|GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE CHURCH IS GOD'S CALL TO BE PART OF HIS FAMILY |
IMAGE source the Vatican Radio
Vatican City, 29 May 2013 (VIS) – The mystery of the Church will be the theme of Pope Francis' new cycle of catechesis during the Wednesday general audiences.
In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome this morning, Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last Wednesday I stressed the deep connection between the Holy Spirit and the Church. Today I would like to start some reflections on the mystery of the Church, a mystery that we all live and of which we are part. I would like to do this, using some well-known phrases taken from the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
Today the first: the Church as Family of God
In recent months, more than once I have made reference to the parable of the prodigal son, or rather of the merciful father (cf. Lk 15:11-32). The youngest son leaves the house of his father, squanders everything, and decides to return because he realizes he made a mistake, though he no longer considers himself worthy of sonship. He thinks he might be welcomed back as a servant. Instead, the father runs to meet him, embraces him, gives him back his dignity as a son, and celebrates. This parable, like others in the Gospel, shows well the design of God for humanity.
What is this God’s plan? It is to make us all the one family of his children, in which each of you feels close to Him and feels loved by Him – feels, as in the Gospel parable, the warmth of being the family of God. In this great design, the Church finds its source. [The Church is] is not an organization founded by an agreement among [a group of] persons, but - as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI - is the work of God: it was born out of the plan of love, which realises itself progressively in history. The Church is born from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His friendship, and indeed, as His children, to partake of His own divine life. The very word “Church”, from the Greek ekklesia, means “convocation”.
God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, [from] the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us – convokes us – to be a part of His family. This convocation has its origin in creation itself. God created us in order that we might live in a relationship of deep friendship with Him, and even when sin had broken this relationship with God, with others and with creation, God did not abandon us.
The whole history of salvation is the story of God seeking man, offer[ing] humanity His love, embracing mankind. He called Abraham to be the father of a multitude, chose the people of Israel to forge an alliance that embraces all nations, and sent, in the fullness of time, His Son, that His plan of love and salvation be realised in a new and everlasting covenant with humanity. When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus gathers around him a small community that receives His word, follows Him, shares His journey, becomes His family – and with this community, He prepares and builds His Church.
Whence, then, is the Church born? It is born from the supreme act of love on the Cross, from the pierced side of Jesus from which flow blood and water, a symbol of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. In the family of God, the Church, the lifeblood is the love of God that is realised in loving Him and others, loving all without distinction, without measure. The Church is a family that loves and is loved.
When does the Church manifest itself? We celebrated [the Church’s manifestation] two Sundays ago: the Church manifests itself when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and pushes them to go out and start the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread the love of God.
Even today, some say, “Christ yes, the Church no,” like those who say, “I believe in God, but in priests, no.” They say, “Christ: yes. Church: no.” Nevertheless, it is the Church that brings us Christ and that brings us to God. The Church is the great family of God's children. Of course it also has the human aspects: in those who compose it, pastors and faithful, there are flaws, imperfections, sins – the Pope has his, as well: he has lots of them; but the beautiful thing is that, when we become aware that we are sinners, we find the mercy of God. God always forgives: do not forget this. God always forgives, and He receives us in His love of forgiveness and mercy. Some people say – this is beautiful – that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity: the humiliation of realising [that one is a sinner] and that there is something [exceedingly] beautiful: the mercy of God. Let us think about this.
Let us ask ourselves today: how much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel myself a part of the family of the Church? What do I do to make the Church a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, [in which] everyone feels the mercy and love of God who renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that affects us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family: as the Church.
We ask the Lord, in a special way in this Year of the faith, that our communities, the whole Church be ever more true families that live and carry the warmth of God.
The Holy Father also had greetings for English-speaking pilgrims, which he delivered through an interpreter:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In today’s Audience I would like to speak of the Church as God’s family. Like the merciful father in the parable of the prodigal son, God wants all of us to live in his love and to share in his life. The Church is an essential part of this divine plan; we were made to know and love God and, despite our sins, he continues to call us to return to him. In the fullness of time, he sent his Son into our world to inaugurate the new and eternal covenant with humanity through his sacrifice on the cross. The Church was born of this supreme act of reconciling love, in the water and blood which flowed from Christ’s pierced side. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit sent the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love to the ends of the earth. Christ can never be separated from his Church, which he has made the great family of God’s children. Today, let [us] pledge ourselves to renewing our love for the Church and to letting her be God’s true family, where everyone feels welcomed, understood and loved.
|POPE FRANCIS "THE DIVINE WAY INVOLVES THE CROSS"|
Vatican Radio report: Triumphalism impedes the Church: it is the temptation of a Christianity without the Cross, a Church that only wants to go half way on the journey of redemption, overly concerned with organization and success, without understanding that real triumph is born out of failure, like the triumph of Christ on the Cross. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.
