(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during his General Audience on Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope telling pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall that, "we Christians are challenged to hope more firmly in the Lord’s promise of eternal life."
Below find the Pope's words read out in English at the weekly General Audience
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, today we turn to the earliest writing of the New Testament, Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. The Apostle writes to confirm this young Christian community in its faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, but he also speaks of the meaning of this mystery for the life of each believer. For Christ is the firstfruits of the future resurrection. Before the mystery of death, and the loss of our loved ones, we Christians are challenged to hope more firmly in the Lord’s promise of eternal life. Paul tells the Thessalonians to wear the hope of salvation like a helmet (1 Thess 5:8), in the knowledge that, because Christ is risen, the object of our hope is certain. Christian hope, then, is a way of life; we live daily in expectation of the resurrection. In that same hope, and in the communion of the Church, we pray too that those who have gone before us will live for ever in Christ. Let us ask the Lord to strengthen us in the sure expectation that one day we will be united with him, and all our loved ones, in the joy of the resurrection.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) If we keep our eyes constantly fixed on Jesus, we will discover with surprise that it is he who looks lovingly upon each of us. That was Pope Francis’ message on Tuesday at his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.
Listen to Devin Watkins' report:
Jesus does not seek popularity, but is always among people
The author of Hebrews exhorts us to run in the faith "with perseverance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus." In the Gospel, Jesus looks at us and sees us. Pope Francis explained that he is close to us, he "is always in the crowd":
“He didn’t walk around with guards to protect him, so that the people could not touch him. No, no! He stayed there and people surrounded him. And there were more people around every time Jesus went out. Statisticians might have been inclined to publish: ‘Rabbi Jesus’ popularity is falling’. But he sought something else: he sought people. And the people sought him. The people had their gaze fixed on him and he had his fixed on them. ‘Yes, yes, on the people, on the multitude’ – ‘No, on each individual!’. This is the peculiarity of Jesus’ gaze: He does not standardize people; He looks at each person.”
Jesus sees both great and small things
The Gospel of Mark narrates two miracles: Jesus heals a woman suffering from hemorrhaging for 12 years who, though pressed by the crowd, was able to touch his cloak. And he realizes that he was touched. Then, he raises the twelve year-old daughter of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He understands that the girl is hungry and tells her parents to give her something to eat:
“The gaze of Jesus falls on both the big and the small. That's how Jesus sees us all: He sees all things, but looks at each of us. He sees our big problems, our greatest joys, and also looks at the little things about us. Because he is close. Jesus is not afraid of the big things, but also takes account of the small ones. That's how Jesus looks at us.”
The surprise of encountering Jesus
If we run “with perseverance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus”, Pope Francis said, “we will be ‘completely astonished’, just as happened to the people after the raising of Jairus’ daughter”:
“I go forward, looking at Jesus. I walk ahead, keeping my gaze fixed on Jesus, and what do I find? That he has his gaze fixed on me! And that makes me feel this great astonishment. This is the astonishment of the encounter with Jesus. But let us not be afraid! We are not afraid, just as that woman was not afraid to touch Jesus’ mantle. Let us not be afraid! Let us run down this road with our gaze ever fixed on Jesus. And we will have a beautiful surprise: He will fill us with awe. Jesus himself has his gaze fixed on me.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, is currently visiting Madagascar from 26 January to 1 February. The Cardinal is in that country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Madagascar.
On the first day of his visit, the Secretary of State met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina at the Presidential Palace. The Head of State was flanked by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Cardinal Parolin was accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio and some of the country’s Bishops. Also present was Cardinal Maurice Piat, the Bishop of Port-Louis in Mauritius.
Leaders of other Christian denominations joined the reception that followed the meeting.
President Rajaonarimampianina expressed appreciation for the visit, recalling the good relations between the Holy See and Madagascar, over the last 50 years. He spoke in glowing terms of his visit to Pope Francis in June 2014.
The President recognised the important role that the Catholic Church plays with its institutions contributing to the social development of all citizens in Madagascar, particularly in the education and health sector. Rajaonarimampianina hoped that the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations would serve to strengthen ties between the Holy See and Madagascar.
For his part, Cardinal Parolin conveyed the affectionate greetings of Pope Francis to the people of Madagascar. The Cardinal Secretary of State expressed his sincere gratitude for the extraordinarily warm welcome that was reserved for him in Madagascar. Building on the reason for his visit, he expressed the readiness of the Holy See to continue the fruitful collaboration with Madagascar.
The Holy See prelate encouraged the local Church in Madagascar to continue contributing to the spiritual and social well-being of all citizens. He hoped that his visit would help support an agreement towards the full legal recognition of institutions of the Church.
Later, the Cardinal Secretary of State was decorated with the Grand Officer of the National Order of Madagascar award.
From Madagascar, Cardinal Parolin is scheduled to travel to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo with a brief stop-over in Nairobi, Kenya.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) On Monday morning, following the usual Mass at the Pope’s residence in the Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father met with Cardinal Gérald Cyprien LaCroix, assuring the Archbishop of Quebec City of his prayers for the victims of the attack on a mosque there on Sunday night.
Pope Francis stressed the importance of for all, Christians and Muslims, to be united in prayer. Following his meeting with the Pope, Cardinal Lacroix returned immediately to Canada.
