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Papal preacher: Victory belongs to one who triumphs over self, not others

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus came to the world not just to teach, but to radically change human hearts that have hardened from sin, the preacher of the papal household said during a service commemorating Christ’s death on the cross.

“A heart of stone is a heart that is closed to God’s will and to the suffering of brothers and sisters,” but God, through the son, offers the world “a heart of flesh,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said in the homily.

Pope Francis venerates the crucifix as he leads the Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis venerates the crucifix as he leads the Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis presided over the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion April 14 in St. Peter’s Basilica, which began with a silent procession down the central nave under dim lighting to emphasize the solemnity of the ceremony.

The pope then lay prostrate on the floor before the main altar of the basilica, his head resting upon his clasped hands on a red pillow, in silent prayer, in a sign of adoration and penance. As is customary, the papal household’s preacher gave the homily.

Father Cantalamessa said the motto of the Carthusian monks, “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” (The cross is steady while the world is turning), represents Christ and his cross standing firm, not against the world, which is always in flux, “but for the world, to give meaning to all the suffering that has been, that is and that will be in human history.”

Jesus came not to condemn sinners, who “are creatures of God and preserve their dignity,” but to admonish the sin, which is the “result of one’s passions and of the ‘devil’s envy,’” he said.

Today’s world seems especially “fluid,” he continued, with no fixed moorings, no undisputed values, where “everything is in flux, even the distinction between sexes.”

The cross standing in and over the world as represented in the monks’ coat of arms, he said, is the “mainmast that holds the boat afloat in the undulation of the world” and marks the “definitive and irreversible ‘no’ of God to violence, injustice, hate, lies — to all that we call ‘evil,’ and at the same it is equally the irreversible ‘yes’ to love, truth, and goodness.”

No one should ever give up hope, he said, because “the cross is the living proclamation that the final victory does not belong to the one who triumphs over others but to the one who triumphs over self; not to the one who causes suffering but to the one who is suffering.”

Father Cantalamessa said, “Christ did not come to explain things, but to change human beings,” who each possess some varying degree of “a heart of darkness,” a heart hardened by sin.

The Bible calls it a heart of stone, he said, which is the heart of those who ignore God’s will and others’ pain; it is someone, for example, who “accumulates unlimited sums of money and remains indifferent to the desperation of the person who does not have a glass of water to give to his or her own child; it is also the heart of someone who lets himself or herself be completely dominated by the instincts of the flesh and is ready to kill or to lead a double life.”

It is also the heart of the church’s ministers and practicing Christians who “still live fundamentally ‘for ourselves’ and not ‘for the Lord,’” he said.

When Christ died, the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs were opened. These signs also indicate, the papal preacher said, “what should happen in the heart of a person who reads and meditates on the Passion of Christ.”

Quoting St. Leo the Great, the preacher said people’s earthly nature should tremble at the suffering of the savior, “the rocks — the hearts of unbelievers — should burst asunder. The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart.”

The heart of flesh God promised “is now present in the world” and in receiving the Eucharist, “we firmly believe his very heart comes to beat inside of us as well.”

He asked the assembly to gaze upon the cross and implore, like the tax collector in the temple, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” so “we too, like he did, will return home ‘justified, that is, reconciled with God, and if it’s necessary, with our cross.’”

After the homily, the assembly venerated the cross, which was carried down the central nave and held before the pope, who kissed and caressed it.

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

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Chrism Mass homily: Share, speak and witness the Good News to others

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The following is Bishop Malooly’s prepared text for his April 10 Chrism Mass homily at Holy Cross Church in Dover. Each year at the Chrism Mass the bishop blesses the oil of the Sick and the oil of the Catechumens and consecrates the chrism, a mixture of balsam and oil, that’s used for baptisms, confirmations and ordinations during the coming year at parishes in the diocese.

Bishop Malooly blesses the holy oils during the Chrism Mass April 10 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (The Dialog)

Bishop Malooly blesses the holy oils during the Chrism Mass April 10 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (The Dialog)

This is my ninth Chrism Mass. As I have said before, for some reason this is always a very significant moment of transition for me. Almost like the beginning of a new year. Tonight, we bless the sacramental oils and my brothers and I renew our priestly commitment. Today, even as we celebrate priesthood and bless the sacramental oils, I am very grateful for all who serve our church.

For this Chrism Mass, I look ahead with hope and I look back with gratitude. We have weathered together many challenges. I especially want to thank my brother priests for their support, faith, leadership and positive outlook. You have kept your parishes and ministries alive and vibrant in some difficult years.

And now we continue to celebrate with Pope Francis as he enters his fifth year. As we are moving ahead in Wilmington, he has the church moving ahead. When Jesus began his public ministry, he returned to Galilee and we hear that the power of the Spirit was with him as he quotes from the prophet Isaiah and the news about him spread throughout the whole region. He outlined clearly how he would live. Pope Francis has done the same in both words and actions and indicated what he expects of us.

