Friday, December 19, 2014

Pope Francis "The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God..." Advent Homily

Pope at Mass - OSS_ROM
19/12/2014 12:42


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.  The Pope’s reflections on the themes of sterility and motherhood were taken from the biblical account of two miraculous births, those of Samson and John the Baptist, both born to women who were formerly sterile. He said this symbol of sterility as recounted in the Bible is seen as the sign of a human person incapable of moving forward. Therefore the Church, he said, wants to make us reflect on the issue of human sterility. 
 Sterility and new Creation
“From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life.  And that is the message of today.  When humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, the Son comes and Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation.”
Today’s message, the Pope continued, is this second Creation that comes when the earth is exhausted.  We are awaiting the newness of God and that’s what Christmas is about. He pointed out that the mothers of Samson and John the Baptist were able to give birth thanks to the action of the Spirit of the Lord and asked what is the message of these biblical accounts?  The reply, he said, is that we must open ourselves to the Spirit of God because we cannot do it by ourselves. 
Openess to the newness of God
“This too makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church: when because of the weight of the hope in the Commandments, that pelagianism that all of us carry within our bones, she becomes sterile.  She believes she is capable of giving birth… no, she can’t!  The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God, to the strength of the Spirit.  When she says to herself: “I do everything, but I’ve finished, I can’t go forward!”, the Spirit comes.” A mother and not an entrepreneur
Pope Francis then went on to reflect on the sterility within the Church and her openness to becoming a mother through her faith.
“And today is also a day to pray for our Mother Church, because of so much sterility within the people of God.  A sterility arising from egoism, from power … when the Church believes she can do everything, that she can take charge of the consciences of the people, walk along the road of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, along the road of hypocrisy, yes, the Church is sterile. Let’s pray. That this Christmas our Church may be open to the gift of God, that she may allow herself to be surprised by the Holy Spirit and be a Church that gives birth, a mother Church. Many times I think that in some places the Church is more like an entrepreneur than a mother.”
The Pope concluded his homily by imploring the Lord for the grace of fertility and motherhood within our Church so that above all the Church is a mother, just like Mary.  

Christmas Novena : Day 3 : Official Plenary Indulgence



Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without
end.
Amen. 
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Day 3 Prayers


The Expectation of Birth.
O most sweet infant Jesus, who waited for nine months
enclosed in the womb, and inflamed the heart of the
Virgin Mary and St. Joseph with the most powerful love
and expectation, all for the salvation of the world. 
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...
Amen.
FROM THE RACCOLTA OFFICIAL
NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on  any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.




Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis - Olympic Committee - Christmas Tree - More


