Latest from Pope Francis – Feb 2017

Pope: ‘In Our Littleness, God Makes the Impossible, Possible’

Posted by Deborah Castellano Lubov on 20 February, 2017

In your littleness, be courageous. God will make the impossible, possible.

Pope Francis suggested this to participants in the General Chapter of the Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday in the Vatican. The General Chapter is underway in Rome from February 5-25, 2017.

Praying that the example of their founder, Saint Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, canonized last year, be the light and guide of your path, Francis recalled that he fully understood the meaning of being a disciple of Christ.

We Cannot Be Torn From Lord’s Love

Recalling the canonized saint’s wisdom when praying, “Lord Jesus, if out of love I bind myself to You, who will tear me away from You? If I am united to You in mercy, who will separate me from You?,” Francis reminded them to embrace his way of thinking.

Moreover, the Jesuit Pontiff encouraged them to continue serving the poor and humble people, through the proclamation of the Gospel, and with works of mercy and prayer.

“We are not Princes, sons of Princes, of Counts or Barons; we are simple people of the people.  Therefore,” Francis added, “we come close, with simplicity, to those who suffer most: the sick, the children, the abandoned elderly, the poor … all. And this poverty is at the center of the Gospel: it is the poverty of Jesus, which is not sociological poverty.”

The great challenge of inculturation, the Pope underscored, asks them today to proclaim the Good News, especially amidst “rapid social and cultural transformation.”

“You are called to walk in this line today with renewed zeal to push you, with prophetic freedom and wise discernment,” he highlighted, noting, “The horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to witness the evangelical message to all, without distinctions, constitute the vast field of your apostolate.”

Urgent Mission

“So many are still waiting to know Jesus, Francis underscored, saying, “and not a few situations of injustice and moral and material hardship question believers.”

Such an urgent mission, he continued, requires personal and communal conversion.

“Only hearts fully open to the action of Grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to receive the appeals for hope and peace of needy humanity.”

Following the example of your founder, Francis encouraged them to be courageous in the service of Christ and of the Church, responding to the new challenges and to the new mission, even if humanly they can seem risky.

“In fact, in the “genetic code” of your community, is found what Saint Stanislaw himself affirmed from his experience: ‘Despite the innumerable difficulties, divine goodness and wisdom initiate and fulfill what we want, even when, according to human judgment, the means are inadequate. Nothing, in fact, is impossible for the Almighty. This was shown to me in a most clear way” (Fundatio Domus Recollectionis, 1).

Embracing Our Littleness as Act of Faith

This attitude of embracing our littleness and unworthiness, Francis underscored, is powerful, because it allows us to show our faith in the power of the Lord.

“The Lord can … the Lord is capable.”

“Our littleness,” he said, “is in fact the seed, the small seed, which then germinates, grows, the Lord waters, and thus goes forward. But the sense of littleness is in fact the first leap towards trust in God’s power; go forward on this path.”

Pope Francis concluded, entrusting those present to Mary Immaculate, and offering them his Apostolic Blessing.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-congregation-of-marian-clerics-of-immaculate-conception-of-blessed-virgin-mary/

 

 

Pope at Roman Parish: ‘Desire for Revenge Is Not Christian’

Posted by Deborah Castellano Lubov on 20 February, 2017

“The desire for revenge, the ‘you’ll pay for this,’ is not Christian.”

Pope Francis made this strong statement during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second visit of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature.

The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome.

Path to Sanctity

The Pope presided over Mass in the church and improvised his homily, recalling that, as opposed to the law of retaliation, the Gospel invites faithful to turn the other cheek.

“Be holy as God is holy, perfect as your Father is perfect, who makes the sun shine over the good and the bad, and the rain fall over the just and the unjust,” he said, reminding those present that seeking revenge is not Christian.

“That ‘he did it to me’ … must be forgiven in the heart; this is the path to sanctity and this does away with wars. If all men and women of the world learned this, there wouldn’t be wars,” he continued.

“War begins here (he pointed to the heart), the desire for vengeance destroys families, neighborhoods, so much, so much …”

“Someone might ask: What should be done? Jesus’ says it, I don’t say it … love your enemies.

