Mothers Day

Mothers - She would Cry for You, Sigh for You, Yes even die for You. That is what God made Mothers For.

 

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day, one of the most beautiful days of the year. 

Pope Francis tells us that “Where there is motherhood, there’s life, there’s joy, there’s peace.”

Motherhood is a very high calling. It would be difficult—some might say nearly impossible—to

imagine a relationship that could ever replace the love of a mother or a grandmother. 

 


 

"Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way.

Jesus' death on the cross is the revelation

 par excellence of God's unfailing love

 

 On Nov. 27, 2013, Pope Francis reflected on death during his general audience in Rome. He said, "Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way. ... If it is understood as the end of everything, death ... terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise, it severs every relationship."

He suggested that if we "consider our lives as a span of time between two poles: birth and death," such a vision of death is both reasonable and terrible. This vision, said Francis, is the logical conclusion of the atheism that "interprets life as a random existence in the world ... a journey toward nothingness," or the "practical atheism, which consists in living for one's own interests alone."

He added that "when we think of death as the end of everything," we "have no choice but to hide it, deny it or trivialize it so that it doesn't scare us."

What sadder commentary could there be on someone's life than to trivialize their death?

Today's Gospel presents Jesus in the moment when he realized that "his hour" had come. Here, John gives us a glimpse of Jesus' heart as he makes the astounding statement, "I am troubled now." The word Jesus used for being troubled was the one that described him when he shared Martha's grief at Lazarus' death, the same word that depicted the churning of the waters of the pool of Siloam. Jesus was deeply shaken.

 

Having admitted that, his next words reiterated the core orientation of his life. He was facing his end, what would both look and feel like utter defeat, and his first thought was of his Father: Should he ask his Father for an escape? Reframing everything about to take place, he prayed, "Father, glorify your name." After expressing the depth of his human frailty, Jesus took on the role of explaining the things of God. "When I am lifted up … I will draw everyone to myself."

John tells us that his phrase "when I am lifted up" indicated how he would die. Like so much John wrote, this has two levels of meaning. Jesus was speaking literally about being raised on the cross. But as John tells the Passion story, Jesus approached the cross as his exaltation, the revelation of the glory of God in him. In John's Gospel, Jesus' death on the cross is the revelation par excellence of God's unfailing love. The cross raised Jesus up as the icon of God's everlasting love.

In October 2017, Francis again spoke about death and said, "We are all small and helpless before the mystery of death." We can be encouraged by the fact that even Jesus quailed when he realized his hour had come. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, our high priest knows our weakness and he too prayed with supplication, cries and tears. Nevertheless, he led the way for us in saying, "For this purpose I came to this hour."

When Jesus chose to walk into what he knew was his final hour, he did so fully aware of the cost and his purpose: "Now is the time of judgment … now the ruler of this world will be driven out." Only by going through his death would Jesus demonstrate that God's love overcomes every evil. That was the purpose of his life and his glory.

Now and again, we all need to confront the fact that we will die; knowing that leads us to evaluate our purpose and the worth of each day. Blessed are we when we believe what Francis said of the moment of our death: "There hope will end and it will be a reality, the reality of life."

[Mary M. McGlone, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is writing the history of the St. Joseph sisters in the U.S.]

Editor's note: This Sunday scripture commentary appears in full in NCR's sister publication Celebration, a worship and homiletic resource. Request a sample issue at CelebrationPublications.org. Sign up to receive email newsletters every time Spiritual Reflections is posted.

 

 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jer 11:18-20; Ps 7; Jn 7:40-53

Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?
Although Nicodemus attempts to hear both sides of the story, the Pharisees are only interested in hearing arguments that support their own desired agenda. Assumptions are upheld and judgements are made based on half-truths. Gossip and rumor often hold our attention much longer than the details needed to discern the truth. I’ve been guilty of adding my two cents worth of misguided opinion to a discussion before I have heard alternative versions of an event. Where might I find those quiet voices that are sometimes drowned out by the loud and impatient? Who in my community has no one to whom they can voice their story or concerns? Who needs my listening heart? 
Place a guard over my mouth, dear Master, that I may hear your voice above all others.

Mary Joshi

 


 

 

Mary McAleese - at the annual Voices of Faith event March 8

Vatican City — Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, has called on Pope Francis to develop a "credible strategy" to include women at every level in the Catholic Church's global structure, saying their exclusion from decision-making roles "has left the church flapping about awkwardly on one wing."

