Friday, July 26, 2013


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Via crucis on Friday evening with pilgrims gathered for World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nearly 300 artists and volunteers from several countries including the United States animated the popular devotion. The meditations accompanying each of the 14 stations depicting the principal episodes of Christ’s Passion, death and burial focused on a theme of particular significance in the life of contemporary youth, including: mission, conversion, community, and vocation; others involved pressing social challenges and existential issues such as suffering, illness and mortality. The texts of the meditations were prepared by a pair of Brazilian priests, Fr. José Zezinho and Fr. João Joãozinho, both of whom are well known in their native country for their work with young people.
In remarks to the pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of the Cross of Christ as the source of hope, to which anyone and everyone can and ought to bring his deepest joys, sufferings and failures. The Holy Father also spoke of Christ’s Cross as a challenge to all of us: an invitation to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, as well as a lesson and a reminder to us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness – especially the suffering, and those we meet who are in distress and need help, whether in the form of a word of encouragement, or a concrete action that could take us beyond ourselves.

Please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address, below:


Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to Brazil
Address of the Holy Father
Via Crucis 
(Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana, 26 July 2013)

Dear Young Friends,

We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you “to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption” (Address to Young People, 22 April 1984). Since then, the World Youth Day Cross has travelled to every continent and through a variety of human situations. It is, as it were, almost “steeped” in the life experiences of the countless young people who have seen it and carried it. No one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life. I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?

1. According to an ancient Roman tradition, while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus’ response was: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death on the Cross, would always be with him. Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel. The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life” (cf. Jn 3:16).

2. And so we can answer the second question: What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it or touched it? What has it left in each one of us? It gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the unshakable love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God, his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over entirely to him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16)! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life: he has transformed the Cross from an instrument of hate, defeat and death into a sign of love, victory and life.

The first name given to Brazil was “The Land of the Holy Cross”. The Cross of Christ was planted five centuries ago not only on the shores of this country, but also in the history, the hearts and the lives of the people of Brazil and elsewhere. The suffering Christ is keenly felt here, as one of us who shares our journey even to the end. There is no cross, big or small, in our life which the Lord does not share with us.

3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many people were with Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women… Sometimes we can be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands. Dear friends, the Cross of Christ teaches us to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood; it teaches us to be like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness. And you? Who are you like? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary?

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. Amen!


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Jul 2013
Fr Amin Abboud 1965-2013
"I am every day more convinced that happiness in Heaven is for those who know how to be happy on earth," - St Josemaria Escriva.
The words of the founder of Opus Dei, St Josemaria Escriva, could well have been in the thoughts of the many, many family, friends, colleagues, students and brother priests of Fr Amin Abboud when they attended his Requiem Mass today. They knew him to be happy - and holy. They also knew him to be intelligent, hard-working, good company  and a faithful son of the Prelature of Opus Dei.
Fr Amin was attending a spiritual retreat at Kenthurst Study Centre when he suffered a heart attack and died suddenly on 19th July.
Today they came in their thousands to St Mary's Cathedral for the Requiem Mass celebrated by His Excellency Most Rev. Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio in Australia and concelebrated by Most Rev. Antoine Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia and Rev. Mgr. Victor Martinez, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei for Australia and New Zealand along with a number of Fr Amin's fellow Opus Dei priests and priests of the Sydney Archdiocese and  Parramatta Diocese.
At the beginning of the mass the Apostolic Nuncio told everyone present including Fr Amin's parents Phillip and Salma that the Holy Father sent his thoughts and prayers.
Fr Amin Abboud celebrating mass
Monsignor Victor Martinez, with whom Fr Amin, 48, worked in  the governance of Opus Dei in Sydney said in his homily that today was one of the hardest in his life.
He spoke of Fr Amin's studies to become a doctor, his great intellect, his decision to become a priest as well as his deep spirituality, energy, optimism and dedication in his pastoral work.
Fr Amin's parents grew up in North Lebanon, moving to Sydney in 1960 where they had four children, Fr Amin being the eldest.
Studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Fr Amin graduated with first class honours.
The message of Opus Dei captivated him because he saw that he could become holy through his work as a doctor. In January 1987 he met with the Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo on his pastoral visit to Australia soon after which he joined Opus Dei.
A man of deep spirituality and dedication to the Prelature of
Opus Dei
He studied philosophy and theology in Spain where he obtained a doctorate in contemporary philosophy in 2006 before being ordained a priest for the Prelature of Opus Dei on 27 May 2006 and returning to Australia the following year.
Cardinal George Pell, who knew Fr Amin well is currently in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day after leading a group of pilgrims to Peru.
However he sent the following message which was read by Monsignor Martinez:
"Naturally, it came as a great shock to us in Lima, Peru when we heard of the sudden death of Fr Amin Abboud. It was one of the last things we were expecting.
It is hard to see where the hand of God is in all this, because we might have expected Fr Amin's contribution to have continued for at least another 30 years.
We should pray for Fr Amin's soul, we should pray in thanks to the good God for Fr Amin's marvellous contribution.
We pray that all members of the work and all Fr Amin's family and friends will find consolation in their faith.
In a couple of my talks to the pilgrims I've mentioned Fr Amin, recounting his life story.
In God's eyes this story is now complete.
On both occasions I quoted an excerpt from the rule of St Benedict, "Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you".
Thousands attend requiem Mass for Fr Amin Abboud in St Mary's Cathedral
May Fr Amin's life and death remind us to do now what we should be doing.
May he rest in peace." - Cardinal George Pell.
For his family and friends the quotation on the back of the prayer card for the repose of the soul of Fr Amin was not only something he lived but what he encouraged everyone to do -
"Don't let your life be barren, Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.
"With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the unclean sowers of hatred.
"And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart." - St Josemaria Escriva, The Way.

Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney


Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 399

Reading 1                          EX 20:1-17

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:

“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Responsorial Psalm             PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel                   MT 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”


St. Anne
Feast: July 26

Feast Day:July 26
Patron of:Housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners
Of St. Anne we have no certain knowledge. She is not mentioned in the New Testament, and we must depend on apocryphal literature, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back only to the second century.

In this document we are told that Anne, wife of Joachim, was advanced in years and that her prayers for a child had not been answered. Once as she prayed beneath a laurel tree near her home in Galilee, an angel appeared and said to her, "Anne, the Lord hath heard thy prayer and thou shalt conceive and bring forth, and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world." Anne replied, "As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life " And thus Anne became the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The devotion of St. Anne was known in the East in the fifth century, but it was not diffused in the West until the thirteenth. A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of the devotion. In 1382 her feast was extended to the whole Western Church, and she became very popular, especially in France. Her two most famous shrines are at St. Anne d'Auray in Brittany and at St. Anne-de Beaupre in the province of Quebec.

She is patroness of housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners. Her emblem is a door. St. Anne has been frequently represented in art, and the lovely face depicted by Leonardo da Vinci comes first to mind in this connection. The name Anne derives from the Hebrew Hannah, meaning "grace."

Read more:


St. Joachim
Feast: July 26

Feast Day:July 26
Patron of:Fathers, Grandparents
Joachim (whose name means Yahweh prepares), was the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If we were to obey the warning of St. Peter Damian, we should consider it a blameable and needless curiosity to inquire about those things that the Evangelists did not deem it advisable to relate, and, in particular, about the parents of the Blessed Virgin (Serm. iii de Nativ. B.M.V.). Tradition nevertheless, grounded on very old testimonies, very early hailed Saints Joachim and Anne as the father and mother of the Mother of God. True, this tradition seems to rest ultimately on the so-called "Gospel of James", the "Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary", and the Pseudo-Matthew, or "Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Childhood of the Saviour"; and this origin is likely to rouse well-founded suspicions. It should be borne in mind, however, that the apocryphal character of these writings, that is to say, their rejection from the canon, and their ungenuineness do not imply that no heed whatever should be taken of some of their assertions; side by side, indeed, with unwarranted and legendary facts, they contain some historical data borrowed from reliable traditions or documents; and difficult though it is to distinguish in them the wheat from the tares, it would be unwise and uncritical indiscriminately to reject the whole. Some commentators, who believe that the genealogy given by St. Luke is that of the Blessed Virgin, find the mention of Joachim in Heli (Luke, iii, 23; Eliachim, i.e. Jeho-achim), and explain that Joseph had, in the eyes of the law, become by his marriage the son of Joachim. That such is the purpose and the meaning of the Evangelist is very doubtful, and so is the identification proposed between the two names Heli and Joachim. Neither can it be asserted with certainty, in spite of the authority of the Bollandists, that Joachim was Heli's son and Joseph's brother; nor, as is sometimes affirmed, from sources of very doubtful value, that he had large possessions in herds and flocks. Much more interesting are the beautiful lines in which the "Gospel of James" describes how, in their old age, Joachim and Anne received the reward of their prayers to obtain issue. Tradition has it that the parents of the Blessed Virgin, who, apparently, first lived in Galilee, came later on to settle in Jerusalem; there the Blessed Virgin was born and reared; there also they died and were buried. A church, known at various epochs as St. Mary, St. Mary ubi nata est, St. Mary in Probatica, Holy Probatica, St. Anne, was built during the fourth century, possibly by St. Helena, on the site of the house of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and their tombs were there honoured until the close of the ninth century, when the church was converted into a Moslem school. The crypt which formerly contained the holy tombs was rediscovered on 18 March, 1889.

