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Posted on 05/21/2018 09:54 AM (Marriage Unique for a Reason)
See last week’s press release about the Kansas and Oklahoma laws that keep Catholic (and other) adoption and foster care agencies in service! U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Applaud Kansas and Oklahoma for Enacting Laws that Keep Kids First in Foster Care and Adoption Services (May 18, 2018)
Posted on 05/20/2018 01:00 AM (vatican.va)
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Sunday, 20 May 2018
In the first reading of today’s Liturgy, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is compared to “the rush of a violent wind” (Acts 2:2). What does this image tell us? It makes us think of a powerful force that is not an end in itself, but effects change. Wind in fact brings change: warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot, rain when the land is parched… this is way it brings change. The Holy Spirit, on a very different level, does the same. He is the divine force that changes the world. The Sequence reminded us of this: the Spirit is “in toil, comfort sweet; solace in the midst of woe”. And so we beseech him: “Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away”. The Spirit enters into situations and transforms them. He changes hearts and he changes situations.
The Holy Spirit changes hearts. Jesus had told his disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). That is exactly what happened. Those disciples, at first fearful, huddled behind closed doors even after the Master’s resurrection, are transformed by the Spirit and, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “they bear witness to him” (cf. Jn 15:27). No longer hesitant, they are courageous and starting from Jerusalem, they go forth to the ends of the earth. Timid while Jesus was still among them, they are bold when he is gone, because the Spirit changed their hearts.
The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear. He overcomes all resistance. To those content with half measures he inspires whole-hearted generosity. He opens hearts that are closed. He impels the comfortable to go out and serve. He drives the self-satisfied to set out in new directions. He makes the lukewarm thrill to new dreams. That is what it means to change hearts. Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart. Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts. It does not free us from the weight of our problems, but liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once, but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young – a renewed youth. Youth, for all our attempts to prolong it, sooner or later fades away; the Spirit, instead, prevents the only kind of aging that is unhealthy: namely, growing old within. How does he do this? By renewing our hearts, by pardoning sinners. Here is the great change: from guilty he makes us righteous and thus changes everything. From slaves of sin we become free, from servants we become beloved children, from worthless worthy, from disillusioned filled with hope. By the working of the Holy Spirit, joy is reborn and peace blossoms in our hearts.
Today, then, let us learn what to do when we are in need of real change. And who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life’s burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible. In those moments, we need a powerful “jolt”: the Holy Spirit, the power of God. In the Creed we profess that he is the “giver of life”. How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life! To say when we wake up each morning: “Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day”.
The Spirit does not only change hearts; he changes situations. Like the wind that blows everywhere, he penetrates to the most unimaginable situations. In the Acts of the Apostles – a book we need to pick up and read, whose main character is the Holy Spirit – we are caught up in an amazing series of events. When the disciples least expect it, the Holy Spirit sends them out to the pagans. He opens up new paths, as in the episode of the deacon Philip. The Spirit drives Philip to a desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza… (How heartrending that name sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land!) Along the way, Philip preaches to an Ethiopian court official and baptizes him. Then the Spirit brings him to Azotus, and then on to Caesarea, in constantly new situations, to spread the newness of God. Then too, there is Paul, “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22), who travels far and wide, bringing the Gospel to peoples he had never seen. Where the Spirit is, something is always happening; where he blows, things are never calm.
When, in the life of our communities, we experience a certain “listlessness”, when we prefer peace and quiet to the newness of God, it is a bad sign. It means that we are trying to find shelter from the wind of the Spirit. When we live for self-preservation and keep close to home, it is not a good sign. The Spirit blows, but we lower our sails. And yet, how often have we seen him work wonders! Frequently, even in the bleakest of times, the Spirit has raised up the most outstanding holiness! Because he is the soul of the Church, who constantly enlivens her with renewed hope, fills her with joy, makes her fruitful, and causes new life to blossom. In a family, when a new baby is born, it upsets our schedules, it makes us lose sleep, but it also brings us a joy that renews our lives, driving us on, expanding us in love. So it is with the Spirit: he brings a “taste of childhood” to the Church. Time and time again he gives new birth. He revives our first love. The Spirit reminds the Church that, for all her centuries of history, she is always the youthful bride with whom the Lord is madly in love. Let us never tire of welcoming the Spirit into our lives, of invoking him before everything we do: “Come, Holy Spirit!”
