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A closed heart can’t be surprised by the Resurrection, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christian faith is a grace and can be perceived only in the hearts of those willing to be surprised by the joy of the Resurrection, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets a young choir member during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 19. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a young choir member during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 19. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“A closed heart, a rationalistic heart” is incapable of understanding the Christian message which has God’s love, manifested in Christ’s victory over death, at its center, the pope said at his weekly general audience April 19.

“How beautiful it is to think that Christianity is essentially this: It is not so much our search for God, a search that is, truthfully, somewhat shaky, but rather God’s search for us,” the pope said.

The pope, bundled up in a white overcoat due to the unusually chilly and windy weather, entered a packed St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile. Immediately, he invited two girls and a boy, dressed in their altar server robes, to board the vehicle and ride with him around the square.

Pope Francis also took a moment to greet an elderly woman who, overcome with emotion, cried and stretched out her arms to embrace the pope. He stooped over, warmly embracing the woman and gently caressing her face before making the sign of the cross over her forehead.

Continuing his series of talks on hope, the pope reflected on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in which the apostle emphasizes the Resurrection as “the heart of the Christian message.”

“Christianity is born from here. It is not an ideology nor a philosophic system but a path of faith that begins from an event, witnessed by Jesus’ first disciples,” the pope said.

St. Paul’s summary of those who witnessed the risen Christ, he noted, ends by describing himself as the “least worthy of all” given his dramatic history as a one-time adversary of the early Christians.

St. Paul “wasn’t a choirboy. He was a persecutor of the church, proud of his own convictions,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks. But “one day something completely unpredictable happens: the encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.”

It is the surprise of this encounter, the pope continued, that all Christians are called to experience “even if we are sinners.”

Like the first disciples who saw the stone overturned at Jesus’ tomb, all men and women can find “happiness, joy and life where everyone thought there was only sadness, defeat and darkness,” the pope said.

God, Pope Francis said, is greater than “nothingness and just one lit candle is able to overcome the darkest night.”

“If we are asked the reason for our smile and our patient sharing, we can respond that Jesus is still here, he continues to be alive in our midst,” the pope said. “Jesus is here, in this square with us, alive and risen.”

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Catholic leaders meeting in Orlando seeks to bring ‘Joy of the Gospel’ vision to U.S. church

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — This summer’s Convocation of Catholic Leaders comes at a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is seeking how best to respond to a changing social landscape while bringing Pope Francis’ vision for a church that offers mercy and joy to the world.

Volunteers serve guests lunch in the main dining hall of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 2016 in Phoenix. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations will gather July 1-4 in Orlando, Fla., for the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" sponsored by the U.S. bishops.(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Volunteers serve guests lunch in the main dining hall of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 2016 in Phoenix. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations will gather July 1-4 in Orlando, Fla., for the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” sponsored by the U.S. bishops.(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Called by the bishops, the historic convocation will find more than 3,000 Catholic leaders — bishops, clergy, religious and laypeople — meeting July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida, to focus on how the pope’s 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), applies in the United States.

The pope’s document lays out a vision of the church dedicated to evangelization, missionary discipleship, in a positive way, with a focus on society’s poorest and most vulnerable, including the aged and unborn.

Jonathan Reyes, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and a convocation planner, sees the gathering as a way for Catholics across the diverse spectrum of the church to unify in Christ.

“The beauty of it for us as Catholics is it’s not just another trade meeting,” Reyes said. “This is centered, as Pope Francis said again and again, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. That’s what holds us together. Even Catholics need a moment of unity these days. Not just our country, but we as Catholics need a moment of unity around Christ.”

The idea of missionary discipleship expressed by the pope has taken root in the work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s the pre-eminent theme in the 2017-2020 strategic plan the bishops adopted during their annual fall general assembly in November.

Planning for the gathering, titled “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America,” has been underway for a few years. It is being called to examine today’s concerns, challenges and opportunities for action in light of the church’s evangelization mission, Reyes said.

“So we’re going to encounter Christ together, converse together, pray together, encounter one another and talk very practically about what are the challenges, what’s it mean to be missionary disciples at this moment and how do we go out and do it,” Reyes said.

Planners want people to mix and mingle and learn from each other during the invitation-only event.