19-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 227 

Summary
- The Nativity and the Christmas Tree are signs of light and hope
- Francis: sport to promote friendship between peoples
- Audiences
- POPE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: TASK OF AMBASSADOR, THROUGH SMALL STEPS, IS TO BRING PEACE
- POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES DELEGATION FROM EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, EMPHASIZES THAT LUTHERANS AND CATHOLICS WILL CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
- POPE FRANCIS TO THE YOUTH OF CATHOLIC ACTION ITALY. ?YOU ONLY NEED A FEW WORDS TO BE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: 'HERE I AM.'?
- POPE EXPRESSES JOY FOR HISTORIC DECISION OF UNITED STATES AND CUBA TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
- AUDIENCES
The Nativity and the Christmas Tree are signs of light and hope
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Pope received delegations from the Italian provinces of Verona and Catanzaro, which provided the Nativity scene with its terracotta figures and the Christmas tree that are decorating St. Peter's Square during the festive season this year, and which will be illuminated before the public this evening.
“Christian values have enriched the culture, literature, music and art of your lands, and today such values continue to constitute a valuable heritage to be preserved and transmitted to future generations”, he said. “The Nativity and the Christmas tree are evocative festive symbols very dear to our Christian families: they recall the mystery of the Incarnation, the only begotten Son of God, made flesh in order to save us, and the light that Jesus has brought to the world through His birth. But the creche and the tree touch the hearts of all, as they speak of fraternity, intimacy and friendship, calling to people of our time to rediscover the beauty of simplicity, sharing and solidarity. They are an invitation to unity, harmony and peace; an invitation to make room, in our personal and social life, for God, Who does not come with arrogance, imposing His power, but instead offers His omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child. The creche and the tree therefore bring a message of light, hope, and love”.
“The Messiah made Himself man and came among us, to dispel the shadows of error and sin, bringing His divine light to humanity. Jesus Himself says of Himself: 'I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life'. Let us follow Him, the true light, so as not to lose our way and in turn to reflect light and warmth on those who go through moments of difficulty and inner darkness”.
Francis: sport to promote friendship between peoples
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) celebrates its centenary this year. This morning around five thousand managers and athletes from the Committee attended a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, after which Pope Francis addressed a brief discourse to them. “In our times sport is the home of the Church, and this meeting is the proof of this: we celebrate together your centenary, an important anniversary for Italian sport”, he said.
The Holy Father commented that for one hundred years the CONI has promoted and organised sport in Italy not only in relation to the great global event that is the Modern Olympics, but also focusing on the popular, social, educational and cultural dimensions. “It does this taking inspiration from the principles of the Olympic Charter, that places among its main aims the centrality of the person, the harmonious development of humanity, the defence of human dignity, and, moreover, the contribution to a better world, without wars or tension, educating the young through sport practised without discrimination of any type, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.
“Sport has always promoted universalism characterised by fraternity and friendship among peoples, accord and peace between nations; respect, tolerance, and harmony in diversity”, he added. “Every sporting event, especially Olympic ones, in which representatives of nations with different histories, cultures, traditions, faiths and values compete, can be come a channel for an ideal strength able to open up new paths, at times unexpected, in overcoming conflicts caused by the violation of human rights”.
The Olympic motto, “Citius, altius, fortius”, “is not an incitement to the supremacy of one nation over another, of one people over another people, nor of the exclusion of the weakest and least protected, but rather represents the challenge posed to all of us, not just athletes: that of making the effort and the sacrifice to reach the important goals in life, accepting one's own limits without allowing oneself to be obstructed by them, but seeking instead to overcome them”.
The Holy Father encouraged the members of CONI to continue their work in schools, in the world of work and in solidarity “to promote a sport that is accessible to all, mindful of the weakest and of the most precarious sectors of society; an inclusive sport for the differently-abled, foreigners, those who live in peripheries and are in need of meeting places, sociality, sharing and play; a sport that aims not at being 'useful', but at the development of the human person, in a gratuitous fashion”.
Finally, Francis remarked that CONI was the first national Olympic committee – whose example was later followed by others – to include an Olympic chaplain in its organisation. “It is a friendly presence to demonstrate the closeness of the Church and to stimulate in sports people a strong sense of spiritual training. Indeed, there are certain words typical of sport that can be used to refer to spiritual life. The saints understood this, and knew how to interpret passion, enthusiasm, constancy, determination, challenge and limits, looking beyond themselves, towards the horizon of God”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseilles, France, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, accompanied by Bishop Pascal Delannoy of Saint-Denis, vice president, and Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau, general secretary.
18-12-2014 - Year XXIV - Num. 226 