McAleese, speaking at the annual Voices of Faith event March 8, said the church "has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny."

McAleese, who led Ireland from 1997 to 2011 and is pursuing a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, said she wanted "a strategy with targets, pathways and outcomes, regularly and independently audited."

"Failure to include women as equals has deprived the church of fresh and innovative discernment," she said. "It has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed, cozy male clerical elite."

"Today, we challenge Pope Francis to develop a credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals throughout the church's root and branch infrastructure, including its decision-making."

-- Mary McAleese

 


 

The consecration of life to Our Lady and self-surrendering into the merciful love of God

Prayer for the Pope

O Lord,
Good shepherd of Humanity,
who entrusted to Peter and his successors
the mission of strengthening the brothers in the faith
and to enlighten them in the hearing of the Word
– in this place where the little shepherds of Fatima
bore witness to a profound devotion to the Holy Father
and to an intense love for the Church –,
we ask You that Your Spirit of Wisdom
illumines Pope Francis in his mission as the Successor of Peter;
may Your mercy protect and comfort him;
may the testimony of Your faithful hearten him in his mission,
and may the tender presence of Mary be for him a sign of Your love;
may he be strong in faith, courageous in hope, and zealous in charity.
Who live and reign with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory. 

 


 

Lapsed Christians may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.

Today's Prayer with the Pope

July 2017

Daily offering: 

Loving Father, today as yesterday, Jesus continues to cross our paths and spread your goodness. Do not let Him pass close to me today without noticing His presence. May I be amazed by the goodness that comes from you, as the sunlight that warms me. I offer you my day, and all that will happen, for the Pope’s intention this month.

This month's intention:

For Evangelisation: 

That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.

Lapsed Christians

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ writes “goodness always tends to spread...as it expands, goodness takes root and develops”. Evangelisation, put simply, is sharing ‘Good News’. It is about bringing the Gospel of joy to those we encounter, whether they be our neighbours or complete strangers. It is a task for the whole Church to evangelise by inviting people into a personal encounter with Jesus, to be in friendship with him. Evangelisation is first and foremost about reaching out with love, mercy and compassion. It is not about proclaiming faith but rather inviting people to find Jesus through our gentle words, good deeds, and kind actions; and it can happen in any place, in any situation.

 


 

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord.

Look what a speech Pope Francis gave in yesterday's homily / sermon!

It's to read and reread several times ... This is the Pope with the greatest spirituality since Peter.

"You can have flaws, be anxious, and ever angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world.

Only you can stop it from going bust. Many appreciate you, admire you and love you.

 Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm, a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord.

It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness.

It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures.

It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves.

To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and become your destiny's author. It is to cross deserts, yet to be able to find an oasis in the depths of our soul.

It is to thank God for every morning, for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It's to be able to talk about you.

It is having the courage to hear a "no". It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when unjustified.

It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends, even when they hurt us.

To be happy is to let live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful and simple. It is to have maturity to be able to say: "I made mistakes".

It is to have the courage to say "I am sorry". It is to have the sensitivity to say, "I need you". It is to have the ability to say "I love you".

May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness ... That in spring may it be a lover of joy.  In winter a lover of wisdom. And when you make a mistake, start all over again.

 For only then will you be in love with life. You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life. But use the tears to irrigate tolerance. Use your losses to train patience. Use your mistakes to sculpture serenity. Use pain to plaster pleasure. Use obstacles to open windows of intelligence.

Never give up ....” Never give up on people who love you. Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show. "(Pope Francisco).

 


 

THE POPE'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR 2017

 

 Starting in 2017 the Pope will present only one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than the two presented before this year. He plans, however, to add a second prayer intention each month related to current events or urgent needs, like disaster relief. The urgent prayer request will help mobilize prayer and action related to the urgent situation.

JANUARY
Christian Unity. 

That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.


FEBRUARY
Comfort for the Afflicted.

That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.


MARCH
Support for Persecuted Christians.

That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.


APRIL
Young People. 

That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.


MAY
Christians in Africa.

That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.


JUNE
National Leaders.

That national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade, which victimizes so many innocent people.


JULY
Lapsed Christians.

That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.


AUGUST
Artists.

That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.


SEPTEMBER
Parishes.

That our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.


OCTOBER
Workers and the Unemployed.

That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


NOVEMBER
Christians in Asia.

