived by unscrupulous traffickers. They are then sold like commodities. They are kidnapped, imprisoned, exploited and enslaved. They are humiliated, tortured, raped. And so many of them die without ever reaching their destination. The migration routes of our time are filled with men and women who are wounded and left half-dead, our brothers and sisters whose pain cries out before God.  Often, they are people fleeing war and terrorism, as we are witnessing, sadly, in these days.

Today, as then, there are still those who see this, and then cross to the other side of the road; surely they come up with some reason to justify this, but in fact it is out of selfishness, indifference and fear. This is true. Instead, what does the Gospel tell us about that Samaritan? It tells us that he saw the wounded man and had compassion on him (v. 33). Here is the key. Compassion is the imprint of God in our hearts. God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness: this is God’s style. And compassion is the imprint of God in our hearts. Here is the key. Here is the turning point. From that moment forward, the wounded man begins to recover, thanks to that foreigner who treated him as a brother. The outcome was not simply a good deed of assistance; the outcome was fraternity.

Like the Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbours to all the wayfarers of our time, to save their lives, to heal their wounds and to soothe their pain. For many, tragically, it is too late, and we are left only to weep over their graves, if they even have a grave, or the Mediterranean ends up being their grave. Yet the Lord knows the face of each of them, and he does not forget it.

The Good Samaritan does not just help the poor traveler on the wayside. He loads him on his own beast, takes him to an inn, and cares for him. Here we can find reflected the meaning of the four verbs that sum up our service to migrants: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Migrants should be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated. This involves a long-term responsibility; in fact, the Good Samaritan is also concerned about returning. This is why it is important for us to be prepared adequately for the challenges of today’s migrations, understanding not only critical issues, but also the opportunities they offer, with a view to the growth of more inclusive, more beautiful and more peaceful societies.

Allow me to point out the urgent need for something else, which is not addressed in the parable. All of us must strive to make the road safer, so that today’s travellers do not fall victim to bandits. We need to multiply our efforts to combat the criminal networks that exploit the hopes and dreams of migrants. It is likewise necessary to indicate safer routes. This means that efforts must be made to expand regular migration channels. In the current world situation, it is clearly necessary to bring demographic and economic policies into dialogue with migration policies for the sake of all those involved, without ever forgetting to put the most vulnerable at the centre. It is also necessary to promote a common and co-responsible approach to the governance of migration flows, which appear set to increase in the coming years.

Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating: this is the work we must carry out.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to draw close to all migrants and refugees who knock at our door, because today “anyone who is neither a robber nor a passer-by is either injured himself or bearing an injured person on his shoulders.” (Fratelli Tutti, 70).

And now, we will have a brief moment of silence, as we remember all those who did not make it, who lost their lives along the different migration routes, and those who have been exploited or enslaved.


Pope Francis  General Audience  18.10.23  

The Apostolic zeal of Saint Charles de Foucauld 

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

Let us continue in our encounter with some Christian witnesses rich in zeal for proclaiming the Gospel. Apostolic zeal, the zeal for proclamation: and we are looking at some Christians who have been an example of this apostolic zeal. Today I would like to talk to you about a man who made Jesus and his poorest brothers the passion of his life. I refer to Saint Charles de Foucauld, who “drawing upon his intense experience of God, made a journey of transformation towards feeling a brother to all” (Encyclical Letter Fratelli tutti, 286).

And what is the “secret” of Charles de Foucauld, of his life? After living a youth far from God, without believing in anything other than the disordered pursuit of pleasure, he confides this to a non-believing friend, to whom, after having converted by accepting the grace of God's forgiveness in Confession, he reveals the reason for his life. He writes: “I have lost my heart to Jesus of Nazareth”.  Brother Charles thus reminds us that the first step in evangelizing is to have Jesus inside one's heart; it is to “fall head over heels” for him. If this does not happen, we can hardly show it with our lives. Instead, we risk talking about ourselves, the group to which we belong, a morality or, even worse, a set of rules, but not about Jesus, his love, his mercy. I see this in some new movements that are emerging: they talk about their vision of humanity, they talk about their spirituality and they feel theirs is a new path… But why do you not talk about Jesus? They talk about many things, about organization, about spiritual journeys, but they do not know how to talk about Jesus. I think that today it would be good for each one of us to ask him- or herself: “Do I have Jesus at the centre of my heart? Have I ‘lost my head’ a bit for Jesus?”.

