Pope Francis  Angelus 04.06.23

The Feast of the Holy Trinity

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

Today, Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, the Gospel is taken from the Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus (cf. Jn 3:16-18). Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, passionate about the mystery of God: he recognizes in Jesus a divine master and goes to speak to him in secret, in the night. Jesus listens to him, understands he is a man on a quest, and then first he surprises him, answering that to enter the Kingdom of God one must be reborn; then he reveals the heart of the mystery to him, saying that God loved humanity so much that he sent his Son into the world. Jesus, therefore, the Son, talks about his Father and his immense love.

Father and Son. It is a familiar image that, if we think about it, disrupts our images of God. Indeed, the very word “God” suggests to us a singular, majestic and distant reality, whereas to talk about a Father and a Son brings us back home. Yes, we can think of God in this way, through the image of a family gathered around the table, where life is shared. Besides, the table, which is also an altar, is a symbol with which certain icons depict the Trinity. It is an image that speaks to us of a God of communion. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: communion.

But it is not only an image; it is reality! It is reality because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that the Father poured into our hearts through Jesus (cf. Gal 4:6), makes us taste, makes us savour God’s presence: the presence of God, always close, compassionate and tender. The Holy Spirit does with us what Jesus does with Nicodemus: he introduces us to the mystery of new birth, the birth of faith, Christian life, he reveals the heart of the Father to us, and he makes us sharers in the very life of God.

The invitation he extends to us, we might say, is to sit at the table with God to share in his love. This would be the image. This is what happens at every Mass, at the altar of the Eucharistic table, where Jesus offers himself to the Father and offers himself for us. Yes, that is how it is, brothers and sisters, our God is a communion of love: and this is how Jesus revealed him to us. And do you know how we can remember this? With the simplest gesture, which we learnt as children: the sign of the cross, with the sign of the cross. With the simplest gesture, with this sign of the cross, by tracing the cross on our body, we remind ourselves how much God loved us, to the point of giving his life for us; and we repeat to ourselves that his love envelops us completely, from top to bottom, from left to right, like an embrace that never abandons us. And at the same time, we commit ourselves to bear witness to God-as-love, creating communion in his name. Perhaps now, each one of us, and all together, let us make the sign of the cross on ourselves…

Today, then, we can ask ourselves: do we bear witness to God-as-love? Or has God-as-love become in turn a concept, something we have already heard, that no longer stirs provokes life? If God is love, do our communities bear witness to this? Do they know how to love? Do our communities know how to love? And our family … do we know how to love in the family? Do we keep the door open always, do we know how to welcome everyone – and I emphasize, everyone – to welcome them as brothers and sisters? Do we offer everyone the food of God’s forgiveness and Gospel joy? Does one breathe the air of home, or so we resemble more closely an office or a reserved place where only the elect can enter? God is love, God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and he gave his life for us, for this cross.

And may Mary help us to live the Church as that home where one loves in a familiar way, to the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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Pope Francis  General Audience  31.05.23  

The apostolic zeal of Venerable Matteo Ricci

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

We are continuing these catecheses speaking about apostolic zeal, that is, what the Christian feels in order to carry out the proclamation of Jesus Christ. And today I would like to present another great example of apostolic zeal: we have spoken about Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Paul, the apostolic zeal of the great zealots; today we will talk about one – Italian, but who went to China: Matteo Ricci.

Originally from Macerata, in the Marches, after studying in the Jesuit schools and entering Society of Jesus in Rome, he was enthused by the reports of missionaries whom he had listened to and he grew enthusiastic, like so many other young people who felt the same, and he asked to be sent to the missions in the Far East. After the attempt by Francis Xavier, another twenty-five Jesuits had tried to enter China, without success. But Ricci and one of his confrères prepared themselves very well, carefully studying the Chinese language and customs, and in the end, they managed to settle in the south of the country. It took eighteen years, with four stages through four different cities, to arrive in Peking, which was the centre. With perseverance and patience, inspired by unshakeable faith, Matteo Ricci was able to overcome difficulties and dangers, mistrust and opposition. Think that, in that time, on foot or riding a horse, such distances… and he went on. But what was Matteo Ricci’s secret? By what road did his zeal drive him?

He always followed the way of dialogue and friendship with all the people he encountered, and this opened many doors to him for the proclamation of the Christian faith. His first work in Chinese was indeed a treatise on friendship, which had great resonance. To enter into Chinese culture and life, he first dressed like the Buddhist bonzes, according to the customs of the country, but then he understood that the best way was to assume the lifestyle and robes of the literati. The intellectuals dressed like university professors, and he dressed that way. He studied their classical texts in depth, so that he could present Christianity in positive dialogue with their Confucian wisdom and the customs of Chinese society. And this is called an attitude of inculturation. This missionary was able to “inculturate” the Christian faith, as the ancient fathers had done in dialogue with Greek culture.

His excellent scientific knowledge stirred interest and admiration on the part of cultured men, starting from his famous map of the entire world as it was known at the time, with the different continents, which revealed to the Chinese for the first time a reality outside China far more extensive than they had thought. He showed them that the world was even larger than China, and they understood, because they were intelligent. But the mathematical and astronomical knowledge of Ricci and his missionary followers also contributed to a fruitful encounter between the culture and science of the West and the East, which went on to experience one of its happiest times, characterized by dialogue and friendship. Indeed, Matteo Ricci’s work would never have been possible without the collaboration of his great Chinese friends, such as the famous “Doctor Paul” (Xu Guangqi) and “Doctor Leon” (Li Zhizao).

However, Ricci’s fame as a man of science should not obscure the deepest motivation of all his efforts: namely, the proclamation of the Gospel. With scientific dialogue, with scientists, he went ahead but he bore witness to his faith, to the Gospel. The credibility obtained through scientific dialogue gave him the authority to propose the truth of Christian faith and morality, of which he spoke in depth in his principal Chinese works, such as The true meaning of the Lord of Heaven – as the book was called. Besides doctrine, his witness of religious life, virtue and prayer: these missionaries prayed. They went to preach, they were active, they made political moves, all of that; but they prayed. It is what nourished the missionary life, a life of charity; they helped others, humbly, with total disinterest in honours and riches, which led many of his disciples and friends to embrace the Catholic faith. Because they saw a man who was so intelligent, so wise, so astute – in the good sense of the word – in getting things done, and so devout, that they said, “But what he preaches is true, because it is part of a personality that witnesses, he bears witnesses to what he preaches with his own life”. This is the coherence of the evangelizers. And this applies to all of us Christians who are evangelizers. We can recite the Creed by heart, we can say all the things we believe, but if our life is not consistent with this, it is of no use. What attracts people is the witness of consistency: we Christians must live as we say, and not pretend to live as Christians but to live in a worldly way. Be careful of this, look at this great missionary – and he was an Italian, wasn’t he – looking at these great missionaries, see that the greatest strength is consistency: they were consistent.

In the last days of his life, those who were closest to him and asked him how he felt, “he replied that he was thinking at that moment whether it was greater the joy and gladness he felt inwardly at the idea that he was close to his journey to go and savour God, or the sadness that leaving his companions of the whole mission that he loved so much, and the service that he could still do to God Our Lord in this mission,” (S. De Ursis, Report on M. Ricci, Roman Historical Archive S.J.). This is the same attitude of the Apostle Paul (cf. Phil 1:22-24), who wanted to go to the Lord, to find the Lord, but to stay “to serve you”.

Matteo Ricci died in Peking in 1610, at 57, a man who had given all his life for the mission. The missionary spirit of Matteo Ricci constitutes a relevant living model. His love for the Chinese people is a model; but the truly timely path is coherence of life, of the witness of his Christian belief. He took Christianity to China; he is great, yes, because he is a great scientist, he is great because he is courageous, he is great because he wrote many books – but above all, he is great because he was consistent in his vocation, consistent in his desire to follow Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, today we, each one of us, let us ask ourselves inwardly, “Am I consistent, or am I a bit ‘so-so’?”. Thank you.


Pope Francis  Regina Caeli 28.05.23

The Feast of Pentecost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass 28.05.23

The Feast of Pentecost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pope Francis  General Audience  24.05.23  

The apostolic zeal of Saint Andrea Kim Tae-gon

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

In this series of catecheses that we are undertaking, we place ourselves in the school of some of the saints who, as exemplary witnesses, teach us apostolic zeal. Let’s recall that we are talking about apostolic zeal, which is what we must have in order to proclaim the Gospel.

Today we are going to find a great example of a saint of the passion for evangelization in a land far away, namely the Korean Church. Let us look at the Korean martyr and first priest St Andrew Kim Tae-gon.

But, the first Korean priest: you know something? The evangelisation of Korea was done by the laity! It was the baptized laity who transmitted the faith, there were no priests, because they had none. Then, later... but the first evangelisation was done by the laity. Would we be capable of something like that? Let’s think about it: it’s interesting. And this is one of the first priests, St Andrew. His life was and remains an eloquent testimony of the proclamation of the Gospel, the zeal for this.

About 200 years ago, the Korean land was the scene of a very severe persecution: Christians were persecuted and annihilated. At that time, believing in Jesus Christ in Korea meant being ready to bear witness even unto death. Specifically from the example of St Andrew Kim, we can draw out two concrete aspects of his life.

The first is the way he used to meet with the faithful. Given the highly intimidating context, the saint was forced to approach Christians in a discreet manner, and always in the presence of other people, as if they had been talking to each other for awhile. Then, to confirm the Christian identity of his interlocutor, St Andrew would implement these devices: first, there was a previously agreed upon sign of recognition: “You will meet with this Christian and he will have this sign on his outfit or in his hand.” “And after that, he would surreptitiously ask the question—but all this under his breath, eh?—“Are you a disciple of Jesus?” Since other people were watching the conversation, the saint had to speak in a low voice, saying only a few words, the most essential ones. So, for Andrew Kim, the expression that summed up the whole identity of the Christian was “disciple of Christ.” “Are you a disciple of Christ?”—but in a soft voice because it was dangerous. It was forbidden to be a Christian there.

Indeed, being a disciple of the Lord means following Him, following His path. And the Christian is by nature one who preaches and bears witness to Jesus. Every Christian community receives this identity from the Holy Spirit, and so does the whole Church, since the day of Pentecost (cf. Conc. Vat. II, Decr. Ad gentes, 2). It is from this Spirit that we receive the passion, the passion for evangelisation, this great apostolic zeal; it is a gift of the Spirit Who gives. And even if the surrounding context is not favourable—like the Korean context of Andrew Kim—it does not change; on the contrary, it becomes even more valuable. St Andrew Kim and other Korean believers have demonstrated that witnessing to the Gospel in times of persecution can bear much fruit for the faith.

Now let us look at a second concrete example. When he was still a seminarian, St Andrew had to find a way to secretly welcome missionary priests from abroad. This was not an easy task, as the regime of the time strictly forbade all foreigners from entering the territory. That’s why it had been, before this, so difficult to find a priest that could come to do missionary work: the laity undertook the mission.

One time—think about what St Andrew did—one time, he was walking in the snow, without eating, for so long that he fell to the ground exhausted, risking unconsciousness and freezing. At that point, he suddenly heard a voice, “Get up, walk!” Hearing that voice, Andrew came to his senses, catching a glimpse of something like a shadow of someone guiding him.

This experience of the great Korean witness makes us understand a very important aspect of apostolic zeal; namely, the courage to get back up when one falls.

But do saints fall? Yes! Indeed, from the earliest times. Think of St Peter: he committed a great sin, eh? But he found strength in God's mercy and got up again. And in St Andrew we see this strength: he had fallen physically but he had the strength to go, go, go to carry the message forward.

No matter how difficult the situation may be—and indeed, at times it may seem to leave no room for the Gospel message—we must not give up and we must not forsake pursuing what is essential in our Christian life: namely, evangelization.

This is the path. And each of us can think to themselves: “But what about me, how can I evangelize?” But you look at these great ones and you consider your smallness, we consider our littleness: evangelising the family, evangelising friends, talking about Jesus—but talking about Jesus and evangelising with a heart full of joy, full of strength. And this is given by the Holy Spirit. Let us prepare to receive the Holy Spirit this coming Pentecost, and ask Him for that grace, the grace of apostolic courage, the grace to evangelize, to always carry the message of Jesus forward. Thank you.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    21.05.23

The Ascension of the Lord

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

Today, in Italy and many other countries, the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated. It is a feast we know well, but which can raise several questions – at least two. The first question: Why celebrate Jesus’s departure from the earth? It would seem that his departure would be a sad moment, not exactly something to rejoice over! Why celebrate a departure? First question. Second question: What does Jesus do now in heaven? First question: Why celebrate? Second question: What does Jesus do in heaven?