“Do I have to love this person?

“Yes.”

After giving this advice, Francis reminded those present to “pray for the one who persecutes you and does you harm, for him to change his life, so that the Lord will forgive him.”

The ‘Medicine’ to Cure Hatred, Vengeance

“This is the magnanimity of God, who forgives everything,” the Pope stressed.

Pope Francis concluded, asking: “Are you merciful with people that have harmed you or don’t like you?” and stressing that prayer is the antidote, “the only way out and the medicine to cure hatred and vengeance.”

The Pontiff, who had arrived at the parish shortly before 3:30 p.m., was received at the entrance of the church by Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, and by parish priest, Father Francesco Rondinelli.

As usual, the Holy Father greeted the people who were behind the barriers and shook many hands, blessing the children and the elderly and even allowing some individuals to have a “selfie” taken with him.

After meeting with children and young people, including their youth group, Francis also greeted the sick and the elderly, parents who baptized their children in the last few months, and with families helped by the parish Caritas, including workers and volunteers. The Jesuit Pontiff also heard some parishioners’ confessions.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Pope’s Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-st-mary-josephine-of-heart-of-jesus-parish-on-outskirts-of-rome/

Pope’s Words to Various Groups at Parish: to be made available shortly

 

 

Decrying Pakistan, Iraq Attacks, Pope Appeals: ‘May Hearts Hardened by Hatred Be Converted to Peace’

Posted by Deborah Castellano Lubov on 20 February, 2017

“May every heart hardened by hatred be converted to peace …”

Pope Francis urged faithful to pray for this after reciting the midday Angelus prayer with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Holy Father’s remarks came as he lamented: “I am thinking, in particular, of the beloved populations of Pakistan and of Iraq, scourged by cruel terrorist acts in past days.”

In Pakistan’s Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in the southern city of Sehwan in Sindh province, a suicide attack Thursday, Feb. 16, claimed at least 75 lives and injured at least another 200 people, during the Sufi ritual of Dhamal, reported CNN.

Also last Thursday, in the south of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, a car packed with explosives was blown up, claiming at least 55 lives and wounding dozens more, reported Aljazeera. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

“Let us pray for the victims, for the wounded and for their relatives.” the Pope prayed remembering the countries’ recent tragedies.

“Let us pray ardently that every heart hardened by hatred is converted to peace, in keeping with God’s will.”

The Holy Father then asked all gathered to join in him in a moment of silence and in praying a Hail Mary.

Pope Francis concluded wishing all those present in St. Peter’s Square a good Sunday, pointing out the lovely weather, a good lunch, and reminding them to pray for him.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-loving-our-enemies/

 

 

Recalling Congo, Pope Decries Tragedy of Child Soldiers

Posted by Deborah Castellano Lubov on 20 February, 2017

“Unfortunately, news continues to reach us of violent and brutal clashes in the region of Central Kasai of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Pope Francis said this after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, stressing he “intensely” feels the grief of the victims, especially for so many children torn from their families and from school to be used as soldiers.

“Child soldiers are a tragedy,” Francis said, stressing: “I renew my heartfelt appeal to the conscience and the responsibility of the National Authorities and of the International Community, so that appropriate and timely decisions are taken to help these brothers and sisters of ours.”

“Let us pray for them and for all people suffering in other parts of the African continent and of the world due to violence and war,” the Pope urged, before lamenting recent tragedies that have afflicted Pakistan and Iraq.

Pope Francis concluded, wishing all those present in St. Peter’s Square a good Sunday, pointing out the lovely weather, a good lunch, and reminding them to pray for him.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-loving-our-enemies/

 

 

Pope’s Address to Congregation of Marian Clerics of Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted by ZENIT Staff on 20 February, 2017

Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to participants in the General Chapter of the Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday in the Vatican. The General Chapter is underway in Rome from February 5-25, 2017:

* * *

Dear brothers, I am happy to meet with you on the occasion of your General Chapter and I greet you warmly, beginning with the Superior General, whom I thank for his words. In you I greet the entire congregation, committed to serving Christ and the Church in twenty countries of the world.

