Sunday, March 23, 2014

POPE FRANCIS “each encounter with Jesus changes our life, forever”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday urged his listeners not to be afraid, judgmental or prejudiced, the Lord’s mercy – he said – is far greater than any prejudice. 

Speaking to some 40,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the reading from John that tells of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ In this way – the Pope explained – he cut across the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans, crushing the prejudice that existed in relating to women.

The Pope said that Jesus’ simple request signals the beginning of an open dialogue, through which, with great delicacy, He entered the interior world of a person to whom, according to social convention, He should not even have spoken to.

“But this is exactly what Jesus does! Jesus is not afraid. When Jesus sees a person he goes towards that person because he is filled with love. He loves all of us. He does not stop before anyone because of prejudice” he said.

And Francis explained that Jesus does not judge, but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily ‘routine’.

He explained that the thirst Jesus speaks of is not so much a thirst for water, but the with to quench the thirst of an arid soul. Jesus – Francis said – needs to meet the Samaritan woman to open up her heart: he asks her for a drink to highlight her own thirst. The woman – he pointed out - was touched by this meeting and asks Jesus some deep questions that each of us harbor, but often ignore. 

“We too have many questions that we would like to ask, but we lack the courage to turn to Jesus!” the Pope said.

“Lent is the right time to look inside ourselves, allow our deep spiritual needs to come to the surface, and to ask the Lord for help in prayer” he said.

“The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to say: Jesus, give me that water that will quench me in eternity” he said. 

And Pope Francis said the Gospel tells of Jesus’ disciples’ amazement when they discovered that their Master had spoken to that woman. But – he said - the Lord is greater than prejudice, that’s why he was not afraid to speak to the Samaritan: mercy is greater than prejudice, and Jesus – the Pope said – is very merciful.

The result of that meeting at the well – Pope Francis continued – “was that the woman was transformed: leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and told the people of her meeting with a man ‘who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ She was so happy. She had gone to the well to draw water and she found the living water, the spring of living water welling up to eternal life. She ran to the village which had always judged condemned and rejected her and announced that she had encountered the Messiah who had changed her life” he said.

And, Pope Francis said: “each encounter with Jesus changes our life, forever”.

In this Gospel reading – the Pope explained – “we too can find the stimulus to ‘leave our water jar’, the symbol of all that appears to be important, but that loses its value before ‘the love of God’. We all have one, or more than one! I ask you, and I ask myself: ‘what is your water jar, the one that weighs you down and takes you far from God?’ Let’s leave it aside and with our hearts listen to the voice of Jesus who is offering us another kind of water, the water that brings us close to the Lord” he said.

Pope Francis concluded inviting the faithful to rediscover the importance and the sense of our Christian life, and just as the Samaritan woman did, bear witness of if to our brothers. Bear witness to the joy stemming from our encounter with Jesus.

After the recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis pointed out that on Monday we mark “World Tuberculosis Day” and asked for prayers for all those who are affected by the disease and for those who, in different ways, sustain them.

And the Pope also mentioned an event that will be taking place next Friday and Saturday in parishes and dioceses across the world, called “24 hours for the Lord” during which the faithful are called to focus on penitence.


Text from Vatican Radio website 

NEW MOVIE GOD'S NOT DEAD - AWESOME REVIEWS - with Duck Dynasty appearance and Newsboys

God's Not Dead Release: How far would you go…to defend your belief in God? Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future.
Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions. GOD’S NOT DEAD features a talented cast of actors including Kevin Sorbo (SOUL SURFER, HERCULES, ANDROMEDA), Shane Harper (GOOD LUCK CHARLIE, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2), David A.R. White (BROTHER WHITE, REVELATION ROAD and JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN), and Dean Cain (LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN), with special appearances by Christian super-band Newsboys and “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie and Korie Robertson.
"God's Not Dead is cut out of today's headlines. The courage of a university student who takes on his atheist professor makes for a gripping story that reflects how Christians and Christian groups suffer severe discrimination on most college campuses today." 
Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association

VATICAN LIBRARY TO BE DIGITIZED BY FIRM IN JAPAN - 82,000 MANUSCRIPTS

AGREEMENT TO DIGITIZE 82,000 MANUSCRIPTS IN THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY Vatican City, 20 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the agreement signed by NTT Data and the Vatican Apostolic Library for the plan to digitally archive 82,000 manuscripts. The speakers were: Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, O.P., archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and Toshio Iwamoto and Patrizio Mapelli, presidents and CEOs of the NTT Data Corporation and the NTT Data EMEA respectively. NTT Data is a technological services provider known throughout the world for its expertise in the field of IT and communications structures. “With this project, the Library consolidates one of its many relationships with institutions in various regions of the world, in the light of its overall policy, its aims and its objectives”, explained Archbishop Brugues. “It does so through is manuscripts, which are a sign of the universality of culture: the manuscripts which will be digitally archived range from pre-Columbian America to the Chinese and Japanese Far East, encompassing all the cultures and languages that have inspired European culture. The humanistic mission that characterises the Library opens it to all that is human, including mankind's various 'cultural peripheries'; and with this humanistic spirit it seeks to conserve and make available the immense treasure of humanity that has been entrusted to it. For this reason, the Library will digitise it and make it available on the web”. The project consists of an initial four-year phase during which three thousand manuscripts will be digitised, which may be extended into a second phase to include the 82,000 volumes – more than 40 million pages – of manuscripts preserved in the Library and dating from between the second and twentieth centuries. “All manuscipts digitised through this operation will be released on the Vatican Apostolic Library's website as high-definition data. As a result, numerous researchers in the fields of academia and in various fields of knowledge will be able to interpret the valuable manuscripts, to which access had long been restricted, in their original form”, declared the president of the NTT Data Corporation. (IMAGE SOURCE GOOGLE IMAGES)