Why we are celebrating. Because with the Ascension, something new and beautiful happened: Jesus brought our humanity, our flesh, into heaven – this is the first time – that is, he brought it in God. That humanity that he had assumed on earth did not remain here. The risen Jesus was not a spirit, no. He had his human body, flesh and bones, everything. He will be there in God. We could say that from the day of the Ascension on, God himself “changed” – from that point on, he is not only spirit, but such is his love for us that he bears our own flesh in himself, our humanity! The place awaiting us is thus indicated; that is our destiny. Thus wrote an ancient Father in the faith: “What splendid news! He who became man for us … to make us his brothers, presents himself as man before the Father to bear with himself all those who are joined with him” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Discourse on the Resurrection of Christ, 1). Today, we celebrate “heaven’s conquest” – Jesus, who returns to the Father, but with our humanity. And so, heaven is already ours a little bit. Jesus has opened the door and his body is there.

The second question: So, what does Jesus do in heaven? He is there for us before the Father, continually showing our humanity to him – showing him his wounds. I like to think that Jesus, prays like this in front of the Father – making him see his wounds. “This is what I suffered for humanity: Do something!” He shows the Father the price of our redemption. The Father is moved. This is something I like to think about. But think about it yourselves. This is how Jesus prays. He did not leave us alone. In fact, before ascending, he told us, as the Gospel says today, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He is always with us, looking at us, and “he always lives to make intercession” (Heb 7:25) for us. To make the Father see his wounds, for us. In a word, Jesus intercedes. He is in a better “place”, before his Father and ours, to intercede on our behalf.

Intercession is fundamental. This faith helps us too – not to lose hope, not to get discouraged. Before the Father, there is someone who makes him see his wounds and intercedes. May the Queen of heaven help us to intercede with the power of prayer.


Pope Francis  General Audience  17.05.23  

The apostolic zeal of Saint Francis Xavier

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

Continuing our itinerary of the Catecheses with some exemplary models of apostolic zeal, today we recall, we are speaking about evangelization, about apostolic zeal, of bearing the name of Jesus. And there are many women and men in history who have done this in an exemplary way. Today, for example, we choose as an example, Saint Francis Xavier, who some say is considered the greatest missionary of modern times. But it is not possible to say who is the greatest, who is the least. There are so many hidden missionaries who, even today, do much more than Saint Francis Xavier. And Saint Francis Xavier is the patron of missions, like Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. And a missionary is great when he or she goes. And there are many, many priests, lay people, women religious who go to the missions…even from Italy. Many of you, I see for example, when a story arrives about a priest who is a candidate to become a bishop, who spent ten years as a missionary in that place. This is incredible – to leave your own country to preach the Gospel. This is apostolic zeal. This is what we really need to cultivate. And looking at these men and women, we learn.

And Saint Francis Xavier was born into a noble but impoverished family in Navarre, northern Spain, in 1506. He went to study in Paris – he was a worldly young man, intelligent, wonderful, worldly. There, he met Ignatius of Loyola. He made the spiritual exercises and changed his life. And he left everything, his worldly career, to become a missionary. He became a Jesuit, took his vows. Then he became a priest, and went to evangelize, sent to the Orient. At that time, the journeys of the missionaries to the Orient meant they were sent to unknown worlds. And he went, because he was filled with apostolic zeal.

He was the first of a numerous band of passionate missionaries to depart, ardent missionaries of modern times, ready to endure immense hardships and dangers, to reach lands and meet peoples from completely unknown cultures and languages, driven only by the powerful desire to make Jesus Christ and his Gospel known.

In just under eleven years, he accomplished an extraordinary task. He was a missionary for more or less eleven years. Journeys at that time were harsh and perilous. Many people died enroute, due to shipwrecks or disease. Today unfortunately, they die because they let them die in the Mediterranean. Francis Xavier spent more than three and a half years on ships, a third of the entire duration of his mission. To get to India, he spent three and a half years on ships; then from India to Japan. How touching.

He arrived in Goa, India, the capital of the Portuguese East, the cultural and commercial capital. And Francis Xavier set up his base, but did not stop there. He went on to evangelize the poor fishermen of the southern coast of India, teaching catechism and prayers to children, baptizing and caring for the sick. Then, while praying one night at the tomb of the apostle Saint Bartholomew, he felt he needed to go beyond India. He left the work he had already initiated in good hands – this is good, organization – and courageously set sail for the Moluccas, the most distant islands of the Indonesian archipelago. There were no horizons for those people, they went beyond… What courage these holy missionaries had! And today’s missionaries too. Of course, they do not spend three months on a ship, but go on a plane for twenty-four hours. But it is the same thing there. They need to settle there, and travel many kilometers and immerse themselves in forests. This is what it is like…. And so, in the Moluccas, he translated the catechism into their local language and taught them how to sing the catechism, he entered through song. We understand his feelings from his letters. He wrote: “Dangers and sufferings, accepted voluntarily and solely for the love and service of God our Lord, are treasures rich in tremendous spiritual consolations. Here, in a few years, someone could lose their eyes from so many tears of joy” (20 January 1548). He cried for joy when beholding God’s work.

One day, in India, he met someone from Japan who spoke to him about his distant country, where no European missionary had ever ventured. Francis Xavier felt a restlessness for the apostolate, to go elsewhere, beyond, and he decided to depart as soon as possible, and arrived there after an adventurous journey on a junk belonging to a Chinese man. His three years in Japan were quite difficult, due to the climate, opposition and his ignorance of the language. Here too, however, the seeds planted would bear great fruit.

A great dreamer, in Japan, he understood that the decisive country for his mission in Asia was another: China. With its culture, its history, its size, it exercised de facto dominance over that part of the world. Even today, China is a cultural center with a vast history, a beautiful history…. So, he returned to Goa, and shortly afterwards embarked again, hoping to enter China. But his plan failed – he died at the gates of China, on an island, the small island of Sancian, in front of the Chinese shoreline, waiting in vain to land on the mainland near Canton. On 3 December 1552, he died in total abandonment, with only a Chinese man standing beside to watch over him. Thus ended the earthly journey of Francis Xavier. He had spent his life zealously in the missions. He left Spain, a highly developed country, and arrived in the most developed country at that time – China – and died at the threshold of great China, accompanied by a Chinese man. It is highly symbolic, highly symbolic.

His intense activity was always joined with prayer, the union with God, mystical and contemplative. He never abandoned prayer because he knew that is where he drew his strength. Wherever he went, he took great care of the sick, the poor and children. He was not an “aristocratic” missionary. He always went with the most in need, the children who were most in need of instruction, of catechesis. The poor, the sick… He specifically went to the “frontiers” when it came to care. And there, he grew in greatness. And the love of Christ was the strength that drove him to the furthest frontiers, with constant toil and danger, overcoming setbacks, disappointments and discouragement; indeed, giving him consolation and joy in following and serving Him to the end.

It is Saint Francis Xavier, who did all these great things, in such poverty, with such courage, who can give us a little bit of this zeal, of this zeal to live for the Gospel, to proclaim the Gospel. So many young people, so many young people today have something…a restlessness…and they do not know what to do with that restlessness. Look to Francis Xavier, look at the horizons of the world, look at the people who are in such need, look at how many people are suffering, so many people who need Jesus. And have the courage to go. Today too, there are courageous young people. I am thinking of the many missionaries, for example, in Papua New Guinea, of my own young friends who are in the diocese of Vanimo, and many others who have gone – young people – to evangelize in the steps of Francis Xavier. May the Lord grant us the joy to evangelize, the joy to bear this message, which is so beautiful, which makes us, and everyone, happy. Thank you!

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    14.05.23

The Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pope Francis  General Audience  10.05.23  

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

It is with great joy today that I greet His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, and the distinguished delegation that is accompanying him.

His Holiness Tawadros accepted my invitation to come to Rome to celebrate with me the fiftieth anniversary of the historic meeting of Saint Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III in 1973. It was the first meeting between a Bishop of Rome and a Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which culminated in the signing of a memorable joint Christological declaration, on 10 May precisely. In memory of this event, His Holiness Tawadros came to visit me for the first time on 10 May ten years ago, a few months after his and my election, and proposed to celebrate the “Day of Coptic-Catholic friendship” every 10 May, which since then we have celebrated every year. We call each other on the telephone, we send greetings, and we remain good brothers, we haven’t quarreled!

Dear friend and brother Tawadros, thank you for accepting my invitation on this dual anniversary, and I pray that the light of the Holy Spirit may illuminate your visit to Rome, the important meetings you will have here, and in particular our personal conversations. I thank you from my heart for your commitment to the growing friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

Holiness, dear bishops, all of you, together with you I implore God Almighty, by the intercession of the Saints and Martyrs of the Coptic Church, that He may help us grow in communion, in a single and holy bond of faith, hope and Christian love. And speaking of martyrs of the Coptic Church, who are also ours, I want to recall the martyrs on the Libyan beach, who martyred a few years ago.

I ask all of you present to pray to God that He may bless Pope Tawadros’ visit to Rome, and protect the entire Coptic Orthodox Church. May this visit hasten us to the blessed day when we will be one in Christ! Thank you.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    07.05.23

Where to go and how to get there

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

The Gospel of today’s Liturgy (Jn 14:1-12) is taken from Jesus’ last discourse before his death. The disciples' hearts are troubled, but the Lord speaks reassuring words to them, inviting them not to be afraid, do not be afraid. He is not abandoning them, but is going to prepare a place for them and to guide them towards that destination. The Lord today thus shows us all the wonderful place to go, and, at the same time, tells us how to get there, shows us the way. He tells us where to go and how to get there.

First of all, where to go. Jesus sees the disciples’ distress, he sees their fear of being abandoned, just as it happens to us when we are forced to be separated from someone we care for. And so, he says: “I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am you may be also” (vv. 2-3). Jesus uses the familiar image of home, the place of relationships and intimacy. In the Fathers’ house – he says to his friends, and to each one of us – there is space for you, you are welcome, you will always be received with the warmth of an embrace, and I am in Heaven to prepare a place for you! He prepares for us that embrace with the Father, the place for all eternity.

Brothers and sisters, this Word is a source of consolation, and it is a source of hope for us. Jesus does not separate from us, but has opened the way for us, anticipating our final destination: the encounter with God the Father, in whose heart there is a place for each one of us. So, when we experience fatigue, bewilderment and even failure, let us remember where our life is headed. We must not lose sight of the destination, even if we run the risk of of overlooking it, of forgetting the final questions, the important ones: where I am going? Where I am I walking towards? What is it worth living for? Without these questions, we compress our life into the present, we think we must enjoy it as much as possible and end up living day by day, without purpose, without a goal. Our homeland, instead, is in heaven (cf. Phil 3:20); let us not forget the greatness and the beauty of our destination!

Once we have discovered the target, we too, like the apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel, wonder: how can we get there, what is the way? At times, especially when there are major problems to face and there is the sensation that evil is stronger, we ask ourselves: what should I do, what path should I follow? Let us listen to Jesus’ answer: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). “I am the way”. Jesus himself is the way to follow to live in truth and to have life in abundance. He is the way and therefore faith in him is not a “package of ideas” in which to believe, but rather a road to be travelled, a journey to undertake, a path with him. It is following Jesus, because he is the way that leads to unfailing happiness. Following Jesus and imitating him, especially with deeds of closeness and mercy towards others. This is the compass for reaching Heaven: loving Jesus, the way, becoming signs of his love on earth.

Brothers and sisters, let us live the present, let us take the present in hand, but let us not be overwhelmed; let us look up, let us look to Heaven, let us remember the goal, let us think that we are called to eternity, to the encounter with God. And, from Heaven to the heart, let us renew today the choice of Jesus, the choice to love him and to walk behind him. May the Virgin Mary, who following Jesus has already arrived at the goal, sustain our hope.

