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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.”

     

      Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Commission reportedly thought the first alleged visions at Medjugorje were real

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The commission that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI established to study the alleged apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, reportedly voted overwhelmingly to recognize as supernatural the first seven appearances of Mary in 1981.

The sun sets behind a statue of Mary on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The sun sets behind a statue of Mary on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

However, according to a report published by the website Vatican Insider, the commission was much more doubtful about the thousands of alleged visions that have occurred since July 4, 1981, and supposedly continue to this day.

Two of the 17 commission members and consultants thought the alleged visions after the period of June 24-July 3, 1981, were not supernatural, while the other members said it was not possible to make a judgment.

The commission said it was clear that the six alleged visionaries and a seventh who claims to have begun receiving messages from Mary in December 1982 were not given adequate spiritual support.

Vatican Insider published its piece on the report May 16, three days after Pope Francis spoke about some details of the report to journalists traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal.

The Vatican press office May 17 declined to comment on the Vatican Insider piece.

Speaking to journalists May 13, Pope Francis said that, regarding the Medjugorje commission’s work, “three things need to be distinguished.”

“About the first apparitions, when (the ‘seers’) were young, the report more or less says that the investigation needs to continue,” the pope said, according to the English translation posted on the Vatican website.

“Concerning the alleged current apparitions, the report expresses doubts,” he said. Furthermore, “personally, I am more ‘mischievous.’ I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time; this is not the mother of Jesus.”

Pope Francis said his “personal opinion” is that “these alleged apparitions have no great value.”

The real core of the commission’s report, he said, is “the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact” that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. “For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied.”

The spiritual fruits of the pilgrimages, he said, are the reason why in February he appointed Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga to study the best ways to provide pastoral care to townspeople and the pilgrims.

According to Vatican Insider, 13 of the 14 commission members present at one meeting voted to recommend lifting the Vatican ban on official diocesan and parish pilgrimages to Medjugorje.

The commission also recommended turning the town’s parish Church of St. James into a pontifical shrine with Vatican oversight. The move, the commission said, would not signify recognition of the apparitions, but would acknowledge the faith and pastoral needs of the pilgrims while ensuring a proper accounting of the financial donations pilgrims leave.

The commission’s role was to make recommendations to the pope; its report is not an official church judgment on the apparitions. Pope Francis told reporters May 13 that “in the end, something will be said,” but he gave no timeline.

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Pope Francis begins pilgrimage to Fatima, a ‘time of prayer’

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Catholic News Service

LEIRIA, Portugal — Pope Francis said his two-day pilgrimage to Fatima would be a time of prayer and encounter with Jesus and Mary.

The visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima “is a bit special,” he told reporters aboard his flight from Rome May 12. “It is a journey of prayer, an encounter with the Lord and the holy Mother of God.”

Pope Francis greets a girl after arriving May 12 at Monte Real air base in Leiria, Portugal. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a girl after arriving May 12 at Monte Real air base in Leiria, Portugal. (CNS/Paul Haring)

After a three-hour flight, during which Pope Francis greeted each of the 69 journalists traveling with him, the papal plane landed at Monte Real air base, about 25 miles from Fatima.

The pope’s trip was planned for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions to three shepherd children in Fatima.

On the actual anniversary, May 13, Pope Francis was to canonize two of the three young seers, Blessed Jacinta Marto and her brother Blessed Francisco Marto, making them the youngest non-martyred saints in the Catholic Church.

Arriving at the military base, the pope was welcomed by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and held a brief private meeting with him at the base. He also visited the base chapel and blessed sick members of military families.

Before leaving his residence at the Vatican that morning, the pope met with six women, who “had been through tough times,” said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman. Two were pregnant and several were migrants. They all brought their children with them to meet the pope.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state and the pope’s closest collaborator, said Pope Francis’ visit would “express his own love and devotion to Mary” and his great respect for the Marian devotion of Catholics around the world.

In the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children, Pope Francis sees an example of the Mary described by the Magnificat, the biblical hymn of praise for the great things God has done through her, Cardinal Parolin told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

At Fatima, “Our Lady of the Rosary appeared not to the rich or powerful, nor to people who were influential, but to children,” he said. The children were from simple families and were illiterate, “like the least of society or, to use the terminology of the pope, the discarded of society. And Mary wanted to favor this category of people, giving the little shepherds a countercultural message.”

