|Vatican Radio report: “To
suffer with patience and to overcome external and internal oppression with
love.” That was the prayer of Pope Francis today at the Domus Sanctae Martae
during Mass on the feast of Mary Help of Christians. |
In his homily, Pope Francis requested two graces: “To endure with patience and to overcome with love.” These are “graces proper to a Christian.” “To suffer with patience,” he notes, “is not easy.” “It is not easy, whether the difficulties come from without, or are problems within the heart, the soul, internal problems.” But to suffer, he explained, is not simply to “bear with a difficulty.”:
“To suffer is to take the difficulty and to carry it with strength, so that the difficulty does not drag us down. To carry it with strength: this is a Christian virtue. Saint Paul says several times: Suffer [endure]. This means do not let ourselves be overcome by difficulties. This means that the Christian has the strength not to give up, to carry difficulties with strength. Carry them, but carry them with strength. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one has the urge to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we’ll do what we can but no more.’ But no, it is a grace to suffer. In difficulties, we must ask for [this grace], in difficulty.”
The other grace the Pope asks for is “to overcome with love”:“There are many ways to win, but the grace that we request today is the grace of victory with love, through love. And this is not easy. When we have external enemies that make us suffer so much: it is not easy, to win with love. There is the desire to take revenge, to turn another against him ... Love: the meekness that Jesus taught us. And that is the victory! The Apostle John tells us in the first Reading: ‘This is our victory, our faith.’ Our faith is precisely this: believing in Jesus who taught us love and taught us to love everyone. And the proof that we are in love is when we pray for our enemies.”To pray for enemies, for those who make us suffer, the Pope continued, “is not easy.” But we are “defeated Christians” if we do not forgive enemies, and if we do not pray for them. And “we find so many sad, discouraged Christians,” he exclaimed, because “they did not have this grace of enduring with patience and overcoming with love”:“Therefore, we ask Our Lady to give us the grace to endure with patience and overcome with love. How many people – so many old men and women - have taken this path! And it is beautiful to see them: they have that beautiful countenance, that serene happiness. They do not say much, but have a patient heart, a heart filled with love. They know what forgiveness of enemies is, they know what it is to pray for enemies. So many Christians are like that!”The Mass was attended by employees of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications led by the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. And, on the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and a group of priests, religious, seminarians and lay people from China also attended the ceremony. At the end of the prayers of the faithful, the Pope prayed: “For the noble Chinese people: May the Lord bless them and Our Lady keep them.” The Mass concluded with a hymn to the Virgin Mary in Chinese.
shared from Radio Vaticana
POPE RECALLS TRAGEDY OF REFUGEES, REAFFIRMING THAT CHURCH ALWAYS CALLS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY TO BE PROTECTED
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) - “The trafficking of persons is an ignoble activity, a disgrace to our society that calls itself 'civilized'! Exploiters and clients at all levels should make a serious examination of conscience, within themselves and before God!” These were the Pope's words to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, gathered in Rome to discuss the issue of “The Church's Pastoral Care in the Context of Forced Migration”.
The assembly coincides with the publication of the document: “Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Persons Displaced by Force”, which calls attention to the millions of refugees, displaced, and stateless persons. It also addresses the scourge of human trafficking, which more and more frequently affects children who suffer the worst forms of abuse, including being forced into armed conflicts.
“Today,” the pontiff exclaimed, “the Church renews her strong call that the dignity and centrality of each person be always protected, in respect of fundamental rights … rights that she asks be concretely extended to the millions of men and women in every continent whose rights are not recognized. In a world where there is so much talk of rights it seems that the only one to have rights is money. … We are living in a world ruled by money. We live in a world, in a culture ruled by the fetishism of money.” In this context, the Pope noted that the dicastery responsible for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people is very worried by “situations where the family of nations is called to intervene in a spirit of fraternal solidarity with programmes of protection, often established against the backdrop of tragic events that almost daily are affecting the lives of many people. I express my appreciation and my gratitude and encourage you to continue along the path of service to our poorest and most marginalized brothers and sisters.”
The attention of the Church, who is “mother”, is expressed “with special tenderness and closeness for those forced to flee their country and live in-between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys a person. Christian compassion—this 'suffering with' [con-passione]—is expressed above all in the commitment to know about the events that force one to leave their country and, where necessary, in giving voice to those who are unable to make their cry of sorrow and oppression heard. In this,” he said to the assembly's participants, “you carry out an important task, as well as in making the Christian communities aware of their many brothers and sisters who are marked by wounds that scar their existence: violence, abuse of power, distance from family, traumatic events, flight from home, and uncertainty about their future in refugee camps. These are all dehumanizing elements and they must compel every Christian and the entire community to a concrete attention.”