Jesus’ mission reached out to all people, especially to those in need: the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, echoes this for us, telling us to go out to the peripheries, as Christ did. Our lives must reach out to accompany others.

Today, that requires us to advocate on behalf of our immigrants and refugees – our brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter where they are from, children of our God. We welcome them and support them. I have visited many of our Hispanic communities in the past year to encourage them. And our bishops’ conference nationally works everyday on Capitol Hill, advocating on their behalf.

To continue Jesus’ mission as a diocese, we have set our goals for the coming years — vocations, catechesis, evangelization, and some slightly new models of ministry. We are moving; we are making progress.

I would, once again, appeal to all of us at this Chrism Mass and throughout Holy Week to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. I am grateful for the work of Father Norm Carroll and his ever growing vocation team of priests. The more of our priests who celebrate the good news of their call, with joy, the more we will attract others.

Tonight, we gather with some of our catechumens and candidates as we did earlier here at the Rite of Election. As in every year they energize the rest of us. As a church we continue to grow even as Mass attendance in some places declines. Our new members step forward because they have found the truth.

Talking about energy and life – if you were not at our eighth annual youth pilgrimage this past Saturday – the theme “Love without Measure”you missed a wonderful opportunity to have your faith reinforced by the youth and young adults of our diocese. We had 800 people marching, carrying the cross, and witnessing to their faith. They celebrated reconciliation, took part in the Stations of the Cross, spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and carried the blessed palm from St. Hedwig to celebrate Mass at St. Elizabeth. For me, it is always a remarkable way to begin Holy Week and connect with our present and future church. You can’t help but be caught up in hope.

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, while at the same time we will be focused on washing one another’s feet. Both go together; Jesus comes to each of us to encourage us to serve the needs of his brothers and sisters.

On Good Friday, we will celebrate our Lord’s suffering and death that selfless gift that gives each of us eternal life. It is our core message and God’s greatest gift. At the vigil and on Easter Sunday, we will remember the joy of that first Easter. And the disciples and holy men and women with the power received from the Holy Spirit at Pentecost used the simple tools of words, faces, and conviction to spread the message and did so extremely well.

Two thouand and some years later, it is our turn. We are encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. We are truly blessed. Let us share, speak, and witness that good news to others.

For us priests and for all of us the Eucharist is the center of our lives and our love for the Eucharist deepens and broadens over time. To move into a deeper relationship with Christ for all of us means moving more deeply into the Eucharist. When people come to you, let them see Jesus in you. That is why it is so important for all of us to recommit ourselves to the celebration of the Eucharist.

When I was installed as your bishop on September 8, 2008, I said, “I will lead but I want to walk with you and I want you to walk with me.” I actually bumbled the words but you knew what I meant and you have done the walk. I had no idea then how complex the walk would be for all of us. The walk will continue to be challenging in different ways than earlier. I need you to continue to walk with me and I thank you for that. God bless you all. And thank you.  Amen.

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Pope: Jesus’ service to others gave him authority

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus astonished people with the way he taught and interacted with others because he wasn’t aloof, domineering or hypocritical, Pope Francis said in a homily.

“Jesus wasn’t allergic to people. Touching lepers, the sick did not disgust him,” whereas the Pharisees, who strolled around in fine clothes, looked down on the people and considered them ignorant, he said at the Mass Jan. 10 in the chapel of his residence.

Pope Francis (CNS photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)

Pope Francis (CNS photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)

“They were removed from the people, they weren’t close,” the pope said of the Pharisees. “Jesus was very close to the people and this gave him authority.”

The pope’s homily centered on the day’s Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28) in which people gathered at the synagogue in Capernaum “were astonished” at Jesus’ teaching because he displayed an authority that differed so greatly from that of the scribes.

The people would listen to and be respectful toward the doctors of the law and the scribes, but the people didn’t take what they said “to heart,” he said.

These teachers felt themselves superior, as if to say: “We are the teachers, the princes and we teach you. No service. We command, you obey,” the pope said. But Jesus “never passed himself off as a prince. He was always the servant of everyone and this is what gave him authority.”

The traditional teachers were hypocrites, declaring the truth, but not doing what they preached, Pope Francis said.

Jesus “lived what he preached,” he said, representing the harmonious union of “what he thought, felt and did.”

“Jesus, who is humble, who is at the service (of others), who is near, who doesn’t despise people and who is consistent, has authority,” the pope said. “This is the authority that the people of God sense.”

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The last Gospel, last homily at Christ Our King

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‘Kingers’ reunite at Christ Our King Church for bittersweet closing Mass at Wilmington parish

 

The following is the text of Bishop Malooly’s homily at the closing Mass of Christ Our King Church, on the closing of the parish on Oct. 30.