“This group of people would never be in the same strategic conversations together if it weren’t for the bishops calling them together. They are in all kinds of ministries throughout the church. They are professionals in all the different fields, education, business, teachers. We have people from all socioeconomic groups,” Reyes said.

Such a gathering of bishops and key church leaders has occurred just once before within the U.S. church.

In 1917, in response to the country’s entry into World War I, the bishops met with a select group of leaders to determine how to respond to social needs emerging from the war. That meeting at The Catholic University of America in Washington led to the formation of the National Catholic War Council “to study, coordinate, unify and put in operation all Catholic activities incidental to the war.” After the war, the bishops met to make the council permanent and established the National Catholic Welfare Council, the forerunner to today’s USCCB.

“They were responding to a very different crisis, World War I. But there was a sense of the importance of the moment that the church of the United States had to come together under the bishops to find a way of going forward, a vision of hope for the country and to serve,” Reyes said.

Today, like the wider society, the U.S. church is grappling with how best to respond to rapid sociological changes: demographics including a rising Latino population and people leaving organized religion, an economy that has led to a smaller middle class, a broadening of the legal definition of marriage, polarization along ideological lines and technological advances that have changed how people relate with each other.

How to respond under the guidance of Pope Francis will begin to be discussed during the convocation. Each day has its own theme for participants to consider in light of changing church and social structures:

  • July 1: National Unity
  • July 2: Landscape and Renewal
  • July 3: Work and Witness
  • July 4: A Spirit of Mission

On days 2 and 3, plenary sessions will feature panel discussions pertaining to an aspect of the themes with nearly two dozen breakout sessions exploring topics influencing the church’s work.

Mass will be part of each day as well. The July 3 Mass will incorporate religious liberty as part of the bishops’ annual Fortnight for Freedom observance.

Reyes and planners, including the bishops envision the convocation as a starting point with Pope Francis providing the inspiration through his call to bring the Gospel to others.

“The Gospel is a pretty good thing to rally around,” Reyes told CNS. “You can build a lot unity out of it.”

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Five-run fifth carries Sals past Sussex Tech in first game of twinbill

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – Salesianum shut down Sussex Tech’s potent offense and broke open a close game with five runs in the fifth inning in a 8-4 nonconference baseball win on April 18 at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. It was the first of a pair of games for the Sals on the day; they defeated St. Mark’s in the nightcap.

The Sals, who were the visiting team despite playing just a few miles from their Broom Street campus, did not waste any time getting on the board. Walks to Josh Maguire and John Andreoli, followed by an error, loaded the bases with no outs. Tech starter Brady Parks struck out Joe Setting, but Zach Gwynn followed with a single to left field that scored two runs. Parks settled down after that, and the Sals would not score again until the fifth. Read more »

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Pope Benedict celebrates his 90th birthday Bavarian-style

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A bit of Bavaria, including German beer and pretzels, came to the Vatican to help celebrate retired Pope Benedict XVI’s 90th birthday.

“Thank you for bringing Bavaria here,” he told his guests, commenting on the beauty of gathering together under a blue Roman sky with white clouds, colors that “recall the white and blue flag of Bavaria” and how ‘it’s always the same sky” no matter where one finds oneself in the world.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI makes a toast during celebrations marking his 88th birthday in 2015 at the Vatican. Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote he was grateful for being born April 16, 1927, a day that fell during the church's most intense liturgical season. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI makes a toast during celebrations marking his 88th birthday in 2015 at the Vatican. Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote he was grateful for being born April 16, 1927, a day that fell during the church’s most intense liturgical season. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

The Bavarian-born pope’s birthday fell on Easter Sunday, April 16, so a small informal party was held April 17 outside his residence, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican gardens. Pope Francis visited his predecessor April 12, before the start of the Easter Triduum, to offer him birthday greetings.

Special guests at the Bavarian party included: Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the retired pope’s 93-year-old brother; Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s personal secretary; Birgit Wansing, a longtime administrative assistant; and the consecrated laywomen from Memores Domini, who assist him.

A German delegation was present, led by the minister president of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, and including a group of men dressed in the traditional uniforms of the “Schutzen” with their dark green wool hats decorated with feathers, pins and springs of greenery.

Pope Benedict said his heart was filled with gratitude “for the 90 years the good Lord has given me. There have been trying and difficult times, but he always guided me and pulled me through.”

He thanked God for his beautiful homeland “that you now bring to me,” and which is “open to the world, lively and happy” because it is rooted so deeply in the Christian faith.

