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On feast of Assumption, pope entrusts victims of disasters, conflict, social tension to Mary

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a week in which natural disasters, war and racial conflicts dominated the headlines, Pope Francis prayed that Mary would bring peace to a divided world.

After reciting the Angelus prayer on the feast of the Assumption, the pope asked Mary to obtain “for everyone consolation and a future of serenity and harmony.”

Pope Francis gives a blessing during his Angelus prayer on the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

“To Mary, Queen of Peace, who we contemplate today in the glory of paradise, I entrust once again the anxieties and sorrows of the people who suffer in many parts of the world due to natural disasters, social tensions or conflicts,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Aug. 15.

Pope Francis did not name any specific location, but as he spoke, the search for survivors continued in Sierra Leone after a devastating mudslide engulfed the outskirts of the capital, Freetown, killing more than 300 people. Flooding and landslides also struck southern Nepal, killing at least 70 people.

In Charlottesville, Va., clashes between white nationalists and protesters resulted in the death of three people, including a 32-year-old paralegal, Heather D. Heyer, who was killed Aug. 12 when a car plowed into a group protesting the white nationalist rally.

In his main Angelus talk, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which recalled Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.

The joy felt by Elizabeth and the child in her womb reflects the interior joy Christians feel in Christ’s presence, the pope said. “When Mary arrives, joy overflows and bursts from their hearts because the invisible yet real presence of Jesus fills everything with meaning: life, family, the salvation of the people. Everything!”

In response, Mary proclaims the Magnificat, her hymn of praise to God for his great works. Pope Francis said it is the hymn of “humble people, unknown to the world, like Mary, like her husband Joseph as well as the town where they live, Nazareth.”

God accomplishes “great things with humble people,” the pope said, inviting people in St. Peter’s Square to reflect on the state of their own humility.

“Humility is like an empty space that leaves room for God. A humble person is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong. This is the greatness of humility,” he said.

The joy Mary brings because she brings Jesus to the world gives all Christians “a new ability to pass through the most painful and difficult moments with faith” as well as the “ability to be merciful, to forgive, understand and support each other.”

“Mary is a model of virtue and faith,” Pope Francis said. “We ask her to protect and sustain us that we may have a faith that is strong, joyful and merciful. May she help us to become saints, to meet her one day in paradise.”

     

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Amid climate worries are ‘human ecology’ issues, such as 58,000 homeless in L.A., archbishop says

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LOS ANGELES — As reaction swirled around President Donald Trump’s June 1 decision to withdraw the country from the Paris climate accord, Los Angeles received a report on “the dramatic increase in the numbers of our brothers and sisters who are homeless,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. Read more »

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Consult the Bible as often as you use a cellphone, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians should care about reading God’s messages in the Bible as much as they care about checking messages on their cellphones, Pope Francis said.

As Christ did in the desert when tempted by Satan, men and women can defend themselves from temptation with the word of God if they “read it often, meditate on it and assimilate it” into their lives, he said before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square March 5.

Pope Francis attends the first day of his Lenten retreat at the Pauline Fathers' retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome, March 5. The pope and top members of the Roman Curia are on retreat from March 5-10. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis attends the first day of his Lenten retreat at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome, March 5. The pope and top members of the Roman Curia are on retreat from March 5-10. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

“What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the messages of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?” the pope asked the crowd.

The pope’s reflection centered on the day’s Gospel reading (Matthew. 4:1-11) in which Jesus is tempted by the devil while fasting in the desert for 40 days and nights before beginning his ministry.

Satan, he said, attempts to dissuade Jesus from fulfilling his message and to undermine his divinity by tempting him twice to perform miracles like “a magician” and lastly, by adoring “the devil in order to have dominion over the world.”

“Through this triple temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humiliation, because he knows that through that path evil will be defeated, and take him on the false shortcut of success and glory,” the pope said.

However, Jesus deflects “the poisonous arrows of the devil” not with his own words but “only with the Word of God.”

