Thursday, 27 October 2016

Pope: 'the only solution to the migration crisis is solidarity'

Pope: 'the only solution
to the migration crisis is solidarity'
Pope Francis on Wednesday called for solidarity with migrants and refugees.
Speaking to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on two particular corporal works of mercy - welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked – and said that the growing numbers of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty calls us to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters.

Pope Francis reflected on the many stories of migration that are to be found in the Bible and on how, through the centuries, so many committed Christians have found generous ways of meeting the needs of people fleeing violence and injustice. 
“Today – he said – the current economic crisis unfortunately fosters attitudes of closure instead of welcome”.   
“In some parts of the world walls and barriers are being built. It appears that the silent work of men and women who, in different ways, do what they can to help and assist refugees and migrants, is being drowned out by the noise made by those who give voice to an instinctive egoism” he said. 
And saying that closure is never a solution, the Pope said it actually ends up favouring criminal trafficking. The only solution, he said,  is solidarity: “Solidarity with the migrant, solidarity with the foreigner…” 
Pope Francis reiterated that this is a commitment that we must all make: “no one excluded”.
“Dioceses, parishes, religious institutes, organisations and individual Christians: we are all called to welcome our brothers and sisters who are fleeing war, hunger, violence and cruel conditions of  life” he said.
And setting aside his text, Pope Francis told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and  barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up boarding the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration.

  Upon destination, Pope Francis recounted that the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart”.
The Pope continued saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people.
“When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees” he said.        
So too, ‘clothing the naked’ he said, increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded. 
And this, he explained, means literally giving clothes to those who have none, but it also means thinking of women whose bodies are exploited by human traffickers and  of the many other ways people – even minors – are used as a form of merchandise.
“Having no job, no home, no just salary is also a form of nakedness, as is suffering discrimination because of race or faith. These are all forms of ‘nakedness’ that we Christians are called to act upon” he said. 

  As followers of Christ, Pope Francis concluded, may we never close our hearts to those in need. By being open to others, our lives are enriched, our societies can enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their dignity.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pope: God’s Kingdom grows through docility not with organization charts

Pope: God’s Kingdom grows through docility not with organization charts
Pope Francis said God’s Kingdom grows through its members showing docility and warned Christians against concentrating too much on structures and organization charts. He was speaking during his morning Mass on Tuesday celebrated in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the day’s readings, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of God’s Kingdom during his homily, saying it is not a fixed structure but constantly evolving and describing what helps it to grow. He stressed that God’s Law is not just there to be studied but to journey forward with during our lives.
“What is the Kingdom of God?  Well, perhaps the Kingdom of God is a very well-made structure, everything tidy, organization charts all done, everything and the person who does not enter (into this structure) is not in the Kingdom of God. No, the same thing can happen to the Kingdom of God as happens to the Law: unchanging, rigidity…    the Law is about moving forward, the Kingdom of God is moving forward, it is not standing still. What’s more: the Kingdom of God is re-creating itself every day.”
The Pope reminded how Jesus in his parable about things in our daily lives spoke about the yeast that does not remain yeast because in the end it is mixed in with the flour and therefore it is on a journey and becomes bread. And then there is the seed that does not remain a seed because it dies and gives life to the tree.  Both the yeast and the seed, explained Pope Francis, are on a journey to do something but in order to do this they die. It is not a problem of smallness, be it small, of little count or a big thing. It’s a question of journeying and whilst on this journey the transformation occurs.
The Pope went on to warn against being a person who sees the Law but does not journey forward and has a rigid attitude.
“What is the attitude that the Lord asks from us in order that the Kingdom of God can grow and be bread for everybody and is a house too for everybody?  Docility: the Kingdom of God grows through docility to the strength of the Holy Spirit. The flour ceases to be flour and becomes bread because it is docile to the strength of the yeast and the yeast allows itself to be mixed in with the flour… I don’t know, flour has no feelings but allowing itself to be mixed in one could think that there is some suffering here, right? But the Kingdom too, the Kingdom grows in this way and then in the end it is bread for everybody.”
Just as the flour is docile to the yeast, continued Pope Francis, the seed too allows itself to be fertilized and loses its identity as a seed and becomes something much larger: it transforms itself. He said it’s the same with the Kingdom of God that is journeying “towards hope” and “journeying towards fullness.”
Saying the Kingdom of God re-creates itself every day, the Pope stressed that the Kingdom grows through our docility to the Holy Spirit that, just like the pinch of yeast or the tiny seed, transform themselves in order to grow. He warned that if Christians do not journey forward they become rigid and this rigidity makes them orphans without the Father.
“A rigid person only has masters and no father. The Kingdom of God is like a mother that grows and is fertile, gives of herself so that her children have food and lodging, according to the example of the Lord. Today is a day to ask for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. Many times we are not docile to our moods, our judgements. ‘But I do what I want….'  The Kingdom does not grow in this way and neither do we grow. It is docility to the Holy Spirit that makes us grow and be transformed like the yeast and the seed. May the Lord give us all the grace of this docility.”  


