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Prayer brings light of hope in dark times, pope says at audience

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction, Pope Francis said.

People often feel unworthy to turn to God when they are in need “as if it were a self-interested prayer and, thus, imperfect,” the pope said Jan. 18 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis walks near violinists during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks near violinists during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“But God knows our weakness; he knows that we remember him to ask for help and, with the indulgent smile of a father, he responds graciously,” he said.

Greeting thousands of people in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope seemed to lose his balance several times as pilgrims clasped his hand and tried pulling him toward them, hoping for a hug or a blessing.

Still, the pope took time to greet people, stopping to bless a pregnant woman’s belly and embracing a young boy in tears, who was overcome with emotion at meeting him.

The audience took place at the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which for 2017 had the theme: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us.”

Addressing the different language groups, the pope prayed that all Christian communities would “be open more to reconciliation” and communion.

“In this same spirit of hope and with gratitude for the progress already made in the ecumenical movement, I ask your prayers for this important intention,” the pope told the English-speaking pilgrims.

During the audience, the pope reflected on the prophet Jonah, a man who first tried to run away from God’s call and initially refused “to place himself at the service of the divine plan of salvation.”

Nevertheless, the story of Jonah is a “great lesson about the mercy of God who forgives,” the pope said.

Jonah fled from his task of preaching salvation to the people of Ninevah who, in the eyes of the Israelites, “deserved to be destroyed, not to be saved,” the pope said. But when a dangerous storm hit, the pagans aboard his ship immediately prayed to their gods; a just reaction in the face of death because only then “man experiences his own frailty and his own need of salvation,” he said.

“The instinctive horror of death awakens the need to hope in the God of life,” the pope said. People think, “‘Perhaps God will think of us and we will not perish.’ These are the words of hope that become a prayer, that plea full of anguish raised by the lips of man in front of an imminent danger of death.”

The storm passed once Jonah accepted his responsibility and asked to be thrown into the sea, the pope continued, which moved the pagans to a sincere fear of God and “to recognize the one true Lord of heaven and earth.”

The people of Ninevah, he added, also had the experience of facing death yet being saved in the end, which led them to know and experience the truth of God’s love.

This experience of God’s divine mercy is a reminder for all men and women to recognize the “surprising occasions of knowing hope and encountering God,” Pope Francis said.

“Prayer brings you to hope,” the pope said. “And when things become dark, with more prayer there will be more hope.”

 

 

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Viewpoint: Lots of things to pray about in 2017

January 8th, 2017 Posted in Opinion Tags: , ,

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Based on the record of 2016, there are a lot of things to pray about in the coming year. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what we might focus our petitions on to lessen the painful effects of any bad news heading our way?

However, it isn’t hard to see the challenges, the dangers, the illnesses, the risks, the economies and the wars that afflict so many people. We can join with Pope Francis in his daily prayers for an end to war and violence in the world. Read more »

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Visiting the pews and the polls on Nov. 8

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Churches will be open Tuesday for prayers, Masses and Adoration

Because of the importance of Election Day 2016, Bishop Malooly has asked parishes in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to open churches for Masses, Adoration and other prayer services on Tuesday, Nov. 8, if possible.

Parishioners of the Diocese of Wilmington are asked to pray that God blesses the country and helps voters make an informed decision at the polls.

The following parishes reported services as of Thursday afternoon, Nov. 3. For updated information, check the Diocese of Wilmington’s website, www.cdow.org. Read more »

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Pope calls Christians to attract people to Christ, not proselytize

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to follow the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, who helped draw people to Jesus by way of attraction, not by proselytizing, Pope Francis said.

She was a reminder that an authentic witness is proclaimed through a union with Christ “in prayer, adoration and in concrete charity, which is serving Jesus, who is present in the least of our brothers and sisters,” he said Oct. 5 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from China during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from China during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Among the estimated 25,000 in St. Peter’s Square were 33 former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp, whom he greeted after the audience and posed for pictures.

Addressing the former prisoners and Polish pilgrims present, he said the day’s feast of St. Faustina Kowalska “reminded the world that God is rich in mercy and that his love is more powerful than death, than sin and every evil.”