The Holy Father also formally expressed his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack in a telegram addressed to Cardinal Lacroix, and signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The full text of the telegram, written in French, is provided below in an English translation:
Telegram concerning the attack on a mosque in Quebec City:
Most Eminent Cardinal Gérald Cyprien LaCroix
Having learned of the attack which occurred in Quebec in a prayer room of the Islamic Cultural Centre, which claimed many victims, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to the mercy of God the persons who lost their lives and he associates himself through prayer with the pain of their relatives. He expresses his profound sympathy for the wounded and their families, and to all who contributed to their aid, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in the ordeal. The Holy Father again strongly condemns the violence that engenders such suffering; and, imploring God for the gift of mutual respect and peace, he invokes upon the sorely tried families, and upon all persons touched by this tragedy, as well as upon all Quebecers, the benefits of the divine Blessing.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State of His Holiness
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday met with the bishops of Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who are in Rome for their “ad limina apostolorum” visit.
The President of the International Bishops’ Conference of Saints Cyril and Methodius, to which the bishops belong, spoke to Vatican Radio ahead of the ad limina visit.
Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue
Bishop Ladislav Nemét, SVD, of Zrenjanin, Serbia said ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is an important aspect of the Bishops’ Conference.
“As for Serbia, collaboration and ecumenical relations between the Holy See and the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church is very good… In Kosovo, interreligious dialogue is more meaningful, because Catholics live among Muslims. In Montenegro and Macedonia it is difficult for the Catholic Church to maintain relations with the official Orthodox Church and even with two Orthodox churches, which are growing with large state aid.”
Four different countries
Bishop Nemét said the Conference has made a recent proposal to the Holy See to divide the international group into national conferences.
He said the reason for the request is “because of the enormous differences between these countries”.
“We have four countries with differing legislation: only in Serbia do we have the right to teach religion in elementary and secondary schools. As for Montenegro, the government has signed a Fundamental Agreement with the Holy See. However, there are no similar accords with the other countries.”
Bishop Nemét said that, despite the request to divide the International Conference, a top priority is to “maintain a spirit of collaboration between the four countries”.
The second priority, he said, is to “reinforce our presence in these four diverse societies: reconciliation is still far off between Croatians and Serbians, between Albanians and Serbians…”
He concluded that these are areas of “great problems and challenges, and we can truly make a positive contribution, also according to the intentions of the Holy Father, who does much for peace in the world.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The greatest strength of the Church today is in the little, persecuted Churches. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta. At the heart of the Pope’s homily were the martyrs: “Today there are more than in the first ages” – but the media says nothing about them, he continued, because it’s not news. Pope Francis invited us to remember those who suffer martyrdom.
“Without memory there is no hope,” the Pope said, basing his homily on the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. The first Reading of the Mass is an exhortation to remember the whole history of the people of the Lord. The liturgy in these days focuses on the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, which speaks of memory – and first of all, a “memory of docility,” the memory of the docility of so many people, beginning with Abraham, who was obedient, who went out from his own land without knowing where he was going. In particular, the section of Hebrews 11 read in today’s Mass dealt with other memories: the memory of the great works of the Lord, accomplished by Gideon, Barak, Samson, David; “so many people,” the Pope said, “who have done great things in the history of Israel.
Today there are more martyrs than in the first ages: the media says nothing because they're not newsworthy
There is also a third group we remember: the martyrs, “those who have suffered and given their lives, as Jesus did,” who “were stoned, tortured, killed by the sword.” The Church, in fact, is “this people of God,” “sinful but docile,” which “does great things and also bears witness to Jesus Christ, to the point of martyrdom”:
“The martyrs are those that carry the Church forward, they are those who support the Church, who have supported her [in the past] and [who] support her today. And today there are more than in the first centuries. The media doesn’t speak of them because they're not newsworthy, but so many Christians in the world today are blessed because [they are] persecuted, insulted, incarcerated. There are so many imprisoned solely for carrying a cross or for confessing Jesus Christ! This is the glory of the Church, and our support, and also our humiliation: we who have so much, everything seems so easy for us, and if we are lacking something we complain. But let us think of these our brothers and sisters who today, in numbers greater than in the first ages, are suffering martyrdom!”
“I cannot forget,” Pope Francis continued, “the testimony of that priest and that sister in the Cathedral of Tirana [Albania]: years and years of imprisonment, forced labour, humiliations,” for whom human rights did not exist.
The greatest strength of the Church is the small, persecuted Churches
Then the Pope recalled that the greatest strength of the Church of today is in the “little Churches” that are persecuted:
“And we too – it’s also true and just – we are satisfied when we see a great ecclesial act, which has great success, Christians who demonstrate… and this is beautiful! Is this strength? Yes, it’s strength. But the greatest strength of the Church today is in the little Churches, tiny, with few people, persecuted, with their Bishops in prison. This is our glory today, this is our glory and our strength.”
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians
“A Church without martyrs – I would dare to say – is a church without Jesus,” the Pope said in conclusion. He then invited those present to pray “for our martyrs, who suffer so much… for those Churches that are not free to express themselves: they are our hope.” And the Pope recalled that in the first ages of the Church, an ancient writer said “the blood of Christians, the blood of the martyrs, is the seed of Christians”:
“They, with their martyrdom, their witness, with their suffering, even giving their life, offering their life, sow Christians for the future and in other Churches. Let us offer this Mass for our martyrs, for those who are now suffering, for the Churches that suffer, who do not have liberty. And let us thank the Lord for being present with the strength of the Holy Spirit in these our brothers and sisters who today are bearing witness to Him.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday dedicated his catechesis to the Gospel reading of the day reflecting on the Beatitudes recounted in the Sermon on the Mount.
He was addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer.
The Gospel of Matthew, Francis said, is the keystone of the New Testament. It tells of how Jesus manifested God’s will to show man the path to happiness.
He said this message was already contained in the words of the prophets who highlighted God’s liberating closeness to the poor and the oppressed.
But Jesus, he said, points to a different path which exhorts us all to trust in God as Christian happiness is to be found in the promise of salvation.
Focusing on the first Beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, Pope Francis said he who is poor in spirit does not rebel, but knows how to be humble, obedient, and available to the grace of God.