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Pope Francis  General Audience  03.05.23  

The Journey to Hungary

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

Three days ago I returned from my trip to Hungary. I wish to thank all those who prepared and accompanied this visit with prayer, and to renew my gratitude to the Authorities, the local Church, and the Hungarian people, a courageous people, rich in memory. During my stay in Budapest I was able to feel the affection of all Hungarians. Today I would like to tell you about this visit through two images: roots and bridges.

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Pope Francis  Meeting with the Academic and Cultural World, Budapest  30.04.23  

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

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

In greeting each of you, I express my appreciation for your fine words of welcome, which I will address in a moment. This is the final meeting of my visit to Hungary, for which I am most grateful. Here I think of the course of the Danube, which links this country to many others, uniting not only their geography but also their history. Culture is in some sense like a great river: it runs through and connects various areas of life and history, enabling us to navigate in this world and to embrace distant countries and lands. It nurtures the mind, satisfies the soul, and fosters the growth of society. The very word culture comes from the verb to cultivate: knowledge entails a constant planting of seeds that take root in the soil of reality and bear rich fruit.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli, Budapest  30.04.23

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

I thank Cardinal Erdő for his kind words, and I greet Her Excellency the President, the Prime Minister and the Authorities present. As I prepare to return to Rome, I wish to express my gratitude to them, to my brother bishops, the priests and consecrated men and women, and to all the beloved Hungarian people for their warm welcome and the affection I have experienced in these days. I am also grateful to those who travelled a great distance to be here and to those who worked so hard, and so well, for this visit. To all of you I say, köszönöm, Isten fizesse! [Thank you, may God reward you!]. I think especially of the sick and the elderly, of those who were unable to be present with us, of those who are lonely and those who have lost faith in God and hope in life. I am close to all of you; I pray for you and I give you my blessing.

My greeting goes likewise to the members of the Diplomatic Corps and our brothers and sisters of other Christian confessions. I thank you for your presence and for the fact that in this country the different confessions and religions interact and are supportive of one another. Cardinal Erdő said that here you have been living “on the eastern border of Western Christianity for a thousand years.” It is a beautiful thing when borders do not represent boundaries that separate, but points of contact, and when believers in Christ emphasize first the charity that unites us, rather than the historical, cultural and religious differences that divide us. We are united by the Gospel, and it is by returning there, to the source, that our ecumenical journey will continue, in accordance with the will of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who desires us to be united in one flock.

We now turn to Our Lady. To her, Magna Domina Hungarorum, whom you invoke as Queen and Patroness, I entrust all Hungarians. From this great city and from this noble country, I desire to entrust to her heart the faith and the future of the entire continent of Europe, which has been on my mind in these days and, in particular, the cause of peace. Blessed Virgin, watch over the peoples who suffer so greatly. In a special way, watch over the neighbouring, beleaguered Ukrainian people and the Russian people, both consecrated to you.  You, who are the Queen of Peace, instil in the hearts of peoples and their leaders the desire to build peace and to give the younger generations a future of hope, not war, a future full of cradles not tombs, a world of brothers and sisters, not walls and barricades.

To you do we turn, Holy Mother of God! After the resurrection of Jesus, you accompanied the first steps of the Christian community, helping the disciples to persevere as one in prayer (cf. Acts 1:14). You held the faithful together, guarding their unity by your docile and generous example. We pray to you for the Church in Europe, that she may find strength in prayer, renewed humility and obedience, and be an example of convincing witness and joyful proclamation. To you we entrust this Church and this country. As you exulted in the resurrection of your Son, so fill our hearts with the joy of his presence. Dear brothers and sisters, this is my wish for you, that you may spread everywhere the joy of Christ. Isten éltessen! [Best wishes!].  With gratitude for these days, I keep you in my heart and I ask you to pray for me. Isten áld meg a magyart! [God bless the Hungarians!]

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass, Budapest 30.04.23

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

Jesus’ final words in the Gospel we have just heard sum up the meaning of his mission: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). That is what a good shepherd does: he gives his life for his sheep. Jesus, like a shepherd who goes in search of his flock, came to find us when we were lost. Like a shepherd, he came to snatch us from death. Like a shepherd who knows each of his sheep and loves them with infinite tenderness, he brought us back to the Father’s fold and made us his children.

Let us reflect, then, on the image of the Good Shepherd and on two specific things that, according to the Gospel, he does for the sheep. He calls them by name, and then he leads them out.

First, “he calls his sheep by name” (v. 3). The history of salvation does not begin with us, with our merits, our abilities and our structures. It begins with the call of God, with his desire to come to us, with his concern for each one of us, with the abundance of his mercy. The Lord wants to save us from sin and death, to give us life in abundance and joy without end. Jesus came as the Good Shepherd of humanity, to call us and bring us home. With gratitude, all of us can think back on the love he showed us when we had wandered far from him. When we, like sheep, had “gone astray” and each one of us “turned to his own way” (Is 53:6). Jesus took upon himself our iniquities and bore our sins, leading us back to the Father’s heart. This is what we heard from the apostle Peter in today’s second reading: “You were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls” (1 Pet 2:25). Today too, Jesus calls us, in every situation, at all those times when we feel confused and fearful, overwhelmed and burdened by sorrow and self-pity. He comes to us as the Good Shepherd, he calls us by name and tells us how precious we are in his eyes. He heals our wounds, takes upon himself our frailties and gathers us into the unity of his fold, as children of the Father and brothers and sisters of one another.

And so, brothers and sisters, this morning, in this place, we sense the joy of our being God’s holy people. All of us were born of his call. He called us together, and so we are his people, his flock, his Church. Though we are diverse and come from different communities, the Lord has brought us together, so that his immense love can enfold us in one embrace. It is good for us to be together: bishops and priests, religious and lay faithful. And it is beautiful to share this joy of ours with the ecumenical delegations, the leaders of the Jewish community, the representatives of civil institutions and the diplomatic corps. This is the meaning of catholicity: all of us, called by name by the Good Shepherd, are summoned to receive and spread his love, to make his fold inclusive and never to exclude others. It follows that all of us are called to cultivate relationships of fraternity and cooperation, avoiding divisions, not retreating into our own community, not concerned to stake out our individual territory, but rather opening our hearts to mutual love.

After calling his sheep, the Shepherd “leads them out” (Jn 10:3). First, he brought them into the fold, calling them by name; now he sends them out. We too were first gathered into God’s family to become his people; then we too were sent out into the world so that, courageously and fearlessly, we might become heralds of the Good News, witnesses of the love that has given us new birth. We can appreciate this process of “entering” and “leaving” from yet another image that Jesus uses. He says, “I am the door; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (v. 9). Let us listen to those words again: “he will go in and out”. On the one hand, Jesus is the wide open door that enables us to enter into the Father’s fellowship and experience his mercy. Yet, as we all know, open doors are not only for entering, but also for leaving. After bringing us back into God’s embrace and into the fold of the Church, Jesus is the door that leads us back into the world. He urges us to go forth to encounter our brothers and sisters. Let us never forget that all of us, without exception, are called to this; we are called to step out of our comfort zones and find the courage to reach out to all those peripheries that need the light of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 20).

Brothers and sisters, “going forth” means that we, like Jesus, must become open doors. How sad and painful it is to see closed doors. The closed doors of our selfishness with regard to others; the closed doors of our individualism amid a society of growing isolation; the closed doors of our indifference towards the underprivileged and those who suffer; the doors we close towards those who are foreign or unlike us, towards migrants or the poor. Closed doors also within our ecclesial communities: doors closed to other people, closed to the world, closed to those who are “irregular”, closed to those who long for God’s forgiveness. Please, brothers and sisters, let us open those doors! Let us try to be – in our words, deeds and daily activities – like Jesus, an open door: a door that is never shut in anyone’s face, a door that enables everyone to enter and experience the beauty of the Lord’s love and forgiveness.

I repeat this especially to myself and to my brother bishops and priests: to those of us who are shepherds. Jesus tells us that a good shepherd is neither a robber nor a thief (cf. Jn 10:8). In other words, he does not take advantage of his role; he does not lord it over the flock entrusted to his care; he does not occupy spaces that belong to his lay brothers and sisters; he does not exercise inflexible authority. Brothers, let us encourage one another to be increasingly open doors: “facilitators” of God’s grace, masters of closeness; let us be ready to offer our lives, even as Christ, our Lord and our all, teaches us with open arms from the throne of the cross and shows us daily as the living Bread broken for us on the altar. I say this also to our lay brothers and sisters, to catechists and pastoral workers, to those with political and social responsibilities, and to those who simply go about their daily lives, which at times are not easy. Be open doors! Let the Lord of life enter our hearts, with his words of consolation and healing, so that we can then go forth as open doors within society. Be open and inclusive, then, and in this way, help Hungary to grow in fraternity, which is the path of peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus the Good Shepherd calls us by name and cares for us with infinitely tender love. He is the door, and all who enter through him have eternal life. He is our future, a future of “life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). Let us never be discouraged. Let us never be robbed of the joy and peace he has given us. Let us never withdraw into our own problems or turn away from others in apathy. May the Good Shepherd accompany us always: with him, our lives, our families, our Christian communities and all of Hungary will flourish with new and abundant life!

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Pope Francis  Meeting with young people , Budapest  29.04.23  

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

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

I would like to say köszönöm! [thank you!] for your dance, your song and your courageous testimonies. I thank each of you for being here today: I am happy to be with you! Thank you.

Bishop Ferenc has told us that youth is a time for important questions and responses. That is true, and it is important that you have someone to encourage you and to listen to your questions, not to give you simplistic, pre-packaged answers, which are useless and cannot make us happy, but to help you fearlessly face the adventure of life as you search for the right answers. That is exactly what Jesus did. 

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Pope Francis  Meeting with poor people and refugees, Budapest  29.04.23  

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

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

I am happy to be here with you. Thank you, Bishop Antal, for your words of welcome, and for describing the generous service that the Hungarian Church carries out for and with the poor. Those in need – let us never forget – are at the heart of the Gospel, for Jesus came among us “to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Lk 4:18). The poor, then, present us with a great challenge: we must refuse to let the faith we profess be imprisoned by a piety removed from life, one that results in a kind of “spiritual egotism”, a spirituality of my own creation that serves to preserve my own inner tranquillity and complacency. Genuine faith is challenging, it takes risks, it leads us to encounter the poor and, by the witness of our lives, to speak the language of charity. Saint Paul tells us that we may speak in many tongues and possess great wisdom and wealth, but if we lack charity, we have nothing and we are nothing (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-13).

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Pope Francis  Meeting with Consecrated Persons, Budapest  28.04.23  

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

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

I am happy to be with you once again, after we shared the experience of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. The Congress was a moment of great grace, and I am sure that you continue to enjoy its spiritual fruits. I thank Bishop Veres for his kind introduction, in which he expressed the desire of Hungary’s Catholics in these words: “In this changing world we want to testify that Christ is our future”. Christ: it is not “the future is Christ” but Christ is our future. We cannot interchange the two. This is one of the most important things demanded of us: to interpret the changes and transformations of our time, seeking to meet pastoral challenges as best we can. With Christ and in Christ. There is nothing beyond the Lord or too far from him.

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Pope Francis  Meeting with the Authorities, Budapest  28.04.23  

Apostolic Journey to Hungary

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

I greet you all most cordially and I thank Madam President for her welcome and her kind and profound words. Politics was born of the city, the polis, and the practical desire to live together in unity, ensuring rights and respecting obligations. Few cities help us realize this as does Budapest, for it is not only a noble and lively metropolis, but also a theatre of great historical events. Having witnessed momentous events in the past, it is called to take a leading role in the present and in the future. Here, as one of your great poets wrote, “we are tenderly embraced by the Danube, which is our past, our present and our future” (A. JÓZSEF, The Danube). I would now like to share a few thoughts with you, taking as my starting point Budapest itself: a city of history, a city of bridges and a city of saints.