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pope: 'God calls us to be merciful and good, not rigid'

Pope: 'God calls us
to be merciful and good, not rigid'
Pope Francis on Monday warned against excessive rigidity and said God gives us the freedom and the gentleness to be merciful.
Drawing inspiration from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of when Jesus, who was teaching in the synagogue, healed a crippled woman and ignited the anger of the righteous, Pope Francis said “it is not easy to keep to the path indicated by God’s Law.
The reading by Matthew tells us that Jesus’ action provoked the fury of the leader of the synagogue who was “indignant that he had cured the woman on the Sabbath” because - he said - Jesus had violated God’s Law by doing so on the Sabbath day which is set aside for rest and worship. 
And pointing out that the Jesus responded calling the leaders of the synagogue ‘hypocrites’, the Pope observed that this is an accusation Jesus often makes to those who follow the Law with rigidity. “The Law – he explained – was not drawn up to enslave us but to set us free, to make us God’s children”.
Concealed by rigidity, Pope Francis said, there is always something else! That’s why Jesus uses the word ‘hypocrites!’: 
"Behind an attitude of rigidity there is always something else in the life of a person. Rigidity is not a gift of God. Meekness is; goodness is; benevolence is; forgiveness is. But rigidity isn’t!” he said.
In many cases, the Pope continued, rigidity conceals the leading of a double life; but, he pointed out, there can also be something pathological. 
Commenting on the difficulties and suffering that afflict a person who is both rigid and sincere, the Pope said this is because they lack the freedom of God's children: “they do not know how to walk in the path indicated by God’s Law”.
“They appear good because they follow the Law; but they are concealing something else: either they are hypocritical or they are sick. And they suffer!” he said.
Pope Francis also recalled the parable of the prodigal son in which the eldest son, who had always behaved well, was indignant with his father because he had joyfully welcomed back the youngest son who returns home repentant after having led a life of debauchery. This attitude - the Pope explained - shows what is behind a certain type of goodness: “the pride of believing in one’s righteousness”.
The elder son -  Pope said -  was rigid and conducted his life following the Law but saw his father only as a master. The other put rules aside, returned to his father in a time of darkness, and asked for forgiveness.
“It is not easy to walk within the Law of the Lord without falling into rigidity” he said.
The Pope concluded his homily with this prayer:
"Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who think that by becoming rigid they are following the path of the Lord.  May the Lord make them feel that He is our Father and that He loves mercy, tenderness, goodness, meekness, humility. And may he teach us all to walk in the path of the Lord with these attitudes.”


Monday, 24 October 2016

Pope Francis at Angelus: a time of courage in mission


Pope Francis at Angelus:

a time of courage in mission

Pope Francis used his remarks to pilgrims and tourists ahead of the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer to reflect on our being creatures in time, but destined for eternity with God – the uncreated author of all that is, the source of our being, and the font of truth and joy: all in the key of mission.

Drawing on the Second Reading of this XXX Sunday in Ordinary Time and World Mission Day, which was taken from the 2ndLetter of St. Paul to Timothy, Pope Francis said, “Today is a time of mission and it is time of courage: courage to strengthen tottering steps, to rediscover the delight of spending ourselves for the Gospel, to regain confidence in the strength that mission brings with itself.”

Courage, however, cannot guarantee victory.
“It is time for courage, although courage does not mean having assurance of success: courage is required to fight, not necessarily to win; to proclaim, not necessarily to convert.”
The Holy Father went on to say, “Today what is required of us is courage to be alternative in the world, without ever becoming argumentative or aggressive. What is required of us is the courage to be open to all, without ever diminishing the absoluteness and uniqueness of Christ, the one Saviour of all.”
“Courage,” continued Pope Francis, “is required of us to stand up to unbelief, without becoming arrogant.”
Then, in a departure from his prepared remarks, the Holy Father said, “There is also required of us in this day the courage of the publican in today's Gospel,” taken from the Gospel according to St. Luke, with the parable of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector who averts his eyes from heaven and begs the Lord forgiveness – the parable that concludes with the admonition according to which whosever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. 