In 1917, World War I was raging and people and public discourse was filled with words of hatred, vengeance and hostility, the cardinal said. “Mary, on the other hand, spoke of love, forgiveness, self-sacrifice and giving oneself to others. It was a total reversal of all the values, or anti-values, that prevailed at that time.”

The two lessons Pope Francis draws from Fatima for the world today, he said, are the need to value the least of one’s brothers and sisters and the need “to live those authentic values that can be the basis for peaceful coexistence and solidarity within a nation and among countries.”

Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, also writing in the Vatican newspaper, said the Fatima message has touched so many people around the world for generations because it spoke and continues to speak about strengthening faith when the world around one is in turmoil.

The messages given by Our Lady of Fatima to the three children in 1917, the bishop said, spoke of “the two world wars and the suffering of humanity, with a specific mention of nations like Russia; the persecution of the church with the mention of the martyrs of the 20th century and of the pope himself; and of the great cause of peace among people.”

“All of that,” Bishop Marto said, “was accompanied by a very strong warning to not resign oneself to those situations as if they were normal” and not to give into a sense that evil will determine human destiny. It is possible to defeat evil by starting with the conversion of hearts to God, prayer and reparation for sins.”

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Maternity leave: Why the pope wants the church to be a loving mother

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Mother’s Day came early this year at the Vatican.

A number of feast days over the Advent and Christmas seasons gave Pope Francis a fresh opportunity to pay homage to the world’s mothers and insist further on how and why he wants the entire church to become more maternal.

But who is this archetypal mother figure the pope upholds? Pope Francis pointed to a few of his favorite biblical heroines, praising the seemingly contradictory qualities of each: Read more »

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New Year calls for courage, hope; no more hatred, selfishness, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Whether the new year will be good or not depends on us choosing to do good each day, Pope Francis said.

“That is how one builds peace, saying ‘no’ to hatred and violence, with action, and ‘yes’ to fraternity and reconciliation,” he said Jan. 1, which the church marks as the feast of Mary, Mother of God and as World Peace Day.

Pope Francis kisses a figurine of the baby Jesus at the start of a Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis kisses a figurine of the baby Jesus at the start of a Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Speaking to the some 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the first noon Angelus of 2017, the pope referred to his peace day message in which he asked people to adopt the style of nonviolence for building a politics for peace.

Lamenting the brutal act of terrorism that struck during a night of “well-wishes and hope” in Istanbul, the pope offered his prayers for the entire nation of Turkey as well as those hurt and killed. A gunman opened fire during a New Year’s Eve celebration at a popular nightclub early Jan. 1, killing at least 39 people and wounding at least 70 more.

“I ask the Lord to support all people of good will who courageously roll up their sleeves in order to confront the scourge of terrorism and this bloodstain that is enveloping the world with the shadow of fear and confusion,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the pope spoke of how maternal tenderness, hope and self-sacrifice were the “strongest antidote” to the selfishness, indifference and “lack of openness” in the world today.

Celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was decorated with bright red anthuriums, evergreen boughs, white flowers and pinecones brushed with gold paint, the pope said that a community without mothers would be cold and heartless with “room only for calculation and speculation.”

The pope said he learned so much about unconditional love, hope and belonging from seeing mothers who never stop embracing, supporting and fighting for what is best for their children incarcerated in prisons, ill in hospitals, enslaved by drugs or suffering from war.

“Where there is a mother, there is unity, there is belonging, belonging as children,” he said.

Just like all mothers of the world, Mary, Mother of God, “protects us from the corrosive disease of being ‘spiritual orphans,’” that is when the soul feels “motherless and lacking the tenderness of God, when the sense of belonging to a family, a people, a land, to our God, grows dim.”

“This attitude of spiritual orphanhood is a cancer that silently eats away at and debases the soul,” which soon “forgets that life is a gift we have received and owe to others a gift we are called to share in this common home,” he said.

A “fragmented and divided culture” makes things worse, he said, leading to feelings of emptiness and loneliness.

“The lack of physical and not virtual contact is cauterizing our hearts and making us lose the capacity for tenderness and wonder, for pity and compassion,” he said, as well as making us “forget the importance of playing, of singing, of a smile, of rest, of gratitude.”

Remembering that Jesus handed his mother over to us “makes us smile once more as we realize that we are a people, that we belong” and can grow, that we are not just mere objects to “consume and be consumed,” that we are not “merchandise” to be exchanged or inert receptacles for information. “We are children, we are family, we are God’s people.”

Mary shows that humility and tenderness aren’t virtues of the weak, but of the strong, and that we don’t have to mistreat others in order to feel important, he said.