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Pope Francis  General Audience  26.04.23  

Monasticism and the power of intercession

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

Let us continue our catechesis on the witnesses of apostolic zeal. We started with Saint Paul, and last time we looked at the martyrs, who proclaim Jesus with their lives, to the point of giving their lives for Him and for the Gospel. But there is another great witness that runs through the history of faith: that of the nuns and monks, sisters and brothers who renounce themselves and who renounce the world to imitate Jesus on the path of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and to intercede on behalf of all. Their lives speak for themselves, but we might ask: how can people living in monasteries help the proclamation of the Gospel? Wouldn't they do better to put their energies into the mission? Coming out of the monastery and preaching the Gospel, outside … outside the monastery? In reality, the monks are the beating heart of the proclamation. This is curious: they are the beating heart. Their prayer is oxygen for all the members of the Body of Christ, their prayer is the invisible force that sustains the mission. It is no coincidence that the patroness of the missions is a nun, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Let us listen to how she discovered her vocation – she wrote: “I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood it was Love alone that made the Church’s members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood. I understood that love comprised all vocations. … Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love .... my vocation, at last I have found it.... my vocation is love! … In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love” (Autobiographical Manuscript “B”, 8 September 1896). Contemplatives, monks, nuns: people who pray, work, pray, in silence, for all the Church. And this is love: it is the love that is expressed by praying for the Church, working for the Church, in the monasteries.

This love for everyone inspires the life of nuns and monks, and is translated into their prayer of intercession. In this regard, I would like to offer you the example of Saint Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church. He is an Armenian monk, who lived around the year 1000, who left a book of prayers, in which the faith of the Armenian people, the first to embrace Christianity, is poured out; a people that, joined to the cross of Christ, has suffered so much throughout history. And Saint Gregory spent almost his entire life in the monastery of Narek. There he learned to peer into the depths of the human soul and, by fusing poetry and prayer together, marked the pinnacle of both Armenian literature and spirituality. What is most striking about him is the universal solidarity of which he is an interpreter. And among monks and nuns there is a universal solidarity: whatever happens in the world, finds a place in the heart, in their heart, and they pray, and they pray. The heart of monks and nuns is a heart that captures like an antenna, it picks up what happens in the world, and prays and intercedes for this. And in this way: they live in union with the Lord and with everyone. And one of them said: “I have voluntarily taken upon myself all faults, from those of the first father down to the last of his descendants, and I have held myself responsible for them”. It is what Jesus did: they take upon themselves the problems of the world, the difficulties, the ailments, many things, and they pray for them. And these are the great evangelizers. Monasteries are … but how can they live closed up, and evangelize? It is true… because with the word, for example,  by intercession and daily work, they are a bridge of intercession for all people and all sins. They weep, even shedding tears, they weep for their sins – after all, we are all sinners – and they also weep for the sins of the world, and they pray and intercede with their hands and heart raised up. Let us think a little of this – if I may permit myself the use of the word – “reserve” that we have in the Church: they are the true strength, the true force that carries the People of God forward, and this is where the habit comes from that people have – the People of God – of saying “Pray for me, pray for me”, when they meet a consecrated man or woman, because they know there is a prayer of intercession. It will do us good – to the extent we are able – to visit a monastery, because there one prays and works. Each one has its own rules, but their hands are always occupied: engaged in work, engaged in prayer. May the Lord give us new monasteries, may he give us new monks and nuns to carry the Church forward with their intercession. Thank you.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    23.04.23

Rereading the day with Jesus

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

On this third Sunday of Easter, the Gospel narrates the encounter of the Risen Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). These are two disciples who, resigned to the death of the Master, decide on the day of Passover to leave Jerusalem and to return home. Perhaps they were a little uneasy because they had heard the women coming from the sepulchre and saying that the Lord was like that… they go away. And while they are walking, sadly talking about what has happened, Jesus appears beside them, but they do not recognize him. He asks them why they are so sad, and they say to him: “But, are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (v. 18). And Jesus replies: “What things?” (v. 19). And they tell him the entire story, and Jesus makes them tell him the story. Then, while they are walking, he helps them reinterpret the facts in a different way, in the light of the prophecies, of the Word of God, of all that had been proclaimed to the people of Israel. To reread: that is what Jesus does with them, helping to reread. Let us dwell on this aspect.

Indeed, for us to it is important to reread our history together with Jesus: the story of our life, of a certain period, of our days, with its disappointments and hopes. Besides, we too, like those disciples, faced with what happens to us, can find ourselves lost in the face of these events, alone and uncertain, with many questions and worries, disappointments, many things. Today’s Gospel invites us to tell Jesus everything, sincerely, without being afraid of disturbing him: he listens; without fear of saying the wrong thing, without shame at our struggle to understand. The Lord is happy whenever we open ourselves to him; only in this way can he take us by the hand, accompany us and make our hearts burn again (cf. v. 32). We too, then, like the disciples of Emmaus, are called to spend time with him so that, when evening comes, he will remain with us (cf. v. 29).

There is a good way of doing this, and today I would like to propose it to you: it consists of dedicating some time, every evening, to a brief examination of conscience. But, what happened today within me? That is the question. It is a matter of rereading the day with Jesus, rereading my day:  opening the heart to him, bringing to him people, choices, fears, falls and hopes, all the things that happened; to learn gradually to look at things with different eyes, with his eyes and not just our own. We can thus relive the experience of those two disciples. Before Christ’s love, even that which seems wearisome and unsuccessful can appear under another light: a difficult cross to embrace, the decision to forgive an offence, a missed opportunity for redress, the toil of work, the sincerity that comes at a price, and the trials of family life can appear to us in a new light, the light of the Crucified and Risen, who knows how to turn every fall into a step forward. But to do this, it is important to drop our defences: to leave time and space for Jesus, not to hide anything from him, to bring him our miseries, to let ourselves be wounded by his truth, to let our heart vibrate at the breath of his Word.

We can begin today, to dedicate this evening a moment of prayer during which we ask ourselves: how was my day? What were its joys, what were its sorrows, what were its mundanities, what happened? What were the pearls of the day, possibly hidden, to be thankful for? Was there a little love in what I did? And what are the falls, the sadness, the doubts and fears to bring to Jesus so that He can open new ways to me, to lift me up and encourage me? May Mary, wise Virgin, help us to recognize Jesus who walks with us and to reread- the word: re-read – every day of our life in front of him.

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Pope Francis  General Audience  19.04.23  

Witnesses: the martyrs

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

After talking about evangelization and talking about apostolic zeal, after considering the witness of Saint Paul, the true “champion” of apostolic zeal, today we will turn our attention not to a single figure, but to the host of  martyrs, men and women of every age, language and nation who have given their life for Christ, who have shed their blood to confess Christ. After the generation of the Apostles, they were the quintessential “witnesses” of the Gospel. The martyrs: the first was the deacon Saint Stephen, stoned to death outside the walls of Jerusalem. The word “martyr” derives from the Greek  martyria, which indeed means  witness. That is, a martyr is a witness, one who bears witness to the point of shedding their blood. However, very soon in the Church the word martyr began to be used to indicate those who bore witness to the point of shedding their blood. That is, a martyr can be one who witnesses every day. But it was used afterwards for one who gives their blood, who gives their life.

The martyrs, however, are not to be seen as “heroes” who acted individually, like flowers blooming in a desert, but as the ripe and excellent fruit of the vineyard of the Lord, which is the Church. In particular, Christians, by participating assiduously in the celebration of the Eucharist, were led by the Spirit to base their lives on that mystery of love: namely, on the fact that the Lord Jesus had given his life for them, and therefore that they too could and should give their life for Him and for their brothers and sisters. A great generosity, the journey of Christian witness. Saint Augustine often underlines this dynamic of gratitude and the gratuitous reciprocation of giving. Here, for example, is what he preached on the feast of Saint Lawrence: in that Church of Rome, said Saint Augustine, “he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said, ‘Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’ (1 Jn 3:16). Saint Lawrence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death” (Sermons 304, 14; PL 38, 1395-1397). In this way Saint Augustine explained the spiritual dynamism that inspired the martyrs. With these words: the martyrs love Christ in his life and imitate him in his death.

Today, dear brothers and sisters, let us remember all the martyrs who have accompanied the life of the Church. As I have already said many times before, they are more numerous in our time than in the first centuries. Today there are many martyrs in the Church, many of them, because for confessing the Christian faith they are banished from society or end up in prison… there are many. Vatican Council II reminds us that “The Church considers martyrdom”, this disciple, “as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world – as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 42). The martyrs, in imitation of Christ and with his grace, turn the violence of those who refuse the proclamation into a great occasion of love, supreme, which goes as far as forgiveness of their own tormentors. This is interesting: the martyrs always forgive their tormentors. Stephen, the first martyr, died praying, “Lord, forgive them, they know not what they do”. The martyrs pray for their tormentors.

Although martyrdom is asked of only a few, “nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make the profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross” (ibid., 42). But, were these persecutions something of those times? No, no: today. Today there are persecutions of Christians throughout the world, many, many. There are more martyrs today than in the first times. Many. The martyrs show us that every Christian is called to the witness of life, even when this does not go as far as the shedding of blood, making a gift of themselves to God and to their brethren, in imitation of Jesus.

And I would like to conclude by recalling the Christian witness present in every corner of the world. I think, for example, of Yemen, a land that has for many years been afflicted by a terrible, forgotten war, that has caused many deaths and still causes many people, especially children, to suffer today. In this very land there have been shining witnesses of faith, such as that of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, who have given their life there. They are still present today in Yemen, where they offer assistance to the elderly sick and to people with disabilities. Some of them have suffered martyrdom, but the others continue, risking their lives, but they keep on going. These sisters welcome everyone, of any religion, because charity and fraternity have no boundaries. In July 1998, Sister Aletta, Sister Zelia and Sister Michael, while returning home after Mass, were killed by a fanatic, because they were Christians. More recently, shortly after the beginning of the still ongoing conflict, in March 2016, Sister Anselm, Sister Marguerite, Sister Reginette and Sister Judith were killed together with some laypeople who helped them in their work of charity among the least. They are the martyrs of our time. Among these laypeople killed, as well as Christians there were some Muslim faithful who worked with the religious sisters. It moves us to see how the witness of blood can unite people of different religions. One should never kill in the name of God, because for Him we are all brothers and sisters. But together one can give one’s life for others.

Let us pray, then, that we may never tire of bearing witness to the Gospel, even in times of tribulation. May all the martyr saints be seeds of peace and reconciliation among peoples, for a more humane and fraternal world, as we await the full manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven, when God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). Thank you.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    16.04.23

God welcomes everyone

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

Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Gospel recounts two apparitions of the Risen Jesus to his disciples, and in particular, to Thomas, the “doubting Apostle” (cf. Jn 20:24-29).

In reality, Thomas is not the only one who struggled to believe. In fact, he represents all of us a little bit. Indeed, it is not always easy to believe, especially when, as in his case, he had suffered a tremendous disappointment. And after such a huge disappoint, it was difficult to believe. He had followed Jesus for years, running risks, and enduring discomforts. But the Teacher had been put on a cross like a criminal, and no one had freed him. No one had done anything! He was dead and everyone was afraid. How could he trust again? How he could trust such news that said he was alive? There was a doubt inside him.

Thomas, however, shows that he was courageous. While the others had closed themselves inside the Upper Room out of fear, he went out, running the risk that someone might recognize, report and arrest him. We could even think that, with his courage, he would have deserved more than the others to meet the Risen Lord. Instead, precisely because he had been away, Thomas was not there when Jesus had appeared the first time to the disciples on Easter evening, thus losing that opportunity. He had gone away from the community. How could he retrieve the opportunity? Only by going back with the others, returning to that family he had left behind, scared and sad. When he does so, when he returns, they tell him that Jesus had come, but he struggles to believe – he wants to see his wounds. And Jesus satisfies him: eight days later, he appears again in the midst of his disciples and shows them his wounds, his hands, his feet, these wounds that are the proof of his love, that are the ever-open channels of his mercy.

Let us reflect on these facts. In order to believe, Thomas wants an extraordinary sign – to touch the wounds. Jesus shows them to him, but in an ordinary way, coming in front of everyone, in the community, not outside. It’s as if he said to him: if you want to meet me, do not look far away, remain in the community, with the others. Don’t go away…pray with them…break bread with them. And he says this to us as well. That is where you will find me; that is where I will show you the signs of the wounds impressed on my body: the signs of the Love that overcomes hatred, of the Pardon that disarms revenge, the signs of the Life that conquers death. It is there, in the community, that you will discover my face, as you share moments of doubt and fear with your brothers and sisters, clinging even more strongly to them. Without the community, it is difficult to find Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, the invitation given to Thomas is valid for us as well. We, where do we seek the Risen One? In some special event, in some spectacular or amazing religious manifestation, solely at the emotional or sensational level? Or rather in the community, in the Church, accepting the challenge of staying there, even though it is not perfect? Despite all of its limitations and failures, which are our limitations and failings, our Mother Church is the Body of Christ. And it is there, in the Body of Christ, that, now and forever, the greatest signs of his love can be found impressed. Let us ask ourselves, however, if in the name of this love, in the name of Jesus’s wounds, whether we are willing to open our arms to those who are wounded by life, excluding no one from God’s mercy, but welcoming everyone – each person like a brother, like a sister, like God welcomes everyone. God welcomes everyone.