That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions.


DECEMBER
The Elderly.

That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.

______________________________________________________

POPE FRANCIS 2017 Calendar January 2017

“Perfect families do not exist. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is ‘forged’ by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows.” 

– Pope Francis

March 2017

“For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should prevail over concerns and complaints.”
– Pope Francis

May 2017

“All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family. And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love.”
– Pope Francis

July 2017

“In the face of unjust and painful situations, faith brings us the light which scatters the darkness.”
– Pope Francis

September 2017

“When God comes, he always calls us out of our house. We are visited so that we can visit others; we are encountered so as to encounter others; we receive love in order to give love.”
– Pope Francis

November 2017

“Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that our hearts become free and filled with light, so that we can rejoice as children of God.”
– Pope Francis

_____________________________________________________

AMORIS LAETITIA - The Joy Of Love

Explore Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family. Download our free study guide.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the Sunday readings, which he said acknowledged "God as the source" of hope.

"Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it," he told the inmates and former inmates. "It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain."

The gift of hope, he added, is especially present "whenever someone makes a mistake" but feels the awakening of repentance and forgiveness through God's mercy.

The jubilee celebration is a time for prisoners and those who have served time to remember that while a price is paid for breaking the law, "hope must not falter," he said.

"Paying for the wrong we have done is one thing," the pope said, "but another thing entirely is the 'breath' of hope, which cannot be stifled by anyone or anything."

Those who are behind bars are not the only ones who are imprisoned, the pope warned. People can also fall into "a certain hypocrisy" that judges current and formerly incarcerated "as wrongdoers for whom prison is the sole answer," he said.

"I want to tell you, every time I visit a prison, I ask myself: 'Why them and not me?' We can all make mistakes; all of us. And in one way or another, we have made mistakes," the pope said, departing from his prepared text.

Hypocrisy can lead Christians to overlook the fact that people can change their lives, he said, but it also makes it impossible for them to see that they, too, are prisoners, locked up within walls of prejudice, ideology and the idols of "a false sense of well-being" and money.

"At such times, we imprison ourselves behind the walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of the truth that sets us free," the pope said. "Pointing the finger against someone who has made mistakes cannot become an alibi for concealing our own contradictions."

Prisoners and formerly incarcerated people should resist being held back by their past mistakes and instead look toward the future with hope, knowing that God's mercy and forgiveness is greater, he said.

While the past cannot be rewritten, he said, learning from one's mistakes "can open a new chapter of your lives."

Through the power of faith, Pope Francis said, repentance by those who have offended and forgiveness by those who have been wronged is possible.

"When violence is met with forgiveness, even the hearts of those who have done wrong can be conquered by the love that triumphs over every form of evil," he said. "In this way, among the victims and among those who wronged them, God raises up true witnesses and workers of mercy."

_____________________________________________________

Happiness And Heavenly Sunshine To Bless Us All

BEING HAPPY
by Pope Francis

"You may have defects, be anxious and sometimes live irritated, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can prevent it from going into decadence. There are many that need you, admire you and love you.

I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments.
Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only to treasure the smile, but that you also reflect on the sadness. 

It is not just commemorating the event, but also learning lessons in failures. 

It is not just having joy with the applause, but also having joy in anonymity.

Being happy is to recognize that it is worthwhile to live, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and times of crises.

Being happy is not inevitable fate, but a victory for those who can travel towards it with your own being.

Being happy is to stop being a victim of problems but become an actor in history itself. 

It is not only to cross the deserts outside of ourselves, but still more, to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul. 

It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of one's feelings. It is to know how to talk about ourselves. It is to bear with courage when hearing a "no". 

It is to have the security to receive criticism, even if is unfair. 

It is to kiss the children, pamper the parents, have poetic moments with friends, even if they have hurt us.

Being happy means allowing the free, happy and simple child inside each of us to live; having the maturity to say, "I was wrong"; having the audacity to say, "forgive me". 

It is to have sensitivity in expressing, "I need you"; to have the ability of saying, "I love you." 

So that your life becomes a garden full of opportunities for being happy...

In your spring-time, may you become a lover of joy. In your winter, may you become a friend of wisdom. 

And when you go wrong along the way, you start all over again. Thus you will be more passionate about life. 

And you will find that happiness is not about having a perfect life but about using tears to water tolerance, losses to refine patience, failures to carve serenity, pain to lapidate pleasure, obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.