Charles had, to the extent that he goes from attraction to Jesus to imitation of Jesus. Advised by his confessor, he goes to the Holy Land to visit the places where the Lord lived and to walk where the Master walked. In particular, it is in Nazareth that he realises he must be formed in the school of Christ. He experiences an intense relationship with the Lord, spends long hours reading the Gospels, and feels like his little brother. And as he gets to know Jesus, the desire to make Jesus known arises in him; it always happens like this. When one of us gets to know Jesus better, the desire to make him known, to share this treasure, arises. In commenting on the account of Our Lady's visit to Saint Elizabeth, he makes him say, to Our Lady, to him: “I have given myself to the world... take me to the world”. Yes, but how is this done? Like Mary in the mystery of the Visitation: “in silence, by example, by life”.  By life, because “our whole existence”, writes Brother Charles, “must cry out the Gospel”.  And very often our existence calls out worldliness, it calls out many stupid things, strange things, and he says: “No, all our existence must shout out the Gospel”.

He then decides to settle in distant regions to cry out the Gospel in the silence, living in the spirit of Nazareth, in poverty and concealment. He does to the Sahara Desert, among non-Christians, and he goes there as a friend and a brother, bearing the meekness of Jesus the Eucharist. Charles lets Jesus act silently, convinced that the “Eucharistic life” evangelizes. Indeed, he believes that Christ is the first evangelizer. And so he remains in prayer at Jesus’ feet, before the Tabernacle, for a dozen hours a day, sure that the evangelizing force resides there and feeling that it is Jesus who will bring him close to so many distant brothers. And do we, I ask myself, believe in the power of the Eucharist? Does our going out to others, our service, find its beginning and its fulfilment there, in adoration? I am convinced that we have lost the sense of adoration: we must regain it, starting with us consecrated persons, bishops, priests, nuns and all consecrated persons. “Waste” time before the tabernacle, regain the sense of adoration.

Charles de Foucauld wrote: “Every Christian is an apostle”,  and reminds a lay friend that “there need to be laypeople close to priests, to see what the priest does not see, who evangelize with a proximity of charity, with goodness for everyone, with affection always ready to be given”.  The saintly laypeople, not climbers, but those laypeople, that layman, that laywoman, who love Jesus, make the priest understand that he is not a functionary, he is a mediator, a priest. How we priests need to have beside us those laypeople who truly believe, and who teach us the way by their witness.

Charles de Foucauld, with this lay experience, foreshadows the times of Vatican Council II; he intuits the importance of the laity and understands that the proclamation of the Gospel is up to the entire people of God. But how can we increase this participation? The way Charles de Foucauld did: by kneeling and welcoming the action of the Spirit, who always inspires new ways to engage, meet, listen and dialogue, always in collaboration and trust, always in communion with the Church and pastors.

Saint Charles de Foucauld, a figure who is a prophecy for our time, bore witness to the beauty of communicating the Gospel through the apostolate of meekness: considering himself a “universal brother” and welcoming everyone, he shows us the evangelizing force of meekness, of tenderness. Let us not forget that God’s style is summarized in three words: proximity, compassion and tenderness. God is always near, he is always compassionate, he is always tender. And Christian witness must take this road: of proximity, compassion and tenderness. And this is how he was, meek and tender. He wanted everyone he met to see, through his goodness, the goodness of Jesus. Indeed, he used to say that he was a “servant to someone much better than me”. Living Jesus’ goodness led him to forge fraternal friendships with the bonds of friendship with the poor, with the Tuareg, with those furthest from his mentality. Gradually these bonds generated fraternity, inclusion, appreciation of the other’s culture. Goodness is simple and asks us to be simple people, who are not afraid to offer a smile. And with his smile, with his simplicity, Brother Charles bore witness to the Gospel. Never by proselytism, never: by witness. One does not evangelize by proselytism, but by witness, by attraction.