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Risen Christ calls all to follow him on path to life, Pope Francis says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus is the risen shepherd who takes upon his shoulders “our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms,” Pope Francis said before giving his solemn Easter blessing.

Pope Francis delivers his Easter message and blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 16. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis delivers his Easter message and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 16. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square April 16, the pope called on Christians to be instruments of Christ’s outreach to refugees and migrants, victims of war and exploitation, famine and loneliness.

For the 30th year in a row, Dutch farmers and florists blanketed the area around the altar with grass and 35,000 flowers and plants: lilies, roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, birch and linden.

Preaching without a prepared text, Pope Francis began, as he did the night before at the Easter Vigil, imagining the disciples desolate because “the one they loved so much was executed. He died.”

While they are huddling in fear, the angel tells them, “He is risen.””And, the pope said, the church continues to proclaim that message always and everywhere, including to those whose lives are truly, unfairly difficult.

“It is the mystery of the cornerstone that was discarded, but has become the foundation of our existence,” he said. And those who follow Jesus, “we pebbles,” find meaning even in the midst of suffering because of sure hope in the resurrection.

Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, “I don’t know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen.”

Almost immediately after the homily, a brief but intense rain began to fall on the crowd, leading people to scramble to find umbrellas, jackets or plastic bags to keep themselves dry.

After celebrating the morning Easter Mass, Pope Francis gave his blessing “urbi et orbi,” to the city of Rome and the world.

Before reciting the blessing, he told the crowd that “in every age the risen shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion, the wounds of his merciful love, he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life.”

Christ seeks out all those in need, he said. “He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.”

Pope Francis mentioned a long list of those for whom the Lord gives special attention, including victims of human trafficking, abused children, victims of terrorism and people forced to flee their homes because of war, famine and poverty.

“In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace,” Pope Francis said. “May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.”

The pope also offered special prayers for peace in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo and Ukraine, and for a peaceful resolution of political tensions in Latin America.

The pope’s celebration of Easter got underway the night before in a packed St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Easter Vigil began with the lighting of the fire and Easter candle in the atrium of the basilica. Walking behind the Easter candle and carrying a candle of his own, Pope Francis entered the basilica in darkness.

The basilica was gently illuminated only by candlelight and the low light emanating from cellphones capturing the solemn procession.

The bells of St. Peter’s pealed in the night, the sound echoing through nearby Roman streets, announcing the joy of the Resurrection.

During the vigil, Pope Francis baptized 11 people: five women and six men from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China.

One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, “Yes, I do,” they lowered their heads as the pope poured water over their foreheads.

Among them was Ali Acacius Damavandy from the United States who smiled brightly as the baptismal waters streamed down his head.

In his homily, reflecting on the Easter account from the Gospel of St. Matthew, the pope recalled the women who went “with uncertain and weary steps” to Christ’s tomb.

The pope said the faces of those women, full of sorrow and despair, reflect the faces of mothers, grandmothers, children and young people who carry the “burden of injustice and brutality.”

The poor and the exploited, the lonely and the abandoned, and “immigrants deprived of country, house and family” suffer the heartbreak reflected on the faces of the women at the tomb who have seen “human dignity crucified,” he said.

However, the pope added, in the silence of death, Jesus’ heartbeat resounds and his resurrection comes as a gift and as “a transforming force” to a humanity broken by greed and war.

“In the Resurrection, Christ rolled back the stone of the tomb, but he wants also to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others,” he said.

Pope Francis called on Christians to follow the example of the woman who, upon learning of Christ’s victory over death, ran to the city and proclaimed the good news in those places “where death seems the only way out.”

Presiding over the Stations of the Cross Good Friday, April 14, at Rome’s Colosseum, Pope Francis offered a prayer expressing both shame for the sins of humanity and hope in God’s mercy.

A crowd of about 20,000 people joined the pope at the Rome landmark. They had passed through two security checks and were watched over by a heavy police presence given recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

At the end of the service, Pope Francis recited a prayer to Jesus that he had composed. “Oh Christ, our only savior, we turn to you again this year with eyes lowered in shame and with hearts full of hope.”

The shame comes from all the “devastation, destruction and shipwrecks that have become normal in our lives,” he said, hours after some 2,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. The shame comes from wars, discrimination and the failure to denounce injustice.