And he pointed out that the happiness of the poor in spirit has two dimensions: first of all in respect to material goods that should be used with moderation:
Being weighed down by the need for voracious consumption that leads one to believe “the more I have, the more I want” is something, the Pope said, that kills the soul. The man or woman who has this attitude, he explained, will never be happy.
Poverty of spirit, he continued, is revealed in the way a Christian praises and acknowledges the love with which the Lord created us and the world. In the way he puts his trust in God.
“He who is poor in spirit is the Christian who does not trust in material riches, who is not obstinate in conveying his own opinions, but listens with respect and willingly defers to the decisions of others” he said.
"If there were more people who are poor in spirit in our communities there would be fewer divisions, disagreements and controversies! Humility, like charity, it is an essential virtue for living together in Christian communities”.
Poverty, in the evangelical sense, the Pope said, is the path to the Kingdom of Heaven, a path that favors sharing rather than possession.
“You can walk the path of love - the Pope concluded - only if you have an open heart” following the example of Our Lady, the prime model of the poor in spirit, and totally docile to the will of the Lord.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reiterated his closeness to the earthquake struck populations of Central Italy who are still suffering the consequences of the quake as well as the effects of extremely difficult weather conditions.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :
Speaking after the Angelus Prayer to some 25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope appealed to political authorities saying “May these brothers and sisters of ours never lack solidarity and the constant support of the Institutions.”
“And please: may no kind of burocracy stand in the way, causing delays and ulterior suffering” he said.
The Pope also recalled World Leprosy Day with an appeal to beat the disease but also to fight the discrimination it generates.
Referring to the observance, marked annually on the last Sunday of January, he pointed out that although leprosy is in decline, it is still much feared and it invariably strikes the poorest and the most marginalized persons.
“I send my encouragement to those who work to assist the victims of leprosy and assure them of my prayers” he said.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Sovereign Order of Malta’s Sovereign Council on Saturday accepted the resignation of Grand Master Fra' Matthew Festing.
A press release says that Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein assumes the office of Lieutenant ad interim, and Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor
Please find the Sovereign Order of Malta’s official press release below :
The Sovereign Council, the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, met this afternoon in the Magistral Palace in Rome. On the agenda was the resignation from Office of Grand Master presented by Fra’ Matthew Festing, in accordance with article 16 of the Constitution of the Order of Malta. The Sovereign Council accepted his resignation from office.
Conforming to the Constitution, the Pope has been notified of the resignation of Fra' Matthew Festing, which will be communicated to the 106 Heads of State with whom the Order has diplomatic relations.
In accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution, the Grand Commander, Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, has assumed the office of Lieutenant ad interim and will remain the Order of Malta’s head until the election of the successor of the Grand Master.
The Sovereign Council thanked Fra' Matthew Festing for his great commitment during his nine years in office. Subsequently, the Sovereign Council presided over by the Lieutenant ad interim annulled the decrees establishing the disciplinary procedures against Albrecht Boeselager and the suspension of his membership in the Order. Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately.
In a letter sent yesterday, 27 January 2017, to Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein and the members of the Sovereign Council, Pope Francis reaffirmed the special relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Apostolic See.
The Pope affirmed that the Lieutenant ad interim assumes responsibility over the Order’s government, in particular regarding relationships with other States. Pope Francis noted precisely that his Special Delegate will be operating on “the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of pag. 2 its professed members.”
The Sovereign Order of Malta ensures its full collaboration with the Special Delegate whom the Holy Father intends to appoint. The Sovereign Order of Malta is most grateful to Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for their interest in and care for the Order. The Order appreciates that the Holy Father’s decisions were all carefully taken with regard to and respect for the Order, with a determination to strengthen its sovereignty.
The Lieutenant ad interim together with the Sovereign Council will soon convoke the Council Complete of State for the election of the successor of the Grand Master, according to Art. 23 of the Constitution.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday said the Church is facing a “hemorrhaging” of members of religious orders which is weakening consecrated life, and at the same time, the Church herself.
The Pope was speaking to the Plenary Session of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which was discussing the theme “Fidelity and Abandonment,” which explored why people leave their vocation.
The Holy Father said although some leave for good reasons, because after discernment, they discover they do not have a vocation; but noted others leave years after making their final profession, and asks “What happened?”
“There are many factors which affect fidelity [to one’s vocation] in this era of change, which is not only a changing era, in which it is difficult to assume responsibilities which are serious and definitive,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father said the primary factor is a “provisional” culture, which leads to living an “à la carte” life which is “a slave to fashion.”
“This culture induces the need to always have ‘side doors’ open to other possibilities; it feeds consumerism and forgets the beauty of a simple and austere life, and in many cases causes an existential void,” – Pope Francis said – “It has also produces a powerful practical relativism, according to which everything is judged in terms of a self-realization which is often extraneous to the values of the Gospel.”
The Holy Father added “we live in a society where economic rules replace those of morality; laws that dictate and impose their own frames of reference at the expense of the values of life; a society where the dictatorship of money and profit proposes a vision of existence in which those who do not render to it are discarded.”
The Pope then turned to the current “world of youth,” which he described as “complex, but at the same time rich and challenging.”
The Holy Father said “young people seek a genuine spiritual life,” but can be seduced by the logic of worldliness, “the search for success at any price, easy money and easy pleasure.” He said this must be countered by “infect[ing] them with the joy of the Gospel…this culture must be evangelized if we do not want young people to succumb.”
Pope Francis finally turned to the situation within institutes of consecrated life, warning against a “counter witness” to fidelity.