 

(See photos by Don Blake, below the homily text.)

 

My first exposure to Christ Our King parish was in 1958. In September, I joined three of the recent Kinger graduates – John Grady, Vinnie Canatelli and Fran Kane — in the seminary in Baltimore. They didn’t carry through to the priesthood but each became an outstanding Catholic gentleman. John Grady is here today. He has been a successful lawyer and a trustee for many years at Holy Cross Parish in Dover.

My first week here as diocesan bishop in 2008, I joined them and their classmates for their 50th anniversary party. Read more »

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Pope calls human traffickers and owners who exploit cheap labor ‘true leeches’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Human traffickers and unjust business owners who become wealthy by exploiting others for cheap labor commit a mortal sin, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta last month at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta last month at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Those who do this are true leeches and live off the bloodletting of people whom they have made to work as slaves,” the pope said May 19 during the Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, his residence.

The pope’s homily centered on the day’s first reading from the Letter of St. James (5:1-6) in which the apostle denounces those who have gained their wealth from “the wages you withheld from the workers.”

Although wealth in and of itself isn’t bad, the pope said the real problem comes when one’s heart becomes attached to riches, particularly those who believe in the “theology of prosperity” that stems from the belief that God offers financial blessings to the just.

The attachment to wealth can instead become “chains that take away the freedom to follow Jesus,” he said.

Pope Francis lamented that even today, there is a so-called “civilized” exploitation by those who “become fat in wealth” by forcing others to work in unjust conditions with no vacation, health insurance or dignified work hours.

The pope recalled a conversation he had with a young woman who worked 11 hours a day to earn 650 euro a month under the table, saying that such exploitation “today is true slavery.”

Recalling the Gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Pope Francis said the “civilized” exploitation of people is worse than the sin of the rich man who “was in his own world” and “did not notice that on the other side of the door of his house, there was someone who was hungry.”

Knowing that one’s actions are depriving others “is worse. This is starving the people with their work for my own profit. (This is) living off the blood of people. And this is a mortal sin. It is a mortal sin. Converting from this sin requires a lot of penance, a lot of restitution,” he said.

Pope Francis called on Christians to reflect on the tragedy of human trafficking and those who become wealthy by forcing others to work in undignified conditions.

In the day’s Gospel reading, he noted, Jesus assures those who are generous “will surely not lose” their reward.

“May the Lord make us understand today that simplicity which Jesus tells us about in today’s Gospel: A glass of water in the name of Christ is more important than all the wealth accumulated through the exploitation of people,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Seek out signs God offers for finding Jesus, pope says on feast of the Epiphany

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Go out and seek the signs God is offering everyone today that will lead to Christ, Pope Francis said.

The thirst for God is present in everyone, and it’s the church’s task to help those with “a restless heart” by pointing them to the true light of Christ, the pope said Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, which marks the manifestation of Jesus as savior to the world.

Men dressed as the Three Kings ride on horses in an Epiphany parade in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Men dressed as the Three Kings ride on horses in an Epiphany parade in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said the church’s mission is to help people “know the face of the father” by first receiving “God’s light and then to reflect it. This is her duty.”

The church must always remember, however, that the light it shares is the glory of the Lord. “The church cannot deceive herself into thinking that she shines with her own light. She cannot,” he said.

“Christ is the true light shining in the darkness. To the extent that the church remains anchored in him, to the extent she lets herself be illuminated by him, she is able to bring light into the lives of individuals and peoples,” he said.

It is only by receiving this divine light that Christians can be true to their vocation of proclaiming the Gospel, which is not proselytism, not a mere profession and “not simply one option among many,” but an obligation, he said.

The Three Wise Men who come from afar seeking the promised king show that “the seeds of truth are present everywhere, for they are the gift of the creator, who calls all people to recognize him as the good and faithful father,” the pope said.

“The church has the task of recognizing and bringing forth more clearly the desire for God, which is present in the heart of every man and woman,” he said.

“Like the Wise Men, countless people, even in our own day, have a restless heart, which continues to seek without finding sure answers,” he said. “They, too, are looking for a star to show them the path to Bethlehem.”

But Christians must also keep asking and looking for the Christ child as well, especially in today’s age, and “to seek the signs which God offers us, realizing that they require our diligence in order to interpret them and, therefore, understand his will.”

“And once we have found him, let us worship him with all our heart, and present him with our gifts: our freedom, our intelligence, and our love,” the pope said.

As people follow the light that “streams from the face of Christ full of mercy and fidelity,” he said, do not forget that this light is also “very small,” coming from a tiny, humble child in a manger.

“True wisdom lies concealed in the face of this child. It is here, in the simplicity of Bethlehem, that the life of the church is summed up.”

While Pope Francis and thousands of people were at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, thousands more lined the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square for the traditional, folkloric Epiphany celebration. Marching bands, Roman gladiators and hundreds of people in Renaissance costumes paraded up the street along with the Three Kings and real camels.