I learned that one of the main purposes of your General Chapter is to reflect on the laws and rules proper of your Congregation. It is an important work. In fact, “imperative for every institute today is the need for renewed reference to the rule, because enclosed in it and in the Constitutions is an itinerary to follow, qualified by a specific charism, authenticated by the Church” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, 37). Therefore, I exhort you to carry out that reflection with fidelity to the Founder’s charism and to the spiritual patrimony of your Congregation and, at the same time, with hearts and minds open to people’s new necessities, the new challenges, but remember: one cannot go forward without memory. It is a tension, constantly. If I want to go forward without the memory of the past, of the history of the founders, of the great, even of the sins of the congregation, I cannot go forward. This is a rule: the memory, this “Deuteronomic” dimension proper of life and which is used always, when a religious congregation and the constitutions must be updated.

May the example of your founder, Saint Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, canonized last year, be the light and guide of your path. He fully understood the meaning of being a disciple of Christ when he prayed with these words: “Lord Jesus, if out of love I bind myself to You, who will tear me away from You? If I am united to You in mercy, who will separate me from You? May my soul adhere to You; may your most clement right <arm> receive me. May the most unworthy member also adhere to his Head, and this small particle suffer with the entire suffering Holy Body” (Christus Patiens, III, 1).

In this perspective, your service of the Word is testimony of Christ Risen, whom you encountered on your path and were called, with your style of life, to take the Church wherever He sends you. Christian testimony also requires commitment with and for the poor, a commitment that has characterized your Institute since its origins. I encourage you to keep alive this tradition of service to poor and humble persons, through the proclamation of the Gospel with language that they understand, with works of mercy and prayer for the deceased – that simple closeness to people like us. I like that passage of Paul to Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5): guard your faith, which you received from your mother, from your grandmother …; from the simplicity of the mother, of the grandmother. This is the foundation. We are not Princes, sons of Princes, of Counts or Barons; we are simple people of the people.  Therefore, we come close, with simplicity, to those who suffer most: the sick, the children, the abandoned elderly, the poor … all. And this poverty is at the center of the Gospel: it is the poverty of Jesus, which is not sociological poverty.

Another significant spiritual legacy of your Religious Family is that which your fellow brother Blessed Giorgio Matulaitis left you: total dedication to the Church and to man to “go courageously to work and to fight for the Church, especially where there is the greatest need” (Journal, p. 45). May his intercession help you  to cultivate this attitude in yourselves, which in the last decades has inspired your initiatives geared to spreading the Institute’s charism in poor countries, especially in Africa and in Asia.

The great challenge of inculturation asks you today to proclaim the Good News with comprehensible languages and ways to the men of our time, involved in processes of rapid social and cultural transformation. Your Congregation boasts a long history, written by courageous witnesses of Christ and of the Gospel. You are called to walk in this line today with renewed zeal to push you, with prophetic freedom and wise discernment – <with> both together! — on apostolic paths and missionary frontiers, cultivating a close cooperation  with the Bishops and the other components of the Ecclesial Community.

The horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to witness the evangelical message to all, without distinctions, constitute the vast field of your apostolate. So many are still waiting to know Jesus, man’s sole Redeemer, and not a few situations of injustice and moral and material hardship question believers. Such an urgent mission requires personal and communal conversion. Only hearts fully open to the action of Grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to receive the appeals for hope and peace of needy humanity.

Dear brothers, on the example of your founder, be courageous in the service of Christ and of the Church, responding to the new challenges and to the new mission, even if humanly they can seem risky. In fact, in the “genetic code” of your Community is found what Saint Stanislaw himself affirmed from his experience: “Despite the innumerable difficulties, divine goodness and wisdom initiate and fulfill what we want, even when, according to human judgment, the means are inadequate. Nothing, in fact, is impossible for the Almighty. This was shown to me in a most clear way” (Fundatio Domus Recollectionis, 1). And this attitude – which comes from the littleness of the means, also from our littleness, also from our unworthiness, because <we are> sinners, comes from there, but we have a great horizon – [this attitude] is precisely our act of faith in the power of the Lord: the Lord can, the Lord is capable. And our littleness is in fact the seed, the small seed, which then germinates, grows, the Lord waters, and thus goes forward. But the sense of littleness is in fact the first leap towards trust in God’s power; go forward on this path.