Never give up .... Never give up on the people you love. Never give up from being happy because life is an incredible show. 

And you are a special human being!"

- Pope Francis -

 

Pope Francis Envisions Non-Judging, Non-condemning Church

 

 Jubilee Year Of Mercy Motto

 

The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. The motto Merciful Like the Father(taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure (cfr. Lk 6:37-38). The logo – the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik – presents a small summa theologiae of the theme of mercy.

In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption.

 

The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life.

One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ.

 

Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.

 

The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human.

 

The three concentric ovals, with colours progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death.

Conversely, the depth of the darker colour suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all. 

 

 

 

Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy - Begins on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 2015 and ends on the Feast of Christ the King 20 November 2016

 

 

  

Lord Jesus Christ,

 

You have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,

 

And have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.

 

Show us your face and we will be saved.

 

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money,

 

the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness in created things;

 

Made Pete weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

 

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the

 

Samaritan woman: “if you knew the gift of God!”

 

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,

 

Of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:

 

Let the Church be your visible face in the world,

 

its Lord risen and glorified.

 

You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness

 

In order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:

 

Let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven byGod.  

 

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,

 

so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,

 

and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,

 

proclaim liberty to the captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

 

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

 ********************************

 

 

Pope's Intentions For The Year 2016

January

 

Universal:  Interreligious Dialogue - That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice.

 

EvangelizationChristian Unity- That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions.

 

February

 

UniversalCare for Creation - That we may take good care of creation–a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations.

 

EvangelizationAsia - That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia.

 

March

 

Universal: Families in Difficulty - That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.

 

EvangelizationPersecuted Christians - That those Christians who, on account of their faith, are discriminated against or are being persecuted, may remain strong and faithful to the Gospel, thanks to the incessant prayer of the Church.

 

April

 

UniversalSmall Farmers - That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labour.

 

EvangelizationAfrican Christians - That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.

 

May

 

Universal: Respect for Women - That in every country of the world, women may be honoured and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.

 

Evangelization: Holy Rosary - That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.

 

June

 

Universal: Human Solidarity - That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.

 

EvangelizationSeminarians and Novices - That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.

 

July

 

Universal: Indigenous Peoples - that indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.

 

EvangelizationLatin America and the Caribbean - That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. 

 

August

 

Universal: Sports - That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.

 

Evangelization: Living the Gospel - That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbour.

 

September

 

Universal: Centrality of the Human Person - hat each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the centre.

 

Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize - That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.

 

October

 

Universal: Journalists - That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.

 

Evangelization: World Mission Day - That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

 

November

 

Universal: Countries Receiving Refugees - That the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity. 

 

Evangelization: Collaboration of Priests and Laity - That within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement.

 

December

 

Universal: End to Child-Soldiers - That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.

 

Evangelization: Europe - That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

 

 

 

Pope Francis said: "That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That's me.

 

Pope to formally proclaim holy year in front of basilica's Holy Door

Celebrating the first vespers for Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis formally will deliver the "bull of induction" or proclamation of the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.

Portions of the document will be read Saturday in front of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican announced. The Holy Door, usually bricked up, is opened at the beginning of a jubilee year.

The Holy Year of Mercy is scheduled for

Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016

 

Joy comes from faith, not doctrine, Pope Francis says

 

Proclaiming jubilee, Francis envisions non-judging, non-condemning church

Joshua J. McElwee  |  Apr. 11, 2015

Holy Year of Mercy

VATICAN CITY

Officially proclaiming the upcoming jubilee year of mercy, Pope Francis has powerfully called on the entire Catholic Church to refashion itself as a place not of judgment or condemnation but of pardon and merciful love.

Writing in an extensive document convoking the year, which will begin Dec. 8, the pontiff states that the church’s "very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love."

"Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy," writes Francis in the document, released Saturday evening with the Latin title Misericordiae Vultus ("The Face of Mercy").

"The temptation ... to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step," the pope continues.

"The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more," he states.

 

"It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters," writes the pontiff. "Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope."

Francis also notes that Dec. 8 will mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council and says: "The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive."

Francis' document, released Saturday during a prayer service at St. Peter's Basilica for the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, officially proclaims the extraordinary jubilee year the pontiff first announced last month.

The jubilee, which is to be called the Holy Year of Mercy, will begin on this year's Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception. It will close on Nov. 20, 2016, the day celebrated that year as the feast of Christ the King.