The pope also presided over an evening prayer service with eucharistic adoration and the singing of a special hymn of thanksgiving to God Dec. 31 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

As the year ends, he said in his homily, he asked people to reflect on how God has been present in their lives and to thank the Lord for all signs of his generosity, “seen in countless way through the witness of those people who quietly took a risk.”

Gazing upon the manger, we remember how Jesus “wanted to be close to all those who felt lost, demeaned, hurt, discouraged, inconsolable and frightened. Close to all those who in their bodies carry the burden of separation and loneliness, so that sin, shame, hurt, despair and exclusion would not have the final word in the lives of his sons and daughters.”

His sacrifice and love challenges people “not to give up on anything or anyone,” and to find the strength to forge ahead “without complaining or being resentful, without closing in on ourselves or seeking a means of escape, looking for shortcuts in our own interest.”

“Looking at the manger means recognizing that the times ahead call for bold and hope-filled initiatives, as well as the renunciation of vain self-promotion and endless concern with appearances.”

He urged everyone to help make room for young people, who are often marginalized and forced to migrate or beg for undignified jobs. Everyone has a duty to help them grow and fulfill “the dreams of their ancestors” in their own nation and community.

After the prayer service, the pope walked into St. Peter’s Square instead of using the popemobile. He walked the entire periphery of the square, stopping to shake hands, receive cards and notes, offer happy New Year’s greetings, bless babies and chat with people lining the barricades.

In the center of the square, the pope prayed silently before the Vatican Nativity scene, which was created by a Maltese artist. He also stood before the twisted and crumbled spire from the St. Benedict Basilica in Norcia, which like dozens of villages and towns, was damaged in a series of earthquakes in central Italy.

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Give flesh to the Gospel like Mary did, pope says on Guadalupe feast

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis described Mary as a strong woman who inspires believers to give “flesh to the Gospel” in societies often marked by distrust and blindness.

Pope Francis burns incense during a Mass marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis burns incense during a Mass marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“To look at the Guadalupana is to remember that the presence of the Lord always passes through those who manage to make his word flesh, who seek to embody the life of God within themselves, becoming living signs of his mercy,” Pope Francis said Dec. 12 during an evening Mass marking the feast day.

The Mass began with a procession of the flags of the nations of South, Central and North America — a sign that Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the Americas.

Like the U.S. bishops’ had asked their faithful to do, the pope’s Mass included a special prayer “for our Hispanic brothers and sisters and for the migrants of our lands that their dignity would be recognized and protected” and that their family unity and social and ecclesial integration would be promoted.

Another prayer intention asked God, through Our Lady of Guadalupe, to end violence on the continent and guarantee “land, work and a roof” over the heads of all.

The pope himself ended his homily with an improvised prayer that Our Lady of Guadalupe would intercede to give peace, bread, a home and a strong faith to all the continent’s people.

The Mass was celebrated primarily in Spanish, although some of the prayers were in Portuguese and English. And the music, in addition to Latin, included Marian hymns in the indigenous Quechua, Nahuatl and Mapuche languages.

The feast day’s Gospel reading was the story of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, a story Pope Francis said illustrates how, whenever God “visits,” people are moved and their very being “is transformed into praise and blessing.”

“When God visits us, he leaves us restless with the healthy restlessness of those who feel they have been invited to proclaim that he lives and is in the midst of his people,” the pope said. Mary, “the first disciple and missionary,” goes out to Elizabeth to share the good news.

She did the same in 1531 when she appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac in Mexico, the pope said. She reached out to the continent’s native peoples who were in pain, “becoming their mother.”

Mary is “the icon of the disciple, of the believing and prayerful woman who knows how to accompany and encourage our faith and our hope,” the pope said. Mary’s is not a “poetically sweetened faith,” but a faith that is strong and courageous in the face of brokenness and conflict.

The same kind of faith is needed today, the pope said, if the peoples of the Americas are to build a society that overcomes the increasing “signs of division and fragmentation,” where so many people are excluded and poor, “a society that likes to vaunt its scientific and technological advances, but that has become blind and insensitive to the thousands of faces that are there along the way, excluded by the blind pride of the few.”

Pope Francis questioned how the peoples of the Americas can boast of their societies’ well-being when there are “thousands and thousands of children and young people on the streets, begging and sleeping in railway stations, in the subway or wherever they find space. Children and young people exploited in illegal work or driven to seeking a few coins at intersections, cleaning the windshields of our cars.”