He will bring his power of change, a unique power that is, so to say, both centripetal and centrifugal. It is centripetal, that is, it seeks the centre, because it works deep within our hearts. It brings unity amid division, peace amid affliction, strength amid temptations. Paul reminds us of this in the second reading, when he writes that the fruits of the Spirit are joy, peace, faithfulness and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22). The Spirit grants intimacy with God, the inner strength to keep going. Yet, at the same time, he is a centrifugal force, that is, one pushing outward. The one who centres us is also the one who drives us to the peripheries, to every human periphery. The one who reveals God also opens our hearts to our brothers and sisters. He sends us, he makes us witnesses, and so he pours out on us – again in the words of Paul – love, kindness, generosity and gentleness. Only in the Consoler Spirit do we speak words of life and truly encourage others. Those who live by the Spirit live in this constant spiritual tension: they find themselves pulled both towards God and towards the world.
Let us ask him to make us live in exactly that way. Holy Spirit, violent wind of God, blow upon us, blow into our hearts and make us breathe forth the tenderness of the Father! Blow upon the Church and impel her to the ends of the earth, so that, brought by you, she may bring nothing other than you. Blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope. Come Holy Spirit, change us within and renew the face of the earth. Amen.
Posted on 05/19/2018 23:00 PM (vatican.va)
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
FOR WORLD MISSION DAY 2018
Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all
Dear young people, I would like to reflect with you on the mission that we have received from Christ. In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God. What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us. “Mission revitalizes faith” (Redemptoris Missio, 2), in the words of Saint John Paul II, a Pope who showed such great love and concern for young people.
The Synod to be held in Rome this coming October, the month of the missions, offers us an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young people, and, through you, to all Christian communities.
Life is a mission
Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth. To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future and they give direction to our lives. More than anyone else, young people feel the power of life breaking in upon us and attracting us. To live out joyfully our responsibility for the world is a great challenge. I am well aware of lights and shadows of youth; when I think back to my youth and my family, I remember the strength of my hope for a better future. The fact that we are not in this world by our own choice makes us sense that there is an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist. Each one of us is called to reflect on this fact: “I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 273).
We proclaim Jesus Christ
The Church, by proclaiming what she freely received (cf. Mt 10:8; Acts 3:6), can share with you young people the way and truth which give meaning to our life on this earth. Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, appeals to our freedom and challenges us to seek, discover and proclaim this message of truth and fulfilment. Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and his Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy. I can tell you this from my own experience: thanks to faith, I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them. I have seen great suffering and poverty mar the faces of so many of our brothers and sisters. And yet, for those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love. Many men and women, and many young people, have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters. From the cross of Jesus we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice (cf. 1 Cor 1:17-25) as a proclamation of the Gospel for the life of the world (cf. Jn 3:16). To be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: “What would Christ do if he were in my place?”
Transmitting the faith to the ends of the earth
You too, young friends, by your baptism have become living members of the Church; together we have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone. You are at the threshold of life. To grow in the grace of the faith bestowed on us by the Church’s sacraments plunges us into that great stream of witnesses who, generation after generation, enable the wisdom and experience of older persons to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future. And the freshness and enthusiasm of the young makes them a source of support and hope for those nearing the end of their journey. In this blend of different stages in life, the mission of the Church bridges the generations; our faith in God and our love of neighbor are a source of profound unity.
This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life. The spread of the faith “by attraction” calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love. It is not possible to place limits on love, for love is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6). And that expansion generates encounter, witness, proclamation; it generates sharing in charity with all those far from the faith, indifferent to it and perhaps even hostile and opposed to it. Human, cultural and religious settings still foreign to the Gospel of Jesus and to the sacramental presence of the Church represent the extreme peripheries, the “ends of the earth”, to which, ever since the first Easter, Jesus’ missionary disciples have been sent, with the certainty that their Lord is always with them (cf. Mt 28:20; Acts 1:8). This is what we call the missio ad gentes. The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God. All material and spiritual poverty, every form of discrimination against our brothers and sisters, is always a consequence of the rejection of God and his love.
The ends of the earth, dear young people, nowadays are quite relative and always easily “navigable”. The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us (cf. Lk 9:23-25). I dare say that, for a young man or woman who wants to follow Christ, what is most essential is to seek, to discover and to persevere in his or her vocation.
Bearing witness to love
I am grateful to all those ecclesial groups that make it possible for you to have a personal encounter with Christ living in his Church: parishes, associations, movements, religious communities, and the varied expressions of missionary service. How many young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40), promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christians! These ecclesial experiences educate and train young people not only for professional success, but also for developing and fostering their God-given gifts in order better to serve others. These praiseworthy forms of temporary missionary service are a fruitful beginning and, through vocational discernment, they can help you to decide to make a complete gift of yourselves as missionaries.
The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth. The prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives. No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are. Let me repeat the words of encouragement that I addressed to the young people of Chile: “Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Think about it! Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me” (Meeting with Young People, Maipu Shrine, 17 January 2018).
Dear young people, this coming October, the month of the missions, we will hold the Synod devoted to you. It will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and his mission, to the ends of the earth. I ask Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Blessed Paolo Manna to intercede for all of us and to accompany us always.
