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Diocese in Italy seeks to keep mafia out of Easter processions

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The bishop of a southern Italian diocese has issued new directives aimed at keeping the mafia out of this year’s Easter processions.

Commonly called “L’Affruntata” (the encounter), the popular and traditional Easter Sunday procession involves bringing together three statuesm, one of Jesus, the apostle John and Mary, who is caped in a black robe. The Marian statue’s black robe is removed at the end of the procession to symbolize her joy over Jesus’ resurrection.

But the infiltration of the mafia in the Easter procession and religious celebrations as a way of asserting its power in southern Italy has been both common and contentious.

Last year, Bishop Luigi Renzo of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea stood behind parishioners in the town of Sant’Onofrio, who opted to cancel their Easter procession rather than allow the infiltration of the mafia or let civil authorities determine how they would celebrate. The bishop decided to celebrate a Mass instead.

However, in July 2014, he banned a procession outright in another Calabrian town when authorities said men with suspected mafia ties were slated to carry the statue of Mary. Earlier that month, a procession in a neighboring diocese made international headlines and caused public outcry in Italy, after people carrying a statue of Mary stopped in front of the house of a presumed mob boss and tilted the statue forward, as if bowing in homage.

While the Calabrian bishops published joint guidelines last fall, Bishop Renzo issued a new set of regulations in March for all processions in his diocese.

In a section particular to the Easter procession, Bishop Renzo urged the faithful to reclaim their traditions and “not to allow themselves to be dispossessed of their most genuine religious heritage by leaving it in the hands of unscrupulous people.”

He also exhorted priests to be “more courageous and united” in offering “new signs of presence and hope” to the people.

“Concrete signs of breaking with certain bad habits are needed,” the bishop told the priests. He also encouraged them to entrust the role of carrying the statues to young people active in the parishes and to make them “protagonists” in organizing the procession.

Among the new general rules: Processions are forbidden to stop in front of any people, homes or buildings, other than hospitals or long-term care facilities; routes must be established ahead of time in consultation with the pastor; those carrying statues must be active members of the parish and chosen by the pastor, along with the parish council; for the Easter procession, those carrying statues are selected from among parishioners in a lottery on Palm Sunday; people who are members of organizations “condemned by the church” cannot carry statues; if the procession route is long, a second group of parishioners must be selected ahead of time to help carry the statues, not just anyone along the route can act as a substitute.

The new regulations took effect March 1.

 

‘Use your voices to proclaim the faith’ — Bishop Malooly’s Chrism Mass homily

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The following is taken from Bishop Malooly’s homily at the Chrism Mass on March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover.

It’s great to be with all of you here. This is one of the wonderful once-a-year celebrations. This is my seventh Chrism Mass (as bishop of Wilmington).

Bishop Malooly stirs the balm into the holy oil before consecrating the sacred chrism during the Chrism Mass March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (Jason Minto for The Dialog)

Bishop Malooly stirs the balm into the holy oil before consecrating the sacred chrism during the Chrism Mass March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (Jason Minto for The Dialog)

For some reason this is always a very significant moment of transition for me. Almost like the beginning of a new year, even though it’s nestled in Holy Week.

It’s a time to welcome new members, to bless and consecrate the sacramental oils and to have my brothers and myself renew our priestly commitment.

The holy chrism is used to anoint the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation and to anoint the hands of presbyters (priests) and the heads of bishops at their ordinations, as well as in the rites of anointing pertaining to the dedication of churches and altars.

The oil of catechumens is used in preparation of the catechumens for their baptism. The oil of the sick is used in the comfort and support of the sick in their infirmity.

Today as we celebrate, I am very grateful for so many women and men in consecrated life, who offer us such powerful witness in different ministries.

Many of our priests in religious communities have been joining us in great numbers in recent years. Our Franciscans, our Oblates, I’m very happy to have all of you. Many of you are involved in our parishes, too, and for that I’m grateful.

This is the Year of Consecrated Life, so it’s even more important.

I also want to acknowledge our permanent deacons and their wives, all of our dedicated diocesan, parish, school and Charities employees and coworkers. Each of you has a mission and a ministry and it’s important for all of us.