Christians, the pope continued, are called to follow Jesus’ footsteps and “confront the spiritual combat against the evil one” through the power of God’s word which has the “strength to defeat Satan.”

“The Bible contains the word of God, which is always relevant and effective. Someone once said: What would happen if we treated the Bible like we treated our cellphones? What would happen if we always brought it with us, or at least a small pocket-sized Gospel?” he asked.

While the comparison between the Bible and a cellphone is “paradoxical,” he added, it is something that all Christians are called to reflect on during the Lenten season.

“If we have the Word of God always in our hearts, no temptation could separate us from God and no obstacle would deviate us from the path of good,” the pope said.

After praying the Angelus prayer with the faithful in the square, Pope Francis asked for prayers before departing for a weeklong Lenten retreat with members of the Roman Curia.

Lent, he said, “is the path of the people of God toward Easter, a path of conversion, of fighting evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting and works of charity,” Pope Francis said. “I wish everyone a fruitful Lenten journey,” he said.

 

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Culture of life the only answer to throwaway logic, pope says

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A culture that protects life from conception to natural death is the only answer to the idea that some lives are expendable due to inconvenience or population control, Pope Francis said.

Following in the path of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Christians are called to stand up and defend the lives of the unborn and the vulnerable, the pope said Feb. 5 in his remarks after the recitation of the Angelus prayer.

“We are close to and pray together for the children who are in danger with the termination of pregnancy, as well as for people who are at the end of their lives; every life is sacred,” he said. Read more »

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The world needs more saints

November 3rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Most likely you are reading this shortly before the U.S. presidential election.

America’s next leader will have the means at hand to do tremendous good or tremendous harm.

The new president-elect of the United States will have many opportunities to purposefully move forward policies and legislation that can make not only the U.S., but the world a far better place. Read more »

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Narrow gate of mercy difficult to enter with bloated pride, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The “narrow gate” to salvation described by Jesus isn’t narrow because God is oppressive, but because pride bloats Christians and prevents them from entering God’s merciful embrace, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis leads the Angelus in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Aug. 21. (CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPA)

Pope Francis leads the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Aug. 21. (CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPA)

Christians “must seize the opportunities of salvation” and not waste time on trivial things before the gate is closed, the pope said before reciting the Angelus prayer Aug. 22.

“If God is good and loves us, why does he close the gate at some point?” the pope asked visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The reason, he said, is because “our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.”

In the day’s Gospel reading, Jesus calls on his followers to “strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

By using the imagery of the narrow gate, Jesus tells his listeners that the question of how many will be saved is not as important as knowing “which path leads to salvation,” the pope said.

Having a humble and faithful heart in need of God’s forgiveness, he added, allows Christians to enter the gate that, while wide open, remains too small for those swollen by pride and fear.

“It is a narrow gate to restrict our pride and our fear; it is a wide open gate because God welcomes us without distinction. And the salvation he gives us is a never-ending stream of mercy that breaks down every barrier and opens up surprising perspectives of light and peace,” he said.

Jesus, he continued, offers an invitation to cross this threshold and is “waiting for each one of us, no matter what sin we have committed, to embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness.”

Upon passing the gate, Christians can experience an “authentic change” that allows them to shed “worldly behaviors, selfishness and closures.”

Pope Francis led pilgrims in a moment of silence to reflect on those things that “we have inside and that prevent us from passing through the gate.” He also asked them to reflect on the “wide open door of God’s mercy” that leads to a path of salvation for those who wish to experience his love.

“It is the love which saves, the love that already here on earth is a source of blessing for those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give of themselves to others, especially to the weakest,” the pope said.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis led the crowd in the square in praying the Hail Mary for the victims of a suicide bombing in Turkey the night before. At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded when a suspected suicide bomber, who was reported to be between 12 and 14 years old, detonated his explosives at a wedding party in Gaziantep.