“Such situations, among others, are: Routine, fatigue, the weight of managing structures, internal divisions, the search for power, a worldly manner of governing institutions, a service of authority that sometimes becomes authoritarianism and other times is laissez-faire,” – the Pope explained – “If the consecrated life wants to maintain its prophetic mission and its fascination, continuing to be a school of faithfulness for those near and those far, it must maintain the freshness and novelty of the centrality of Jesus; its spiritual attractiveness and the strength of mission; and show the beauty of following Christ and radiate hope and joy.”
The Pope urged them to pay particular attention to living their fraternal life in community, “nourished by communal prayer, prayerful reading of the Word, active participation in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, fraternal dialogue and sincere communication among members, fraternal correction, mercy towards brothers or sisters who sin, and sharing responsibilities.”
Pope Francis concluded his remarks by bringing up the importance of accompaniment, and the necessity of preparing qualified spiritual guides.
“It is hard to remain faithful walking alone or walking with the guidance of brothers and sisters who are not able to listen carefully and patiently, or who lack adequate experience of consecrated life,” – the Holy Father said – “We need brothers and sisters experienced in the ways of God… Many vocations are lost for lack of good leaders.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, has issued a statement for World Leprosy Day, which takes place on the last Sunday of January.
“Fear of this disease, which is one of the most feared in human history, defeats reason; lack of knowledge by a community about this pathology excludes those who have been cured of it, who, in their turn, because of the suffering and the forms of discrimination that they have endured, have lost the sense of dignity that belongs to them and is inalienable even though their bodies have mutilations,” – Cardinal Turkson writes – “ ‘For’ them, and above all ‘with’ people who are victims of leprosy, we must engage ourselves more deeply so that they can find welcome, solidarity and justice.”
The full Message by Cardinal Turkson is below
The eradication of leprosy and the reintegration of people afflicted by hanseniasis:
a challenge not yet won.
The development of effective pharmacological therapies and the major efforts at a planetary level of many national and international institutions and agencies, with the Catholic Church in the front line, over the last decades have inflicted a very severe blow on Hansen’s disease, known more commonly as leprosy. Hanseniasis, which in the year 1985 still afflicted over five million people in the world, today has about 200,000 new cases each year, but much – very much – still has to be done.
As for that matter was highlighted last June at the end of the symposium ‘Towards Holistic Care for People with Hansen’s Disease Respectful of their Dignity’, which was organised by the then Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, every new case of Hansen’s disease is one case too many, as is every residual form of stigma attached to it. Every law that discriminates against patients with Hansen’s disease is one law too many, as is every form of indifference. Within the framework of the initiative promoted in cooperation with the Nippon Foundation-Sasakawa Health Foundation, with the contribution of the Order of Malta, the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Good Samaritan Foundation, it was further emphasised that given their role, it is important for the leaders of all religions, in their teachings, writings and speeches, to contribute to the elimination of discrimination against people afflicted by Hansen’s disease. On the other hand, as was also emphasised subsequently by the World Health Organisation during the World Forum on hanseniasis held in Seoul in November, physical and psychological care should be assured to patients during and after the end of their treatment.
In addition, we should all commit ourselves – and at all levels – to ensuring that in all countries policies relating to the family, to work, to schools, to sport, and policies of every other kind, that directly or indirectly discriminate against these people are changed, and that governments develop implementing plans that involve people with this disease.
Lastly, strengthening scientific research in order to develop new medical products, and obtain better diagnostic instruments in order to increase the possibility of early diagnosis, is fundamental.
Indeed, in large part new cases are identified only when the infection has provoked permanent lesions and has marked, by now for life, the adults or boys or girls who have this disease. On the other hand, especially in the most remote areas, it is difficult to assure the assistance that is needed to finish the treatment or it is difficult for the patients themselves to understand the importance of – or anyway give priority to – continuing with the pharmacological treatment where this has been begun.
But treatment is not enough. A person who has been cured of this disease must be reintegrated to the full into his or her original social fabric: his or her family, community, school, or work environment.
In order to promote and contribute to this process of reintegration, which for that matter remains almost impossible in many contexts, associations of former patients should be further supported and encouraged. At the same time, the spread of communities, with these former patients, should be promoted which – as has already taken place, for example, in India, in Brazil and in Ghana – become real families who understand and welcome people, offering a fertile terrain for mutual aid and authentic brotherhood.
With reflection, as well, upon the healing of the man with leprosy by Jesus narrated in the first chapter of the Gospel According to Mark. Christ ‘Moved with pity…stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I will do it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean’. Then he ‘said to him, “See that you tell no one anything but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them”’.
Thus it was that Jesus not only healed the person in his entirety but also called on the man whom he healed to go to he who could declare his full reintegration into society, his readmission into the ‘human consortium’.
Perhaps today as yesterday this is a greatest obstacle to be overcome for those who have been marked by hansensiasis and for those who work for them. The disabilities, the unmistakeable signs left behind by this disease, are still today similar to brands. Fear of this disease, which is one of the most feared in human history, defeats reason; lack of knowledge by a community about this pathology excludes those who have been cured of it, who, in their turn, because of the suffering and the forms of discrimination that they have endured, have lost the sense of dignity that belongs to them and is inalienable even though their bodies have mutilations. ‘For’ them, and above all ‘with’ people who are victims of leprosy, we must engage ourselves more deeply so that they can find welcome, solidarity and justice.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent his support to the March for Life, which took place in Washington, DC, on Friday.
The Message – sent by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin – said Pope Francis “trusts that this event, in which so many American citizens speak out on behalf of the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters, will contribute to a mobilization of conscience in defense of the right to life and effective measures to ensure its adequate legal protection.”
Each year, the March for Life draws hundreds of thousands of people to the United States capital to call for the protection of the unborn, and end to euthanasia, and to promote other pro-life issues.