May Mary, the Mother of Mercy, help us to love the Church and to make her a welcoming home for everyone.

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Pope Francis  General Audience  12.04.23  

Evangelical zeal

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

After having seen, two weeks ago, St Paul's personal zeal for the Gospel, we can now reflect more deeply on the evangelical zeal as he himself speaks of it and describes it in some of his letters.

By virtue of his own experience, Paul is not unaware of the danger of a distorted zeal, oriented in the wrong direction. He himself had fallen into this danger before the providential fall on the road to Damascus. Sometimes we have to deal with a misdirected zeal, doggedly persistent in the observance of purely human and obsolete norms for the Christian community. “They make much of you,” writes the Apostle, “but for no good purpose” (Gal 4:17). We cannot ignore the solicitude with which some devote themselves to the wrong pursuits even within the Christian community itself; one can boast of a false evangelical zeal while actually pursuing vainglory or one’s own convictions or a little bit of love of self.

For this reason, we ask ourselves, what are the characteristics of true evangelical zeal according to Paul? The text we heard at the beginning seems useful for this, a list of “arms” that the Apostle indicates for the spiritual battle. Among these is readiness to spread the Gospel, translated by some as “zeal”.

Evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based, and heralds are somewhat like the feet of the body of Christ that is the Church. There is no proclamation without movement, without ‘going out’, without initiative. This mean there is no Christian if not on the move; no Christian if the Christian does not go out of themself in order to set out on the journey and bear the proclamation.  One does not proclaim the Gospel standing still, locked in an office, at one’s desk or at one’s computer, arguing like ‘keyboard warriors’ and replacing the creativity of proclamation with copy-and-paste ideas taken from here and there. The Gospel is proclaimed by moving, by walking, by going.

One who proclaims the Gospel cannot be fossilised in cages of plausibility or the idea that “it has always been done this way,” but is ready to follow a wisdom that is not of this world.

This is why, brothers and sisters, it is important to have this readiness for the newness of the Gospel, this attitude that involves momentum, taking the initiative, going first. It means not letting pass by the opportunities to promulgate the Gospel of peace, that peace that Christ knows how to give more and better than the world gives.

And for this reason I exhort you to be evangelizers who are moving, without fear, who go forward, in order to bring the beauty of Jesus, to bring the newness of Jesus who changes everything. “Yes, Father, He changes the calendar, because now we count the years beginning with Jesus…” But does He also change the heart? And are you disposed to let Jesus change your heart? Or are you a lukewarm Christian, who is not moving? Think about it: Are you an enthusiast of Jesus, are you going forward? Think about it a bit.

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Pope Francis  Regina Caeli    10.04.23

Easter Monday

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

Today the Gospel lets us relive the women’s encounter with the Risen Jesus on Easter morning. It thus reminds us that it was them, the women disciples, who were the first to see him and encounter him.

We might ask ourselves: why them? For a very simple reason: because they were the first to go to the tomb. Like all the disciples, they too were suffering because of the way the story of Jesus seemed to have ended; but, unlike the others, they do not stay at home paralyzed by sadness and fear: in the early morning, at sunrise, they go to honour the body of Jesus, bringing aromatic ointments. The tomb had been sealed and they wonder who could have removed that stone, so heavy (cf. Mk 16:1-3). But their wish to carry out this gesture of love prevails over all else. They are not discouraged, they overcome their fears and their anguish. This is the way to find the Risen One: to come out from our fears, to come out from our anguish.

Let us run through the scene described in the Gospel: the women arrive, they see the empty tomb and, “with fear and great joy”, they run, the text says, “to tell his disciples” (Mt 28:8). Now, just as they are going to give this news, Jesus comes towards them. Let us take good note of this: Jesus meets them while they are going to announce him. This is beautiful: Jesus meets them while they are going to announce him. When we proclaim the Lord, the Lord comes to us. At times we think that the way to be close to God is that of keeping him close to us; because then, if we reveal ourselves and start to talk about it, then judgements, criticisms come, perhaps we do not know how to respond to certain questions or provocations, and so it is better not to talk about it, and to close up: no Instead, the Lord comes while we proclaim him. You always find the Lord on the path of proclamation. Proclaim the Lord and you will encounter him. Seek the Lord and you will encounter him. Always on the path, this is what the women teach us: we encounter Jesus by witnessing him. We encounter Jesus by witnessing him.

Let us give an example. At times we will have received wonderful news, such as, for example, the birth of a child. So, one of the first things we do is to share this happy announcement with friends: “You know, I have had a baby… He is beautiful”. And, by telling it, we also repeat it to ourselves and somehow make it come alive again for us. If this happens for good news, every day or on some important days, it happens infinitely more for Jesus, who is not only good news, nor even the best news of life, no, but he is life itself, he is “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25). Every time we announce it, not by propaganda or proselytizing – that, no: proclaiming is one thing, propaganda and proselytism are another matter – every time we proclaim him, the Lord comes towards us. He comes with respect and love, as the most beautiful gift to share, Jesus dwells in us every time we proclaim him.

Let us think again of the women of the Gospel: there was the sealed stone and despite this, they go to the tomb; there was an entire city that had seen Jesus on the cross and nevertheless they go to the city to announce that he is alive. Dear brothers and sisters, when one encounters Jesus, no obstacle can prevent us from proclaiming him. If instead we keep his joy for ourselves, perhaps it is because we have not yet truly encountered him.

Brothers, sisters, before the women's experience we ask ourselves: tell me, when was the last time you bore witness to Jesus? When was the last time I bore witness to Jesus? Today, what shall I do so that the people I meet receive the joy of his proclamation? And again: can someone say: this person is serene, happy, good, because he has met Jesus? Can this be said of every one of us? Let us ask Our Lady to help us be joyful proclaimers of the Gospel.

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Pope Francis  Easter Message and Urbi et Orbi Blessing   09.04.23

Easter Sunday 

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen!

On this day we proclaim that he, the Lord of our life, is “the resurrection and the life” of the world (cf. Jn 11:25). Today is Easter, the Pasch, a word that means “passage”, for in Jesus the decisive passage of humanity has been made: the passage from death to life, from sin to grace, from fear to confidence, from desolation to communion in him. He is the Lord of time and history, I would like to say to everyone, with heartfelt joy, Happy Easter to all!

May this Easter be for each of you, dear brothers and sisters, and in particular for the sick and the poor, the elderly and those experiencing moments of trial and weariness, a passage from affliction to consolation. We are not alone: Jesus, the Living One, is with us, forever. Let the Church and the world rejoice, for today our hopes no longer come up against the wall of death, for the Lord has built us a bridge to life. Yes, brothers and sisters, at Easter the destiny of the world was changed, and on this day, which also coincides with the most probable date of Christ’s resurrection, we can rejoice to celebrate, by pure grace, the most important and beautiful day of history.

“Christ is risen; he is truly risen!” In this traditional proclamation of the Churches of the East: Christòs anesti! That word “truly” reminds us that our hope is not an illusion, but the truth! And that, in the wake of Easter, humanity’s journey, now marked by hope, advances all the more readily. The first witnesses of the resurrection show this by their example. The Gospels speak of the haste with which, on the morning of Easter, the women “ran to tell the disciples” (Mt 28:8). Mary Magdalene then “ran and went to Simon Peter” (Jn 20:2), while John and Peter himself then “ran together” (cf. v. 4) to the place where Jesus had been buried. Later, on the evening of Easter, after meeting the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, two disciples “set out without delay” (cf. Lk 24:33) and traveled several miles, uphill and in the dark, spurred on by the irrepressible joy of Easter that burned in their hearts (cf. v. 32). The same joy that led Peter, on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, after catching sight of the risen Jesus, to leave the boat with the others, to throw himself immediately into the water and to swim quickly towards him (cf. Jn 21:7). At Easter, then, the journey quickens and becomes a race, since humanity now sees the goal of its journey, sees the meaning of its destiny, Jesus Christ, and is called to make haste to meet him, who is the hope of the world.

May we too make haste to progress on a journey of reciprocal trust: trust among individuals, peoples and nations. May we allow ourselves to experience amazement at the joyful proclamation of Easter, at the light that illumines the darkness and the gloom in which, all too often, our world finds itself enveloped.

Let us make haste to surmount our conflicts and divisions, and to open our hearts to those in greatest need. Let us hasten to pursue paths of peace and fraternity. Let us rejoice at the concrete signs of hope that reach us from so many countries, beginning with those that offer assistance and welcome to all fleeing from war and poverty.

At the same time, along this journey we also encounter many stumbling stones, which make it more difficult and demanding to hasten towards the Risen Lord. To him, then, let us make our prayer: Lord, help us to run to meet you! Help us to open our hearts!

Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia. Comfort the wounded and all those who have lost loved ones because of the war, and grant that prisoners may return safe and sound to their families. Open the hearts of the entire international community to strive to end this war and all conflict and bloodshed in our world, beginning with Syria, which still awaits peace. Strengthen all those affected by the violent earthquake in Turkey and in Syria itself. Let us pray for all those who have lost family and friends, and for those left homeless. May they receive consolation from God and assistance from the family of nations.

On this day, Lord, we entrust to you the city of Jerusalem, the first witness of your resurrection. May there be a resumption of dialogue, in a climate of trust and reciprocal respect, between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may reign in the Holy City and in the entire region.

Lord, aid Lebanon, which still seeks stability and unity, so that divisions may be overcome and all citizens cooperate for the common good of the country.

Be mindful of the beloved people of Tunisia, and in particular the young and those suffering from social and economic hardship, so that they may not lose hope and may work together to build a future of peace and fraternity.

Turn your gaze to Haiti, which has long experienced a grave social, economic and humanitarian crisis, and support the efforts of political actors and the international community to seek a definitive solution to the many problems that afflict that sorely tried people.

Consolidate the processes of peace and reconciliation undertaken in Ethiopia and in South Sudan, and grant an end to violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sustain, Lord, the Christian communities that today celebrate Easter in particular circumstances, as in Nicaragua and Eritrea, and remember all who are prevented from freely and publicly professing their faith. Grant consolation to victims of international terrorism, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Help Myanmar to pursue paths of peace, and enlighten the hearts of leaders, so that the deeply afflicted Rohingya may encounter justice.

Comfort refugees, deportees, political prisoners and migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, as well as the victims of hunger, poverty and the dire effects of the drug trade, human trafficking and all other forms of slavery. Lord, inspire the leaders of nations to ensure that no man or woman may encounter discrimination and be violated in his or her dignity; that in full respect for human rights and democracy these social wounds may be healed; that the common good of the citizenry may be pursued always and solely; and that security and the conditions needed for dialogue and peaceful coexistence may be guaranteed.

Brothers, sisters, may we rediscover the enjoyment of the journey, quicken the heartbeat of hope and experience a foretaste of the beauty of heaven! Today, let us summon the energy to advance in goodness towards Goodness itself, which never disappoints. If, as one of the ancient Fathers once wrote, “the greatest sin is not to believe in the power of the resurrection” (SAINT ISAAC OF NINEVEH, Sermones Ascetici, I, 5), today let us believe and profess: “Christ is truly risen from the dead!” (Sequence). We believe in you, Lord Jesus. We believe that, with you, hope is reborn and the journey continues. May you, the Lord of life, encourage us on our journey and repeat to us, as you did to the disciples on the evening of Easter: “Peace be with you! Peace be with you! Peace be with you!” (Jn 19:21).


Pope Francis  Easter Vigil   08.04.23

Holy Saturday

The night is drawing to a close and the first light of dawn is appearing upon the horizon as the women set out toward Jesus’ tomb. They make their way forward, bewildered and dismayed, their hearts overwhelmed with grief at the death that took away their Beloved. Yet upon arriving and seeing the empty tomb, they turn around and retrace their steps. They leave the tomb behind and run to the disciples to proclaim a change of course: Jesus is risen and awaits them in Galilee. In their lives, those women experienced Easter as a Pasch, a passage. They pass from walking sorrowfully towards the tomb to running back with joy to the disciples to tell them not only that the Lord is risen, but also that they are to set out immediately to reach a destination, Galilee. There they will meet the Risen Lord. The rebirth of the disciples, the resurrection of their hearts, passes through Galilee. Let us enter into this journey of the disciples from the tomb to Galilee.