However, the Holy Father also invited them to also see in the eyes of refugees and forcibly displaced persons ”the light of hope. It is a hope that is expressed in expectation for the future, the desire for friendly relationships, the desire to participate in the society that is hosting them, even through language learning, access to employment, and education for the youngest. I admire the courage of those who hope to gradually resume a normal life, awaiting joy and love to return and lighten their existence. We all can and must nurture that hope!”
Finally, the Pope launched an appeal to governments, legislators, and the entire international community to face the reality of forcibly displaced persons “with effective initiatives and new approaches to safeguard their dignity, to improve the quality of their lives, and to meet the challenges that emerge from modern forms of persecution, oppression, and slavery. It is, I emphasize, human persons who appeal to the solidarity and support, who need urgent measures, but also and above all who need understanding and goodness. Their condition cannot leave us indifferent.”
“As Church,” he concluded, “we remember that when we heal the wounds of refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking, we are practising the commandment of love that Jesus has left us; when we identify with the stranger, with those who are suffering, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation. … Here I would also like to recall the care that every pastor and Christian community must have for the journey of faith of Christian refugees and those forcibly uprooted from their lives, as well as for that of Christian emigrants. They require special pastoral care that respects their traditions and accompanies them in a harmonious integration into the ecclesial reality in which they find themselves. Let us not forget the flesh of Christ, who is in the flesh of the refugees. Their flesh is that of Christ.”
|SET ASIDE ARROGANCE, LET US BOW BEFORE THOSE WHOM THE LORD HAS ENTRUSTED TO OUR CARE |
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis presided at the profession of faith with all the Italian episcopacy gathered for their 65th general assembly. It was the first time that the Holy Father met with all the representatives of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), whom he greeted personally, one by one.
Below, please find the complete translation of Pope Francis’ remarks: Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
The readings we have heard make us thing. They have made me think a great deal. I have made something like a meditation. For us bishops, and first of all for me, a bishop like you, I share it with you.
It is significant - and I am particularly happy - that our first meeting should be held right here in the place that preserves not only the tomb of Peter, but also the living memory of his witness of faith, of his service to the truth, and of the gift he gave of himself – to the point of martyrdom – for the Gospel and for the Church.
This evening this altar of the Confession becomes our Lake of Tiberias, on the shores of which we listen to the wonderful dialogue between Jesus and Peter, with the question addressed to the Apostle, but which should resound in our own hearts, the hearts of bishops.
“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?” (Cf. Jn 21:15 ff)
The question is addressed to a man who, despite his solemn declaration, was overcome by fear and went back on his word.
“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”
The question is addressed to me and to each one of you, to all of us: if we avoid reacting too hastily and superficially, it encourages us to look within, to enter into ourselves.
“Do you love me?”; “Are you my friend?”
He who searches hearts (cf. Rom 8:27) makes himself a beggar of love, and questions us on the only really essential question, the premise and condition for pastoring his sheep, his lambs, his Church. Every ministry is based on this intimacy with the Lord; to live in him is the measure of our ecclesial service, which is expressed in an openness to obedience, to emptying of self, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, to total giving (cf. Phil 2:6-11).
Moreover, the consequence of loving the Lord is giving everything - absolutely everything, even one’s very life - for Him: this is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry; it is the litmus test that shows how profoundly we have embraced the gift received in response to the call of Jesus, and how we are joined to the people and the communities that have been entrusted to us. We are not expressions of a structure or an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord, and so, to build up the community in fraternal charity.
Not that this is taken for granted: even the greatest love, in fact, when it is not continuously fed, fades and goes out. Not without reason the Apostle Paul warns: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son”(Acts 20:28).
The lack of vigilance - we know – makes the Pastor lukewarm; he becomes distracted, forgetful and even impatient; it seduces him with the prospect of a career, the lure of money, and the compromises with the spirit of the world; it makes him lazy, turning him into a functionary, a cleric worried more about himself, about organisations and structures, than about the true good of the People of God. He runs the risk, then, like the Apostle Peter, of denying the Lord, even if he is present to us and speaks in His name; the holiness of the hierarchy of Mother Church is obscured, making it less fertile.
Who are we, Brothers, before God? What are our challenges? We all have so many, each one of us knows his own. What is God saying to us through them? What are we relying on to overcome them?
As it was for Peter, the insistent and heartfelt question of Jesus can leave us saddened and may leave us more aware of the weakness of our freedom, beset as it is by a thousand internal and external constraints, which often cause confusion, frustration, even disbelief.
These are certainly not the feelings and attitudes that the Lord intends to arouse; rather, the Enemy, the Devil, takes advantage of them to isolate us in bitterness, in complaints, and in discouragement.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not humiliate us or abandon us to remorse: in Him, the tenderness of the Father speaks, He who comforts and raises up; He who makes us pass from the disintegration of shame – because shame surely causes us to disintegrate – to the fabric of trust; who restores courage, recommits responsibility, and consigns us to the mission.
