Sunday, November 29, 2015

#PopeFrancis “See how they love one another, how they truly love one another” Mass Opens Jubilee of Mercy and Advent - FULL TEXT - Video

Pope Francis opening Holy Door at Bangui cathedral. - RV
Pope Francis opening Holy Door at Bangui cathedral. - RV
29/11/2015 12:

(Vatican Radio) Priests and religious, catechists and young people joined Pope Francis on Sunday evening for the celebration of Holy Mass in the Cathedral of Bangui, Central African Republic.  During the ceremony, the Pope opened the Holy Door of the Cathedral for the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Jubilee Year officially begins on 8 December. In his homily at the Mass the Pope spoke of the Christian vocation to love our enemies, saying it protects us "from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation."
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the Holy Mass for the First Sunday of Advent, celebrated in Bangui’s Notre-Dame Cathedral.
On this first Sunday of Advent, the liturgical season of joyful expectation of the Saviour and a symbol of Christian hope, God has brought me here among you, in this land, while the universal Church is preparing for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I am especially pleased that my pastoral visit coincides with the opening of this Jubilee Year in your country. From this cathedral I reach out, in mind and heart, and with great affection, to all the priests, consecrated men and women, and pastoral workers of the nation, who are spiritually united with us at this moment. Through you, I would greet all the people of the Central African Republic: the sick, the elderly, those who have experienced life’s hurts. Some of them are perhaps despairing and listless, asking only for alms, the alms of bread, the alms of justice, the alms of attention and goodness.
But like the Apostles Peter and John on their way to the Temple, who had neither gold nor silver to give to the paralytic in need, I have come to offer God’s strength and power; for these bring us healing, set us on our feet and enable us to embark on a new life, to “go across to the other side” (cf. Lk 8:22).
Jesus does not make us cross to the other side alone; instead, he asks us to make the crossing with him, as each of us responds to his or her own specific vocation. We need to realize that making this crossing can only be done with him, by freeing ourselves of divisive notions of family and blood in order to build a Church which is God’s family, open to everyone, concerned for those most in need. This presupposes closeness to our brothers and sisters; it implies a spirit of communion. It is not primarily a question of financial means; it is enough just to share in the life of God’s people, in accounting for the hope which is in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), in testifying to the infinite mercy of God who, as the Responsorial Psalm of this Sunday’s liturgy makes clear, is “good [and] instructs sinners in the way” (Ps 24:8). Jesus teaches us that our heavenly Father “makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). Having experienced forgiveness ourselves, we must forgive others in turn. This is our fundamental vocation: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
One of the essential characteristics of this vocation to perfection is the love of our enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation. Jesus placed special emphasis on this aspect of the Christian testimony (cf. Mt 5:46-47). Those who evangelize must therefore be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy. This is how we can help our brothers and sisters to “cross to the other side” – by showing them the secret of our strength, our hope, and our joy, all of which have their source in God, for they are grounded in the certainty that he is in the boat with us. As he did with the apostles at the multiplication of the loaves, so too the Lord entrusts his gifts to us, so that we can go out and distribute them everywhere, proclaiming his reassuring words: “Behold, the days are coming when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer 33:14).
In the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy, we can see different aspects of this salvation proclaimed by God; they appear as signposts to guide us on our mission. First of all, the happiness promised by God is presented as justice. Advent is a time when we strive to open our hearts to receive the Saviour, who alone is just and the sole Judge able to give to each his or her due. Here as elsewhere, countless men and women thirst for respect, for justice, for equality, yet see no positive signs on the horizon. These are the ones to whom he comes to bring the gift of his justice (cf. Jer 33:15). He comes to enrich our personal and collective histories, our dashed hopes and our sterile yearnings. And he sends us to proclaim, especially to those oppressed by the powerful of this world or weighed down by the burden of their sins, that “Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it shall be called, ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jer 33:16). Yes, God is righteousness; God is justice. This, then, is why we Christians are called in the world to work for a peace founded on justice.
The salvation of God which we await is also flavoured with love. In preparing for the mystery of Christmas, we relive the pilgrimage which prepared God’s people to receive the Son, who came to reveal that God is not only righteousness, but also and above all love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8). In every place, even and especially in those places where violence, hatred, injustice and persecution hold sway, Christians are called to give witness to this God who is love. In encouraging the priests, consecrated men and woman, and committed laity who, in this country live, at times heroically, the Christian virtues, I realize that the distance between this demanding ideal and our Christian witness is at times great. For this reason I echo the prayer of Saint Paul: “Brothers and sisters, may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men and women” (1 Th 3:12). Thus what the pagans said of the early Christians will always remain before us like a beacon: “See how they love one another, how they truly love one another” (Tertullian, Apology, 39, 7).
Finally, the salvation proclaimed by God has an invincible power which will make it ultimately prevail. After announcing to his disciples the terrible signs that will precede his coming, Jesus concludes: “When these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). If Saint Paul can speak of a love which “grows and overflows”, it is because Christian witness reflects that irresistible power spoken of in the Gospel. It is amid unprecedented devastation that Jesus wishes to show his great power, his incomparable glory (cf. Lk 21:27) and the power of that love which stops at nothing, even before the falling of the heavens, the conflagration of the world or the tumult of the seas. God is stronger than all else. This conviction gives to the believer serenity, courage and the strength to persevere in good amid the greatest hardships. Even when the powers of Hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love!
To all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world, I make this appeal: lay down these instruments of death! Arm yourselves instead with righteousness, with love and mercy, the authentic guarantors of peace. As followers of Christ, dear priests, religious and lay pastoral workers, here in this country, with its suggestive name, situated in the heart of Africa and called to discover the Lord as the true centre of all that is good, your vocation is to incarnate the very heart of God in the midst of your fellow citizens. May the Lord deign to “strengthen your hearts in holiness, that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Th 3:13). Amen.
Listen to this report by Philippa Hitchen: 
"On the penultimate day of his pastoral visit to Africa, the Pope symbolically inaugurated the Year of Mercy in the Central African Republic, calling on all those gathered outside the cathedral in Bangui to pray together for peace in their country and in all nations suffering from war and conflict. As he pushed open the wooden doors, the congregation cheered and sang before the Pope began the celebration of Mass for the first Sunday of Advent.
In his homily Pope Francis spoke of the need for forgiveness, saying those who evangelise must be first and foremost “practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy”.
In this country where men and women thirst for respect, justice and equality, the Pope said, God calls Christians to work for peace founded on justice. In every place, but especially where there is violence, hatred, injustice and persecution, he said, Christians are called to give witness to the God of love.
God is stronger than all the turmoil of our world, the Pope insisted, and this gives the believer serenity, courage and strength to persevere even amidst the greatest hardships.
Finally Pope Francis concluded his homily with an urgent appeal to all those who make unjust use of the weapons in our world to “lay down these instruments of death”.