POPE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: TASK OF AMBASSADOR, THROUGH SMALL STEPS, IS TO BRING PEACE
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) -This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the ambassadors of the following nations, presenting their Credential Letters:
- Mr. Vaanchig Purevdorj of Mongolia,
- Mr. Sean Mcweeney, Q.C., of The Bahamas,
- Mr. Edward D.A. Lambert of Dominica,
- Mr. Philip Sang?ka Marmo of Tanzania,
- Mrs. Louise Bang Jespersen of Denmark,
- Mr. Dato? Mohd Zulkephli Bin Mohd Noor of Malaysia,
- Dr. Francois Xavier Ngarambe of Rwanda,
- Mr. Jari Petteri Luoto of Finland,
- Mrs. Janet Lowe of New Zealand,
- Sheikh Mouclary Diarra of Mali,
- Mr. Kokou Nayo Atsumikoa M?Beou of Togo,
- Mr. Shameem Ahsan of Bangladesh, and,
- Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser bin Ahmad Ali Al-Thani of Qatar.
The Holy Father welcomed the new ambassadors with the following words: ?I warmly welcome you and hope that every time you enter this house that you feel at home. I extend our welcome and respect for you and for your peoples and the heads of your governments. I greet you and wish your work to be fruitful, to be fertile. The work of an ambassador lies in small steps, small things, but they always end up making peace, bringing closer the hearts of people, sowing brotherhood among peoples. This is your job, but with little things, tiny things. Today we are all happy because we have seen how two peoples, distanced for so many years, made a step nearer one another yesterday. That was brought about by ambassadors, by diplomacy. Your job is noble work, very noble. I wish it to be fruitful, fertile, and may God bless you. Thank you.?
POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES DELEGATION FROM EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, EMPHASIZES THAT LUTHERANS AND CATHOLICS WILL CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS)  Official dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics has been in place for almost 50 years and the progress made in this half century constitutes a solid foundation for sincere friendship lived in faith and spirituality, Pope Francis said this morning on receiving a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany on an ecumenical visit to Rome.
Despite theological differences that persist in various issues of the faith, collaboration and fraternal coexistence characterize the life of our churches and ecclesial communities, which are committed to a common ecumenical journey and joint documents. One such text was the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which was officially signed fifteen years ago in Augsburg. These are,Pope Francis said, important milestones that allow us to confidently continue along the path undertaken.
Although the common goal of full and visible unity of Christians sometimes seems to become more difficult to achieve because of different interpretations regarding the church and its unity, we must not give in to resignation but concentrate on the next possible step. ?Do not forget,? the Pope stressed, ?that we are walking together the path of friendship, mutual respect, and theological research. It is a path that makes us look with hope to the future. That is why, this past 21 November, bells of all the cathedrals in Germany rang to invite all Christian brothers and sisters to a common liturgical service for the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism.?
The Holy Father expressed his satisfaction that the Commission on Bilateral Dialogue between the German Bishops' Conference and the German Evangelical Lutheran Church is about to finish its work dedicated to ?God and the Dignity of Man?. He emphasized the relevance of ?issues related to the dignity of the human person at the beginning and end of life, as well as those related to family, marriage, and sexuality, which cannot be excluded or left to the side just because one doesn't want to endanger the ecumenical consensus reached thus far. It would be a shame if new confessional differences arose in such important topics related to human existence.
?Ecumenical dialogue today can no longer be separated from the reality and the life of our churches. In 2017, Lutheran and Catholic Christians will jointly commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On that occasion, Lutherans and Catholics around the world will, for the first time, have the opportunity to share the same ecumenical commemoration, not in the form of a triumphalistic celebration, but as the profession of our common faith in the Triune God. At the center of this event, therefore, there will be common prayer and the plea that our Lord Jesus Christ pardon for our mutual faults, along with the joy of journeying together on a shared ecumenical path. This meaningfully references the document produced by the Lutheran-Catholic Commission for Unity published last year entitled ?From Conflict to Communion: The Joint Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017?. May this commemoration of the Reformation encourage us all to carry out, with God's help and the support of his Spirit, further steps towards unity and to not just limit ourselves to what we have already achieved!
POPE FRANCIS TO THE YOUTH OF CATHOLIC ACTION ITALY. ?YOU ONLY NEED A FEW WORDS TO BE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: 'HERE I AM.'
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) - I have heard that this year you are working on a theme with the slogan 'Everything to Discover'. It's a beautiful journey, one which requires courage and the hard work of exploring to then rejoice when the plan that Jesus has for each of us is discovered This is what Pope Frances told the youth of Catholic Action Italy this morning when he met with them in the Vatican. Regarding their theme, especially the word everything, the Holy Father offered some advice for walking well in Catholic Action, in your family, and in your communities.
Never give up, he said, because what Jesus thought for your path is something to be built together: together with your parents, your brothers and sisters, and your friends from school, from catechism, from your parishes, and from Catholic Action. Concern yourselves with the needs of the poorest, those suffering the most, and those who are most lonely because whoever has chosen to love Jesus cannot not love their neighbor. Your journey in Catholic Action, therefore, will become total love.
The Pope asked them not to forget the Church and her priests, and to put themselves at the service of their community, because the Church is not just priests and bishops, but the entire community. So put yourselves at the service of the community. Give of your time, energy, personal qualities and skills in your parishes and thus bear witness that the wealth of each is a gift from God that should be fully shared. He also encouraged them to be apostles of peace and serenity starting with their families. Remind your parents, siblings, and peers that it is beautiful to love one another and that misunderstandings can be overcome because, united to Jesus, everything is possible. To that end, Pope Francis encouraged them to talk to Jesus in prayer. He is your best friend who will never abandon you. Entrust your joys and sorrows to Him. Turn to Him any time you make a mistake or do something wrong. You can be sure that He will forgive you. And speak to all of Jesus, of his love, his mercy, his tenderness, because friendship with Jesus?who gave himself for usis an event that must be told.
Finally, he emphasized that with the grace of his birth, Jesus wants to help us take a stronger, safer, and happier step toward being his disciples? and that it only takes a few words, which our Mother, the Virgin, teaches us; the words of her response to the Lord's call; Here I am.?
POPE EXPRESSES JOY FOR HISTORIC DECISION OF UNITED STATES AND CUBA TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) - The following is the full text of a communique published yesterday afternoon by the Governorate of Vatican City State.
The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.?
In recent months, Pope Francis wrote letters to the President of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Mr Raul Castro, and the President of the United States, The Honorable Barack Obama, and invited them to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations between the two parties.
The Holy See received delegations of the two countries in the Vatican last October and provided its good offices to facilitate a constructive dialogue on delicate matters, resulting in solutions acceptable to both parties.
The Holy See will continue to assure its support for initiatives which both nations will undertake to strengthen their bilateral relations and promote the well-being of their respective citizens.
AUDIENCES
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) This morning the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and
- Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Singapore, non-residential pontifical representative for Vietnam, and apostolic nuncio to the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

Today's Mass Readings : Friday December 19, 2014

Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 195


Reading 1JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Root of Jesse's stem,
sign of God's love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”