Too many families, he said, “are scarred by the suffering of seeing their children made victims of the merchants of death,” and too many elderly are abandoned to solitude. In addition, he said, there is “the precarious situation that affects the dignity of many women. Some, since childhood and adolescence, are subject to many forms of violence inside and outside the home.”

Yet, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he said, Christians are called to remember that they have a mother — “we are not and never will be an orphaned people” — and where there is a mother, there is a strong force pushing children to behave like brothers and sisters.

“I have always been impressed to see, in different peoples of Latin America, those struggling mothers who, often alone, manage to bring up their children,” Pope Francis told the congregation. “This is Mary with us, with her children: a woman who fights against the society of mistrust and blindness, the society of apathy and dispersion; a woman who fights to strengthen the joy of the Gospel, who fights to give ‘flesh’ to the Gospel.”

Celebrating the feast, he said, Christians make a commitment to proclaiming hope and trust in God’s ultimate victory and pledge to love like she loved.

“Her presence leads us to reconciliation, giving us the strength to create bonds in our blessed Latin American land, saying ‘yes’ to life and ‘no’ to all kinds of indifference, exclusion or the rejection of peoples and persons,” Pope Francis said. “Let us not be afraid to go out and look upon others with the same gaze, a gaze that makes us brothers and sisters.”

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New Trinity dome mosaic at national shrine will be ‘wonder to behold,’ says cardinal

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Builders, church leaders, choir members and journalists gathered atop eight floors of scaffolding, 159 feet high, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Oct. 28 for the blessing of the workspace where a new mosaic will be installed on the shrine’s Trinity Dome.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington addresses media and workers at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception prior Oct. 28 before blessing the shrine's Trinity Dome and the workers. A mosaic project to complete the dome is  scheduled to be finished in December 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington addresses media and workers at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception prior Oct. 28 before blessing the shrine’s Trinity Dome and the workers. A mosaic project to complete the dome is scheduled to be finished in December 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

“It will be a wonder to behold,” said Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of the dome, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The mosaic will depict the Trinity, Mary and 13 saints associated with the United States or the national shrine, the four evangelists and words from the Nicene Creed.

The finished dome also will mark the completion of the national shrine, according to the original architectural plans for the church set to mark its centennial in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the placement of its foundational stone.

During the blessing, Cardinal Wuerl offered prayers for the success of the project and the safety of the workers involved. He said the shrine puts into “image form” the message of the Gospel and does so “in a way that everyone can bask in its beauty.”

He said the finished dome, with its emphasis on American saints, will remind people of the “face of who we are and the face of God.” He also said it will reflect “living images of God and living images of everything we are capable of being.”

In introductory remarks, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, stressed the parallels between the mosaic design on the dome and the very character of the shrine itself, representing a mosaic of Catholic parishioners from every corner of the globe.

He said a one-time collection for the dome work will take place on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017. The last time a national collection was done for the shrine was in 1953 when it was being built.

The mosaic work is being done at the Travisanutto Giovanni mosaic company in Spilimbergo, Italy, and will be shipped to the national shrine in 30,000 sections weighing 24 tons and composed of more than 14 million pieces of glass.

Cardinal Wuerl, who blessed the work site, the workers and those present, urged the group of about 90 people at the ceremony to be sure they touched the wall of the dome before they left “because you’ll never have a chance to do it again.”

Remind yourself, he said, that this is “the completion of a 100-year project” which reflects to whoever comes in this building that God is with us.

     

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Church needs courageous women like Mary, pope says at morning Mass

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Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church needs the service of the many women who continue to follow Mary’s example of courage and service despite the odds, Pope Francis said.
Women who serve with joy to bring their families forward in life, to ensure their children’s education and who “face so many adversities and who heal the sick” are courageous, the pope said May 31 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Read more »

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Pope Francis prays in silence before Our Lady of Guadalupe image

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Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Pope Francis touches the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe after celebrating Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City Feb. 13. The Marian image was rotated for the pope to pray in the "camarin" ("little room") behind the main altar. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis touches the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe after celebrating Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City Feb. 13. The Marian image was rotated for the pope to pray in the “camarin” (“little room”) behind the main altar. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

After celebrating the first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico Feb. 13, the pope made his way to the “camarin” (“little room”) behind the main altar of the basilica dedicated to Mary. The miraculous mantle, which normally faces the congregation, can be turned around to allow a closer and more private moment of veneration.