With this Chrism Mass, I look forward with hope. I look back with gratitude. I especially want to thank my brother priests for their support, their faith, their leadership and their positive outlook. You have kept your parishes and ministries alive and vibrant.

Yesterday, Pope Francis, to the youth of the world, said, “Have the courage to be happy.” And I ask the same of you. It’s not always easy for us but it’s so important, to continue to bring joy to where you minister.

I want to thank you now for the first time for the remarkable effort you made on behalf of the capital campaign. It was successful because the pastors made it successful in parishes. For that, I’m very grateful.

The Gospel is familiar. When Jesus began his public ministry he returned to Galilee. When he came to Nazareth, where he was raised, he stood up in his own synagogue and read from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Then he rolls up the scroll and the first thing he says in his public ministry, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This would be what he did during his public ministry, how he would reach out and serve the needs of all he met.

When we look at Pope Francis’ agenda and how he deals with all kinds of people, especially the poor and needy, you see a very similar model as we hear in Isaiah and see in Jesus.

Today, as I always do, I would once again appeal to all of us to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.

I am grateful for the work Father Dave Kelley and his vocation team of priests do. I also thank my brother priests who have been working with the Come and Seek program for the gathering together of young men with a group of priests just to sit down and discuss (the priesthood).

My four seminarians — and I wish there were more but they are outstanding — are here this evening. They are serving and I’m grateful that you are here.

Are there many of our catechumens or candidates here who will be received into the church at the Easter Vigil? We had about 200 at the Rite of Election and it’s good to have you’re here.

Every year our candidates and catechumens create a lot of energy for us. I saw that once again on Saturday. If you were not at our sixth annual Youth Pilgrimage, we had just short of 1,200 people marching, carrying the cross and witnessing to their faith.

When we passed a place, people would run out and say, “What are you doing?”

And they would say, “We’re witnessing our belief in Jesus and what he did for us.”

So even by their expressions and demeanor, it made a great witness for those who were there.

It was a shoehorned event at St. Hedwig, as Father Andrew (Molewski) knows, getting them in for the Stations.

We had the adoration and Benediction and St. Paul’s; reconciliation at St. Anthony’s. Stations of the Cross, beautiful Stations, at St. Hedwig’s, and Mass back at St. Elizabeth’s.

The enthusiasm of our young people was not only energizing for us, who were the adults there, but I also think it was very helpful for them to see the faith of so many of their peers and the willingness to express that.

They were positive, they were upbeat, they were filled with joy. And they understood Pope Francis’ challenge to have the courage to be happy.

At the time of the millennium, some 15 years ago now, Pope John Paul wrote, and I love this phrase, “All initiatives should be set in relationship to holiness, which expresses best the mystery of the church.”

All of our initiatives, all of our activities should be set in relationship to holiness which expresses best the mystery of the church.

No one who suffered as long as he did and was as holy as he was could miss this realization. He knew it firsthand and he knew it substantively.

We are to be holy within the unique gifts and personality God has given us.

As our Oblate brothers and sisters remind us, quoting St. Francis de Sales, “Be who you are and be that well.”

That’s true of every one of us. I know my brother priests take that seriously and we all should.

During this week, we will once again remember, commemorate and celebrate the sacred mysteries of our redemption. On Thursday, we will gather to celebrate the Eucharist, commemorating that first Eucharist at the Last Supper. At the same time, we will be focused on service, by the Washing of the Feet.

On Good Friday, we will celebrate our Lord’s suffering and death, that selfless gift that gives each of us eternal life.

At the Vigil and on Easter Sunday, we will remember the joy of that first Easter.

Some 2,000 years-plus later, we are encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. We are truly blessed. He asked very little of us. I think he wants us to do what the early disciples did: to speak the Good News to others that Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life. No more complex, no simpler, just simple fact: Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life.

I ask you during this Holy Week to speak that phrase to your friends who might not be as connected to the Lord as you are. To do what Paul and the holy men and women of the first century did. They didn’t have pamphlets or books, they had voices and they used those voices to proclaim your faith.