I entrust to your Mother and Patroness, Mary Immaculate, your journey of faith and growth, in constant union with Christ and with His Holy Spirit, who renders you witnesses of the power of the Resurrection. To you here present, to the whole Congregation and to your lay collaborators I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 

 

Pope’s Homily at St. Mary Josephine of Heart of Jesus Parish on Outskirts of Rome

Posted by ZENIT Staff on 20 February, 2017

Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ homily during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature. The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome:

* * *

Today, there is what I would call a unique message in the Readings. In the first Reading there is the Word of the Lord who says to us: “Be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” Leviticus 19:2). God the Father says this to us. And the Gospel ends with that Word of Jesus: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”(Matthew 5:48) – the same thing. This is the program of life. Be holy, for He is holy; be perfect, for He is perfect. And you can ask me: But, Father, what is the way to holiness, what is the path to become saints?” Jesus explains it well in the Gospel: He explains it with concrete things.

First of all: “It was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil” (Matthew 5:38-39), namely, no revenge. If I have rancor in my heart for something that someone did to me and I want to revenge myself, this moves me away from the path to sanctity. No revenge. “You did it to me, you’ll pay for it!” Is this Christian? No. “You will pay for it” does not enter the language of a Christian. No revenge. No rancor. “But he makes my life impossible! …” That neighbor speaks badly about me every day! I also speak badly about her …” No. What does the Lord say? “Pray for her” – “But must I pray for her?” – “Yes, pray for her.” It’s the path of forgiveness, of forgetting offenses. You are slapped on the right cheek? Give the other too. Evil is overcome by good, sin is overcome with this generosity, with this strength. Rancor is awful. We all know it’s not a small thing. The great wars – we see it on the TV news, in the newspapers, this massacre of people, of children … How much hatred there is! But it is the same hatred, the same hatred you have in your heart for this man, for that woman, or for that relative or that mother-in-law, or for that other one, it’s the same. It’s greater, but it’s the same. Rancor, the desire to vindicate myself: “You’ll pay for it!” this isn’t Christian.

“Be holy as God is holy”; “be perfect as your Father is perfect,” who makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He is good. God gives His goods to all. “But if he speaks badly of me, if he has done a bad thing to me, if he has …” Forgive, in your heart. This is the path of sanctity; and this dispels wars. If all the men and women of the world learnt this, there wouldn’t be wars, there wouldn’t be. War begins here, in bitterness, in rancor, in the desire for vengeance, to make one pay. But this destroys families, destroys friendships, destroys neighborhoods, destroys so much, so much …. “And what must I do, Father, when I feel this?” Jesus says it, I don’t say it: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). “Must I love that person?” – Yes – “I can’t” – Pray so that you can –. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Ibid.). “Must I pray for one who does me harm?” – Yes, so that he changes his life , so that the Lord forgives him. This is the magnanimity of God, the magnanimous God, the God of a great heart, who forgives everything, who is merciful. “It’s true, Father, God is merciful.” And you, are you merciful with persons who have harmed you? Or who do not love you? If He is merciful, if He is holy, if He is perfect, we must be merciful, holy and perfect like Him.

This is holiness. A man or a woman who does this merits to be canonized: they become saints. Christian life is that simple. I suggest that you begin somewhat. We all have enemies; we all know that he or she speaks badly of me; we all know it. And we all know that he or she hates me. We all know it. And we begin a little. “But I know he’s calumniated me, he has said awful things about me.” I suggest to you: take a minute, turn to God the Father: “He or she is your child, she is your daughter: change her heart. Bless him, bless her.” This is called praying for those who don’t love you, for enemies. It can be done with simplicity. Perhaps rancor remains; perhaps rancor remains in us, but we are making the effort to go on the path of this God who is so good, merciful, holy and perfect; who has the sun rise on the evil and on the good: He is for all, He is good to all. We must be good to all, and we must pray for those who aren’t good – for all.