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pope Francis to Augustinian Recollects: renewal in continuity

Pope Francis to Augustinian Recollects: renewal in continuity
Pope Francis received the participants in the 55th General Chapter of the Order of Augustinian Recollects on Thursday in the Vatican.

The Augustinian Recollects trace their origins to a 1588 reform of the Augustinian Friars in Spain, and became an autonomous congregation in 1621. It was only in the early 20th century, however, that they received full recognition as a Mendicant Order under the Rule of St. Augustine – and they have the distinction of being the last Order to receive such recognition from the Holy See.
In Spanish-language remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Thursday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis encouraged the Recollects to continue in their ongoing work of renewing the vision of St. Augustine, “[T]o live as brothers ‘with one heart and one soul (Rule 1, 2),’ reflecting the ideal of the first Christians and being a living spirit of prophecy and communion in this world of ours, that there might be neither division nor conflict nor exclusion, but that harmony might reign.
The General Chapter of the Augustinian Recollects is the supreme authority within the Order. It takes place every six years and it examines the status of the institution. The Prior General and his counsellors are also elected in it, and these then prepare a plan to put into operation the decisions taken by the members of the Chapter over the subsequent six years.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Pope: Catechism is not enough to know Jesus, we need prayer

Pope: Catechism is not enough to know Jesus,
we need prayer
Pope Francis said the catechism on its own is not sufficient to truly know Jesus and we need prayer, worship and to recognize ourselves as sinners. His words came during his morning Mass celebrated on Thursday in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
The cue for the Pope’s reflections during his homily came from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where the Apostle prayed that they may be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit and that Christ may dwell in their hearts.
Noting that Paul spoke of plunging into the immense sea that is the person of Christ, Pope Francis asked “how can we know Christ, How can we understand His love that is beyond all knowledge?”
“Christ is present in the Gospel and we know Christ by reading the Gospel. And all of us do this, at least we hear the Gospel when we go to Mass. And studying the catechism teaches us who Christ is. But this is not enough. In order to understand the breadth and length and height and depth of Jesus Christ we need to enter into the habit, firstly of praying, as Paul did on his knees: “Father send me the Holy Spirit to know Jesus.”
But in order to truly know Christ, the Pope stressed that prayer on its own is not enough and as Paul said, in addition to praying he “worships this mystery” that is beyond our knowledge and in this spirit of worship or adoration he asks for this grace from the Lord.
“We cannot know the Lord without this habit of worship, to worship in silence, adoration. If I am not mistaken, I believe that this prayer of adoration is the least known by us, it’s the one that we do least. Allow me to say this, waste time in front of the Lord, in front of the mystery of Jesus Christ. Worship him. There in silence, the silence of adoration. He is the Saviour and I worship Him.” 
Pope Francis said the third requirement for truly knowing Christ was to know ourselves and as a result be accustomed to describing ourselves as sinners.
“We cannot worship without accusing ourselves. In order to enter into this bottomless and boundless sea that is the mystery of Jesus Christ, this thing is necessary. (Firstly), prayer:  ‘Father, send me the Holy Spirit so that he leads me to know Jesus.’  Secondly, worship the mystery, enter into the mystery and worship Him. And thirdly, accuse ourselves. ‘I am a man of unclean lips.’ May the Lord give us too this grace that Paul implored for the Ephesians, this grace to know and earn Christ.


Friday, 21 October 2016

Pope Francis visits Cardinal Montezemolo

Pope Francis visits Cardinal Montezemolo
Pope Francis on Friday afternoon visited Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo at the Villa Betania nursing home in Rome.
Cardinal Montezemolo, 91, served as archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls from 2005 to 2009. Before this, he provided a long service to the Holy See in the diplomatic corps, and was the first Apostolic Nuncio to the State of Israel after the signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and Israel in 1993. His final diplomatic posting was as Nuncio to Italy and San Marino.
Pope Francis visited the Cardinal after making a trip to Rome’s “SOS Village,” a residential complex that cares for children coming from difficult personal, family or social backgrounds.