Explaining his reasons for calling the mercy jubilee with the some 9,500-word document Saturday, the pontiff firmly identifies mercy as the central function of the church and the key aspect of Jesus' ministry and work.

Exhaustively citing from the teachings of previous popes and stories from the Old and New Testaments, Francis also says mercy is a key attribute of God's actions towards human beings and that our own exercise of pardon will determine how we will eventually be judged.

In one section, the pope quotes from Peter's question in Matthew's Gospel about how many times it is necessary to forgive, where Jesus responds: "I do not say seven times, but seventy times seventy times."

"This parable contains a profound teaching for all of us," states Francis. "Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are."

"In short,we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us," he continues. "Pardoning offences becomes the clearest expression of merciful love, and for us Christians it is an imperative from which we cannot excuse ourselves."

Later in the document, the pope mentions that every holy year involves a process of pilgrimage for people -- whether it be in coming to Rome to celebrate the year or in personal prayer.

Then, quoting from Luke's Gospel, Francis outlines two steps everyone needs to make on their own pilgrimages.

"The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn," states the pontiff. "If anyone wishes to avoid God’s judgment, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister."

"Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul," writes Francis.

A jubilee year is a special year called by the church to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins. The Catholic Church has called jubilee years every 25 or 50 years since the year 1300 and has also called special jubilee years from time to time, known as extraordinary jubilee years.

The pope begins Saturday's document by explaining the process of the holy year, saying that on Dec. 8 he will be opening the special holy door of St. Peter's Basilica to mark the beginning of the jubilee.

Francis states that he hopes that with its opening, the door "will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."

To emphasize that the special year is just not for those able to come to Rome, the pontiff says he is going to ask every diocese to identify a similar "Door of Mercy" at a cathedral or other special church to be opened during the year.

"Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal," writes the pope.

Francis notes that the holy year will begin on the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

"With the Council, the Church enterd a new phase of her history," writes Francis. "The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way."

"The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way," he continues. "It was a new phase of the same evangelisation that had existed from the beginning."

Among other special initiatives for the holy year, Francis also announces Saturday that during the 2016 season of Lent he will be asking some priests to serve as special "Missionaries of Mercy."

The pontiff says he will ask those priests to go around the world to hear confessions and that he will grant them "the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See."

With that authority, the pope states, the priests will be "living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon."

"I ask my brother Bishops to invite and welcome these Missionaries so that they can be, above all, persuasive preachers of mercy," writes Francis.

The pontiff also says he is giving the holy year a motto taken from Luke's Gospel: "Merciful like the Father."

'God’s justice is his mercy'

Francis spends about two pages in the document addressing the relationship between mercy and justice, which he says, "are not two contradictory realities, but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love."

Mentioning the Bible's frequent use of the image of God as a judge, Francis says that in many passages, "justice is understood as the full observance of the Law and the behaviour of every good Israelite in conformity with God’s commandments."

But he continues: "Such a vision ... has not infrequently led to legalism by distorting the original meaning of justice and obscuring its profound value."

"To overcome this legalistic perspective, we need to recall that in Sacred Scripture, justice is conceived essentially as the faithful abandonment of oneself to God’s will," writes the pope.

Quoting Jesus' response to the Pharisees in Matthew's Gospel -- “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’" -- Francis says, "Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation."

"One can see why, on the basis of such a liberating vision of mercy as a source of new life, Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees and the other teachers of the law," he continues. "In an attempt to remain faithful to the law, they merely placed burdens on the shoulders of others and undermined the Father’s mercy."

Meditating then on Paul's letter to the Philippians, Francis states that, "Paul’s understanding of justice changes radically. He now places faith first, not justice."

"Salvation comes not through the observance of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, who in his death and resurrection brings salvation together with a mercy that justifies," writes the pope.

"God’s justice now becomes the liberating force for those oppressed by slavery to sin and its consequences," he continues. "God’s justice is his mercy."

Continuing on that theme by exploring the words of the prophet Hosea, Francis states: "If God limited himself to only justice, he would cease to be God, and would instead be like human beings who ask merely that the law be respected."

"But mere justice is not enough," he writes. "Experience shows that an appeal to justice alone will result in its destruction. This is why God goes beyond justice with his mercy and forgiveness."

Jesus: 'Nothing but love'

Earlier in the document, Francis focuses on Jesus' ministry during his earthly life as a sign of the centrality of mercy in the Christian faith.