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Pope Francis marks third anniversary of his election with talk on mercy

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis celebrated the third anniversary of his election with a simple Tweet, “Pray for me,” and the usual Sunday recitation of the Angelus prayer with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 13, the third anniversary of his election to the papacy. (CNS /Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 13, the third anniversary of his election to the papacy. (CNS /Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

In his talk March 13, the pope did not mention the anniversary, but focused on God’s forgiveness and mercy as he did in his first Angelus address in 2013.

“God does not nail us to our sins; he does not identify us with the evil we have committed,” the pope told the crowd.

“God wants to free us,” the pope said. He wants people to use their freedom to do good and not evil. “This is possible; it’s possible with his grace.”

Pope Francis’ Angelus address focused on the Gospel passage being read at Masses around the world: St. John’s account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

The scribes and Pharisees, planning to stone the woman in accordance with the law, brought her to Jesus in an attempt to trick him. “If Jesus followed the severity of the law, approving the stoning of the woman, he would lose his fame of meekness and goodness, which so fascinated people,” the pope said. “But if he wanted to be merciful, he would go against the law, which he himself said he had come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

“This response scatters the accusers, disarming all of them in the true sense of the word,” the pope said. They leave one by one, beginning with the oldest, who is “more aware of not being without sin.”

“How good it would be for us, too, to be aware that we are sinners,” Pope Francis said. “How good it would be if we had the courage to let fall to the ground the stones we have for throwing at others and rather to think about our own sins.”

Every sin is a betrayal of God, making people “adulterers before God,” the pope said. But Jesus says to all, like he said to the woman in the Gospel, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

“Her experience represents God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

At the end of the Angelus, retired workers from an Italian telephone company and members of a national association of retirees handed out a special gift from Pope Francis: “The Gospel of Mercy of St. Luke,” a small paperback edition of St. Luke’s Gospel.

The pope thanked the volunteers, especially those who are grandparents and share the faith with their grandchildren. Speaking from the window of the apostolic palace, he noticed that thousands of people were outside St. Peter’s Square and he asked the volunteers to “think about the people in Pius XII Square, you see they couldn’t get in, make sure they receive a copy of this Gospel, too.”

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Families must open home to God or selfishness will reign, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Families need to open their doors to God and his love or they will harbor an individualism that endangers peace and joy, Pope Francis said on the feast of the Holy Family.

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 27. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 27. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Recognizing and encouraging the importance of strong and unified families is especially needed today when “the family is subjected to misunderstanding and difficulties of various kinds, which weaken it,” he said Dec. 27 before praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Marking the Jubilee of Families during the Holy Year of Mercy, the pope dedicated a morning Mass and his noon Angelus address to the example and witness of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The day’s Gospel reading “invites families to welcome the light of hope originating from the house of Nazareth,” he said in remarks before the Angelus.

The Holy Family demonstrates what God desires for all families, that they be “a special community of life and love,” he said.

Mary and Joseph teach men and women today to welcome children as a gift of God, to raise them in a way that cooperates with God’s divine plan, and to give “the world, with every child, a new smile.”

“The true joy that’s experienced in the family isn’t something random or accidental. It is a joy that is the result of the deep harmony between people, who savor the beauty of being together, of supporting each other on life’s journey,” he said.

That joy also is always rooted in “God’s presence, his welcoming love, mercy and patience toward everyone. If one doesn’t open the door of the family to God’s presence and his love, the family loses harmony, individualism prevails and joy is extinguished,” he said.

The pope prayed that the Holy Family protect the world’s families so that they may live in “serenity and joy, justice and peace.”

Earlier in the day, the pope celebrated a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica dedicated to families.

In his homily, he said the Holy Family show the importance of prayer, sacred Scripture, worship and praising God together as a family.

The pope suggested mothers and fathers bless their children at the start and end of each day, by making the sign of the cross on their children’s foreheads like they did at their baptism. “Bless them, that is, entrust them to the Lord,” he said, “so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day.”

It’s also important families pray before meals, thanking God “for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need.”

Family life is a shared journey of ups and downs, and mistakes can become occasions for forgiveness and growth, the pope said.

“In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness,” he said.

“Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand the mistakes and mend them,” he said. In fact, “how miserable we would be if God did not forgive us.”