St. Joachim was honoured very early by the Greeks, who celebrate his feast on the day following the Blessed Virgin's birthday; the Latins were slow to admit it to their calendar, where it found place sometimes on 16 Sept. and sometimes on 9 Dec. Assigned by Julius II to 20 March, the solemnity was suppressed some fifty years later, restored by Gregory XV (1622), fixed by Clement XII (1738) on the Sunday after the Assumption, and finally raised to the rank of double of the second class by Leo XIII (1 Aug., 1879).



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis joined hundreds of thousands of young people for a lively song and prayer fest on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacobana beach on Thursday. It was his first official encounter with young people as part of World Youth Day celebrations in Brazil. 
Our correspondent, 

It would have been easy (and, I admit, it was tempting) to draw comparisons between the sea of young people and the ocean of water beside which they were gathered, to compare the roar of the waves with the waving, roaring crowd – and to make the inevitable links with biblical symbols involving water, seas…and fishermen.
It would have been enlightening (if you like that sort of thing) to concentrate on the numbers, which were certainly impressive: 175 countries, 1,000 Bishops, 300 performers and, most important of all, over a million people…not all of them young. 
It would have been entertaining (but unnecessary) to search for superlatives with which to describe Pope Francis’ first encounter with young people from every corner of the globe during the so-called welcoming celebration that effectively marks the first of main World Youth Day events…and his own first WYD. 
It would have been excessive (and repetitive) to complain about the rain, yet again… and to describe how the weather blew out the communications links for several interminable minutes. 
It would have been instructive (and important) to comment on each of the improvised additions Pope Francis made to his prepared discourse: “Young people are stronger than the rain”, he said…”Benedict is watching you, he accompanies us with his prayers”, he confided…”Faith revolutionizes our lives”, he stressed… 
Doubtless, all this would have guaranteed a much more interesting correspondent’s report – but it wouldn’t have communicated any of the beauty and the poetry of the occasion, the sounds and the colours, the songs and the choreographies, the expressions of Pope Francis as he drove through the throng exchanging gestures, emotions, and even his zucchetto. Unfortunately, there are limitations to being a correspondent and to writing reports. I hope you understand. 



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted young pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday. The sprawling sands of Rio’s famous Copacabana beach was the scene of the gathering, which was the first official encounter of pilgrims with the Holy Father during the week of events leading to the 28th World Youth Day on Sunday, July 28th

The Copacabana appointment opened with an extraordinary display by 150 young people who offered an artistic interpretation of daily life in the “Marvelous City”. The festivities centered on a prayer service that included a reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which recounts the episode of the Transfiguration (9:28-36). Prayers of the faithful were offered, as well as testimonies from five young people representing every inhabited continent.

In brief words of greeting to the young people, Pope Francis expressed his joy at being able to celebrate with them, and made his own the hopeful words of encouragement spoken by Bl. John Paul II at the 1987 World Youth Day in his native Buenos Aires, “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross.”