Citing St. Thomas Aquinas, Francis says that "God’s mercy, rather than a sign of weakness, is the mark of his omnipotence."

"The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child," states the pope.

"It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this is a 'visceral' love," he says. "It gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy."

Francis mentions how the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus' passion states that before his death Jesus sung a hymn that may have been Psalm 136: "For his mercy endures forever."

"While he was instituting the Eucharist as an everlasting memorial of himself and his paschal sacrifice, he symbolically placed this supreme act of revelation in the light of his mercy," writes Francis.

"Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon his passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the cross," he continues.

"Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more important for us as Christians, challenging us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: 'for his mercy endures forever.'"

Jesus' person, says Francis, "is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously."

"The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable," states the pope. "The signs he works, especially in the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy."

"Nothing in him is devoid of compassion," he says.

Jesus, Francis says, also reveals God's nature "as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy."

Mentioning the fifth beatitude -- "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" -- the Pope states that is the beatitude "to which we should particularly aspire in this Holy Year."

Speaking of how God acts with humans, the pope says, "mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us."

"The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us," writes Francis. "He feels responsible; that is, he desires our well being and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful."

"This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel," he continues. "As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other."

Applying that attribute to the level of the church, Francis states: "Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life."

"All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy," writes the pope.

'Opening our hearts'

The pontiff also asks that people live the Holy Year by "opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society: fringes modern society itself creates."

"How many uncertain and painful situations there are in the world today!" exhorts Francis. "How many are the wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is muffled and drowned out by the indifference of the rich!"

"Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new!" he continues. "Let us ward off destructive cynicism!

"Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!" he exhorts, again.

Francis also says that is his "burning desire" that during the jubilee year people reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Christian actions and practices attributed to Jesus' directive in Matthew's Gospel for how his followers should act.

"We cannot escape the Lord’s words to us, and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged: whether we have fed the hungry and given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger and clothed the naked, or spent time with the sick and those in prison," states Francis.

Inter-religious dimension

Francis also refers the practice of the mercy jubilee to Judaism and Islam, saying: "There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church."

The pope notes both that "the pages of the Old Testament are steeped in mercy" and that Muslims often refer to the creator as "Merciful and Kind."

"I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions," states Francis.

"May it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination," he asks.

Francis' document proclaiming the holy year, officially known as a bull of induction, was released by the Vatican in six languages.

During the prayer service Saturday, Francis symbolically gave the bull to the four cardinal archpriests of the Papal Basilicas. He also gave a copy to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, for distribution to bishops around the world.

The document is signed by Francis with the title "Bishop of Rome, Servant of the Servants of God," and has an invocation "to all who read this letter grace, mercy, and peace."

 

 

Carol Glatz  Catholic News Service  |  Mar. 26, 2015 VATICAN CITY

 God's law is about love for God and for others, not cold, abstract doctrine, Pope Francis said at a morning Mass.

 "It's sad to be a believer without joy and there is no joy when there is no faith, when there is no hope, when there is no law, but only rules and cold doctrine," he said at the Mass Thursday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

 "The joy of faith, the joy of the Gospel is the touchstone of a person's faith. Without joy, that person is not a true believer," he said, according to Vatican Radio.

 In his homily, the pope pointed to Abraham as a model of faith, hope and joy in God's covenant. But such joy was absent in the doctors of the law described in the day's Gospel reading; they threw stones at Jesus after he told them how Abraham "rejoiced to see my day."

 "These doctors of the law didn't understand," Pope Francis said. "They didn't understand the joy of the promise; they didn't understand the joy of hope; they didn't understand the joy of the covenant."

 The doctors of the law "didn't know how to rejoice because they had lost the sense of joy that only comes from faith," he said. Not only did they lack faith, "they had lost the law. Because at the heart of the law is love -- love for God and for one's neighbor."

 "They only had a system of clear-cut doctrines," he said.

 As "men without faith, without law and attached to doctrine," they lived in a world that was "abstract, a world without love, a world without faith, a world without hope, a world without trust, a world without God. And this is why they could not rejoice," the pope said. "Their hearts had petrified."

 He asked that people pray for "the grace to be jubilant in the hope" of knowing and encountering Jesus and for the "grace of joy."

 Pope Francis began the day's Mass with a prayer to St. Teresa of Avila, asking for her intercession in the cause for world peace.