The full text of the Message is below
His Holiness Pope Francis sends warm greetings and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the many thousands of young people from throughout America gathered in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington for the annual March for Life. His Holiness is profoundly grateful for this impressive testimony to the sacredness of every human life. As he has made clear, “so great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right… can justify a decision to terminate that life” (Amoris Laetitia, 83). He trusts that this event, in which so many American citizens speak out on behalf of the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters, will contribute to a mobilization of conscience in defense of the right to life and effective measures to ensure its adequate legal protection. To all present the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The way a country responds to the needs of migrants and refugees is a “thermometer” of the wellbeing of that society. That’s the view of Canadian Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, recently appointed as undersecretary of the Vatican’s new department for Integral Human Development .
Alongside Italian Scalabrini Father Fabio Baggio, Fr Michael took up his new post on January 1st, in charge of the section dealing with refugees, migrants and survivors of human trafficking. Answering directly to Pope Francis, he sees his “modest but ambitious mission” as helping the Church to accompany forced migrants at all stages of their often perilous journey.
As the child of a refugee family himself, Fr Michael believes that “with a little bit of sharing of the enormous resources available throughout the world”, countries can “very comfortably and very securely and very profitably” provide for the needs of all people on the move.
Philippa Hitchen talked to Fr Michael to find out more about the work and the vision of this new Vatican office….
Fr Michael explains that the concept of ‘Integral Human Development’ goes back to vision of the Second Vatican Council and its key document ‘ Gaudium et Spes ’ on the Church in the modern world. Over the years since then, he says, different Vatican offices have been set up to meet specific needs regarding human development. But Pope Francis’ recent documents ‘ Evangeli Gaudium ’ and ‘ Laudato Sii ’ have pioneered a new approach of ‘Integral Human Development’ and within that context the plight of those forced to leave their homes is an “area of real concern”.
Top priority for Pope Francis
This topic, Fr Michael continues, is a “top priority” for the pope whose own family migrated from Italy and was “welcomed into Argentina about a century ago”. It’s also an urgent topic, he insists, because “it’s one of those thermometers, I think, of the health and wellbeing of a society”. If societies don't respond to the needs of migrants “up to the mark of human dignity, there’s something seriously wrong” with that society.
Mission to accompany migrants
The section for migrants and refugees, Fr Michael explains, is concerned with all people on the move whose “human rights and dignity and basic reasons for hope are under extreme duress”. “Our modest but ambitious mission” he adds, is for people “to feel and to experience the accompaniment of the Church”, in the places where migrants begin their journeys, in the transit countries and in the so-called ‘receiving’ nations. How can parishes or dioceses welcome migrants, he asks, just as “we would so much want to be warmly welcomed …. if we were forced to flee?”
Refugee family experience
Reflecting on the experience of his own parents, who fled from Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of World War II, Fr Michael says he has “some appreciation” of the anxieties and tensions facing families forced to leave their homelands. Such decisions, he says, are "never taken lightly”, but instead such people are “opting for the least worst solution for their very bad situation and... deserve all the help, support, sympathy and prayer that they can get”.
Sharing global resources
Through this new office, Fr Michael says, the pope is not seeking “to mount some huge programme to mobilise unheard-of resources” but rather “to help the hearts and minds, the hands and feet of people everywhere” to share what they can with those in need. With a little bit of sharing of “the enormous resources available throughout the world” he adds, “we can very comfortably and very securely and very profitably” accommodate all people on the move.
Focus on people, not fears
Asked about the challenges of the current climate of hostility towards migrants, Fr Michael says “maybe more of the truth is on the table” now and “maybe it’s worse if it were somehow repressed and unspoken”. He takes up his new job “at a moment when people are on a higher kind of alert”, he says, stressing the importance of focusing, not on fears or security concerns which “have nothing to do with refugees”, but on those who “need a place to settle down and restart their lives”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with a delegation from the European Jewish Congress Friday on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs annually on 27 January.
The Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Fr. Norbert Hofmann, was present at the meeting.
In an interview with Vatican Radio (in Italian), he said the Pope “began the dialogue by mentioning the importance of this Day for the Jews, but also for us, because remembering the victims of the Holocaust is important so that this human tragedy never happens again”.
The delegation, he said, represents more than 2 million Jews in Europe.
Fr. Hofmann said the President of the Congress, Moshe Kantor, spoke about “the importance of ethics, that is, of the values which Christians and Jews have in common. He said that in our world we see much progress but also a decline in moral and ethical values. Therefore, we need to strengthen these values which we share. And then he spoke about the importance of education and the family.”
Pope Francis, Fr. Hofmann said, agreed completely with these themes and shared a story from his childhood.
“The Pope said that, in his family, his father often received Jews… and thus, already as a child, our Pope learned to have several Jewish friends.”
Also on Friday, the Vatican’s permanent representative to the OSCE said the Holocaust teaches us that "utmost vigilance is always needed to be able to take prompt action in defense of human dignity and peace".
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has extended his condolences to victims a tragic bus crash that occurred in Italy earlier this week.
The bus was carrying Hungarian students who were returning to Hungary from a skiing trip in France .
The Holy Father’s prayers for the victims and their families, and his expressions of closeness and support, were conveyed in a telegramme addressed to the Hungarian Bishops’ Conference, which was sent on the Pope’s behalf, and signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State.
The full text of the telegramme follows:
His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő
Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the bus accident in Verona, Italy, involving students of Szinyei Gimnázium, and he assures all those affected by this tragedy of his prayerful solidarity. Entrusting the deceased to the merciful love of Almighty God, he prays that their families and friends may be consoled in their grief and strengthened by God's grace. So too His Holiness prays for the injured and all involved in this incident that they may know healing and comfort at this time of sorrow. Upon the entire community of Szinyei Gimnázium and upon all who are mourning, the Holy Father invokes the divine blessings of peace and strength.