Laying a bouquet of yellow roses in front of the image, the pope sat down in prayerful silence with eyes closed and head bowed. After roughly 20 minutes, the pope stood up, laid his hand on the image and departed from the small room.

About 12,000 people packed the basilica for the papal Mass and another 30,000 were watching on screens set up in the outer courtyard. Built in 1976, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located near Tepeyac hill, the site of Mary’s apparitions to St. Juan Diego in 1531. With some 12 million people visiting each year, it is Catholicism’s most popular Marian shrine.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the Gospel reading, which recalled Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary’s humility in saying “yes” to God’s will, he said, is a response “which prompted her to give the best of herself, going forth to meet others.”

That very humility also led her to appear to a poor indigenous man, he said. “Just as she made herself present to little Juan, so too she continues to reveal herself to all of us, especially to those who feel, like him, ‘worthless,’” the pope said.

Recalling the miraculous appearance of Mary’s image, Pope Francis noted that through such a miracle, “Juan experienced in his own life what hope is, what the mercy of God is.”

The pope said that despite the indigenous saint’s feelings of inadequacy, Mary chose him to “oversee, care for, protect and promote the building of this shrine.”

“In this way, she managed to awaken something he did not know how to express, a veritable banner of love and justice: no one could be left out in the building of that other shrine: the shrine of life, the shrine of our communities, our societies and our cultures,” he said.

God’s true shrine, he added, is the life of his children, especially young people without a future, the elderly who are often unacknowledged and forgotten and families lacking even the most basic necessities.

“The shrine of God is the faces of the many people we encounter each day,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that those who suffer do not weep in vain and their sufferings are a silent prayer that rises to heaven, “always finding a place in Mary’s mantle.”

Like St. Juan Diego, Christians are called to be Mary’s ambassadors and console those who are overwhelmed by trials and sufferings, he said.

“‘Am I not your mother? Am I not here with you?’ Mary says this to us again. Go and build my shrine, help me to lift up the lives of my sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

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Mary’s assumption shows life’s aim is to be with God, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Mary’s assumption into heaven and, in fact, her entire life show believers the great things that God has in store for them, Pope Francis said.

“The great things the Almighty has done for her touch us deeply, speak of our journey through life and remind us of the destination that awaits us: the house of the Father,” Pope Francis said Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption.

Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his Angelus address on the feast of the Assumption at Vatican Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) See POPE-ANGELUS-ASSUMPTION Aug. 17, 2015.

Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his Angelus address on the feast of the Assumption at Vatican Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) See POPE-ANGELUS-ASSUMPTION Aug. 17, 2015.

For the first time in some 60 years, the public recited the Assumption day Angelus prayer with a pope at the Vatican. Usually, the popes are at Castel Gandolfo for the feast day, unless they are traveling abroad. Pope Francis went to Castel Gandolfo for the day Aug. 15, 2013, was in South Korea for the feast day last year and decided not to go at all this year.

Before leading the recitation of the Marian prayer at the Vatican, he spoke about Mary’s “Magnificat,” her hymn of praise for the great things the Lord has done.

“She is a believer, the great believer,” the pope said. “She knows and she says that history is weighted down by the violence of the powerful, the pride of the rich and the arrogance of the proud.

“Nevertheless, Mary believes and proclaims that God does not leave his humble and poor children alone, but rescues them with his mercy and his care, toppling the powerful from their thrones,” the pope said.

The assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven, he said, is a sign to all believers that life “is not a senseless wandering, but a pilgrimage that, although there are uncertainties and suffering, has a sure goal: the house of the Father, who awaits us with love.”

After the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the people of Tianjin, China, where explosions at chemical factories Aug. 12 led to the deaths of more than 110 people and injured more than 700.

Pope Francis was back at the window of the old papal studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square Aug. 16 to lead the recitation of the Angelus as is customary on Sundays.

In his talk, he focused on the day’s Gospel reading from St. John in which Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

The Eucharist, the pope said, truly is the body and blood of Christ and is given to believers so that they can become one with him.

Sometimes people will say they do not see a particular reason to go to Mass and, anyway, “I pray better alone,” the pope said. “But the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience; it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus did at the Last Supper.”

The Mass, he said, makes present the death and resurrection of Jesus. “The bread is truly his body given for us and the wine really is his blood shed for us.”

When one receives Communion with faith, he said, it should transform his or her life, making it a gift to God and to others.

“Nourishing ourselves with that bread of life means entering into harmony with the heart of Christ, assimilating his choices, his thoughts, his behavior,” the pope said.

 

A related video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/sFRU3_q43Nc

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