Do we pray for those who kill children in war? It’s difficult, it’s very far away, but we must learn to do so, so that they convert. Do we pray for those persons who are closest to us and hate us or do us harm? Ah, Father, it’s difficult. I would like to ring his neck!” – Pray, pray so that the Lord changes their life. Prayer is an antidote against hatred, against wars, these wars that begin at home, that begin in the neighborhood, that begin in families. Think only of the wars in families over inheritance: how many families are destroyed, hate one another over inheritance. Pray so that there is peace. And if I know that someone wishes me evil, doesn’t love me, I must pray especially for him. Prayer is powerful, prayer overcomes evil; prayer brings peace.

The Gospel, God’s Word today is simple. This advice: “Be holy for I, the Lord your God am holy.” And then: “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Therefore, we must ask for the grace not to remain in rancor, the grace to pray for enemies, to pray for people who don’t love us, for the grace of peace.

I ask you, please, to have this experience: a prayer every day. ”Oh, he doesn’t love me, but Lord, I ask you …” One a day, thus one overcomes, thus we’ll go on this path of holiness and of perfection. So be it.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 

Paraguay: Women Religious Work Where Priests Can Rarely Visit

Posted by Jacques Berset on 20 February, 2017

When the Missionary Sisters of the Teaching and Atoning Savior from Peru arrived toward the end of the 20th century, it caused a veritable sensation in the rural enclaves of Virgen del Carmelo de Villa Ygatimy, a sprawling community northeast of Paraguay’s capital of Asunción. Today, the sisters serve some 20,000 faithful through about 100 “chapels,” which is the name used for the scattered parishes of the Ciudad del Este Diocese, which is the size of Belgium.

Mother María Luján, a sister originally from Argentina, reported: “Three priests work in Curuguaty, 30 miles from here. They make it out only three or four times a year.” Meanwhile, sisters perform marriages, baptisms and funerals in rural parishes that do not have a priest. They conduct liturgies of the Word and administer the Eucharist to the sick.

This is precisely the charism of the Missionary Sisters of the Teaching and Atoning Saviour: to work in those places that have not seen a priest for months or even years.

“Our sisters live and work in the most remote areas of Latin America. They take care of people with no known postal address, the poor and the forgotten in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay or Peru,” Mother María Luján explained.

The villagers of Virgen del Carmelo de Villa Ygatimy appreciate that the Peruvian nuns are there. “They say that they are very happy that God visits them—that He travels so far to visit the simple people. They are poor, but have a great hunger for spirituality,” said the Mother Superior.

In the parish of Our Dear Lady of Fatima in Ypehu, led by Mother Beatriz, the Peruvian nuns perform pastoral care in 13 chapels. The furthest of these is 25 miles away. However, all of these chapels can only be reached by roads that are in terrible shape and that put the sisters’ long-serving all-terrain vehicle to the test. A priest based in Brazil visits these villages four times a year. During Easter Week, a delegate of the bishop of Ciudad del Este comes to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation.

In Ypehu, the influence from a variety of Protestant sects from Brazil is Mother Beatriz’s greatest worry. She said: “the Elohim Christian Church targets poor people, distributing food and offering classes to them. This is the main reason why people go to this sect. The pastor forces them to attend divine services. However, they still attend our liturgy on Sundays. The people want to have their children baptized in the Catholic Church because they have a deep reverence for Our Lady of Caacupé.”

More than 400 Missionary Sisters of the Teaching and Atoning Savior work at 38 missions in remote and inaccessible places in various Latin American countries. The sisters call these places Patmos, after the Greek island where St. John the Apostle lived in exile. They often drive for hours on unpaved roads or even go by foot, ride donkeys or take ships to visit a deserted village or farm inhabited by just a few families. It is said that there, where the paved road ends, is where the work of the missionary sisters with their special charism begins.

 

 

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