That is why people learn how to forgive starting in the family, he said, because it is in the family that people can be sure they are understood and supported no matter what mistakes are made.

“Let us not lose confidence in the family,” he said, since it is “beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness.”

Pope Francis also focused on the importance of forgiveness the previous day, Dec. 26, the feast of St. Stephen, who is remembered as the first Christian martyr.

Like Christ forgave those who crucified him, Stephen forgave those who stoned him to death, the pope said before reciting the Angelus.

A true witness of Christ is someone who acts just like Jesus, someone “who prays, loves, gives, but above all who forgives, which, just like the word says, is the highest expression of giving.”

“If we want to grow in the faith, first and foremost, it’s necessary to receive God’s forgiveness; to encounter the father, who is ready to forgive everything and always.”

“We must never tire of asking for divine forgiveness because only when we are forgiven, when we feel forgiven, we learn to forgive.”

It’s not easy to imitate Christ and forgive the small or significant wrongs and injustices experienced in life, the pope said. But like Christ and St. Stephen, it can be done starting with prayer and entrusting the person who has done wrong to God’s mercy, he said.

“One then discovers that this internal struggle to forgive is cleansed of evil and that prayer and love free us from the internal chains of rancor.”

The pope said, “It is so terrible to live with rancor” so people should use every day as an opportunity to “practice forgiveness.” That way people will become more merciful and “we will overcome evil with good, transforming hatred into love” and making the world more pure.

The pope also asked people pray for all those being persecuted for their faith. “our many martyrs of today” who are “unfortunately very many.”

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Leaked documents won’t stop financial reforms at Vatican, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Leaked and published information about Vatican financial problems and irregularities were already known and are the reason “measures have already been taken that have begun to bear fruit,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis waves during his Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 8. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves during his Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Nov. 8. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

At his first public appearance since the release Nov. 5 of two books based on the leaked documents, Pope Francis assured Catholics that the leaks “certainly will not divert me from the reform work that I and my collaborators are carrying out with the support of all of you.”

After reciting the Angelus prayer Nov. 8 with visitors in St. Peter’s Square, the pope told the crowds he knew that some people were “disturbed by the news circulated in recent days about private documents of the Holy See that were taken and published.”

“Stealing documents is a crime,” the pope said. “It is a deplorable act that does not help.”

Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book, “Merchants in the Temple,” and Emiliano Fittipaldi’s book, “Avarizia” (“Greed’), cite documents written for or by a commission Pope Francis established to study the financial activity of Vatican offices and make recommendations for reforms and improvements. Both books focus on the irregularities uncovered.

The Vatican announced Nov. 2 the arrests of two members of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See. The monsignor and the laywoman are suspected of releasing confidential documents, which is a crime under Vatican law.

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on the day’s Gospel reading, the story of the widow who gave all she had, two small coins, to charity.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd to beware of the scribes who take the places of honor, recite lengthy prayers and yet mistreat the widows.

The scribes, the pope said, show signs of pride, greed and hypocrisy. “Under such solemn appearances, they hide falsity and injustice.”

“Today, too, the risk of assuming such attitudes exists,” the pope told the crowd. “For example, when one separates prayer from justice, because you cannot worship God and harm the poor.”

The poor widow in the Gospel could have given one coin to the temple and kept one for herself, the pope said. “But she did not want to give only half to God,” whom she loved with her whole heart.

“Jesus today tells us that the measure for judging is not quantity, but fullness,” the pope said. “You can have a lot of money, but be empty.”

“The difference between quantity and fullness is not a question of your wallet, but of your heart,” he said.

When Christians see someone in need, he said, they are called to deprive themselves in order to help, whether in terms of money, material goods or time and attention.

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Pope urges visitors to really get to know Jesus by reading Gospels

August 24th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis asked thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to be quiet for a moment and ponder the question, “Who is Jesus to you?”

After the moment of silence Aug. 23, the pope introduced the midday Angelus prayer by asking Mary to help Christians purify their faith, removing “worldly incrustations and fears.” Read more »

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