The Gospel tells us that the women went “to see the tomb” (Mt 28:1). They think that they will find Jesus in the place of death and that everything is over, forever. Sometimes we too may think that the joy of our encounter with Jesus is something belonging to the past, whereas the present consists mostly of sealed tombs: tombs of disappointment, bitterness and distrust, of the dismay of thinking that “nothing more can be done”, “things will never change”, “better to live for today”, since “there is no certainty about tomorrow”. If we are prey to sorrow, burdened by sadness, laid low by sin, embittered by failure or troubled by some problem, we also know the bitter taste of weariness and the absence of joy.

At times, we may simply feel weary about our daily routine, tired of taking risks in a cold, hard world where only the clever and the strong seem to get ahead. At other times, we may feel helpless and discouraged before the power of evil, the conflicts that tear relationships apart, the attitudes of calculation and indifference that seem to prevail in society, the cancer of corruption – there is a great deal of it, the spread of injustice, the icy winds of war. Then too, we may have come face to face with death, because it robbed us of the presence of our loved ones or because we brushed up against it in illness or a serious setback. Then it is easy to yield to disillusionment, once the wellspring of hope has dried up. In these or similar situations – each of us knows our own plights, our paths come to a halt before a row of tombs, and we stand there, filled with sorrow and regret, alone and powerless, repeating the question, “Why?” That chain of “why”…

The women at Easter, however, do not stand frozen before the tomb; rather, the Gospel tells us, “they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples” (v. 8). They bring the news that will change life and history forever: Christ is risen! (v. 6). At the same time, they remember to convey the Lord’s summons to the disciples to go to Galilee, for there they will see him (cf. v. 7). Let us ask ourselves today, brothers and sisters: what does it mean to go to Galilee? Two things: on the one hand, to leave the enclosure of the Upper Room and go to the land of the Gentiles (cf. Mt 4:15), to come forth from hiding and to open themselves up to mission, to leave fear behind and to set out for the future. On the other hand, and this is very beautiful, to return to the origins, for it was precisely in Galilee that everything began. There the Lord had met and first called the disciples. So, to go to Galilee means to return to the grace of the beginnings, to regain the memory that regenerates hope, the “memory of the future” bestowed on us by the Risen One.

This, then, is what the Pasch of the Lord accomplishes: it motivates us to move forward, to leave behind our sense of defeat, to roll away the stone of the tombs in which we often imprison our hope, and to look with confidence to the future, for Christ is risen and has changed the direction of history. Yet, to do this, the Pasch of the Lord takes us back to the grace of our own past; it brings us back to Galilee, where our love story with Jesus began, where the first call took place. In other words, it asks us to relive that moment, that situation, that experience in which we met the Lord, experienced his love and received a radiantly new way of seeing ourselves, the world around us and the mystery of life itself. Brothers and sisters, to rise again, to start anew, to take up the journey, we always need to return to Galilee, that is, to go back, not to an abstract or ideal Jesus, but to the living, concrete and palpable memory of our first encounter with him. Yes, to go forward we need to go back, to remember; to have hope, we need to revive our memory. This is what we are asked to do: to remember and go forward! If you recover that first love, the wonder and joy of your encounter with God, you will keep advancing. So remember, and keep moving forward.

Remember your own Galilee and walk towards it, for it is the “place” where you came to know Jesus personally, where he stopped being just another personage from a distant past, but a living person: not some distant God but the God who is at your side, who more than anyone else knows you and loves you. Brother, sister, remember Galilee, your Galilee, and your call. Remember the Word of God who at a precise moment spoke directly to you. Remember that powerful experience of the Spirit; that great joy of forgiveness experienced after that one confession; that intense and unforgettable moment of prayer; that light that was kindled within you and changed your life; that encounter, that pilgrimage... Each of us knows where our Galilee is located. Each of us knows the place of his or her interior resurrection, that beginning and foundation, the place where things changed. We cannot leave this in the past; the Risen Lord invites us to return there to celebrate Easter. Remember your Galilee. Remind yourself. Today, relive that memory. Return to that first encounter. Think back on what it was like, reconstruct the context, time and place. Remember the emotions and sensations; see the colours and savour the taste of it. For it is when you forgot that first love, when you failed to remember that first encounter, that the dust began to settle on your heart. That is when you experienced sorrow and, like the disciples, you saw the future as empty, like a tomb with a stone sealing off all hope. Yet today, brother, sister, the power of Easter summons you to roll away every stone of disappointment and mistrust. The Lord is an expert in rolling back the stones of sin and fear. He wants to illuminate your sacred memory, your most beautiful memory, and to make you relive that first encounter with him. Remember and keep moving forward. Return to him and rediscover the grace of God’s resurrection within you! Return to Galilee. Return to your Galilee.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us follow Jesus to Galilee, encounter him and worship him there, where he is waiting for each of us. Let us revive the beauty of that moment when we realized that he is alive and we made him the Lord of our lives. Let us return to Galilee, the Galilee of our first love. Let each of us return to his or her own Galilee, to the place where we first encountered him. Let us rise to new life!


Way of the Cross   07.04.23 

Good Friday 

Pope Francis  Celebration of the Passion of the Lord  07.04.23 

Good Friday 

Pope Francis  Mass of the Lord's Supper  06.04.23

Holy Thursday

What attracts our attention is how Jesus, just the day before is crucified, accomplishes this deed. Foot washing was customary at that time because the streets were dusty. People would come in from outside and, on entering a house, before dining, before gathering, they would wash their feet. But who would wash their feet? The slaves, the slaves – because this was work relegated to slaves.

Let us imagine how the disciples were astonished when they saw Jesus beginning to perform this task fit for slaves… He wanted to make them understand the message for the next day when he would die like a slave to pay the debt for all us. If we were to listen to these things from Jesus, life would be so beautiful because we would hurry to help each other out instead of getting the best of others, to take advantage of each other, the way con artists teach us. It is very beautiful to help each other, to give a hand – these are human universal gestures that are born from a noble heart. And with this celebration today, Jesus wants to teach us this: the nobility of the heart. Each one of us could say: “But if the Pope only knew the things I have inside….” But Jesus knows that, and he loves us just like we are! And he washes each of our feet. Jesus is never shocked at our weaknesses. He is never astonished, because he has already paid. He just wants to accompany us; he wants to take us by the hand so that life won’t be so harsh for us.

I will perform the same deed of the washing of the feet, which is not something folkloric, no. We can all think of it as a gesture that tells us how we should treat each other. In society, we see how many people take advantage of others; how many people are in a corner and can’t get out…. How many injustices, how many people are without jobs, how many people work and are paid half, how many people have no money to purchase medicine, how many families are destroyed, so many awful things….

And none of us can say, “Thanks to God I am not like, you know”. “If I am not like that it is because of the grace of God!” Each one of us can slip, every one of us. And this awareness, this certainty that each of us can slip, is what gives us the dignity – listen to the word – the “dignity” of being sinners. And Jesus wants us like this, and because of this he wanted to wash his disciples’ feet and say: “I came to save you, to serve you”.

Now, I will do the same thing as a memory of what Jesus taught us, to help each other and in this way, life is more beautiful and we can carry on like this. During the washing of the feet – I hope I succeed in doing it because I cannot walk that well – but during the washing of the feet, think about this: “Jesus has washed my feet. Jesus has saved me, and I have this difficulty now”. But it will pass, but the Lord is always next to you, he never abandons, never. Think about all this.

06.04.23 Ls

Pope Francis  Holy Chrism Mass  06.04.23

Holy Thursday

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Lk 4:18). Jesus began his preaching with this verse, which also begins today’s first reading (cf. Is 61:1). At the beginning, then, the Spirit of the Lord is present.

Dear brothers in the priesthood, today I would like to reflect with you on the Holy Spirit. For without the Spirit of the Lord, there can be no Christian life; without his anointing, there can be no holiness. He is at the centre and it is fitting that today, on the birthday of the priesthood, we acknowledge his presence at the origin of our own ministry, and the life and vitality of every priest. Holy Mother Church teaches us to profess that the Holy Spirit is the “giver of life”. Jesus told us: “it is the Spirit that gives life” ( Jn 6:63). His teaching was taken up by the apostle Paul, who wrote that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” ( 2 Cor 3:6) and who spoke of the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” ( Rom 8:2). Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would not be the living Bride of Christ, but, at most, a religious association – more or less good, not the Body of Christ, but a temple built by human hands. How then are we to build up the Church, if not beginning with the fact that we are “temples of the Holy Spirit” who “dwells in us” (cf. 1 Cor 6:19; 3:16)? We cannot lock the Spirit out of the house, or park him in some devotional zone, no, he has to be at the centre! Each day we need to say: “Come, for without your strength, we are lost”. 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Every one of us can say this, not out of presumption, but as a reality. For all Christians, and priests in particular, can apply to themselves the words that follow: “because the Lord has anointed me” (Is 61:1). Dear brothers, apart from any merit of our own, and by sheer grace, we have received an anointing that has made us fathers and shepherds among the holy People of God. Let us reflect, then, on this aspect of the Spirit: his anointing.

After his initial anointing, which took place in the womb of Mary, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the Jordan. Following that, as Saint Basil explains, “every act of Christ was performed with the co-presence of the Holy Spirit”.  In the power of that latter anointing, Jesus preached and worked signs; thanks to that anointing, “power came out from him and healed all” ( Lk 6:19). Jesus and the Spirit always work together, like two hands of the Father – as Irenaeus said – that reach out to embrace us and raise us up. By those hands, our own hands were sealed, anointed by the Spirit of Christ. Yes, brothers, the Lord has not only chosen us and called us to go to that place or another: he has poured out upon us the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who descended upon the apostles. Brothers, we are “the anointed”.

Let us now turn our attention to them, to the apostles. Jesus chose them and at his call, they left their boats, their nets and their homes and so on… The anointing of the Word changed their lives. With great enthusiasm, they followed the Master and began to preach, convinced that they would go on to accomplish even greater things. Then came the Passover. Everything seemed to come to a halt: they even denied and abandoned their Master. We should not be afraid. We are courageous when reading about our life and our failures, even denying and abandoning the Master, as Peter did. They came to grips with their own failure; they realized that they had not understood him. The words uttered by Peter in the courtyard of the high priest following the Last Supper – “I do not know this man” (Mk 14:71) – were not only an impulsive attempt at self-defense, but an admission of spiritual ignorance. He and the others perhaps expected a life of triumph behind the Messiah who drew crowds and worked wonders, but they failed to understand the scandal of the cross, which caused their certainties to collapse. Jesus knew that, on their own, they would not have succeeded, and so he promised to send them the Paraclete. It was precisely that “second anointing”, at Pentecost, that changed the disciples and led them to shepherd no longer themselves but the Lord’s flock. Here is the conflict to resolve: Am I a pastor of the Lord’s flock or of myself? The Spirit is there to show us the way. It was that anointing with fire that extinguished a “piety” focused on themselves and their own abilities. After receiving the Spirit, Peter’s fear and wavering dissipated; James and John, with a burning desire to give their lives, no longer sought places of honour (cf. Mk 10:35-45) which is careerism, brothers; the others who had huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, went forth into the world as apostles. The Spirit changes our heart and points it in a different direction.

Dear brothers, something similar happens in our own priestly and apostolic lives. We too experienced an initial anointing, which began with a loving call that captivated our hearts and set us out on the journey; the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon our genuine enthusiasm and consecrated us.  Later, in God’s good time, each of us experienced a Passover, representing the moment of truth. A time of crisis which took various forms. Sooner or later, we all experience disappointment, frustration and our own weakness; our ideals seem to recede in the face of reality, a certain force of habit takes over, and difficulties that once seemed unimaginable appear to challenge our fidelity.  For the anointed, this stage – this temptation, this trail which we have experienced, we are experiencing or will experience – is a watershed. We can emerge from it badly, drifting towards mediocrity and settling for a dreary routine, in which three dangerous temptations can arise. The temptation of compromise, where we are content just to do what has to be done; the temptation of surrogates, where to find satisfaction we look not to our anointing, but elsewhere; and the temptation of discouragement – which is very common – where dissatisfaction leads to inertia. This is the great danger: while outward appearances remain intact –“I am a priest, I am priest” – we close in upon ourselves and are content just to get by. The fragrance of our anointing no longer wafts through our lives; our hearts no longer expand but shrivel, disillusioned and disenchanted. This is the problem, you know? When the priesthood slowly degenerates into clericalism and the priest forgets that he is a pastor of the people and becomes instead a cleric of the state.