So finally, let us ask ourselves whether we bring Christian joy, Christian meekness, Christian tenderness, Christian compassion, Christian proximity. Thank you.


Pope Francis

16.10.23   Message for World Food Day 2023     

the Vatican, Rome    

Excerpt below, for the full transcript click here

World Food Day is being celebrated at a time when many of our brothers and sisters are suffering from poverty and discouragement. Indeed, the cries of anguish and despair of the poor should awaken us from the lethargy that grips us, and appeals to our consciences. The condition of hunger and malnutrition that seriously wounds so many human beings is the result of an iniquitous accumulation of injustices and inequalities that leaves many stranded in the gutter of life and allows a few to settle in a state of ostentation and opulence. This applies not only to food, but also to all basic resources, the inaccessibility of which for many people represents an affront to their intrinsic, God-given dignity. It is indeed an insult that should make the whole of humanity ashamed, and mobilize the international community.

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Pope Francis  C’est la confiance  15.10.23

On confidence in the merciful love of God

Apostolic Exhortation

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

1. “C’est la confiance et rien que la confiance qui doit nous conduire à l’Amour”. “It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love”. 

2. These striking words of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face say it all. They sum up the genius of her spirituality and would suffice to justify the fact that she has been named a Doctor of the Church. Confidence, “nothing but confidence”, is the sole path that leads us to the Love that grants everything. With confidence, the wellspring of grace overflows into our lives, the Gospel takes flesh within us and makes us channels of mercy for our brothers and sisters.

3. It is confidence that sustains us daily and will enable us to stand before the Lord on the day when he calls us to himself: “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own Justice and to receive from your Love the eternal possession of yourself”. 

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Pope Francis  Angelus 15.10.23

How do I respond to God’s invitations?

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

Today’s Gospel passage tells us about a king who prepares a wedding banquet for his son (cf. Mt 22:1-14). He is a powerful man, but he is above all a generous father, who invites others to share in his joy. In particular, he reveals the goodness of his heart in the fact that he does not compel anyone, but invites everyone, even though this way of his exposes him to the possibility of refusal. Take note: he prepares a banquet, freely offering an opportunity to meet, an opportunity for a feast. This is what God prepares for us: a banquet, to be in communion with him and among ourselves. And we, all of us, are therefore invited by God. But a wedding banquet requires time and commitment on our part: it requires a “yes”: to go, to go to the Lord’s invitation. He invites, but he leaves us free.

This is the type of relationship that the Father offers us: he calls us to stay with him, leaving us the possibility to accept, or not accept, the invitation. He does not propose to us a relationship of subjection, but rather of fatherhood and sonship, which is necessarily conditioned by our free assent. God is respectful regarding freedom; very respectful. Saint Augustine uses a very beautiful expression in this regard, saying: “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” (Sermon CLXIX, 13). And certainly not because he does not have the capacity to do so – God is omnipotent! – but because, being love, he respects our freedom fully. God proposes: he does not impose, never.

Let us return, then, to the parable: the king – says the text – “sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come” (v.3). Here is the drama of the story: the “no” to God. But why do men refuse his invitation? Was it perhaps an unpleasant invitation? No, and yet – the Gospel says – “they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business” (v.5). They did not care, because they were thinking of their own affairs. And that king, who is a father, God, what does he do? He does not give up, he continues to invite; indeed, he extends the invitation, until he finds those who accept, among the poor. Among those who know they have little else, many come, until they fill the hall (cf. vv. 8-10).