In his main audience talk, Pope Francis reflected on his Sept. 30-Oct. 2 visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, which, along with his visit in June to Armenia, fulfilled his desire to encourage the Catholic communities in the Caucasus region, he said.

Recalling the Oct. 1 Mass in Tbilisi celebrating the feast of St. Therese, the patroness of the missions, the pope said, “This is what the religious men and women I met in Tbilisi do, as well as in Baku: They do it with prayer and charitable works. I encouraged them to be steadfast in the faith with memory, courage and hope.”

Although both countries celebrated the 25th anniversary of their independence from the Soviet regime, they still “face numerous difficulties in different aspects of social life” and the Catholic Church, in collaboration with other churches and Christian communities are called to be “a sign of charity and human development, he said.

“In Georgia, this mission naturally passes through the collaboration with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, who form the vast majority of the populations,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said a “very important sign” of this collaboration was the presence of Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II at the airport upon his arrival as well as their meeting at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which houses the seamless tunic of Jesus, a garment the pope described as a “symbol of unity of the church.”

“This unity is supported by the blood of so many martyrs of different Christian confessions. Among the most tested are the Assyrian-Chaldeans in Tbilisi with whom I lived an intense moment of prayer for peace in Syria, Iraq and in the whole Middle East,” the pope said.

The witness of love and unity given by religious men and women as well as Christian families in Georgia was also witnessed in Azerbaijan. Although the majority of the population is Muslim, he said, they share a good relationship with the small Catholic community there and “maintain fraternal ties with Orthodox Christians.”

Pope Francis said the celebration of the Eucharist and the interreligious meeting in Baku were proof that “faith knows how to maintain the right relationship” between different faiths and expressed his hope that through this unity, the people of the Caucasus may “live in peace and mutual respect.”

The Eucharist is “where the spirit harmonizes different languages and gives the strength of witness” which creates communion in Christ and drives Christians to “seek an encounter and dialogue with all who believe in God, to build together a more just and fraternal world,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Viewpoint: For caregivers — Special beatitudes and a prayer

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I don’t recall my late wife, Monica, and I ever apologizing to Jesus or the evangelist Matthew for plagiarizing and doing a little rewriting of the beatitudes.

Perhaps I should assume that sometimes since Monica’s death in January 2013, she straightened the whole thing out face to face. Read more »

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Pope Francis recommends resolving church tensions with discussion, prayer

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In the church, as in any other situation, “problems cannot be resolved by pretending they don’t exist,” Pope Francis said.

“Confronting one another, discussing and praying — that is how conflicts in the church are resolved,” the pope said May 18 before praying the “Regina Coeli” with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

A child waves a flag as Pope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 18. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

The pope focused his remarks on the day’s first reading, Acts 6:1-7, which describes how the early Christian community, as it grew to include people from different groups, began to experience internal tensions, and how those tensions were resolved at a meeting of the disciples.

Facing the problem, discussing solutions and praying about the tensions, he said, the disciples found harmony and an end to a situation in which there was “discontent, complaints, accusations of favoritism and inequality.”

“Gossip, envy and jealousy never can bring agreement, harmony and peace,” the pope said. “No gossip, no envy, no jealousy, you understand?” he asked the crowd.

After praying the “Regina Coeli,” Pope Francis asked people to join him praying a Hail Mary for the victims of recent flooding in Serbia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 

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Morning homily: Humility and prayer needed to hear the word of God

March 21st, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Anyone who desires to hear the word of God must first be humble and then capable of prayer, Pope Francis said March 21 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. Without humility and prayer, people take possession of God’s word and turn it to their own uses, said the pope.

Pope Francis’s homily was based upon a parable Jesus recounts in the Gospel of Matthew, in which a landowner loses his vineyard to thieves who kill his servants and son.

Jesus then interprets the parable for the chief priests and elders whom he is addressing: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

The same happens among ourselves when we are not open to and obedient to the word of God, said the pope, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

In this way, the pope continued, the word of God itself becomes as if dead. The Holy Spirit becomes a prisoner of the desires of those who would take the word of God as their own, according to their interests, their ideologies, their theologies.

“This is the drama of such people, but also our own,” Pope Francis said. “To preserve this, they kill. This is what happened to Jesus.

