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Christian joy is a pilgrim joy that we cannot keep ‘bottled up’ for ourselves, or we risk becoming a ‘melancholy’ and ‘nostalgic’ community. Moreover, Christian joy is far from simple fun. It is something deeper than fleeting happiness, because it is rooted in our certainty that Jesus Christ is with God and with us.
This is the lesson that Pope Francis drew from the Acts of the Apostles at Friday morning Mass as he described the disciples joy in the days between our Lord’s Ascension and Pentecost and what we can learn from them. Mass in the Santa Marta residence chapel was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Mérida, Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, and the abbot primate of the Benedictine monks Notker Wolf, and was attended by Vatican Radio staff accompanied by the Director General, Father Federico Lombardi.
"A Christian is a man and a woman of joy. Jesus teaches us this, the Church teaches us this, in a special way in this [liturgical]time. What is this joy? Is it having fun? No: it is not the same. Fun is good, eh? Having fun is good. But joy is more, it is something else. It is something that does not come from short term economic reasons, from momentary reasons : it is something deeper. It is a gift. Fun, if we want to have fun all the time, in the end becomes shallow, superficial, and also leads us to that state where we lack Christian wisdom, it makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?, Everything is fun ... no. Joy is another thing. Joy is a gift from God. It fills us from within. It is like an anointing of the Spirit. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father”.
A man of joy, the Pope continued, is a confident man. Sure that "Jesus is with us, that Jesus is with the Father." He asked: Can we ‘bottle up’ this joy in order to always have it with us?
"No, because if we keep this joy to ourselves it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy only nostalgia, melancholy which is not healthy. Sometimes these melancholy Christians faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life. Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path. It is a virtue of the Great, of those Great ones who rise above the little things in life, above human pettiness, of those who will not allow themselves to be dragged into those little things within the community, within the Church: they always look to the horizon".
Joy is a "pilgrim," Pope Francis reiterated. "The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy." It is a virtue of the path, actually more than a virtue it is a gift:
"It is the gift that brings us to the virtue of magnanimity. The Christian is magnanimous, he or she cannot be timorous: the Christian is magnanimous. And magnanimity is the virtue of breath, the virtue of always going forward, but with a spirit full of the Holy Spirit. Joy is a grace that we ask of the Lord. These days in a special way, because the Church is invited, the Church invites us to ask for the joy and also desire: that which propels the Christian's life forward is desire. The greater your desire, the greater your joy will be. The Christian is a man, is a woman of desire: always desire more on the path of life. We ask the Lord for this grace, this gift of the Spirit: Christian joy. Far from sorrow, far from simple fun ... it is something else. It is a grace we must seek".
Pope Francis concluded that today the presence in Rome of Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria is a very good reason to be joyful: "Because he is a brother who comes to visit the Church of Rome to speak," and to walk “part of the path together”.
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|HISTORIC MEETING BETWEEN POPE FRANCIS AND POPE TAWADROS II, HEAD OF COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH OF EGYPT|
Vatican City, (VIS) - The visit of Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks, and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity,” said Pope Francis on receiving the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt this morning. The pontiff remarked on the memorable meeting that took place, 40 years ago, between the predecessors of both, Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III, which united them “in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distance.”
The Joint Declaration that was signed then by those two Popes represented “a milestone on the ecumenical journey” and helped institute a joint commission of theological dialogue between the two Churches, which “has yielded good results and has prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox Churches, a dialogue that continues to bear fruit to this day. In that solemn Declaration,” Francis emphasized, “our Churches acknowledged that, in line with the apostolic traditions, they profess “one faith in the One Triune God” and 'the divinity of the Only-begotten Son of God ... perfect God with respect to his divinity, perfect man with respect to his humanity'. They acknowledged that divine life is given to us and nourished through the seven sacraments and they recognized a mutual bond in their common devotion to the Mother of God.”
The Bishop of Rome expressed his joy at being able to recognize one another as “united by one Baptism, of which our common prayer is a special expression that looks forward to the day when, in fulfilment of the Lord’s desire, we will be able to drink together from the one cup.” Aware that the path to be traversed is still long, the Holy Father noted some of its milestones, such as Pope Shenouda's meeting in Cairo with Blessed John Paul II in February of 2000. John Paul II, who was on pilgrimage to the places where our faith originated, expressed his conviction that “—with the guidance of the Holy Spirit—our persevering prayer, our dialogue and the will to build communion day by day in mutual love will allow us to take important further steps towards full unity.”
The Pope also thanked the Patriarch for his care toward the Coptic Catholic Church that has been expressed, among other things, in the establishment of a “National Council of Christian Churches”. This undertaking “represents an important sign of the will of all believers in Christ to develop relations in daily life that are increasingly fraternal and to put themselves at the service of the whole of Egyptian society, of which they form an integral part. Let me assure Your Holiness,” Pope Francis added, “that your efforts to build communion among believers in Christ, and your lively interest in the future of your country and the role of the Christian communities within Egyptian society find a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community.”
“'If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together'. This is a law of Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering: just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. This also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians: from shared suffering can blossom forth—with God’s help—forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.”
Vatican City, (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), accompanied by four other members of that organization's presidency and secretariat:
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, vice president;
- Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, Poland, vice president;
- Msgr. Duarte Nuno Queiroz da Barros da Cunha, secretary general; and
- Fr. Michel Remery, vice secretary general.
seven prelates from the Piemonte Region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Enrico Masseroni of Vercelli,
- Bishop Pier Giorgio Micchiardi of Acqui,
- Bishop Francesco Guido Ravinale of Asti,
- Bishop Gabriele Mana of Biella,
- Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla of Novara,
- Bishop Alceste Catella of Casale Monferrato, and
- Bishop Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, C.O., of Ivrea.
|OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS|
Vatican City, (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed:
- Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, as his special envoy to Germany's National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in Cologne on .
- Cardinal Franc Rode, C.M., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Slovakian territory, which will take place in Nitra, Slovak Republic, on .
- Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Czech territory, which will take place in Velehrad, Czech Republic, on .