RIP PATRIARCH IGNATIUS IWAS OF SYRIAN ORTHODOX IN ANTIOCH - Pope Francis condolences

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolences to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East upon the death of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas who passed away in a German hospital on March 21, at the age of 80.

In his message, the Pope describes the Patriarch as "an outstanding spiritual leader who corageously led his people through very difficult times".

Please find below the full text of the Pope's message:

To the Locum Tenens 
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

With deep sorrow I have learned of the passing of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, father and chief pastor of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, and I hasten to express to you, to the Bishops, clergy and lay faithful, my personal condolences and the prayerful closeness of all Catholics at this time of deeply-felt loss. The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding spiritual leaders, courageous and wise in leading people through very difficult times. Following his election ad Patriarch in 1980 His Holiness was an engaged witness of the successive violent conflicts that have brought untold death and suffering to the Middle East, especially to Iraq and most recently Syria. His Holiness was a man of dialogue and peace with regard to the followers of all religious traditions. In particular I give heartfelt thanks to God for his constant work to improve relations among Christians and, from the time he attended the Second Vatican Council as an observer, for his extraordinary contribution to strengthening communion between Syrian Orthodox Christians and the Catholic faithful. May the Almighty receive him into his kingdom and grant him eternal rest, and may the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church live on as a challenge and a stimulus to all. 

FRANCISCUS 


Text from page Vatican Radio website 

NEW POPE BENEDICT XVI RETREAT CENTRE OPENS IN AUSTRALIA BY CARDINAL

Cardinal Pell Opens New Benedict XVI Retreat Centre

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese RELEASE
21 Mar 2014
Students, teachers, architects and builders joined together with representatives of the Catholic Education Office and the Archdiocese of Sydney as Cardinal Pell celebrated a Mass for the opening of the new Benedict XVI Retreat Centre at Grose Vale this week.
It is hoped the Centre in its peaceful bushland setting will become a place of pilgrimage for people of all ages.
The Catholic Education Office Sydney joined the Archdiocese in the redevelopment of the Centre with a view to primarily accommodating the retreat and activity needs of all the systemic schools within the Archdiocese of Sydney and beyond.
The Centre provides wonderful new facilities to support the pastoral goals of both the Archdiocese and the CEO, Sydney, in particular encouraging the practice of retreat as a way of augmenting existing programs of faith formation.
The new buildings and facilities are purpose-built so students, teachers and parishioners as well as clergy and other groups can take time out to unwind, reflect and reconnect.
Cardinal Pell opened the Centre and dedicated the Chapel in honour of St Benedict. Also present was the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Bishop Peter Comensoli; the Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP ; priests of the Archdiocese; Executive Director of the Catholic Education  Office, Dr Dan White; students, teachers and the architects and builders.
Nigel Boonham who sculptured the beautiful statue of St Benedict which sits between the Chapel and main hall, flew out from England to install the life-size sculptor.
Nigel has sculpted a number of statues for St Mary's Cathedral including the marble altar.
As part of the dedication of a new Chapel relics were placed in the altar. These were the relics of Vietnamese Martyrs TP Khoan, TG Dat, TA Thanh along with Saint John Bosco and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. 
Cardinal Pell said he hoped the Retreat Centre will become a haven for many young people for many years to come. SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY 

POPE FRANCIS meets President Jonathan Goodluck of Nigeria Africa

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received in audience in the Apostolic Palace Mr. Ebele Jonathan Goodluck, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian President subsequently met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States. 

A statement from the Vatican Press Office said in the course of the talks, “emphasis was laid on the cordial relations existing between the Holy See and Nigeria, and appreciation was expressed for the positive contribution offered by the Church to the welfare of the entire country, especially in the areas of education and health care, as well as in promoting dialogue between the various components of society. Particular attention was given in the meeting to the protection of the dignity of the human person and his or her fundamental rights, beginning with religious freedom.”

The statement adds that “joint condemnation of every form of violence was renewed and hope was expressed for a rapid return to peaceful coexistence in the whole Country.”

Finally, an exchange of views took place regarding several issues of regional interest, with particular reference to the situations of crisis and conflict in central and sub-Saharan Africa.


Text from Vatican Radio website 

SUNDAY MASS ONLINE : MARCH 23, 2014 - 3RD OF LENT - A

Third Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 28


Reading 1              EX 17:3-7

In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people,
along with some of the elders of Israel,
holding in your hand, as you go,
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Responsorial Psalm                PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R/ (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2                    ROM 5:1-2, 5-8 

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Gospel                   JN 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Or                        JN 4:5-15, 19B-26, 39A, 40-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.

“I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”