Let us do the same.

Vatican cardinal urges bishops’ conferences not to make ‘doctrinal decisions’

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Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has advised bishops’ conferences not to take “doctrinal and disciplinary decisions” on issues that rightly fall under the magisterium of the church.

Cardinal Gerhard Muller said that while bishops’ conferences have authority on some matters, “they don’t constitute a magisterium within the magisterium, independently of the pope and out of communion with other bishops.”

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is urging national bishops' conference not to make doctrinal decision. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is urging national bishops’ conference not to make doctrinal decision. (CNS/Paul Haring)

His comments came in relation to claims at a recent news conference by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, that his church stood ready to “preach the Gospel in its own original way,” rather than being seen as “a branch of Rome” in relation to the possibility of allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

“An episcopal conference isn’t a particular council, still less an ecumenical council, and its president is nothing more than a technical moderator with no magisterial authority,” Cardinal Muller said in a March 26 interview with France’s Catholic Famille Chretienne (Christian Family) weekly.

He explained that the idea of “delegating certain doctrinal or disciplinary decisions on marriage and family” to bishops’ conferences was “absolutely anti-Catholic” and failed to “respect the church’s catholicity.”

“Hearing it said that an episcopal conference isn’t a ‘branch of Rome’ leads me to recall that dioceses aren’t branches of a bishops’ conference secretariat either,” Cardinal Muller said.

“This type of attitude risks reawakening a polarization between local churches and the universal church which was overcome by the First and Second Vatican Councils. The church isn’t a gathering of national churches whose presidents vote in their head as a universal authority.”

Cardinal Marx caused controversy during a Feb. 25 news conference at the close of a German bishops’ plenary meeting when he said his conference planned to help the church “go down new paths” and “pursue its own pastoral care program” regardless of the outcome of the synod on the family Oct. 4-25 at the Vatican.

“We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here,” said Cardinal Marx, who will be one of three German church delegates at the synod.

“We are not a branch of Rome. Each bishops’ conference is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context and must preach the Gospel in its own original way,” he said.

Cardinal Marx’s statement also was rejected by Cardinal Paul Cordes, retired president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Cardinal Cordes described Cardinal Marx’’s comments as “irritating theological blurriness” in a March 7 letter to Germany’s Catholic Tagespost daily.

“As a social ethicist, Cardinal Marx may know a lot about the dependent branches of large corporations, in an ecclesiastical context, such statements are rather worthy of the village pub,” Cardinal Cordes wrote.

“The sentence ‘We cannot wait for a synod’ was hardly inspired, to say the least, by an ecclesiastical sense of communion. This ‘anti-Roman instinct’ isn’t the invention of some scholars, but a northern reality which displays strong centrifugal power and is highly destructive to the church’s unity,” Cardinal Cordes’ letter said.

 

Vatican says no reason found to ‘preclude’ Chilean bishop’s appointment

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The appointment of a controversial bishop in Chile was made after a careful review found no “objective reasons” to prevent Bishop Juan Barros from taking over the Diocese of Osorno, the Vatican press office said.

The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was known to have committed sexual abuse; some 3,000 demonstrators gathered outside and inside the Osorno cathedral March 21 to protest his installation as bishop.

“The Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment,” said the Vatican’s March 31 statement.

The protesters claimed Bishop Barros was complicit in the case of Father Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican in 2011 found guilty of sexually abusing minors and ordered to “retire to a life of prayer and penitence.”

Bishop Barros denied having any knowledge of Father Karadima’s crimes.

Still, several lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors criticized his appointment to Osorno and expressed their concern.

 

Our Lenten Journey, March 31, 2015

March 31st, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:

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Our Lenten Journey | March 31, 2015

 

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

— St. Francis of Assisi

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus touches on dark days to come — the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter — as he approaches his crucifixion on Good Friday.

St. Francis Assisi, however, reminds us that no matter how dark things get, a single light of faith can still offer us hope in the Easter to come.