At the Angelus at midday, the pope said the revelation of Jesus to the shepherds and the Three Wise Men “teaches us that in order to encounter Jesus it is necessary to know to look up to heaven, to not be withdrawn into oneself, but to have a heart and mind open to the horizon of God, who always surprises us, to know to welcome his message and respond quickly and generously.”

The Three Wise Men also compel “us to not be satisfied with mediocrity, to not just stumble along in life, but to seek out the meaning of things and to look deeply at the great mystery of life with passion. And they teach us to not be scandalized by smallness and poverty but to recognize the majesty in humility and know how to kneel before it.”

Finding that star, such as the Gospel, is a source of great joy and consolation, he said, because one feels “guided and not abandoned to our fate.”

“Without listening to the Gospel, it is not possible to encounter” Jesus, he said.

The pope asked people to pray that the Virgin Mary “help us turn our gaze away from ourselves, to let ourselves be guided by the star of the Gospel in order to encounter Jesus, and to know how to lower ourselves in order to adore him.”

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Bishop Malooly’s homily at. Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Easton, Md., for the opening of the Holy Door on Dec. 13

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The following is the recorded text of Bishop Malooly’s homily Dec. 13, 2015, Third Sunday of Advent [Gaudete Sunday] at Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Easton, Md., for the opening of the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Read more »

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Christians are called to lead others to Jesus without lecturing, pope says at closing Mass of synod

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As disciples, Christians are called to imitate Jesus’ heart and lead others directly to him, without lecturing them, Pope Francis said.

Thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 25 for the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops. The Mass concluded three weeks of intense discussion and debate on pastoral responses to the challenges facing families in the modern world.

Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels during the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels during the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, which recalled Jesus’ healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar from Jericho, Pope Francis said Christ is not content with giving the poor man alms, but preferred to “personally encounter him.”

Jesus asking the beggar what he wanted may seem like a senseless question, the pope said, but it shows that Jesus “wants to hear our needs” and “talk with each of us about our lives, our real situations.”

When Jesus’ disciples address Bartimaeus, they use two expressions: “take heart” and “rise,” the pope said.

“His disciples do nothing other than repeat Jesus’ encouraging and liberating words, leading him directly to Jesus, without lecturing him,” he said. “Jesus disciples are called to this, even today, especially today: to bring people into contact with the compassionate mercy that saves.”

In moments of suffering and conflict, he said, the only response is to make Jesus’ words “our own” and most importantly, to “imitate his heart.” Today, the pope said, “is a time of mercy.”

However, Pope Francis also warned that the Gospel shows two temptations that face those who follow Jesus when confronted with people who are suffering. The first is the temptation of falling into a “spirituality of illusion,” shown in the indifference of those who ignored Bartimaeus’ cry, “going on as if nothing were happening.”

“If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem,” the pope said. “This can be a danger for us: in the face of constant problems, it is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered.”

This “spirituality of illusion,” he said, makes one capable of developing world views without accepting “what the Lord places before our eyes.”

“A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of the people remains arid and creates other deserts rather than oases,” he said.

The second temptation the pope warned against was of falling into a “scheduled faith” where “everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother.” The pope said that like those who lost patience with the blind man and rebuked him for crying out to Jesus, there is the risk of excluding “whoever bothers us or is not of our stature.”

“Jesus, on the other hand, wants to include above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him,” he said. “They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus.”

Pope Francis thanked the synod participants for walking together on a path in search of ways “which the Gospel indicates for our times so that we can proclaim the mystery of family love.”

“Never allowing ourselves to be tarnished by pessimism or sin, let us seek and look upon the glory of God, which shines forth in men and women,” the pope said.

 

A video to accompany this story can be found at https://youtu.be/oCU5Mvftjk0

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Red Mass homily: Criminal justice system needs reform

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Sulpician Father Phillip J. Brown, the rector of the Theological College of the National Seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was the homilist at the St. Thomas More Society’s Red Mass, Oct. 5, at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville.

The following is the prepared text of Father Brown’s homily.

If you made a product designed to last for 50 years that had a failure rate of 68 percent after three years, and 77 percent after five years, how would you rate your success? Would you worry about a class action suit, especially if personal injuries were involved? Let me come back to that later. Read more »

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From the bishop: Freedom to bear witness, Fortnight for Freedom homily

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The following is the text of Bishop Malooly’s Fortnight for Freedom homily at the July 5 Mass at 11 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington. The Fortnight, June 21-July 4, was the U.S. bishops’ national observance of two weeks of prayer focused on the role of faith in public life and the preservation of religious freedom in our society.

This weekend we celebrate our freedom, our liberty from sin. We do it every time we stand around the altar.

It was through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have been saved and freed. Read more »

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