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Humility need to recognize God’s voice in others, priest tells pope and Curia during retreat

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Humility is needed in order to recognize the voice of God in others, especially those who are perceived to be weak or subject to prejudice, a Franciscan friar told Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia during their Lenten retreat.

Pope Francis prays during a March 6-11 Lenten retreat in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis prays during a March 6-11 Lenten retreat in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

God not only speaks through Jesus, but also speaks to him through Peter, who recognizes Christ as the Messiah “by revelation,” Franciscan Father Giulio Michelini said March 6, according to Vatican Radio.

“Do I have the humility to listen to Peter? Do we have the humility to listen to one another, paying attention to prejudices that we certainly have, but attentive to receive that which God wants to say despite, perhaps, my closures? Do I listen to the voice of others, perhaps weak, or do I only listen to my voice?” he asked.

The pope and top members of the Roman Curia attended their annual Lenten retreat March 5-10 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.

Father Michelini was chosen by Pope Francis to lead meditations on the Gospel of Matthew’s description of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Franciscan delivered two meditations March 6, with the first reflecting on “Peter’s confession and Jesus’ path toward Jerusalem.”

According to Vatican Radio, Father Michelini called on the 74 people present for the retreat to reflect on the criteria on which they base their discernment and whether “I place myself and my personal benefit before the kingdom of God.”

To listen and act upon God’s will, he said, Christians must have “courage to go into the deep to follow Jesus Christ, taking into account that this involves carrying the cross.”

Jesus, he added, not only proclaimed the joy of the resurrection “but also trial” when he said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

In the afternoon, Father Michelini delivered his second meditation, “Jesus’ last words and the beginning of the Passion.”

He explained that the reading of Christ’s Passion reveals two distinct types of logic: Jesus, an observant Jewish layman preparing to celebrate the Passover, and the high priests, who are concerned with the outward appearance of the feast but, at the same time, “prepare to murder an innocent man.”

The question Christians must ask themselves, he said, is if they are “sacred professionals resorting to compromise in order to save the facade, the institution at the expense of individual rights.”

“This is about an attitude that loses the right perspective, believing they are serving God,’ Father Michelini said.

 

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Success at any cost will deceive, disappoint, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Watch out for the tempting promises and easy rewards of false gods and idols because they always lead to confusion, disappointment and even death, Pope Francis said.

“We are tempted to seek even fleeting comfort, which seems to fill the emptiness of solitude and ease the exertion of believing” in God, especially in times of trouble, he said Jan. 11 during his weekly general audience.

A nun takes a photo of Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A nun takes a photo of Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

But the hope and security that come from God “never ever disappoint,” he said. “Idols always let you down” since they are figments of the imagination and not “alive and real” like God.

The pope continued his series of talks on Christian hope by reflecting on Psalm 115, which warns of the false hopes and securities offered by man-made idols.

While the psalmist speaks of statues made of “silver and gold,” the pope said idols also include anything people hold up as the ultimate answer to their happiness and security like money, power, success and false ideologies, all of which carry “illusions of eternity and omnipotence.”

Even things like physical beauty and health become idols when a person is willing “to sacrifice everything” in order to obtain or maintain them, he said.

“They are all things that confuse the heart and mind and instead of promoting life, they lead to death,” he said. As an example of this, he said he once heard a woman speak very nonchalantly about procuring an abortion because the pregnancy would have ruined her figure.

“These are idols and they take you down the wrong path. They do not give you happiness,” he said.

The pope marveled at the huge number of fortunetellers he used to see sitting in a city park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the lines of people waiting their turn to consult them.

The shtick “is always the same, ‘There is a woman in your life,’ ‘Something dark is coming,’” he said ominously. But the people would pay to hear such things, and this was supposed to make them feel better even though they were putting their trust in a bunch of nonsense, he said.

“We buy false hope,” which shows how much people cling to it, he said. True hope, the kind Jesus brought freely by “giving his life for us, that kind we don’t trust in so much sometimes.”

Faith in God takes strength and perseverance, and when bad things happen in life, he said, sometimes that faith wavers and people feel they need a different kind of certainty, something easier or more “tangible and concrete.”

“Sometimes we seek a god that can bend to our wishes and magically intervene to change reality and make it be the way we want,” he said. This is what people love and seek, a god “that looks like us, understandable, predictable,” even though “it can do nothing, impotent and deceitful.”

The psalmist says that those who worship or trust in things that cannot speak, see, feel, move or hear, will become like them with nothing to say, “incapable of helping, changing things, smiling, giving oneself and incapable of loving.”

“Even we, people of the church, run this risk” of becoming worldly, he said. “We need to be in the world, but defend ourselves from the illusions” and idols of the world.

But those who persevere and courageously trust and hope in the Lord, they become more and more like him, sharing in his life and blessings, “transforming us into his children.”

“In this God, we have hope. This is the God that is not an idol, that never disappoints,” and always remembers his people even during their most difficult trials, he said.

At the end of the audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, the pope told people to make sure they never pay for a ticket to see the pope because entry to papal events is always free since “this is a home for everyone.”

“I found out that there are pretty crafty (people) who charge for tickets,” which should have written on them in different languages that they are completely free of charge.

“Whoever makes you pay to get you into an audience commits a crime,” he said. Tickets for papal Masses also always are free. No tickets are needed for the noon Angelus prayer.

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Closed doors, hearts cause suffering to innocent migrants, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Like the people of Israel in exile, migrants forced from their homeland due to war and persecution are often left to suffer because of closed hearts and doors, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis poses with children during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis poses with children during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“In these cases one may ask, ‘Where is God? How is it that so much suffering can come upon men, women and innocent children?’” he said at his general audience March 16.