 

TODAY’S READINGS:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/033115.cfm

USCCB LENTEN RESOURCES:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-calendar.cfm

 

MAR.31

 

 

16th century Italian seafarer a part of Vatican Palm Sunday tradition

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Palm Sunday procession at the foot of an 85-foot-tall Egyptian obelisk in St. Peter’s Square recalls the martyrdom of many early Christians and the fast-thinking foresight of an Italian Renaissance sea captain.

Palm Sunday at the Vatican begins with a procession of young people carrying olive branches and large green palm fronds, followed by clergy holding tall, intricately woven palm leaves. The participants circle the base of the obelisk in the center of the square, while the pope blesses them with holy water.

People carry palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

People carry palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Starting the ceremony in the center of the square recalls the martyrdom of the early Christians because the 2,000-year-old solid granite obelisk marks the center of a grand arena built in 37 AD by the Roman emperor Caligula. Later, emperors introduced the execution of Christians as a form of entertainment there and St. Peter was among those martyred in the arena.

To mark the place where many early Christians shed their blood, in 1586 Pope Sixtus V ordered that the same obelisk Caligula brought to Rome from Egypt be erected in the square.

Because the obelisk weighs 327 tons, it took 900 men and 140 horses working 44 winches to move and hoist it into place. Given the difficult and delicate nature of the task, Pope Sixtus forbade onlookers from making any noise as the obelisk was being pulled upright; those who failed to comply would face the death penalty.

According to tradition, Captain Benedetto Bresca, an experienced northern Italian seafarer, was watching in the square that day, and he saw the hemp ropes supporting the obelisk giving way from the excessive strain.

Defying the pope’s orders for absolute silence, Bresca shouted out in his Ligurian dialect, “Aiga ae corde,” that is, “water on the ropes” to make them shrink, become stronger and keep them from fraying and snapping. The workers did as they heard and the obelisk did not come crashing to the ground.

Though Bresca was arrested on the spot, Pope Sixtus immediately pardoned him and showed his gratitude by asking him what he would like to have as a reward.

According to legend, Bresca asked that he and his descendants be appointed the official supplier of the pope’s palm fronds. His wish was granted and he was allowed to fly the papal naval flag on his boat as it entered the Tiber River when he shipped the palm leaves from the Ligurian coastal city of Sanremo to Rome.

The long tradition of delivering palm fronds from Sanremo to be woven in Rome by Camaldolese nuns ended in the 1970s.

With the help of a palm tree research group, a cooperative in Sanremo revived the tradition in 2003 by supplying “palmurelli,” which are palm leaves braided and styled in intricate shapes and patterns.

The city of Sanremo typically sends more than 2000 handmade “palmurelli,” to Rome for the Palm Sunday procession.

 

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Assyrian patriarch dies; was promoter of unity, served for 39 years

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By Catholic News Service

CHICAGO —  Catholicos Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, died March 26 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A virus infection and pneumonia were cited as the cause of death. He was 79.

In a message of condolence sent to the temporary head of the church, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the deceased patriarch and said, “The Christian world has lost an important spiritual leader, a courageous and wise pastor who faithfully served his community in extremely challenging times.”

Pope Francis said he knew from his conversation with the catholicos how he “suffered greatly because of the tragic situation in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and in Syria, resolutely calling attention to the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters and other religious minorities suffering daily persecution.”

Catholicos Dinkha was born Sept. 15, 1935, in Iraq. He was ordained a priest at age 21 and became a bishop just five years later. He was elected patriarch in 1976, at the age of 41, succeeding Catholicos Eshai Shimun XXIII, who was assassinated a year earlier. Catholicos Dinkha was the first patriarch to be elected; traditionally, succession was from uncle to nephew.

Because of political instability in Iraq, Catholicos Dinkha moved the patriarchal see in 1980 from its ancestral homeland in modern-day Iraq to suburban Chicago in the United States, where a growing diaspora community was located.

Religious leaders offered words of condolence on the patriarch’s death.

“We pray for his soul. We pray also that the fathers of the Assyrian Church of the East will elect a new shepherd who will lead the flock during this crucial time when Christians are persecuted in the Middle East and our Syriac-Chaldean-Assyrian people are being persecuted and forced to be displaced from their homelands,” Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch said in a statement to Catholic News Service.