Brothers and sisters, how many times do we fail to heed God’s invitation, because we are intent on our own affairs! Often, we struggle to have free time, but today Jesus invites us to find the time that frees: the time to dedicate to God, that lightens and heals our hearts, that increases peace, confidence and joy in us, that saves us from evil, loneliness and loss of meaning. It is worth it, because it is good to be with the Lord, to make space for him. Where? In the Mass, in listening to the Word, in prayer and also in charity, because by helping those who are weak or poor, by keeping company with those who are lonely, by listening to those who ask for attention, by consoling those who suffer, one is with the Lord, who is present in those in need. Many, however, think that these things are a “waste of time”, and so they lock themselves away in their private world; and it is sad. And this generates sadness. How many sad hearts there are! For this reason: because they are closed.

Let us ask ourselves, then: how do I respond to God’s invitations? What space do I give him in my days? Does the quality of my life depend on my affairs and my free time, or on love for the Lord and for my brethren, especially those most in need? Let us ask ourselves this.

May Mary, who with her “yes” made room for God, help us not to be deaf to his invitations.


Pope Francis  General Audience  11.10.23  

The Apostolic zeal of Saint Josephine Bakhita

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

In our path of catechesis on apostolic zeal – we are reflecting on apostolic zeal - today we will let ourselves be inspired by the witness of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese saint. Unfortunately, for months Sudan has been torn by a terrible armed conflict, of which little is spoken today; let us pray for the Sudanese people, so they might live in peace! But the fame of Saint Bakhita has exceeded every boundary and reached all those to whom identity and dignity is denied.

Born in Darfur – troubled Darfur! – in 1869, she was abducted from her family at the age of seven, and made a slave. Her abductors called her “Bakhita”, which means “fortunate”. She passed through eight masters – each one sold her on to the next. The physical and moral suffering she suffered as a child left her with no identity. She suffered cruelty and violence: on her body she bore more than a hundred scars. But she herself testified: “As a slave I never despaired, because I felt a mysterious force supporting me”.

In the face of this, I wonder: what is Saint Bakhita’s secret? We know that often a wounded person wounds in turn: the oppressed easily becomes an oppressor. Instead, the vocation of the oppressed is that of freeing themselves and their oppressors, becoming restorers of humanity. Only in the weakness of the oppressed can the force of God’s love, which frees both, be revealed. Saint Bakhita expresses this truth very well. One day her tutor gave her a small crucifix and she, who had never owned anything, conserved her treasure jealously. Looking at it, she experienced inner liberation, because she felt understood and loved and therefore capable of understanding and loving: this is the beginning. She felt understood, she felt loved, and as a consequence capable of understanding and loving others. Indeed, she went on to say: “God’s love has always accompanied me in a mysterious way… The Lord loved me: you have to love everyone … you have to have pity!”. This is Bakhita’s soul. Truly, to pity means both to suffer with the victims of the great inhumanity in the world, and also to pity those who commit errors and injustices, not justifying, but humanizing. This is the caress she teaches us: to humanize. When we enter the logic of fighting, of division between us, of bad feelings, one against the other, we lose our humanity. And very often we think we are in need of humanity, to be more humane. And this is the work that Saint Bakhita teaches us: to humanize, to humanize ourselves and to humanize others.

Saint Bakhita, who became Christian, was transformed by the words of Christ she meditated on every day: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). And so she said: “If Judas had asked Jesus for forgiveness, he too would have found mercy”. We can say that St Bakhita’s life became an existential parable of forgiveness. How good it is to say to a person, “he was capable, she was capable of forgiving, always”. And she was always capable of forgiving; indeed, her life is an existential parable of forgiveness. To forgive because then we will be forgiven. Do not forget this: forgiveness, which is God’s caress to all of us.

Forgiveness liberated her. Forgiveness first received through God’s merciful love, and then the forgiveness given that made her a free, joyful woman, capable of loving.