The Gospel of the day recounts how Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples, announces His passion, death and resurrection. Pope Francis described it as “the journey of faith”. He noted the disciples have another plan in mind, they plan to go only half way, that it is better to stop and they discuss among themselves how to arrange the Church and arrange salvation. Thus , John and James, ask Him to grant that in His glory one may sit one at His right and the other at His left, prompting a argument among the other about who was most important in the Church.
Pope Francis observed that “the disciples’ temptation is the same of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, when the devil proposed another path to Him": "Do everything with speed, preform a miracle, something that everyone can see. Let’s go to the temple and skydive without a parachute, so everyone will see the miracle and redemption will come to pass".
The Pope said this was also Peter’s temptation when he at first does not accept the passion of Jesus: "It is the temptation of a Christianity without the Cross, a half-way Christianity." There is also another temptation, "a Christianity with the Cross without Jesus" of which the Pope said he would speak at another occasion. But "the temptation of Christianity without the Cross", to be "half-way Christians, a half-way Church " – that does not want to arrive there where the Father wants, "is the temptation of triumphalism. We want the triumph now, without going to the Cross, a worldly triumph, a reasonable triumph ":
"Triumphalism in the Church, impedes the Church. Triumphalism among Christians, impedes Christians. A triumphalist, half-way Church that is a Church that is content with what it is or has, well sorted – well organized - with all its offices, everything in order, everything perfect no? Efficient. But a Church that denies its martyrs, because it does not know that martyrs are needed for Churches’ the journey towards the Cross. A Church that only thinks about triumphs, successes, does not know that rule of Jesus: the rule of triumph through failure, human failure, the failure of the Cross. And this is a temptation that we all have”.The Pope, then, recalled a special episode in his life:"I remember once, I was in a dark moment in my spiritual life and I asked a favor from the Lord. Then I went to preach the annual spiritual retreat to nuns and on the last day the made their confession. One elderly nun, over 80 years of age, but with clear, bright eyes came to confession: she was a woman of God. In the end I saw that she really was a woman of God so I said ‘ Sister, as penance, pray for me, because I need a grace, ok? If you asks the Lord for this grace on my behalf, I am sure to receive it'. She stopped for a moment, as if in prayer, and said, 'Of course the Lord will grant you this grace, but do not be deceived: in His own divine manner’. This did me a lot of good. To hear that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but in His own divine way. And this is the divine way to the very end. The divine way involves the Cross, not out of masochism: no, no! Out of love. For love to the very end”.Pope Francis concluded with a prayer:
"We ask the Lord for the grace that we may not be a half-way Church, a triumphalist Church, of great successes, but a humble Church, that walks with decision, just like Jesus. Forward, forward, forward. With a heart open to the will of the Father, just like Jesus. We ask for this grace. "
shared from Radio Vaticana
GIVE THANKS TO GOD FOR YOUR PARENTS
Vatican City, 29 May 2013 (VIS) – At the end of today's general audience, as he does every Wednesday, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims of the various language groups in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis addressed a few words to the youth who will be gathering this Saturday, 1 June, at Lednica Lake in Poland for the yearly commemoration of the first Baptism of the Polish people in 966.
“Remember that God is our Father,” the Pope said to them. “He created us, bestowed our talents on each of us, and guides us along the path of life. He is with us in spite of our weaknesses, our sins, and our omissions. … He is the model of all parenthood, even earthly paternity.”
“”Don't forget,” he urged them, “to thank God for your parents … even if your relationship might not be so good. Parenthood is a gift from God and it is a great responsibility to give new life, which is an unrepeatable image of God. Don't be afraid to be parents. … Also, be open to being spiritual mothers and fathers.”
|POPE'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JUNE |
Vatican City, 31 May 2013 (VIS) - The Pope's general prayer intention for June is: “That a culture of dialogue, listening, and mutual respect may prevail among peoples.”
His mission intention is: “That where secularization is strongest, Christian communities may effectively promote a new evangelization.”
Vatican City, 29 May 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon the Holy Father received Cardinal William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, DC, USA, in audience.