Yet this crisis also has the potential to be a turning point in our priesthood, the “decisive stage of the spiritual life, in which the ultimate choice has to be made between Jesus and the world, between heroic charity and mediocrity, between the cross and comfort, between holiness and dutiful fidelity to our religious obligations”. At the end of this celebration, they will give you a gift, a classic, a book that talks about this problem: “The second calling”. It is a classic by Father Voillaume who touches on this problem. Read it. All of us need to reflect on this moment in our priesthood. It is that grace-filled moment when, like the disciples at Easter, we are called to be “sufficiently humble to admit that we have been won over by the suffering and crucified Christ, and to set out on a new journey, that of the Spirit, of faith and of a love that is strong, yet without illusions”.  It is the kairos that enables us to realize that “it is not enough to abandon boat and nets in order to follow Jesus for certain time; it also demands going to Calvary, learning its lesson and receiving its fruit, and persevering with the help of the Holy Spirit to the end of a life meant to conclude in the perfection of divine charity”.  With the help of the Holy Spirit: for us as for the apostles, it is the time of a “second anointing”, the time of our second calling, to which we have to listen; the second anointing in which the Spirit is poured out no longer on the enthusiasm of our hopes and dreams, but on the freedom of our concrete situation. An anointing that penetrates to the depths of our reality, where the Spirit anoints our weaknesses, our weariness, our inner poverty. An anointing that brings a new fragrance: that of the Spirit, not of ourselves. At this very moment, inwardly, I am thinking of some of you who are in crisis – let’s say – who are disoriented and do not know how find their way, how to get back on the road of this second anointing of the Spirit. To these brothers – of whom I am thinking – I simply say: courage, the Lord is greater than your weaknesses, your sins. Trust the Lord and let yourself be called a second time, this time with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A double life will not help you; not a chance, throw everything out the window. Look ahead, let yourself be caressed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

This happens when we take the mature step of admitting the reality of our own weakness. That is what “the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13) tells us to do; he prompts us to look deep within and to ask: Does my fulfilment depend on my abilities, my position, the compliments I receive, my promotions, the respect of my superiors or coworkers, the comforts with which I surround myself? Or on the anointing that spreads its fragrance everywhere in my life? Dear brothers, priestly maturity comes from the Holy Spirit and is achieved when he becomes the protagonist in our lives. Once that happens, everything turns around, even disappointments and bitter experiences – and also sins – since we are no longer trying to find happiness by adjusting details, but by giving ourselves completely to the Lord who anointed us and who wants that anointing to penetrate to the depths of our being. Brothers, let us rediscover that the spiritual life becomes liberating and joyful, once we are no longer concerned to save appearances and make quick fixes, but leave the initiative to the Spirit and, in openness to his plans, show our willingness to serve wherever and however we are asked. Our priesthood does not grow by quick fixes but by an overflow of grace!

If we allow the Spirit of Truth to act within us, we will preserve his anointing, because the various untruths – the hypocrisy of clericalism – with which we are tempted to live will come to light immediately. And the Spirit who “cleanses what is unclean”, will tirelessly suggest to us “not to defile our anointing”, even in the least. We think of that phrase of the Preacher, who says that “dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment” (10:1). It is true, every form of duplicity – especially clerical duplicity – that insinuates itself is dangerous: it must not be tolerated, but brought into the light of the Spirit. For “the heart is devious above all else; it is perverse, and who can heal it?” ( Jer 17:9). The Holy Spirit, he alone, heals our infidelities (cf. Hos 14:4). For us, this an unavoidable struggle: it is indispensable, as Saint Gregory the Great wrote, that “those who proclaim the word of God, must first be concerned with their own way of life; then, based on his own life, he can learn what to say and how to say it… Let no one presume to say more than what first he heard within”. The Spirit is that interior teacher to whom we must listen, recognizing that he desires to anoint every part of us. Brothers, let us preserve our anointing, invoking the Spirit not as an occasional act of piety, but as the breath of each day. Come, come, and preserve our anointing. Consecrated by him, I am called to immerse myself in him, to make his life penetrate my darkness – and we all have this darkness – so that I can rediscover the truth of who and what I am.  Let us allow ourselves to be impelled by him to combat the untruths that struggle within us. And let us allow ourselves to be reborn from him through adoration, for when we adore the Lord, he pours forth into our hearts his Spirit.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me”, so the prophecy continues, to bring good news, liberty, healing and grace (cf. Is 61:1-2; Lk 4:18-19): in a word, to bring harmony wherever it is lacking. As Saint Basil said: “the Spirit is harmony”, he is the one that brings harmony. After speaking to you about anointing, I would like to say something to you about the harmony that is its consequence. Because the Holy Spirit is harmony. Above all in heaven: Saint Basil notes that “all supercelestial and unspeakable harmony in the service of God and in the mutual symphony of the supercosmic powers, would be impossible to preserve, if not for the authority of the Spirit”.  As well as on earth: in the Church, the Spirit is that “divine and musical harmony” that binds everything together. Let us think of a Presbyterate without harmony, without the Spirit: it would not work. He awakens the diversity of charisms and brings them into unity; he creates concord based not on uniformity, but on the creativity of charity. In this way, he creates harmony from multiplicity. In this way, he creates harmony in the Presbyterate. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, itself a gift of the Spirit, a theologian published a study in which he spoke of the Spirit not as individual, but as plural. He suggested thinking of the Spirit as a divine person who is not only singular but “plural”, as the “We of God”, the “We” of the Father and of the Son, since he is their bond. The Holy Spirit is in himself concord, communion and harmony. I remember when I read this theological treatise – it was when I was studying theology – I was scandalized: it seemed like heresy, because in our training we did not quite understand who the Holy Spirit was.

To create harmony is what the Spirit desires, above all through those upon whom he has poured out his anointing. Brothers, building harmony among ourselves is not simply a good way of improving the functioning of ecclesial structures, it is not the minuet dance, or a matter of strategy or politeness: it is an intrinsic demand of the life of the Spirit. We sin against the Spirit who is communion whenever we become, even unintentionally, instruments of division. For example, I would mention again the topic of gossip. When we become instruments of division we sin against the Spirit. And whenever we play the game of the enemy, who never comes out into the open, who loves gossip and insinuation, foments parties and cliques, fuels nostalgia for times past, distrust, pessimism and fear. Let us take care, please, not to defile the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the robe of Holy Mother Church with disunity, polarization or lack of charity and communion. Let us remember that the Spirit, as “the We of God”, prefers the “shape” of community: willingness with regard to one’s own needs, obedience with regard to one’s own tastes, humility with regard to one’s own claims.

Harmony is not one virtue among others; it is something more. As Saint Gregory the Great writes: “the worth of the virtue of concord is shown by the fact that without it, the other virtues have no value whatsoever”.  Let us help one another, brothers, to preserve harmony – this is the task – starting not from others but each of us from himself. Let us ask ourselves: In my words, in my comments, in what I say and write, is there the seal of the Spirit or that of the world? Do I think about the kindness of the priest – but more often than not, we priests, we are rude – let us think about the kindness of the priest: if people see, in us too, people who are dissatisfied and discontented bachelors, who criticize and point fingers, where else will they find harmony? How many people fail to approach us, or keep at a distance, because in the Church they feel unwelcomed and unloved, regarded with suspicion and judged? In God’s name, let us be welcoming and forgiving, always! And let us remember that being irritable and full of complaints does not produce good fruits, but spoils our preaching, since it is a counter-witness to God, who is communion in harmony. Above all, it displeases greatly the Holy Spirit, whom the apostle Paul urges us not to grieve (cf. Eph 4:30).

Dear brothers, I leave you with these thoughts that come from my heart, and I conclude with two simple and important words: Thank you. Thank you for your witness and for your service. Thank you for the hidden good you do, and for the forgiveness and consolation that you bestow in God’s name. Always forgive, please, do not withhold forgiveness. Thank you for your ministry, which is often carried out with great effort, with little recognition and is not always understood. Brothers, may the Spirit of God, who does not disappoint those who trust in him, fill you with peace and bring to conclusion the good work he began in you, so that you may be prophetic witnesses of his anointing and apostles of harmony.

06.04.23 cm e

Pope Francis  General Audience  05.04.23  

Where is your hope?

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

This past Sunday, the Liturgy had us listen to the Passion of the Lord. It ended with these words: “They sealed the stone” (cf. Mt 27:66). Everything seemed over. For the disciples, that boulder signified the final end of their hope. The Teacher was crucified, killed in the cruelest and most humiliating manner, hung upon the infamous gallows outside the city – a public failure, the worst possible ending, it was the worst at that time. Now for us today, there is nothing entirely strange regarding the discouragement that oppressed the disciples. Gloomy thoughts and feelings of frustration accumulate in us as well. Why is there so much indifference toward God? This is interesting: Why is there so much evil in the world? Well, look, there is evil in the world! Why do inequalities continue to increase and why is that long-awaited peace not arriving? Why are we so attached to war, to treating each other badly? In each person’s heart, how many expectations have faded; how many delusions there are! And again, there is that feeling that times gone by were better and that in the world, perhaps even in the Church, things are not going the way they once did…. In short, even today, hope sometimes seems to be sealed behind the stone of mistrust. And I invite each one of you to think: Where is your hope? Is your hope alive, or have you sealed it up there, or have you put it there in a drawer, like a memory? Does your hope push you to walk or is it a romantic memory, as if it is something that doesn’t exist. Where is your hope today?

One image remained fixed in the minds of the disciples: the cross. That is where everything ended.That is where the end of everything was centred. But in a little while, they would discover a new beginning right there, in the cross. Dear brothers and sisters, this is how God’s hope germinates. It is born and reborn in the black holes of our disappointed expectations – and hope, true hope,instead, never disappoints. Let us think precisely about the cross: out of the most terrible instrument of torture, God wrought the greatest sign of his love. Having become the tree of life, that wood of death reminds us that God’s beginnings often begin with our ends. Thus, he loves to work wonders. So today, let us look at the tree of the cross so that hope might germinate in us – that everyday virtue, that silent, humble virtue, but also that virtue that keeps us on our feet, that helps us move forward. It is not possible to live without hope. Let us think: Where is my hope? Today, let us look at the tree of the cross so that hope might germinate in us…that we might be healed of our sadness. And how many sad people there are. When I used to be able to go out onto the streets, I cannot do it now because they do not allow me, but when I could go out onto the streets in another diocese, I used to like watching people’s faces. How many sad faces! Sad people, people talking to themselves, people walking alone with their cell phones, but without peace, without hope. And where is your hope today? It takes a bit of hope, right? to be healed from the sadness that makes us ill – there is so much sadness – to be healed from the bitterness with which we pollute the Church and world. Brothers and sisters, let us look there, at the crucifix. And what do we see? We see Jesus naked, Jesus stripped, Jesus wounded, Jesus tormented. Is it the end of everything? That’s where our hope is.