Card. Pietro Parolin
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) God frees us from the sin that paralyzes us as Christians: faintheartedness, being afraid of everything, which keep us from having memory, hope, courage, and patience. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday.
Remembering the God’s work of salvation in my life
Pope Francis said the day’s Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to live the Christian life with three points of reference: the past, the present, and the future. First, it invites us to remember, because “the Christian life does not begin today: it continues today.” Remembering is “to recall everything”: the good things, and those that are less good, and putting my own story “before the sight of God”: without covering up or hiding it:
“‘Brothers, call to mind those first days’: the days of enthusiasm, of going forward in the faith, when you began to live the faith, the anguished trials… You don’t understand the Christian life, even the spiritual life of each day, without memory. Not only do you not understand: You can’t live in a Christian way without memory. The memory of the salvation of God in my life, the memory of my troubles in my life; but how has the Lord saved me from these troubles? Memory is a grace: a grace to ask for. ‘Lord, may I not forget your step in my life, may I not forget the good moments, also the ugly; the joys and the crosses.’ The Christian is a man of memory.”
Living in the hope of encountering Jesus
The author of the Letter then makes us understand that “we are on the journey in expectation of something,” in expectation of “arriving at a point: an encounter; encountering the Lord.” “And he exhorts us to live by faith”:
“Hope: Looking to the future. Just as one cannot live a Christian life without memory of the steps taken, one cannot live a Christian life without looking to the future with hope… of the encounter with the Lord. And he uses a beautiful phrase: ‘just a brief moment…’ Eh, life is a breath, eh? It passes. When one is young, he thinks he has so much time before him, but then life teaches us that those words that we all say: ‘But how time passes! I knew this person as a child, now they’re getting married! How time passes!’ It comes soon. But the hope of encountering it is a life in tension, between memory and hope, the past and the future.”
Living in the present with courage and patience
Finally, the Letter invites us to live in the present, “often times painful and sad,” with “courage and patience”: that is, with frankness, without shame, and enduring the events of life. We are sinners, the Pope explained – all of us. “He who is first, and he who is later… if you want, we can make the list later, but we are all sinners. All of us. But we go forward with courage and patience. We don’t remain there, stopped, because this would not make us grow.”
The sin that paralyzes Christians: Faintheartedness
Finally, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews urges us not to commit the sin that takes away memory, hope, courage, and patience: faintheartedness (It.: pusillanimità, “pusillanimity”). “It is a sin that doesn’t allow us to go forward, through fear.” Jesus, though, says, “Don’t be afraid.” The fainthearted are those “who always go backward, who guard themselves too much, who are afraid of everything”:
“‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…’ All the commandments, all of them… Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward. And the present of a Christian, of such a Christian, is how when one goes along the street and an unexpected rain comes, and the garment is not so good and the fabric shrinks… Confined souls… This is faintheartedness: this is the sin against memory, courage, patience, and hope. May the Lord make us grow in memory, make us grow in hope, give us courage and patience each and free us from that which is faintheartedness, being afraid of everything… Confined souls in order to save ourselves. And Jesus says: ‘He who wills to save his life will lose it.’”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Wherever there is violence and conflict, Christians are called to work patiently to restore concord and hope. That was Pope Francis’ message on Friday to members of the Joint International Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The group, which is meeting in the Vatican this week, includes representatives of the six ancient Churches of the East which have been separated from the rest of the Christian world since the middle of the fifth century.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:
In his words to the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox leaders, Pope Francis noted that many of them belong to Churches that witness daily the spread of violence and “brutality perpetrated by fundamentalist extremism”. We are aware, he said, “that situations of such tragic suffering more easily take root in the context of great poverty, injustice and social exclusion”
This is due to instability, often created by foreign interests, he said, or by earlier conflicts that have made it easier to manipulate and incite people to hatred. The Pope said Christians are called to draw near to those who suffer, to sow concord and to work patiently together to restore hope by offering the consoling peace that comes from the Lord.
Pope Francis said he joined with the Church leaders in praying for an end to conflict and for God’s closeness to those who have suffered so much, especially children, the sick and the elderly. In a particular way, he said his “heart goes out to the bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful who have been cruelly abducted, taken hostage or enslaved”.
The martyrs and saints of all traditions, the Pope said, can inspire us to hasten along the path to full unity. Wherever violence begets more violence, he said, there our response must be to shun strategies of power and bring the peace and reconciliation of the risen Christ.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’s address to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches
Dear Brothers in Christ,
In offering you a joyful welcome, I thank you for your presence and for the kind words that Metropolitan Bishoy addressed to me on your behalf. Through you, I send cordial greetings to the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, my venerable brothers.
I am grateful for the work of your Commission, which began in 2003 and is now holding its fourteenth meeting. Last year you began an examination of the nature of the sacraments, especially baptism. It is precisely in baptism that we rediscovered the basis of communion between Christians. As Catholics and Oriental Orthodox, we can repeat the words of the Apostle Paul: “For in the one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13). In the course of this week, you have further reflected on historical, theological and ecclesiological aspects of the Holy Eucharist, “the source and summit of the whole Christian life”, which admirably expresses and brings about the unity of God’s people (Lumen Gentium, 11). I encourage you to persevere in your efforts and I trust that your work may point out helpful ways to advance on our journey. It will thus facilitate the path towards that greatly desired day when we will have the grace of celebrating the Lord’s Sacrifice at the same altar, as a sign of fully restored ecclesial communion.