Bakhita was able to experience service not as slavery, but as an expression of the free gift of self. And this is very important: made a servant involuntarily – she was sold as a slave – she then freely chose to become a servant, to bear on her shoulders the burdens of others.

Saint Josephine Bakhita, by her example, shows us the way to finally be free from our slavery and fears. She helps us to unmask our hypocrisies and selfishness, to overcome resentments and conflicts. And she encourages us, always.

Dear brothers and sisters, forgiveness takes away nothing but adds – what does forgiveness add? – dignity: forgives takes away nothing from you but adds dignity to the person, it makes us lift our gaze from ourselves towards others, to see them as fragile as we are, yet always brothers and sisters in the Lord. Brothers and sisters, forgiveness is the wellspring of a zeal that becomes mercy and calls us to a humble and joyful holiness, like that of Saint Bakhita.

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Pope Francis  Angelus 08.10.23

Gratitude the light that dawns daily in our hearts

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

Today, the Gospel presents us with a dramatic parable that has a sad ending (cf. Mt 21:33-43). A landowner planted a vineyard and took good care of it. Then, needing to go away, he entrusted it to some tenants. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to collect his harvest. But the tenants maltreated and killed them. So, the owner sent his son, and those tenants even killed him. How come? What went wrong? There is a message of Jesus in this parable.

The landowner did everything well, with love. He himself toiled to plant the vineyard; he surrounded it with a fence to protect it; dug a winepress, and built a watchtower (cf. v. 33). Then he entrusted his vineyard to some tenants, leasing his prized possession to them, thus treating them on an equal plane, so that his vineyard might be well cultivated and might bear fruit. Given these circumstances, the harvest should have come to a happy end, in a festive atmosphere, with a fair division of the produce to everyone’s satisfaction.

Instead, ungrateful and greedy thoughts insinuated themselves into the minds of the tenants. You see, at the root of conflicts there is always some ungratefulness and  greedy sentiments to quickly take possession of things. “We do not need to give anything to the owner. The product of our work belongs to us alone. We need not give an account to anyone!” This is the discourse these labourers make. And this is not true: they should be grateful for what they received and for how they had been treated. Instead, ingratitude gave rise to greed and a progressive sense of rebellion grew within them, which led them to see the situation in a distorted way, to feel that the owner was in their debt rather than that they were in debt to the owner who had given them work. When they saw the son, they end up saying: “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance!” (v. 38). And from being tenants, they become assassins. It is a whole process. And many times, this process takes place in the hearts of people, even in our hearts.

With this parable, Jesus reminds us what happens when a person deceives him/herself into thinking that he or she does things on their own, and they forget to be grateful, they forget the real basis of life: that good comes from the grace of God, that good comes from his free gift. When someone forgets this gratitude to God, he or she ends up no longer facing their own situation and their own limits with the joy of feeling loved and saved, but with the sad illusion of needing neither love nor salvation. That person stops letting him/herself be loved and finds him/herself a prisoner of their own greed, a prisoner to the need to have more than others, of the desire to stand out over others. This process is ugly, and many times it happens to us. Let us think seriously about this. This in turn gives rise to many dissatisfactions and recriminations, so many misunderstandings and so many feelings of envy; and, driven by resentment, the person can fall headlong into a spiral of violence. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, ungratefulness generates violence, it takes peace away, and makes us feel and yell when we speak, without peace, while a simple “thank you” can bring back peace!

So, let us ask ourselves: Am I aware that life and the faith are gifts I have received. Am I aware that I myself am a gift? Do I believe that everything comes from the grace of the Lord? Do I understand that, without merit, I am the beneficiary of these things, that I am loved and saved gratuitously? And above all, in response to grace, do I know how to say “thank you”? Do I know how to say “thanks”? The three phrases that are the secret of human coexistencethanks,   please,   I’m sorry. Do I know how to say these three things? Thanks, please, I’m sorry, excuse me. Do I know how to pronounce these three phrases? It is a small word, “thanks” - “please” is a small word, two small words to ask for forgiveness, “I’m sorry” – is what God and our brothers and sisters expect every day. Let us ask ourselves if these small words, “thanks”, “please”, “pardon me, I’m sorry”, are present in our lives. Do I know to thank, to say “thanks”? Do I know how to excuse myself, to ask for forgiveness? Do I know how not to be invasive – “please”? Thank you, I’m sorry, please.