Peter, purified by the fire of forgiveness, can humbly say, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). I am sure we can all say this from the heart. In this Peter, purified, in his first letter exhorts us to feed “the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock”(1 Peter 5,2-3).
Yes, to be pastors means to believe every day in the grace and strength that comes to us from the Lord, despite our weakness, and to fully assume the responsibility of walking in front of the flock, freed from the burdens that hinder a healthy apostolic swiftness, and without hesitation in leading, to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith, but also to those who are “not of this fold” (John 10:16): we are called to make our own the dream of God, whose house knows no exclusion of persons or nations, as Isaiah prophetically announced in the First Reading (cf. Is 2:2-5).
Therefore, being pastors also means to be ready to walk in the midst of and behind the flock: capable of listening to the silent story of the suffering and bearing up the steps of those who are afraid of not succeeding; careful to raise up, to reassure, and inspire hope. By sharing with the humble our faith always comes out strengthened: let us put aside, therefore, any form of arrogance, to incline ourselves toward those the Lord has entrusted to our care. Among these, a special place is reserved for our priests: especially for them, our hearts, our hands, and our doors remain open at all times. They are the first faithful we bishops have, our priests. Let us love them! Let us love them from the heart! They are our sons and our brothers.
Dear brothers, the profession of faith that we now renew together is not a formal act, but is a renewal of our response to the “Follow Me” with which the Gospel of John concludes (21:19): allow your own life to unfold according to the project of God, committing your whole self to the Lord Jesus. From here springs that discernment that recognises and takes on the thoughts, the expectations, and the needs of the men of our time.
With this in mind, I sincerely thank each of you for your service, for your love for the Church and the Mother, and here, I place you, and I place myself, too, under the mantle of Mary, Our Mother.
Mother of the silence that preserves the mystery of God, deliver us from the idolatry of the present, to which those who forget are condemned. Purify the eyes of pastors with the balm of memory:
that we might return to the freshness of the beginning, for a praying and penitent Church.
Mother of the beauty that blossoms from fidelity to daily work, remove us from the torpor of laziness, of pettiness, and defeatism. Cloak Pastors with that compassion that unifies and integrates: that we might discover the joy of a humble and fraternal servant Church.
Mother of the tenderness which enfolds in patience and mercy, help us burn away the sadness, impatience, and rigidity of those who have not known what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son that our hands, our feet and our hearts may be swift: that we may build the Church with the truth in charity.
Mother, we will be the People of God, on pilgrimage towards the Kingdom.
Shared from Radio Vaticana
|CARDINAL SANDRI TAKES POPE'S GREETINGS TO LEBANON AND JORDAN |
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches will travel to Lebanon from 24 – 28 May, continuing on to Jordan until 1 June. In addition to attending the ordination of the new Maronite Bishops of Argentina and Australia on Sunday, 26 May, he will celebrate Mass at the inter-ritual Shrine of Our Lady of Zahle with the participation of the Melkite Archbishop and other pastors of the local Eastern Churches with their respective faithful. The main intention of the prayer in these circumstances will be the plea for peace in Syria, Lebanon, and the entire Middle East.
In the following days, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches will meet with the Maronite, Melkite, Syrian, and Armenian patriarchs as well as some religious communities, especially the young volunteers of Caritas Lebanon who, along with other humanitarian organizations, are attempting to deal with the enormous tragedy of refugees fleeing Syria.
The visit to Jordan will also be devoted to meeting the pastors and faithful of the various Catholic communities, especially that of the Greek Melkite communities in Petra and Philadelphia and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whose territory extends throughout the country. On Thursday, 30 May, the cardinal will attend the inauguration of the University of Madaba, belonging to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan is expected to attend. Before returning to Rome, the Cardinal will visit a camp of refugees who have fled from Syria and other Middle Eastern regions.
To all, pastors and faithful, the government and the peoples of Lebanon and Jordan, reads a press release, “the cardinal will bring the affectionate greeting, sharing in the worries and the sorrows of these regions, of Pope Francis, and imparting the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of closeness and hope in the Lord for the countries of the entire Middle Eastern region.”
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received:
- His excellency Mr. Marin Raykov Nikolov, prime minister of Bulgaria, with his wife and entourage.
- His excellency Mr. Trajko Veljanovski, vice president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with his wife and entourage.
- Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta, O. Cist., archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
|OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS |
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father erected the new diocese of Dolisie (area 25,930, population 210,000, Catholics 71,000, priests 32, religious 3) Democratic Republic of the Congo, with territory taken from the Diocese of Nkayi, making it a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Brazzaville. He appointed Fr. Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou as first bishop of the new diocese. Bishop-elect Manamika Bafouakouahou, previously vicar general of the Diocese of Kinkala, Democratic Republic of the Congo, was born in Brazzaville in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1993. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and diocesan level roles, most recently, since 2004, as episcopal delegate for diocesan Caritas and coordinator of the Sant'Agostino Seminary of Kinkala.