In these two aspects, let us then grasp how hope, which seems to have died, is reborn. Firstly, let us see Jesus stripped of his clothing. In fact, “And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots” (v. 35). God is stripped – He who has everything allowed Himself to be stripped of everything. But that humiliation is the path of our redemption. This is how God overcomes our appearances. Indeed, we find it difficult to bare ourselves, to be truthful. We always try to cover the truth because we do not like it. We clothe ourselves with outward appearances that we look for and take good care of, masks to disguise ourselves and to appear better than we are. This is a bit like the “make-up” attitude: interior make-up, to seem better than others…. We think it is important to show off, to appear like this so others will speak well of us. And we adorn ourselves with appearances, we adorn ourselves with appearances, with unnecessary things. But we do not find peace this way. Then the make-up goes away and you look at yourself in the mirror with the ugly, but true, face you have – the one that God loves – not the one with make-up on. And stripped of everything, Jesus reminds us that hope is reborn by being truthful about ourselves – to tell ourselves the truth – by letting go of duplicity, by freeing ourselves from peacefully co-existing with our falsity. Sometimes, we are so used to telling ourselves lies that we live with the lies as if they are truth, and we end up being poisoned by our own falsity. This is what is needed: to return to the heart, to the essentials, to a simple life, stripped of so many useless things that are surrogates of hope. Today, when everything is complex and we risk losing a sense of meaning, we need simplicity, we need to rediscover the value of sobriety, the value of renunciation, to clean up what is polluting our hearts and makes them sad. Each one of us can think of something useless that we can free ourselves from to find ourselves again. Think about how many things are useless. Here, fifteen days ago at Santa Marta, where I live – it is a hotel for a lot of people – the idea circulated that for this Holy Week it would be good to look in our closets and get rid of things, to give away the things we have that we don’t use. You cannot imagine the number of things! It’s good to get rid of useless things. And this went to the poor, to the people in need. We too, how many useless things we have inside our hearts – and outside as well. Look at your closets: look at them. This is useful, this is useless…and do some cleaning there. Look at the closet of your soul – you laugh, right? It’s true, it’s true. Look at the closet of your soul – how many useless things you have, how many stupid illusions. Let us return to simplicity, to things that are true, that don’t need to be made-up. What a good exercise!

Let us direct our second glance to the Crucifix and we see Jesus who is wounded. The cross displays the nails that pierce his hands and feet, his open side. But to the wounds in his body are added those of his soul. How much anguish, Jesus is alone, betrayed, handed over and denied by his own – by his friends and even his disciples – condemned by the religious and civil powers, excommunicated, Jesus even feels abandoned by God (cf. v. 46). In addition, the reason for his condemnation appears on the cross: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (v. 37). This is a mockery: He, who had fled when they wanted to make him king (cf. Jn 6:15), is now condemned for having made himself king. Even though he had committed no crime, he was placed in the middle of two criminals, and they prefer the violent Barabbas over him (cf. Mt 27:15-21). In the end, Jesus is wounded in body and in soul. I ask myself: In what way does this help our hope? In this way, what does Jesus, naked, stripped of everything, of everything, say to my hope, how can this help me?

We too are wounded – who isn’t in life? And they are often hidden wounds we hide out of embarrassment. Who does not bear the scars of past choices, of misunderstandings, of sorrows that remain inside and are difficult to overcome? But also of wrongs suffered, sharp words, unmerciful judgements? God does not hide the wounds that pierced his body and soul, from our eyes. He shows them so we can see that a new passage can be opened with Easter: to make holes of lights out of our own wounds. “But, Your Holiness, you are exaggerating”, someone might say to me. No, it’s true. Try it, try it. Try doing it. Think about your wounds, the ones you alone know about, that everyone has hidden in their heart. And look at the Lord and you will see, you will see how holes of light come out of those wounds. Jesus does not incriminate on the cross, but loves. He loves and forgives those who hurt him (cf. Lk 23:34). Thus, he converts evil into good; thus, he converts and transforms sorrow into love.

Brothers and sisters, the point is not whether we are wounded a little or a lot in life, the point is what to do with my wounds –the little ones, the big ones, the ones that leave their mark forever on my body, on my soul. What can I do with my wounds? What can you, you, you, do with your wounds? “No, Father, I don’t have any wounds” – “Be careful, think twice before saying this”. And I ask you: what do you do with your wounds, with the ones only you know about? You can allow them to infect you with resentment and sadness, or I can instead unite them to those of Jesus, so that my wounds too might become luminous.Think of how many young people, how many young people, do not tolerate their own wounds and look for a way of salvation in suicide. Today, in our cities, so many young people see no other way out, they have no hope, and prefer to get high using drugs, to forget…poor people. Think about this. And you, what is the drug you use to hide your wounds? Our wounds can become springs of hope when, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or hiding them, we dry the tears shed by others; when, instead of nourishing resentment for what was robbed of us, we take care of what others are lacking; when, instead of dwelling on ourselves, we bend over those who suffer; when, instead of being thirsty for love, we quench the thirst of those in need of us. For it is only if we stop thinking of ourselves, that we will find ourselves again. But if we continue to think of ourselves, we will not find ourselves anymore. And it is by doing this, the Scriptures say, that our wound is healed quickly (cf. Is 58:8), and hope flourishes anew. Think about this: What can I do for others? I am wounded. I am wounded by sin, I am wounded by my past, everyone has their own wound. What can I do? Lick my wounds for the rest of my life? Or can I look at the wounds others have and go with the wounded experience of my life to heal, to help others? This is today’s challenge for all of you, for each of you, for each one of us. May the Lord help us move forward.

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Pope Francis  Angelus 02.04.23

Palm Sunday: Passion of the Lord

Dear brothers and sisters!

I greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims, especially those who have come from far away. I thank you for your participation and also for your prayers, which intensified during these past days. Thank you indeed!

I extend a special blessing to the Caravan of Peace that, during these days, departed from Italy bound for Ukraine, promoted by a variety of associations: Pope John XXIII, FOCSIV, Pro Civitate Christiana, Pax Christi and others. Along with basic necessities, they are bringing the closeness of the people of Italy to the battered people of Ukraine, and today, they are offering olive branches, symbols of the peace of Christ. Let us unite ourselves to this gesture with our prayer, which will be more intense during the days of Holy Week.

Brothers and sisters, we have begun Holy Week with this celebration. I invite all of you to live it as the tradition of the holy, faithful people of God teaches us, that is, accompanying the Lord Jesus with faith and love. Let us learn from our Mother, the Virgin Mary. She followed her Son with the closeness of her heart. She was of one soul with Him. And, together with him, even though not understanding everything, she abandoned herself completely to the will of God the Father. May Our Lady help us stay close to Jesus, present in the people who suffer, are cast out, abandoned. May Our Lady lead us by the hand to Jesus present in these people.

I wish everyone a good journey toward Easter!

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Pope Francis  Holy Mass 02.04.23

Palm Sunday: Passion of the Lord 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).  This is the cry that today’s liturgy has us repeat in the responsorial psalm (cf. Ps 22:2), the only cry that Jesus makes from the cross in the Gospel we have heard.  Those words bring us to the very heart of Christ’s passion, the culmination of the sufferings he endured for our salvation.  “Why have you forsaken me?”.

The sufferings of Jesus were many, and whenever we listen to the account of the Passion, they pierce our hearts.  There were sufferings of the body: let us think of the slaps and beatings, the flogging and the crowning with thorns, and in the end, the cruelty of the crucifixion.  There were also sufferings of the soul: the betrayal of Judas, the denials of Peter, the condemnation of the religious and civil authorities, the mockery of the guards, the jeering at the foot of the cross, the rejection of the crowd, utter failure and the flight of the disciples.  Yet, amid all these sorrows, Jesus remained certain of one thing: the closeness of the Father.  Now, however, the unthinkable has taken place.  Before dying, he cries out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  The forsakenness of Jesus.

This is the most searing of all sufferings, the suffering of the spirit.  At his most tragic hour, Jesus experiences abandonment by God. Prior to that moment, he had never called the Father by his generic name, “God”.  To convey the impact of this, the Gospel also reports his words in Aramaic.  These are the only words of Jesus from the cross that have come down to us in the original language.  The real event is the extreme abasement, being forsaken by the Father, forsaken by God.  We find it hard even to grasp what great suffering he embraced out of love for us.  He sees the gates of heaven close, he finds himself at the bitter edge, the shipwreck of life, the collapse of certainty.  And he cries out: “Why?”  A “why” that embraces every other “why” ever spoken.  “Why, God?”.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  In the Bible, the word “forsake” is powerful.  We hear it at moments of extreme pain: love that fails, or is rejected or betrayed; children who are rejected and aborted; situations of repudiation, the lot of widows and orphans; broken marriages, forms of social exclusion, injustice and oppression; the solitude of sickness.  In a word, in the drastic severing of the bonds that unite us to others.  There, this word is spoken: “abandonment”.  Christ brought all of this to the cross; upon his shoulders, he bore the sins of the world.  And at the supreme moment, Jesus, the only-begotten, beloved Son of the Father, experienced a situation utterly alien to his very being: abandonment, the distance of God.

Why did it have to come to this?  He did it for us.  There is no other answer.  For us.  Brothers and sisters, today this is not merely a show.  Every one of us, hearing of Jesus’ abandonment, can say: for me.  This abandonment is the price he paid for me.  He became one with each of us in order to be completely and definitively one with us to the very end.  He experienced abandonment in order not to leave us prey to despair, in order to stay at our side forever.  He did this for me, for you, because whenever you or I or anyone else seems pinned to the wall, lost in a blind alley, plunged into the abyss of abandonment, sucked into a whirlwind of so many “whys” without an answer, there can still be a hope: Jesus himself, for you, for me.  It is not the end, because Jesus was there and even now, he is at your side.  He endured the distance of abandonment in order to take up into his love every possible distance that we can feel.  So that each of us might say: in my failings, and each of us has failed many times, in my desolation, whenever I feel betrayed or betrayed others, whenever I feel cast aside or have cast aside others, whenever I feel forsaken or have abandoned others, let us think of Jesus, who was abandoned, betrayed and cast aside.  There, we find him.  When I feel lost and confused, when I feel that I can’t go on, he is beside me.  Amid all my unanswered questions “why...?”, he is there.

That is how the Lord saves us, from within our questioning “why?”  From within that questioning, he opens the horizon of hope that does not disappoint.  On the cross, even as he felt utter abandonment – this is the ultimate end – Jesus refused to yield to despair; instead, he prayed and trusted.  He cried out his “why?” in the words of the Psalm (22:2), and commended himself into the hands of the Father, despite how distant he felt him to be (cf. Lk 23:46) or rather, whom he did not feel, for instead he felt himself abandoned.  In the hour of his abandonment, Jesus continued to trust.  At the hour of abandonment, he continued to love his disciples who had fled, leaving him alone.  In his abandonment he forgave those who crucified him (v. 34).  Here we see the abyss of our many evils immersed in a greater love, with the result that our isolation becomes fellowship.  

Brothers and sisters, a love like this, embracing us totally and to the very end, the love of Jesus, can turn our stony hearts into hearts of flesh.  His is a love of mercy, tenderness and compassion.  This is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness.  God is like this.  Christ, in his abandonment, stirs us to seek him and to love him and those who are themselves abandoned.  For in them we see not only people in need, but Jesus himself, abandoned: Jesus, who saved us by descending to the depths of our human condition.  He is with each of them, abandoned even to death… I think of the German so-called “street person”, who died under the colonnade, alone and abandoned.  He is Jesus for each of us.  So many need our closeness, so many are abandoned.  I too need Jesus to caress me and draw close to me, and for this reason I go to find him in the abandoned, in the lonely.  He wants us to care for our brothers and sisters who resemble him most, those experiencing extreme suffering and solitude.  Today, dear brothers and sisters, their numbers are legion.  Entire peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; there are migrants who are no longer faces but numbers; there are prisoners who are disowned; people written off as problems.  Countless other abandoned persons are in our midst, invisible, hidden, discarded with white gloves: unborn children, the elderly who live alone: they could perhaps be your father or mother, your grandfather or grandmother, left alone in retirement homes, the sick whom no one visits, the disabled who are ignored, and the young burdened by great interior emptiness, with no one prepared to listen to their cry of pain.  And they find no path other than suicide.  The abandoned of our day.  The “Christs” of our day.

Jesus, in his abandonment, asks us to open our eyes and hearts to all who find themselves abandoned.  For us, as disciples of the “forsaken” Lord, no man, woman or child can be regarded as an outcast, no one left to himself or herself.  Let us remember that the rejected and the excluded are living icons of Christ: they remind us of his reckless love, his forsakenness that delivers us from every form of loneliness and isolation.  Brothers and sisters, today let us implore this grace: to love Jesus in his abandonment and to love Jesus in the abandoned all around us.  Let us ask for the grace to see and acknowledge the Lord who continues to cry out in them.  May we not allow his voice to go unheard amid the deafening silence of indifference.  God has not left us alone; let us care, then, for those who feel alone and abandoned.  Then, and only then, will we be of one mind and heart with the one who, for our sake, “emptied himself” (Phil 2:7).  He emptied himself completely for us.

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