“With great hope, we look forward to working together with the Assyrian community for the good of our people and a brighter future for all, following the footsteps of the late patriarch,” he said.

Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan told CNS in an email that he last met with the late patriarch in May at the Russian Patriarchate in Moscow.

“We then had the chance to discuss the tragic situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq, as a sinister prelude of what will happen in Mosul on June 10 and in the Plain of Niniveh on the night of Aug. 6-7,” Patriarch Younan recalled, referring to the invasion of northern Iraq by Islamic State militants.

“He was equally concerned about the ongoing exodus of his church’s membership to the point to fear that a time would come when Iraq and Syria will be emptied of Christians,” Patriarch Younan added.

“Let us pray that the Lord inspire the Holy Synod of the sister church that they may elect a successor filled with wisdom, energy and charisma enabling him to defend the very survival of the Church of the East, either in the Middle East or in the diaspora,” he said.

Catholicos Dinkha has been credited with rebuilding the church and updating the liturgy, translating portions from classical to modern Assyrian. He was esteemed as a fatherly figure and as a strong promoter of ecumenism. The Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other churches, either Catholic or Orthodox.

During his 39-year term, he met with St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the latter Oct. 2, just five months before his death. Catholicos Dinkha and St. John Paul II signed in 1994 the “Common Christological Agreement between the Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church,” which expressed the two churches’ common faith in Christ’s incarnation. The two churches have a long-standing theological dialogue.

The majority of the Assyrian Church of the East’s faithful lives in the diaspora, mostly in the U.S. — about 300,000 — but also in Australia and Europe.

Metropolitan Aprim Mooken of India will serve as acting patriarch until a successor is elected.

A wake for Catholicos Dinkha was to be held April 7 at St. Andrew Church in Glenview, Illinois; the funeral will be held the following day at St. George Cathedral in Chicag

 

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‘Get Hard’ a cruel sentence to 100 minutes of tasteless humor

March 30th, 2015 Posted in Movies

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Catholic News Service

In lieu of a movie ticket for the shoddy prison-themed comedy “Get Hard,” potential viewers should treat themselves to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Like Mr. Monopoly joyfully springing the coop of his birdcage, they’ll be escaping a 100-minute confinement within a dank, moldy cell of tasteless humor.

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell star in a scene from the movie "Get Hard." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell star in a scene from the movie “Get Hard.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

The sophomoric level at which director Etan Cohen’s proceedings are pitched can be gauged from the opening scenes which feature, if that’s the word, repeated visuals of a nude Will Ferrell viewed from behind.

As Ferrell goes through his character’s morning exercise routine au naturel, we’re meant to giggle at the awkward sight of his untanned and untoned body.

Ferrell plays financially successful but socially clueless Los Angeles fund manager James, the many deluxe accoutrements of whose lifestyle, it seems, do not include a last name.

A complete moniker aside, James would seem to have it all: a cushy job at which he excels, a lavish home that’s soon to be replaced by a still more pretentious estate and a fetching live-in fiance, Alissa (Alison Brie). To make matters even better for James, Alissa just happens to be his admiring boss Martin’s (Craig T. Nelson) daughter.

Such bliss is not destined to last, however, as James suddenly finds himself framed for embezzlement and sentenced to 10 years hard time at San Quentin. Consumed with fear of what life will be like on the inside, James desperately offers to pay Darnell (Kevin Hart), the small-business man who runs the carwash service he uses, to train him in the skills he’ll need to survive the experience.

Despite James’ blatantly racist assumption that, simply because he’s black, Darnell must have spent time behind bars, his new mentor is in fact a squeaky clean family man. But Darnell does need the money James is willing to shell out. So their arrangement goes forward in what purports to be a laugh riot of fish-out-of-water antics.

Jay Martel and Ian Roberts’ script wrong-headedly tries to turn James’ fear of being raped into a laughing matter. Their screenplay proves equally misguided in its unsuccessful aspirations to comment on contemporary economic and racial divides. The result will leave audiences longing for early parole.