Turning to the sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis expressed “shame for all the times we bishops, priests, consecrated men and women have scandalized and injured your body, the church.”

But the pope also prayed that Christians would be filled with the hope that comes from knowing that “you do not treat us according to our merits, but only according to the abundance of your mercy.”

Christian hope, he said, means trusting that Jesus’ cross can “transform our hardened hearts into hearts of flesh capable of dreaming, forgiving and loving.”

— Also by Junno Arocho Esteves

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All Saints will mix arts, religion into STEM Night

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Dialog reporter

 

ELSMERE — Those who attend STEM Night at All Saints Catholic School on April 27 may notice some differences from last year’s version. The multi-parish school is incorporating religion and the arts into the event, reflecting its new focus on turning STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — into STREAM, adding religion and the arts.

The theme this year is “patterns,” incorporating symmetry, radial relief structures, puzzles and other things that include them, including Mass. Students have been hard at work getting ready to turn All Saints into a STREAM zone. Read more »

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Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16th, 2017 Posted in Catechetical Corner, Featured

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Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Today’s readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/041617.cfm

Sun.April 16

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Bishop Malooly’s Easter Message

April 15th, 2017 Posted in Featured, Our Diocese Tags: , ,

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“Do not be afraid.” These are the words of the angel at the tomb of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel. Their initial fear vanished as the two women listened intently to the angel who declared to them: “He has been raised from the dead.” Barely given time to absorb these incredible words, they then received a commission from the angel: “Go quickly and tell his disciples.”

The risen Christ is depicted in the painting "Resurrection" by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ's resurrection from the dead. Easter is April 16 this year. (CNS/Bridgeman Images)

The risen Christ is depicted in the painting “Resurrection” by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Easter is April 16 this year. (CNS/Bridgeman Images)

Their amazement doesn’t stop there. While the women were running to spread the good news, they meet Jesus himself who echoes the words spoken to them by the angel: “Do not be afraid.” Their joy must have been boundless as he urged them on to spread the word to his disciples.

In scores of languages spoken around the world, Christians have heard these same words proclaimed to them during the Easter Vigil. For nearly 2,000 years the Church has rejoiced with the two women. Their joy is our joy. Over and over again the Church exults in the Good News of salvation.

Easter is more than a celebration of the end of Lent. It marks the fulfillment of mankind’s deepest desire – to share in God’s eternal life.

No longer is there any reason for us to be afraid. Jesus vanquished fear by vanquishing death when he died on the cross and rose again. It is good and necessary for us to rejoice at Easter. Nothing should diminish our joy. However, like the women at the tomb who received the Good News, we, too, have also received a commission. As they were told to “Go tell his disciples,” so are we called to proclaim as well. The Good News must be shared with the world through our words and our actions.

Pope Francis declared last year to the world: “The Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love.” While we celebrate the feast of Easter once a year, we should live it in our hearts every day. May love and joy reign in your hearts this Easter season and always.

Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly

Bishop of Wilmington

 

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Y Innovations students are natural builders

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Dialog reporter

 

Archmere senior and friends turn to clay, sand and straw to build sustainable housing for the homeless

 

CLAYMONT — Brennan Stark’s schedule has been full since his arrival at Archmere Academy in Claymont nearly four years ago. In addition to academics, he is involved in other activities that include the Mastersingers. But a bit over a year ago, he was searching for more.

Stark, now a senior, and longtime friend Steven Burns were kicking around some ideas one Saturday about a number of topics, and the pair discussed what a home should be. Read more »

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Eighth Annual Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage: Love Without Measure

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Photos by Don Blake

 

Bishop Malooly joins youth as they carry the cross. The pilgrimage has taken place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday since 2010.

Bishop Malooly joins youth as they carry the cross. The pilgrimage has taken place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday since 2010.

Eight hundred young people from around the diocese joined Bishop Malooly on Saturday, April 8, for the annual diocesan youth pilgrimage through the streets of Wilmington. This year’s theme was “Love Without Measure.” Pilgrims began and ended the journey at St. Elizabeth on Cedar Street, and stopped at St. Francis Hospital, St. Anthony of Padua, Padua Academy, St. Paul’s and St. Hedwig’s. This is the eighth year that diocesan youth have participated in this Lenten tradition started by Bishop Malooly.

 

 

All photos © The Dialog/Don Blake

 

 

 

 

 

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