May Mary, whose soul glorifies the Lord, help us make gratitude the light that dawns daily in our hearts.

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Pope Francis  Laudate Deum  04.10.23

on the Climate Crisis 

Apostolic Exhortation

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

Eight years have passed since I published the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, when I wanted to share with all of you, my brothers and sisters of our suffering planet, my heartfelt concerns about the care of our common home. Yet, with the passage of time, I have realized that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point. In addition to this possibility, it is indubitable that the impact of climate change will increasingly prejudice the lives and families of many persons. We will feel its effects in the areas of healthcare, sources of employment, access to resources, housing, forced migrations, etc.

This is a global social issue and one intimately related to the dignity of human life. The Bishops of the United States have expressed very well this social meaning of our concern about climate change, which goes beyond a merely ecological approach, because “our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together. Climate change is one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community. The effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world”. In a few words, the Bishops assembled for the Synod for Amazonia said the same thing: “Attacks on nature have consequences for people’s lives”. And to express bluntly that this is no longer a secondary or ideological question, but a drama that harms us all, the African bishops stated that climate change makes manifest “a tragic and striking example of structural sin”. 

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass 04.10.23

with the new Cardinals

The Gospel we have just heard is preceded by the account of a difficult moment in Jesus’ mission, which we might call one of “pastoral desolation”. John the Baptist doubts that Jesus is really the Messiah; so many cities he passed through, despite the wonders he performed, were not converted; people accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard, whereas they had just complained about the Baptist because he was too austere (cf. Mt 11:2-24). Yet we see that Jesus does not let himself be overcome by sadness, but instead lifts his eyes to heaven and blesses the Father for he has revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to the simple: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants” (Mt 11:25). In the moment of desolation, then, Jesus has a gaze capable of seeing beyond: he praises the wisdom of the Father and is able to discern the good that grows unseen, the seed of the Word welcomed by the simple, the light of the Kingdom of God that shows the way even in the night.

Dear brother Cardinals, brother Bishops, sisters and brothers, we are at the opening of the General Assembly of the Synod. Here we do not need a purely natural vision, made up of human strategies, political calculations or ideological battles. If the Synod allows this to happen, the “other one” will open the door to it. This we do not need. We are not here to carry out a parliamentary meeting or a plan of reformation. The Synod, dear brothers and sisters, is not a parliament. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist. We are not here to form a parliament but to walk together with the gaze of Jesus, who blesses the Father and welcomes those who are weary and oppressed.  So let us start from the gaze of Jesus, which is a blessing and welcoming gaze.

1. Let us look at the first aspect: a gaze that blesses.  Though having experienced rejection and having seen around him so much hardness of heart, Christ does not let himself be imprisoned by disappointment, he does not become bitter, he does not cease to praise; his heart, founded on the primacy of the Father, remains serene even in the storm.

This gaze of the Lord that blesses also invites us to be a Church that, with a glad heart, contemplates God's action and discerns the present.  And which, amid the sometimes agitated waves of our time, does not lose heart, does not seek ideological loopholes, does not barricade itself behind preconceived notions, does not give in to convenient solutions, does not let the world dictate its agenda. This is the spiritual wisdom of the Church, summarized with serenity by Saint John XXIII: “It is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate” (Address for the Solemn Opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 11 October 1962).