 After lighting a candle, he prayed that "the fire of God's love may conquer the blaze of war and violence that afflict humanity, and that dialogue may prevail over armed conflict everywhere."

 His prayer was part of a worldwide initiative sponsored by the Order of Discalced Carmelites to get people of all denominations and faiths to offer an hour of prayer for peace March 26.

 The prayer initiative was the order's "birthday gift" to their foundress, St. Teresa, in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of her birth March 28; a series of celebrations began on her feast day Oct. 15.

 St. Teresa of Avila was a 16th-century mystic, co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites and doctor of the church.

 

 

 

Vatican City March 25th 2015

 Francis was addressing the synod meetings Wednesday in his audience as part of a wider reflection, centred on the fact that March 25 is the day celebrated in the Catholic church as the feast of the annunciation -- when Mary is said to have been told by an Angel of God that she would miraculously bear a child.

 The story of the annunciation, the pontiff said, "shows us how profoundly the mystery of the incarnation -- as God wanted it -- included not only the conception in the womb of the mother, but also the reception in a real family."

 Mentioning also that March 25 marks the publication date of Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which focuses partly on family life, Francis said: "The bond between the church and the family is sacred and inviolable."

"The church, as a mother, never abandons the family, even when she is disheartened, hurt and defeated in many ways," said the pope. "Even when it falls into sin, or moves away from the Church; it will always do all to search to cure it and heal it, to invite it to conversion and to reconcile with the Lord."

 

Francis then said the church needs prayer to fulfill that mission, "prayer full of love for the family and for life" and "prayer that knows to rejoice with those who rejoice and suffer with those who suffer."

 Tying that mission to the synod, the pontiff then asked all Catholics to pray for the upcoming synod using a prayer to the Holy Family that asks partly that families "never again experience violence" and that "all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing."

 

The pope invited all to make the prayer for the synod, "even those who feel distant, or that they are no longer used to doing this."

 "I ask you all, please do not miss making your prayer," he said. "This prayer for the synod on the family is for the good of all."

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday – February 18th, 2015

Ash Wednesday makes one’s faith very visible and public. Not offensively — but also not easy to miss — the sign of our faith shows up in the office, at school, on buses and subways, in lines at the grocery store, or at the gas station. This small symbol of the cross of ashes on our foreheads expresses an important truth: Faith doesn’t happen only at church, but lives among us, in public, every day.

The Scripture texts for the liturgy of Ash Wednesday do not only remind us of sin and death; they are a loud call to overcome sin, to be converted to Christ and the Gospel and to prepare for the new life of Easter. I would like to offer some reflections on what it means to be reconciled to God, to be an “Ambassador for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21), and the meaning of authentic piety and devotion as outlined in Matthew’s Gospel text for today’s liturgy (6:1-6, 16-18). I will conclude with some thoughts on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s profound 2010 Lenten reflection on God’s justice.

Be reconciled to God!

Today — the liturgy tells us — is the “acceptable time” for our reconciliation with God. Reconciliation is a gratuitous gift of God. Reconciliation must involve everyone: individuals, families, nations and peoples.

In the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, Paul encouraged the fractious Corinthian community to recognize that God has “reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (5:18). Paul speaks of “the new creation in Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17) and goes on to tell us: “God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding individuals’ faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that we are reconciled. [...] The appeal we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

When we speak of the world as reconciled to God, we are speaking not only of individuals but also of every community: families, communities, clans, tribes, nations and states. In his providence, God made covenant after covenant with the human family: the covenant with our first parents in the Garden of Eden; the covenant with Noah after the Flood and the covenant with Abraham. In the Book of Joshua we learn about the covenant made with Israel, when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in the land of Egypt. And God has now made the final and definitive covenant with all of humanity in Jesus Christ, who reconciled individual men and women — as well as entire nations — to God by his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

In the sacrament of the Eucharist, we celebrate the mystery of our redemption and full reconciliation with God. It is through his passion, death and resurrection that Jesus has saved the world. Before receiving the body and blood of the Lord, we show that we are at peace with one another. The Eucharist is celebrated by a reconciled community. When the celebration is ended, we are sent out to spread this peace and message of reconciliation to others.

Mission of high rank

Because we have been entrusted with this message of reconciliation, we are “ambassadors for Christ” (5:20). The mission that we have been given is one of high rank. It is a mission that ennobles us. Because we have been called to be ambassadors, we have to be true and loyal to the one we represent. An ambassador is known by his or her credentials. Ambassadors must give credible proof that they have been sent. As ambassadors of Christ we too must give proof of our mission. And the greatest proof is our own fidelity to the Christian way of life.