Continuing a series of talks dedicated to the Year of Mercy, the pope focused on two chapters from the Book of Jeremiah (30 and 31), in which the prophet heralds the return of the exiled people of Israel to their homeland. The experience of exile left their faith “shaken” and seeing their country in ruins made it difficult “to believe in the Lord’s goodness,” the pope said.

“We, too, can live at times a sort of exile, when loneliness, suffering and death can make us think we have been abandoned by God,” the pope said. “How many of our brothers and sisters are living in this time a real and dramatic situation of exile far from their homeland, with the rubble of their homes still in their eyes, with fear in their hearts and often, unfortunately, pain for the loss of loved ones.”

Newspapers and TV programs in Europe have been saturated with images of countless refugees stranded after several countries closed off the so-called Balkan route that allows migration from Turkey through Greece to Northern Europe.

“Today’s migrants who suffer out in the open, without food and cannot enter — they do not feel welcomed,” the pope said. “I really like to see countries and governments who open their hearts and open their doors.”

In the face of suffering, Pope Francis said, Jeremiah’s prophecy of the Israelite’s return to their homeland is an affirmation that “God is not absent” and a reminder that good ultimately triumphs over evil.

“The Lord is faithful; he does not abandon us in desolation. God loves us with a never-ending love that even sin cannot stop. And thanks to him, the hearts of men and women are filled with joy and consolation,” he said.

The joy experienced by the people of Israel upon their return home, he added, is the same joy God wants to give Christians through his forgiveness and is a sign of the consolation given to those who truly convert.

Pope Francis noted that Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus and the church will commemorate this in the coming celebration of his resurrection.

“The true and radical return from exile and the comforting light after the darkness of the crisis of faith is fulfilled in Easter, in the full and definitive experience of the love of God, a merciful love that gives joy, peace and eternal life,” he said.

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Christian hope does not let sting of death poison your life, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christian hope and faith in the afterlife mean the sting of losing a loved one does not have to leave behind a poisonous venom in our lives, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 17. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 17. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

“Our loved ones have not disappeared into dark nothingness: Hope assures us that that they are in God’s good and strong hands. Love is stronger than death,” he said at his general audience June 17.

As part of a series of talks about the family and problems they face, the pope looked at death, particularly the loss of a close family member.

When a loved one dies, especially a child or a parent of young children, “death is never able to appear as something natural,” he said.

It is “heart-rending” when a mother and father lose a child: “It’s as if time has stopped. An abyss opens that swallows up the past and the future,” he said.

Losing a child seems to go against everything life is supposed to be about, he said. “It’s a slap in the face to all the promises, gifts, and sacrifices of love joyously given to the life we have given birth to,” he said.

Just as traumatic is when a child loses one or both parents, he said.

They ask, “‘Where is daddy? Where is mommy?’ or ‘When will mommy come back home?’ Oh, what do you say? The child suffers” and he or she lacks the experience or understanding “to give a name to what has happened,” the pope said.

These experiences of death are particularly distressing, “like a black hole that opens in the life of a family and for which we don’t know how to give any explanation.”

Sometimes family members will blame God. “I understand. They get mad at God, they curse him,” or begin to question or doubt his existence, the pope said.

“This anger is a bit of what comes from the heart of huge heartache” of losing a family member, he said.

Unfortunately, death has a number of evil “accomplices, who are even worse” and their names are hatred, envy, pride, greed, indifference, basically “the sin of the world that works for death and makes it even more painful and unjust.”

Death’s “auxiliary forces” render so many families helpless and, so often, such horror in some parts of the world starts to seem like an “absurd normality.”

“May the Lord free us from getting used to this” kind of loss of life, he said.

For the people of God, death never has the last word, the pope said. However, it still takes an enormous amount of love to face “the darkness of death.”

He asked that today’s priests and all Christians find ways to better express what the faith means when facing the death of a loved one.

People need to mourn, “you must never deny people the right to cry,” he said.

Christians must become “accomplices” of love, armed with the faith and able to help families navigate the “very difficult path of death as well as the sure path of the Lord, crucified and risen, with his irreversible promise of resurrection.”

The Lord will reunite everyone once again, and it is this Christian hope and faith that will “protect us from a nihilistic view of death as well as false worldly consolation,” myths or superstition, he said.

The pope reminded people that June 20 marked World Refugee Day, and he asked people pray for all those forced to flee as they search for a new home “where they can live without fear.”

He asked that the dignity of refugees always be respected and encouraged the international community to cooperate and work effectively to “prevent the causes of forced migrations.”

“I invite everyone to ask forgiveness for the people and institutions that close the doors to these people who are seeking a family, who want to be cared for,” he said to applause.

 

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Pope Francis urges reflection on ‘final farewell’ from earthly life

May 19th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Everyone would do well to reflect on their “final farewell” from earthly life and on whether they are prepared to entrust themselves and all they will leave behind to God, said Pope Francis.

During a morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae May 19, the pope reflected on the day’s readings in which Jesus, after speaking to his disciples of his imminent departure for the Father, prays “the hour has come” (Jn 17:1-11a), and in which St. Paul gathers with the elders of Ephesus before leaving for Jerusalem (Acts 20:17-27). Read more »

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Vatican: Gadhafi’s death ends harsh regime

October 21st, 2011 Posted in Featured, International News, Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATCAN CITY — The Vatican said the death of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi marked the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” that was based on power instead of human dignity.

It expressed hope that the bloodshed would end in the North African country, and that the new Libyan government would open a rebuilding phase based on “a spirit of inclusion” and social justice.

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