From the Vatican, 20 May 2018, Solemnity of Pentecost
Posted on 05/17/2018 14:39 PM (Marriage Unique for a Reason)
Posted on 05/17/2018 11:00 AM (vatican.va)
LETTER SENT BY THE HOLY FATHER
TO THE BISHOPS OF CHILE
To the Bishops of Chile
Dear brothers in the episcopate,
I wish to thank you for this invitation so that, together, we are able to carry out a frank discernment regarding the grave events that have damaged the ecclesial communion and weakened the work of the Church of Chile in recent years.
In the light of these painful events regarding abuses – of minors, of power and of conscience – we have examined the seriousness of these events and the tragic consequences they have had, particularly for the victims. To some of them I myself made a heartfelt plea for forgiveness, to which you have joined in a single will and with the firm intention of repairing the damages caused.
I thank you for the full willingness each one of you has shown to adhere to and collaborate in all the changes and resolutions we will have to implement in the short, medium and long term in order to restore justice and ecclesial communion.
After these days of prayer and reflection I ask you to continue building a prophetic Church, which knows how to restore to the centre what is important: service to your Lord in the hungry, in the prisoner, in the migrant, and in the abused.
Please, do not forget to pray for me.
May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you. Fraternally
Presentation of Credential Letters by the Ambassadors of Tanzania, Lesotho, Pakistan, Mongolia, Denmark, Ethiopia, and Finland accredited to the Holy See (17 May 2018)
Posted on 05/17/2018 01:00 AM (vatican.va)
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIAL LETTERS
BY THE AMBASSADORS OF TANZANIA, LESOTHO, PAKISTAN, MONGOLIA,
DENMARK, ETHIOPIA AND FINLAND ACCREDITED TO THE HOLY SEE
Thursday, 17 May 2018
I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters by which you are accredited as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your countries to the Holy See: Tanzania, Lesotho, Pakistan, Mongolia, Denmark, Ethiopia and Finland. I would ask all of you kindly to convey my sentiments of gratitude and respect to your various Heads of State, with the assurance of my prayers for them and for your fellow citizens.
The patient work of international diplomacy in promoting justice and harmony within the concert of nations is grounded in a shared conviction of the unity of our human family and the innate dignity of each of its members. For this reason, the Church is convinced that the overarching goal of all diplomatic activity must be development, the integral development of each individual man and woman, children and the elderly alike, and the development of nations within a global framework of dialogue and cooperation in service of the common good. This year that marks the seventieth anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should serve as a summons to a renewed spirit of solidarity with all our brothers and sisters, especially those suffering the scourge of poverty, disease and oppression. None of us can ignore our moral responsibility to challenge the “globalization of indifference” that all too often looks the other way in the face of tragic situations of injustice calling for an immediate humanitarian response.
Dear Ambassadors, ours is a time of truly epochal changes, which calls for wisdom and discernment on the part of all those concerned for a peaceful and prosperous future for coming generations. It is my hope that your presence and activity within the diplomatic community of the Holy See will contribute to the growth of that spirit of cooperation and mutual concern essential for an effective response to the far-reaching challenges of our day. For her part, the Church, convinced of our responsibility for one another, promotes every effort to cooperate, without violence and without deceit, in building up the world in a spirit of genuine brotherhood and peace (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 92).
Among the most pressing of the humanitarian issues facing the international community at present is the need to welcome, protect, promote and integrate all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands. As I had occasion to reiterate in my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace, this problem has an intrinsically ethical dimension that transcends national borders and narrow conceptions of security and self-interest. Notwithstanding the complexity and delicacy of the political and social issues involved, individual nations and the international community are called to contribute as best they can to the work of pacification and reconciliation through decisions and policies marked above all by compassion, foresight and courage.
Dear Ambassadors, as you now begin your new mission, I extend to you my prayerful good wishes. I also take this opportunity to assure you of the constant readiness of the various offices of the Roman Curia to assist you in the fulfilment of your responsibilities. Upon you and your families, your collaborators and all your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Posted on 05/16/2018 09:52 AM (Marriage Unique for a Reason)
The Governor of Oklahoma recently signed into law a bill that protects faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that continue to hold that children deserve to be placed in homes with both a mother and a father. The Bishops of Oklahoma have praised this upholding of religious freedom in the state.
The post Oklahoma Bishops Praise Protections for Adoption Agencies appeared first on Marriage Unique for a Reason.
Posted on 05/16/2018 01:00 AM (vatican.va)
St Peter's Square
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today we conclude the series of catecheses on Baptism. The spiritual effects of this sacrament, invisible to the eye but active in the heart of one who has become a new creature, are clearly seen in the consignment of the white garment and of the lighted candle.