If we are reconciled with God, with ourselves and with others, and if we in turn foster Christ’s reconciliation in society, we can make a convincing claim to be ambassadors of the Prince of Peace. Just as God took the initiative in sending his son to reconcile the world, so he expects us to take the initiative to restore harmony to a broken world and an often-divided Church.

Can we apply this Christian vision, this wonderful mission of reconciliation, to our own situations? Can we put it into practice among family, friends and community members and try over and over again when we fail? It is very sad when grudges are carried for long periods of time, when people refuse to speak together, when the joy of attending reunions or celebrations is denied someone, perhaps for a misdemeanor that occurred long ago and whose circumstances are practically forgotten!

Process of self-denial

Matthew’s Gospel (6:1-6, 16-18) issues a warning against doing good in order to be seen and gives three examples for right living: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In each, the conduct of the hypocrites (6:2) is contrasted with the behavior demanded of the disciples. The sayings about reward found here and elsewhere (Matthew 5:12, 46; 10:41-42) show that this is a genuine element of Christian moral exhortation.

Let us look closely at what the Gospel demands of us in this threefold process of self-denial: we must pray: “Go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in private.” We must fast: “No one must see you are fasting but your Father.” We must give alms: “Keep your deeds of mercy secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

There is nothing ambiguous about what is required of us this season. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the pillars of the Lenten journey for Christians. This is the piety, the devotion and the sincerity that the Lord seeks from us this Lent.

God’s justice

Benedict XVI’s 2010 Lenten message, the Church presents us with the spiritual context of the Lenten Season. This year, the Pope’s message takes up the great theme of justice, beginning from St. Paul’s affirmation: “The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” [cf. Romans 3:21-22]. Conversion to Christ gives people the strength to break the bonds of selfishness and work for justice in the world. The Pope’s message is above all a challenge to our willingness to entrust ourselves to God and to believe in him.

Benedict XVI reminds us that what we need most cannot be guaranteed to us by law. “In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: We could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required — indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine — yet ‘distributive’ justice does not render to the human being the totality of his ‘due’. Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God.”

Benedict XVI says: “Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need — the need of others and God, the need of his forgiveness and his friendship.

 

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 Pope Francis said: "That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew.

That's me. 

In a recent interview with a fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis referred to a painting by the Italian painter Caravaggio. It is a painting of the call of St. Matthew, and the artist beautifully sets the scene of the call in the contrast of light and darkness. On one side is Jesus, in the light with his arm extended towards a table. Around the table, in a shadowy darkness are some men with some money in the middle. One of the men almost seems to have his hands around the money. Pope Francis said: "That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That's me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.... It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, 'No, not me! No, this money is mine.' Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff— I am a sinner but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance."

 

Who are we — we are sinners upon whom the Lord has turned his gaze! And because we have recognized the Lord in the light we have the call to set the world on fire with the love and mercy of God. And because we have recognized the Lord we can let go of some things we have mightily tried to keep hold of in order to serve him fully. It might not have been or be a stack of money, but the Christian spiritual journey is a constant path of letting go of jealousies or angers, hatreds or condemnations, prides or lusts in order to live in the freedom of the light. This freedom is what we bring to the world, and it begins with us humbly acknowledging that we are sinners upon whom the Lord has turned his gaze.

 

We may need to be reminded of this both as Christian individuals and as citizens of our nation. A Congress and a President once made the following appeal for a National Day of Prayer:

 

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

 

 Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

 

The words of President Lincoln and the Congress in 1864 may be words we need to hear today — to acknowledge we are sinners upon whom the Lord has turned his gaze, and to trust in the infinite mercy and goodness of God.

 

Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is a day on which the Holy Father is consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us consecrate ourselves every day — "I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother and all that I have is yours"!

 

 

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26.03 | 17:36

Have a Blessed Holy Week!
Holy Week is the most important week in the Church year! It is a time when we celebrate in a special way the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We remember his actions, reflect on his messages, and recommit to living as his d

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01.09 | 02:56

I enjoy these prayers, and resort to them whenever I want to pray but don't know how!

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15.08 | 13:01

Thank you for your valuable comments much appreciated.

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14.08 | 13:57

My daily devotion and yearly novena.

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