Jesus’ gaze that blesses invites us to be a Church that does not face today’s challenges and problems with a divisive and contentious spirit but, on the contrary, turns its eyes to God who is communion and, with awe and humility, blesses and adores him, recognizing him as its only Lord. We belong to him and – let us remember – we exist only to bring him to the world. As the Apostle Paul told us, we have no other “glory except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14). This is enough for us; he is enough for us. We do not want earthly glory; we do not want to make ourselves attractive in the eyes of the world, but to reach out to it with the consolation of the Gospel, to bear witness to God’s infinite love, in a better way and to everyone. Indeed, as Benedict XVI said, precisely when speaking to a synod assembly, “the question for us is this: God has spoken, he has truly broken the great silence, he has shown himself, but how can we communicate this reality to the people of today, so that it becomes salvation?” (Meditation, First General Congregation of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 8 October 2012).  This is the fundamental question. And this is the primary task of the Synod: to refocus our gaze on God, to be a Church that looks mercifully at humanity. A Church that is united and fraternal – or at least seeks to be united and fraternal –, that listens and dialogues; a Church that blesses and encourages, that helps those who seek the Lord, that lovingly stirs up the indifferent, that opens paths in order to draw people into the beauty of faith. A Church that has God at its centre and, therefore, is not divided internally and is never harsh externally. A Church that takes a risk in following Jesus. This is how Jesus wants the Church, his Bride, to be.

2. After reflecting on the gaze that blesses, let us now look at the welcoming gaze of Christ. While those who think themselves wise fail to recognize the work of God, Jesus rejoices in the Father because he reveals himself to the little ones, the simple, the poor in spirit. Once the there was a problem in a parish and it was being spoken about by the people. This is what they were telling me. A very elderly lady, a lady of the people who was practically illiterate, intervened, as if she was a theologian, and with great meekness and spiritual wisdom offered her insight. I remember with joy that moment as a revelation from the Lord. It came to mind to ask her: “Tell me, madam, where did you study theology, with Royo Marín, who was a great theologian?” The wise among us have this type of faith. Throughout his life, Jesus takes on this welcoming gaze toward the weakest, the suffering and the discarded. To them in particular, he addresses the words we heard: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

This welcoming gaze of Jesus also invites us to be a welcoming Church, not one with closed doors. In such a complex time as ours, new cultural and pastoral challenges emerge that call for a warm and kindly inner attitude so that we can encounter each other without fear. In synodal dialogue, in this beautiful “journey in the Holy Spirit” that we are making together as the People of God, we can grow in unity and friendship with the Lord in order to look at today’s challenges with his gaze; to become, using a fine expression of Saint Paul VI, a Church that “makes itself a conversation” (Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam, 65). A Church “with a gentle yoke” (cf. Mt 11:30), which does not impose burdens and which repeats to everyone: “Come, you who are weary and oppressed, come, you who have lost your way or feel far away, come, you who have closed the doors to hope: the Church is here for you!” The doors of the Church are open to everyone, everyone, everyone!

3. Brothers and sisters, holy People of God, in the face of the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead, the blessing and welcoming gaze of Jesus prevents us from falling into some dangerous temptations: of being a rigid Church – a customs post –, which arms itself against the world and looks backward; of being a lukewarm Church, which surrenders to the fashions of the world; of being a tired Church, turned in on itself. In the Book of Revelation, the Lord says, “I stand at the door and knock so that it may be opened”; but often, brothers and sisters, he stands at the door knocking but from within the Church so that we may allow him to go out with the Church to proclaim his Gospel.

Let us walk together: humble, fervent and joyful. Let us walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint of poverty and peace, the “fool of God” who bore in his body the stigmata of Jesus and, in order to clothe himself with him, stripped himself of everything. How difficult it is for all of us to carry out this interior and exterior self-emptying.  The same is true for institutions. Saint Bonaventure relates that while he was praying, the Crucified One said to him, “Go and repair my church” (Legenda maior, II, 1). The Synod serves to remind us of this: our Mother the Church is always in need of purification, of being “repaired”, for we are a people made up of forgiven sinners – both elements: forgiven sinners –, always in need of returning to the source that is Jesus and putting ourselves back on the paths of the Spirit to reach everyone with his Gospel. Francis of Assisi, in a time of great struggles and divisions, between temporal and religious powers, between the institutional Church and heretical currents, between Christians and other believers, did not criticize or lash out at anyone. He took up only the weapons of the Gospel: humility and unity, prayer and charity. Let us do the same: humility, unity, prayer and charity!