Many of you belong to Churches that witness daily the spread of violence and acts of brutality perpetrated by fundamentalist extremism. We are aware that situations of such tragic suffering more easily take root in the context of great poverty, injustice and social exclusion, due to instability created by partisan interests, often from elsewhere, and by earlier conflicts that have led to situations of dire need, cultural and spiritual deserts where it becomes easy to manipulate and incite people to hatred. Each day your Churches, in drawing near to those who suffer, are called to sow concord and to work patiently to restore hope by offering the consoling peace that comes from the Lord, a peace we are obliged together to bring to a world wounded and in pain.
Saint Paul also writes: “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26). Your sufferings are our sufferings. I join you in praying for an end to the conflict and for God’s closeness to those who have endured so much, especially children, the sick and the elderly. In a particular way, my heart goes out to the bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful who have been cruelly abducted, taken hostage or enslaved.
May the Christian communities be sustained by the intercession and example of our many martyrs and saints who bore courageous witness to Christ. They show us the heart of our faith, which does not consist in a generic message of peace and reconciliation but in Jesus himself, crucified and risen. He is our peace and our reconciliation (cf. Eph 2:14; 2 Cor 5:18). As his disciples, we are called to testify everywhere, with Christian fortitude, to his humble love that reconciles men and women in every age. Wherever violence begets more violence and sows death, there our response must be the pure leaven of the Gospel, which, eschewing strategies of power, allows fruits of life to emerge from arid ground and hope to dawn after nights of terror.
The centre of the Christian life, the mystery of Jesus who died and rose out of love, is also the point of reference for our journey towards full unity. Once more the martyrs show us the way. How many times has the sacrifice of their lives led Christians, otherwise divided in so many things, to unity! The martyrs and saints of all ecclesial traditions are already one in Christ (cf. Jn 17:22); their names are written in the one common martyrology of God’s Church. Having sacrificed themselves on earth out of love, they dwell in the one heavenly Jerusalem, gathered around the Lamb who was slain (cf. Rev 7:13-17). Their lives, offered as a gift, call us to communion, to hasten along the path to full unity. Just as in the early Church the blood of the martyrs was the seed of new Christians, so in our own day may the blood of so many martyrs be a seed of unity between believers, a sign and instrument of a future of communion and peace.
Dear brothers, I am grateful for the efforts you make towards attaining this goal. In thanking you for your visit, I invoke upon you and your ministry the blessing of the Lord and the loving protection of the Holy Mother of God.
(from Vatican Radio)...
Vatican Radio) Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another with humility. That was Pope Francis’ message to representatives of all the different Christian Churches gathered in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls on Wednesday afternoon. The Pope was leading Vespers for the solemnity of the Conversion of St Paul and the close of the annual week of prayer for Christian unity.
Philippa Hitchen reports:
In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the theme for this year’s week of prayer, which is ‘ Reconciliation: the love of Christ compels us ’. Reconciliation, he said, is a gift from Christ. Prior to any human effort by believers who strive to overcome their divisions, he said, reconciliation is God’s gift given freely to each one of us.
“How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation today after centuries of division?”, the Pope asked. St Paul himself makes clear that reconciliation requires sacrifice and a revolution of our way of living, he said. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us, so we are called to lay down our lives, by living no longer for ourselves and our own interests, but living instead for Christ and in Christ.
Leave behind isolation and self-absorption
For Christians of every confession, the Pope said, this is an invitation not to be caught up with programmes and plans, not to be obsessed with contemporary fashions, but to be focused on the Cross where we can “discover our programme of life”. The Cross invites us to leave behind all isolation and self-absorption which prevents us from seeing how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings.
Joint Reformation commemorations "a remarkable achievement"
While looking back can be helpful and necessary to purify our memory, the Pope said, being fixated on the past and the memory of wrongs done can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. Pope Francis recalled in particular the fact that Catholics and Lutherans are today joining in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, something he described as “a remarkable achievement”.
Pray, proclaim and serve together
Greeting especially Metropolitan Gennadios, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Archbishop David Moxon, representing the Anglican Communion, Pope Francis urged all those present to take advantage of every occasion to pray together, to proclaim together and to love and serve together, especially those who are the poorest and most neglected in our midst.
Please find below the full English text of Pope Francis’ homily at Vespers for the Conversion of St Paul
Encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus radically transformed the life of Saint Paul. Henceforth, for him, the meaning of life would no longer consist in trusting in his own ability to observe the Law strictly, but rather in cleaving with his whole being to the gracious and unmerited love of God: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Paul experienced the inbreaking of a new life, life in the Spirit. By the power of the risen Lord, he came to know forgiveness, confidence and consolation. Nor could Paul keep this newness to himself. He was compelled by grace to proclaim the good news of the love and reconciliation that God offers fully in Christ to all humanity.
For the Apostle of the Gentiles, reconciliation with God, whose ambassador he became (cf. 2 Cor 5:20), is a gift from Christ. This is evident in the text of the Second Letter to the Corinthians which inspired the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). “The love of Christ”: this is not our love for Christ, but rather Christ’s love for us. Nor is the reconciliation to which we are compelled simply our own initiative. Before all else it is the reconciliation that God offers us in Christ. Prior to any human effort on the part of believers who strive to overcome their divisions, it is God’s free gift. As a result of this gift, each person, forgiven and loved, is called in turn to proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation in word and deed, to live and bear witness to a reconciled life.
Today, in the light of this, we can ask: How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of division? Paul himself helps us to find the way. He makes clear that reconciliation in Christ requires sacrifice. Jesus gave his life by dying for all. Similarly, ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to lay down their lives, to live no more for themselves but for Christ who died and was raised for them (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-15). As Jesus teaches, it is only when we lose our lives for love of him that we truly save them (cf. Lk 9:24). This was the revolution experienced by Paul, but it is, and always has been, the Christian revolution. We live no longer for ourselves, for our own interests and “image”, but in the image of Christ, for him and following him, with his love and in his love.