#PopeFrancis “My wish, is that you can live in peace, regardless of your ethnic group, your culture, your religion..." at Refugee Camp in CAR Africa

Pope Francis greeting children at the camp for displaced people in Bangui. - AFP
Pope Francis greeting children at the camp for displaced people in Bangui. - AFP
29/11/2015 13:05


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday visited a refugee camp in Bangui housing people displaced by the sectarian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) and told them “we are all brothers, regardless of our ethnic or religious group.”  In brief off-the-cuff remarks to those living in the camp, the Pope said “We must work, pray and do everything possible for peace.” But as he then went on to warn, “peace is not possible without love, without friendship, without tolerance and without forgiveness.”
Speaking whilst surrounded by many children, the Pope told them he had read what the children had written: “peace, forgiveness, unity and love.” “My wish,” he continued, “is that you can live in peace, regardless of your ethnic group, your culture, your religion and your social background… everybody living in peace because we are all brothers.”  He then urged those present to repeat the words “we are all brothers,” saying it was for this reason that “we want peace.”
RomeReports: 
POPE FRANCIS
"I greet all of you and I tell all of you what I've read that children have written: Peace, forgiveness, unity, love, many things...We have to work and pray and do everything for peace. But peace without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, is not possible. Every one of us must do something. I hope for peace for you and for all Central Africans. A great peace between you. If you want to live in peace, it must be with anyp ethnicity, culture, religion, or social class. But everyone in peace. Everyone. Because we are all brothers. I would like for everyone to say together, 'We are all brothers.'”

"And for that reason, because we are all brothers, we hope for peace. I will give you the blessing of Lord.”