“But there is a phrase which gives us hope,” said Pope Francis. “The word of God may be dead in the hearts of people like this, and can die even in our own hearts. But it does not end because it is alive in the hearts of the simple and the humble, of the people of God.

“The simple flock that followed Jesus because what Jesus said was heartwarming,” the pope said, “did not use the word of God in their own interest; but listened and tried to be a little bit better.”

What can each of us do so as not to kill the word of God, and not imprison the Holy Spirit? the pope asked. “Two simple things — first, humility, secondly, prayer.”

— By Judith Harris

 

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‘Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage’ Jan.19-26

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For the second year in a row, the U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring “Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage,” planned for Jan. 18-26 this year, as part of several events marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand in the U.S.

“Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss, often in silence,” says a posting on the website www.9daysforlife.com.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said Jan. 15 that the number of abortions since the 1973 decision reflects “with heartbreaking magnitude” what Pope Francis means by a “throwaway culture.”

“Yet our society relegates abortion to a matter of personal choice, often denying the integrity and even the recognition of the personhood of unborn children,” he said in a statement. “However, we have great trust in God’s providence.”

Cardinal O’Malley urged all Catholics to participate in nine-day pro-life novena, whether they planned to travel to Washington or not for this year’s March for Life Jan. 22.

The 9daysforlife website offers participants several ways to sign up to receive directly a daily simple novena with different intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation via email or text message or by using an app for smartphones.

Several resources for prayer and activities, as well as the full reflections for each of the nine days, are available online in the “Pro-Life Activities” section of the U.S. bishops’ website, www.usccb.org.

By participating in the pro-life novena and calling “upon the Lord for the healing and conversion of our nation and those impacted by the culture of death,” Cardinal O’Malley said, “we are also reminded, through the very act of prayer, of our beautiful dependence on God and his deep love for each of us.”

Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the Roe case and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Once gain the National Mall in Washington will be site of the annual March for Life marking those rulings. Thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on the nation’s capital for the rally and march to the Supreme Court.

The March for Life, which has adoption as its theme this year, will begin with a pre-rally event with live music at 11:30 a.m., followed by a noon rally with a host of speakers. The march begins immediately afterward, with participants walking from the Mall to Constitution Avenue and ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the eve of the annual march, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and The Catholic University of America’s Office of Campus Ministry will sponsor the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the national shrine.

It will open Jan. 21 with a 6:30 p.m. Mass to be celebrated in the Washington shrine’s Great Upper Church. Cardinal O’Malley will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The vigil will continue in the shrine’s Crypt Church with the National Rosary for Life at 10 p.m., followed by night prayer at 11 p.m. The vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours every hour on the hour starting at midnight and continuing through 6 a.m.

After morning prayer, Benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 a.m., Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be the celebrant and homilist at the vigil’s closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. Mass in the national shrine’s Great Upper Church.

Last year, more than 20,000 pro-life pilgrims attended the vigil.

Across the country, three days after the Washington events, more than 50,000 people are expected to gather Jan. 25 for the 10th annual Walk for Life West Coast.

“The pro-life spirit is truly alive in San Francisco and the Walk for Life West Coast continues to be a wonderful way for those who care about women and their babies, born and unborn, to show that life is the only choice,” Eva Muntean, the event’s co-chair, told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The crowd will gather at Civic Center Plaza for a 12:30 p.m. rally, then walk down Market Street starting at 1:30 p.m. The event will conclude with a celebration at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building.

To celebrate and promote this year’s walk, the Walk for Life has released a short promotional video that can be seen at www.walkforlifewc.com.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will deliver the invocation for the walk at Civic Center Plaza. He has invited the priests and people of all the parishes and schools of the archdiocese to attend.

“The growth and enthusiasm surrounding the walk proves that our pro-life message continues to resonate with the culture to fill the void secular society creates when it excludes God, virtue and an understanding of the profound dignity of human life,” Archbishop Cordileone wrote in his letters to pastors, priests, Catholic school teachers and students in the San Francisco archdiocese.

The archbishop also will celebrate a 9:30 a.m. Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“People, especially our young people, are more and more receptive to the message that abortion hurts women, men and families. They understand that it is inherently unfair to generations of their peers who never had the opportunity to experience life. This is why turnout by our students and young people continues to rise,” the archbishop wrote.

 

 

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