For the Church, for every Christian confession, this is an invitation not to be caught up with programmes, plans and advantages, not to look to the prospects and fashions of the moment, but rather to find the way by constantly looking to the Lord’s cross. For there we discover our programme of life. It is an invitation to leave behind every form of isolation, to overcome all those temptations to self-absorption that prevent us from perceiving how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings. Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first.
If we experience this dying to ourselves for Jesus’ sake, our old way of life will be a thing of the past and, like Saint Paul, we will pass over to a new form of life and fellowship. With Paul, we will be able to say: “the old has passed away” (2 Cor 5:17).
To look back is helpful, and indeed necessary, to purify our memory, but to be fixated on the past, lingering over the memory of wrongs done and endured, and judging in merely human terms, can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. The word of God encourages us to draw strength from memory and to recall the good things the Lord has given us. But it also asks us to leave the past behind in order to follow Jesus today and to live a new life in him. Let us allow him, who makes all things new (cf. Rev 21:5), to unveil before our eyes a new future, open to the hope that does not disappoint, a future in which divisions can be overcome and believers, renewed in love, will be fully and visibly one.
This year, in our journey on the road to unity, we recall in a special way the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation. The fact that Catholics and Lutherans can nowadays join in commemorating an event that divided Christians, and can do so with hope, placing the emphasis on Jesus and his work of atonement, is a remarkable achievement, thanks to God and prayer, and the result of fifty years of growing mutual knowledge and ecumenical dialogue.
As we implore from God the gift of reconciliation with him and with one another, I extend cordial and fraternal greetings to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here. I am especially pleased to greet the members of the joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and to offer my good wishes for the fruitfulness of the plenary session taking place in these days. I also greet the students of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, who are visiting Rome to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Church, and the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox young people studying in Rome thanks to the scholarships provided by the Committee for Cultural Collaboration with Orthodox Churches, based in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. To the superiors and staff of this Dicastery I express my esteem and gratitude.
Dear brothers and sisters, our prayer for Christian unity is a sharing in Jesus’ own prayer to the Father, on the eve of his passion, “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). May we never tire of asking God for this gift. With patient and trusting hope that the Father will grant all Christians the gift of full visible communion, let us press forward in our journey of reconciliation and dialogue, encouraged by the heroic witness of our many brothers and sisters, past and present, who were one in suffering for the name of Jesus. May we take advantage of every occasion that Providence offers us to pray together, to proclaim together, and together to love and serve, especially those who are the most poor and neglected in our midst.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has again expressed his closeness and concern for migrants and refugees by blessing a sculpture to be placed in the port of the Sicilian Island of Lampedusa , the gateway to Europe for hundreds of thousands fleeing poverty and violence.
Before stepping into the Paul VI Hall to lead the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, the Pope met Mauro Vaccai , the artist who has created the sculpture and blessed the work of art that celebrates the culture of welcome put into practice by the Lampedusa authorities and population.
Due to its geographical position, the tiny island is one of the main points of entry for African migrants. Tens of thousands of desperate men, women and children have landed on its shores in the past years. Tragically, hundreds have perished during the dangerous crossing.
Vaccai, who comes from the Tuscan town of Pistoia, explained that the large bas-relief in white marble from Carrara, weighs 800 kilograms. It will be positioned in Lampedusa Port with the help of the Italian Navy.
Many of Vaccai’s works are to be found in Churches and religious settings; he has frequently chosen Christian subjects as his inspiration. He has also donated many of his creations to charity.
He said that the sculpture for Lampedusa celebrates the example the Island is giving the rest of the world with its welcome for migrants.
After having been elected Pope on 13 March 2013, the very first apostolic visit Francis chose to undertake was to Lampedusa, where he celebrated Mass, prayed for those who have lost their lives during their journey of hope, and told the world to reject the “globalization of indifference”.
It was 8 July 2013, and during his brief stay on the island the Pope called for a "reawakening of consciences" to counter the "indifference" shown to migrants and denounced traffickers who exploit their desperation.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has invited believers to trust in God’s providential care while doing everything in their power to respond to the challenges that come their way.
He was addressing pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience .
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :
Resuming his ongoing catechesis on Christian hope Pope Francis recalled the courageous figure of Judith, and of how, during the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian general Holofernes, she urged the despairing population to reinforce its wavering hope in the Lord and ended up proposing a plan that led to victory over the enemy.
The example of this woman of great wisdom and courage, the Pope said, teaches us to trust in the Lord’s providential care, but also, in prayer and obedience, to discern his will and to do everything in our power to respond to the challenges that come our way.
“How often have we felt our trust in God waver? How many times has each of us, perhaps in desperation, been tempted to lose faith and expect the worst?” he said.
Judith’s faith, Pope Francis continued, inspires us to commend ourselves to the Father with trust and obedience.
And remarking on Judith’s courage, the Pope mentioned that in his opinion, women are often more courageous than men…
“Dear brothers and sisters, never impose your conditions on God, but allow Christian hope to defeat your fear. To trust in God means to be unconditionally part of his plan accepting the fact that we are given salvation and His help in ways that are different from what we expect” he said.
God, the Pope continued, knows exactly what it is we are in need of and we must trust Him because his paths and his actions are different to ours.
Judith, a woman full of faith and courage gave strength to her people who were in mortal danger and conducted them on the path of trust. We too, the Pope said, must heed the wise and courageous words of humble women…
“The wise words of grandmothers who often know what to say and how to give encouragement because they have the experience of life; they have suffered, they have trusted in God, and the Lord gives them this gift of showing us how to keep on having faith” he said.
Let us commend ourselves to the Father, Pope Francis concluded, with the same obedience that led Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray: “Not my will, but yours be done”.
(from Vatican Radio)...