"And pray for me.”

#PopeFrancis to #Evangelicals "...by virtue of the common baptism we have received..." in #Africa CAR - FULL TEXT

Woman reaching to greet Pope Francis in his Popemobile. - AFP
Woman reaching to greet Pope Francis in his Popemobile. - AFP
29/11/2015 12:32

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday met with representatives of the various evangelical communities in Africa, as he visited the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology. In his address to the gathering, the Pope stressed that "the lack of unity among Christians is a scandal, above all because it is contrary to God’s will. It is also a scandal, he said, "when we consider the hatred and violence which are tearing humanity apart."  
 Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks:
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with Evangelical Communities
Bangui, Faculty of Evangelical Theology
29 November 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to be able to meet you in this Faculty of Evangelical Theology. I thank the Dean of the Faculty and the President of the Evangelical Alliance of Central Africa for their kind words of welcome. With fraternal affection I greet each of you and, through you, all the members of your communities. All of us are here in the service of the risen Lord who assembles us today; and, by virtue of the common baptism we have received, we are sent to proclaim the joy of the Gospel to men and women of this beloved country of Central Africa.
For all too long, your people have experienced troubles and violence, resulting in great suffering. This makes the proclamation of the Gospel all the more necessary and urgent. For it is Christ’s own flesh which suffers in his dearest sons and daughters: the poorest of his people, the infirm, the elderly, the abandoned, children without parents or left to themselves without guidance and education. There are also those who have been scarred in soul or body by hatred and violence, those whom war has deprived of everything: work, home and loved ones.
God makes no distinctions between those who suffer. I have often called this the ecumenism of blood. All our communities suffer indiscriminately as a result of injustice and the blind hatred unleashed by the devil. Here I wish to express my closeness and solidarity to Pastor Nicholas, whose home was recently ransacked and set on fire, as was the meeting-place of his community. In these difficult circumstances, the Lord keeps asking us to demonstrate to everyone his tenderness, compassion, and mercy. This shared suffering and shared mission are a providential opportunity for us to advance together on the path of unity; they are also an indispensable spiritual aid. How could the Father refuse the grace of unity, albeit still imperfect, to his children who suffer together and, in different situations, join in serving their brothers and sisters?
Dear friends, the lack of unity among Christians is a scandal, above all because it is contrary to God’s will. It is also a scandal when we consider the hatred and violence which are tearing humanity apart, and the many forms of opposition which the Gospel of Christ encounters. I appreciate the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation existing between the Christians of your country, and I encourage you to continue on this path of common service in charity. It is a witness to Christ which builds up unity.
With increasing intensity and courage, may you add to perseverance and charity, a commitment to prayer and common reflection, as you seek to achieve greater mutual understanding, trust and friendship in view of that full communion for which we firmly hope.
I assure you of my prayerful support along the path of fraternal charity, reconciliation and mercy, a path which is long, yet full of joy and hope.
May God bless you! May he bless your communities!

What is Advent - Prepare for the Coming of Jesus - #Free #Advent #Resources - SHARE


Latin ad-venio, to come to.
Advent is a period beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (30 November) and embracing four Sundays. The first Sunday may be as early as 27 November, and then Advent has twenty-eight days, or as late as 3 December, giving the season only twenty-one days.With Advent the ecclesiastical year begins in the Western churches. During this time the faithful are admonished
  • to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
  • thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
  • thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.
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Duration and ritual

In the Massthe Gloria in excelsis is not said. The Alleluia, however, is retained. During this time the solemnization of matrimony Benediction) cannot take place; which prohibition binds to the feast of Epiphany inclusively. The celebrant and sacred ministers use violet vestments.   An exception is made for the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday), on which the vestments may be rose-coloured.   Flowers and relics of Saints are not to be placed on the altars during the Office and Masses of this time, except on the third Sunday. 

Historical origin

The preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not held before the feast itself existed, and of this we find no evidence before the end of the fourth century, when, according to Duchesne [Christian Worship (London, 1904), 260], it was celebrated throughout the whole Church,    Several synods had made laws about fasting to be observed during this time,. 

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Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).
Advent devotions including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Our Advent calendar above can help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.  More Advent resources are listed below.

ADVENT RESOURCES

Advent Resources