And if God's holy people with their shepherds from all over the world have expectations, hopes and even some fears about the Synod we are beginning, let us continue to remember that it is not a political gathering, but a convocation in the Spirit; not a polarized parliament, but a place of grace and communion. The Holy Spirit often shatters our expectations to create something new that surpasses our predictions and negativity. Perhaps I can say that the more fruitful moments of the Synod are those connected to prayer, an atmosphere of prayer, through which the Lord works in us. Let us open ourselves to him and call upon him, the protagonist, the Holy Spirit. Let us allow him to be the protagonist of the Synod! And let us walk with him, in trust and with joy.


Pope Francis  Angelus 01.10.23

Sincere Christians

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

Today, the Gospel speaks about two sons. Their father asks them to go to work in the vineyard (cf. Mt 21:28-32). One of them responds “yes”, right away, but then does not go. The other, says “no”, but then repents and goes.

What is there to say about the behaviour of these two? What quickly comes to mind is that going to work in the vineyard requires sacrifice, and sacrifice costs. This doesn’t come naturally, even with the beauty of knowing they are sons and heirs. But the problem here is not so much connected that they resist going to work in the vineyard, as much as their sincerity, or lack thereof, with their father and with themselves. Even though neither of the sons behaves impeccably, one lies, while the other makes a mistake but remains sincere.

Let us look at the son who says “yes”, but then does not go. He does not want to do the father’s will, but neither does he want to get into a discussion or talk about it. Thus, he hides behind a “yes”, behind a false willingness that hides his laziness and he saves face for the time being. He is a hypocrite. He gets by without conflict, but he cheats and deceives his father, disrespecting him in a way that is worse than had he responded with a blunt “no”. The problem with someone who behaves like this is that he or she is not a sinner, but is corrupt because they lie with no difficulty to cover up and disguise their disobedience without welcoming any honest dialogue or feedback.

The other son, instead, who said “no” but then went, is sincere. He is not perfect, but sincere. Certainly, it would have been nice to hear him say “yes” right away. That did not happen, but at least he shows his reluctance clearly and, in a certain sense, courageously. That is, he takes responsibility for his behaviour and acts out in the open. Then, with this basic honesty, he ends up questioning himself until he understands he has made a mistake and retraces his steps. He is a sinner, we could say, but he is not corrupt. Pay close attention to this: this son is a sinner, but he is not corrupt. And there is always the hope of redemption for a sinner; for the corrupt, instead, it is much more difficult. In fact, the corrupt person’s false “yesses”, elegant but hypocritical façades and habitual false pretenses, are like a thick “rubber wall”, behind which to take cover from qualms of conscience. And these hypocrites do so much evil! Brothers and sisters, sinners yes – all of us are – corrupt no! Sinners yes, corrupt no!

Let us look at ourselves now and, in the light of all this, ask ourselves some questions. When faced with the difficulty to live an honest and generous life, to dedicate myself to the will of the Father, am I willing to say “yes” each day, even if it costs? And when I fail, am I sincere before God about my difficulties, my failings, my weaknesses? And when I say “no”, do I turn around after? Do we speak with the Lord about this? When I make a mistake, am I willing to repent and retrace my steps? Or do I pretend everything is okay and go through life wearing a mask, concerning myself only about appearing good and righteous? Finally, am I a sinner, like everyone, or is there something corrupt in me? Do not forget: sinners yes, corrupt no.

May Mary, mirror of holiness, help us be sincere Christians.

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