After the washing of regeneration, capable of recreating the person in the likeness of God in true holiness (cf. Eph 4:24), since the first centuries, it has seemed natural to clothe the baptized in a new white garment, reflecting the splendour of life received in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. The white garment, while symbolically expressing what has occurred in the sacrament, announces the condition of having been transfigured in divine glory.
Saint Paul recalls what it means to be clothed in Christ, when he explains the virtues that the baptized must cultivate: “put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and ... forgiving each other. And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (cf. Col 3:12-14).
Even the ritual consignment of the flame drawn from the Easter candle, recalls the effect of Baptism: “Receive the light of Christ”, says the priest. These words recall that we are not the light, but rather, the light is Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1:9; 12:46), who, Risen from the dead, overcame the shadows of evil. We are called to receive his splendour! As the flame of the Easter candle gives light to each single candle, so the love of the Risen Lord enflames the hearts of the baptized, filling them with light and warmth. And this is why, since the first centuries, Baptism has also been called “enlightenment”, and the one who was baptized is called “enlightened”.
This is indeed the Christian vocation: “Walk always as children of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, n. 321; cf. Jn 12:36). If children are involved, it is the duty of the parents, together with the godfathers and godmothers, to take care to nurture the flame of baptismal grace in their little ones, helping them persevere in the faith (cf. Rite of Baptism for Children, n. 100). Children have the right to Christian formation, which “seeks to lead them gradually to learn God’s plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized” (ibid., Introduction, n. 3).
Christ’s living presence, which is to be safeguarded, defended and expanded in us, is the lamp which lights our steps, the light which directs our choices, the flame which warms hearts on the journey to encounter the Lord, making us capable of helping those who journey with us, until the inseparable communion with Him. From that day forth, Revelation also states, “night shall be no more; and they shall need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever” (cf. 22:5).
The celebration of Baptism concludes with the prayer of the Our Father, which belongs to the community of the Children of God. Indeed, children reborn in Baptism will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit fulfilled in Confirmation and will participate in the Eucharist, learning what it means to address God by calling him ‘Father’.
At the conclusion of these catecheses on Baptism, I repeat to each of you the invitation I thus expressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate: “Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23)” (n. 15).
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, Mauritius, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!
I offer a special blessing to young people, to the elderly, to the sick and to newlyweds. May the Marian prayer which interweaves the period of this month of May support and motivate each one to live well his or her own presence in the family and in the workplace, bearing the joy of life in Christ with the enthusiasm of disciples.
After delivering his catechesis, the Holy Father made the following appeal calling for an end to violence.
I am very concerned about the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and about the spiral of violence that deviates ever farther from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiation.
I express my great sorrow for the victims and the wounded and, through prayer and affection, I am close to all those who are suffering. I emphasize again that the use of violence never leads to peace. War begets war; violence begets violence.
I invite all the parties involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace may prevail.
Let us invoke Mary, Queen of Peace. “Hail Mary...”.
May God have mercy on us!
I address my cordial best wishes for the month of Ramadan, which will begin tomorrow. May this privileged time of prayer and fasting help you to walk on the path of God which is the way of peace.
Posted on 05/16/2018 00:15 AM (vatican.va)
GREETING OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO A BUDDHIST DELEGATION FROM THAILAND
Room adjacent to Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
I offer you a warm welcome and I thank you for the precious gift of your Sacred Book translated into today’s language by the monks of Wat Pho Temple. It is a tangible sign of your generosity and of the friendship that we have shared for so many years, a journey made of many small steps. I think in particular of the meeting in the Vatican between Blessed Pope Paul VI and the Venerable Somdej Phra Wanaratana, whose portrait can be seen in the entrance of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which you have visited in these days.
It is my heartfelt wish that Buddhists and Catholics will grow increasingly closer, advance in knowledge of one another and in esteem for their respective spiritual traditions, and offer the world a witness to the values of justice, peace, and the defense of human dignity.
With renewed gratitude for this meeting, I invoke upon on all of you the divine blessings of joy and peace.
Posted on 05/16/2018 00:00 AM (vatican.va)
GREETING OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO A DELEGATION OF THE DHARMIC RELIGIONS
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
I greet all of you who met for the Conference “Dharma and Logos – Dialogue and Cooperation in a Complex Age”, held yesterday in Rome. I am most appreciative of the efforts of those who made possible this initiative, which brought together Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
Dialogue and cooperation are essential at a time like our own, when complex and unprecedented factors have led to increased tensions and conflicts, accompanied by violence on both a small and a large scale. It is a cause for thanksgiving to God when religious leaders actively foster a culture of encounter by offering an example of fruitful dialogue and by working together effectively in the service of life, human dignity and the care of creation.
I thank you for what you have done by coming together, in accordance with your respective religious traditions, to promote goodness in our world, and upon you and your communities I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.