The film contains strong sexual content, including full nudity and the preliminaries of a perverse act, a frivolous treatment of homosexuality and rape, a couple of uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

 

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Imitate Jesus’ humility and service, pope says at Palm Sunday Mass

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — From modern-day martyrs to those who quietly care for the sick or elderly, Pope Francis remembered all those who “sacrifice themselves daily,” following Jesus in serving others and giving witness to the Gospel.

In overcoming the daily temptations of power and pride, the pope said at Palm Sunday Mass, Christians can look to those who, “in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others,” whether that be a sick relative, an elderly person or someone with special needs.

Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On a bright, sunny day, about 70,000 people carrying palms and olive branches joined Pope Francis March 29 for the Palm Sunday Mass, the solemn beginning of Holy Week.

Dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, Pope Francis remembered “our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. There are many of them. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way.”

Some 400 young people led the procession into St. Peter’s Square, carrying glossy, deep green palm branches that were taller than the people carrying them. About 80 cardinals and bishops followed, carrying “palmurelli,” pale green palm branches that were woven and braided.

The heart of the Palm Sunday celebration, the pope said in his homily, is a line from the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself. Jesus’ humiliation.”

Humility and humiliation, he said, is “God’s way and the way of Christians,” even though it “constantly amazes and disturbs us. We will never get used to a humble God.”

However, the pope said, the entire history of salvation is filled with examples of God humbling himself to walk with his people and save them, even when they have been unfaithful to him.

“This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation,” he said. “Only in this way will this week be holy for us, too.”

Pope Francis urged Catholics to pay attention to the Bible readings throughout the week, noticing the contempt shown toward Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ arrest and condemnation, how the disciples run away and how Peter denies knowing him.

“This is God’s way, the way of humility,” he said. “It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.”

The Bible says that in becoming human, Jesus took the form of a slave, the pope noted. Slaves serve others and that is exactly what Jesus did.

“The way of the world” sees humble service as ridiculous and, instead, it proposes “the way of vanity, pride and success,” he said. “The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus, too, during his 40 days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it.”

Pope Francis urged people to draw strength and inspiration for their battle against pride from those who humbly care for others and, especially, from the modern-day martyrs.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis marked the local celebration of World Youth Day and asked Catholic youths around the world to begin now their preparations to celebrate the international World Youth Day with him in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.

“The theme of that large gathering – ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy’ — blends well with the Holy Year of Mercy” that he proclaimed for 2016. “Let yourselves be filled with the Father’s tenderness in order to spread it around you,” the pope said.

He also offered special prayers for the students who were among the victims of the Germanwings airplane crash in the French Alps March 24

 

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For Easter, pope sends assistance to displaced in Iraq, Nigeria

March 30th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As Holy Week and Easter approached, Pope Francis wanted to show his ongoing concern for people persecuted and displaced by violence in Iraq and in northern Nigeria.

Although not specifying the amount, the Vatican press office said March 27 that the pope was sending aid money to people seeking shelter in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and to the Nigerian bishops’ conference to assist families in the northern part of the country where the terrorist group Boko Haram has been on a rampage.

In addition, the Vatican said, the people of the Diocese of Rome, “united with their bishop,” Pope Francis, held a special collection and will send “colomba” Easter cakes to the displaced in Iraq.

“In Holy Week,” the Vatican statement said, “these families share with Christ the experience of being unjustly subjected to violence and they participate in the suffering of Christ himself.”

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who visited refugees and displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan last August, will return for Holy Week, the Vatican said. The cardinal is prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the former nuncio to Iraq.

“Pope Francis is constantly concerned about the situation of Christian families and other groups who have been the victims of being expelled from their homes and villages, particularly in the city of Mosul and on the Ninevah Plain,” the Vatican said. Terrorists from Islamic State have been active in the region.

“The pope prays for them and hopes that they soon can return and resume their lives on the land and in the places where, for hundreds of years, they lived and wove relationships of peaceful coexistence with all,” the Vatican statement said.

 

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