Following the Gospel reading, the Holy Father delivered a homily in which he focused on the twin themes of faith in and faithfulness to Christ, in spiritual commitment and the discipleship of everyday life. As he has since the very beginning of his pontificate, Francis spoke of the spirit of adventure the imbues a life given over to Christ, and renewed his call never to tire of asking God’s forgiveness when there is need of it in one’s life.

Below, please find the full texts of Pope Francis’ greeting and homily:


Words of greeting from Pope Francis to WYD pilgrims
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

Dear Young Friends, 

Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).
Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.
This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends. 
The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith! 
I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!
I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!

In off the cuff remarks during his greeting Pope Francis revealed he had Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to accompany him in prayer to Rio and the Holy Father said Pope Benedict accepted this request with joy and is now in front of his TV watching this event.

During his greeting he also added, that Bishops sometimes have problems that make them sad. How terrible, a sad Bishop, he exclaimed, "and why am I not sad," because he said, he had come to be infected by the spirit of the young people at World Youth Day.

Homily of Pope Francis
Copacabana prayer service
July 25th, 2013
Rio de Janeiro

Dear Friends,

“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).
But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service. 

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.

“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.



Vatican City, 24 July 2013 (VIS) – The Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, patron of Brazil, was the scene of the first public Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the American continent. The Pope wished to include a visit to this sanctuary, of great importance to Brazilians and to Catholics throughout the continent, on the itinerary for his apostolic trip on the occasion of World Youth Day.
The story of Our Lady of Aparecida dates back to 1717 when, after several fruitless attempts at fishing in the River Paraiba, three fishermen cast their net and pulled it back to find a statue of the Virgin, without a head. Upon their next cast they found the head of the statue. Casting the net a third time, they brought it to shore full of fish. The statue, to which the 'miraculous' haul was attributed, remained for fifteen years in the house of one of the fishermen, and his neighbours gathered there to pray the Rosary. With the grace received, devotion to Our Lady Aparecida gradually spread throughout the various regions of Brazil. In 1734 a Chapel was built, and construction of the existing “Old Basilica” began in 1834. The image of the Virgin was crowned in 1904, and in 1929 Pope Pius XI proclaimed Our Lady Aparecida the “Queen and patron of Brazil”. The bishops and redemptorist missionaries initiated the construction of the existing “New Basilica”, the world's largest marian structure, in 1955, and it was blessed by John Paul II during his apostolic voyage to Brazil in 1980. The sanctuary is visited by over seven million pilgrims each year. On 13 May 2007 Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated in Aparecida the work of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which established pastoral guidelines for the continent for the coming years.
Pope Francis arrived at the shrine at 10.00 a.m. (local time; 15.00 Rome time), where he was welcomed by the rector. He went to the Room of the Twelve Apostles to pray for a minute before the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. The Holy Mass – which was attended only by the bishops of the province, as the prelates of World Youth Day were engaged in the catechesis sessions in Rio de Janeiro – began at 10.30 a.m.
The Holy Father began his homily by recalling that, on the day following his election as Bishop of Rome, he went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome to entrust his ministry to the Virgin. This time he has come to Aparecida to “ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America”. Afterwards, referring to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, in which he participated, he said that “something beautiful took place here. … I saw how the Bishops – who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission – felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady. That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary’s maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother’s door and asks: “Show us Jesus”. It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary”.
He continued, “Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes, … : hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy”.
To explain the first of these attitudes, hopefulness, the Pope spoke about the second reading of the Mass, which presents a dramatic scene: a woman – an image of Mary and the Church – being pursued by a Dragon – the devil – who wants to devour her child. “But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child. How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The 'dragon', evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope!”
“It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith”.
Moving on to the second attitude, openness to being surprised by God, the Pope said, “Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope – the great hope which faith gives us – knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaiba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother? God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him”.
Finally, the third attitude relates to living in joy. “If we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children. ... Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will 'light up' with a joy that spreads to everyone around us”.
“We have come to knock at the door of Mary’s house”, Francis concluded. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to 'do whatever he tells you'. Yes, dear Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God’s surprises and full of joy”.
After the Holy Mass, the Pope appeared on the balcony of the sanctuary to bless the faithful present, and to greet the thousands of faithful and pilgrims who were unable to enter and who followed the ceremony outside under pouring rain. He added a few improvised words in Spanish, promising at the end that he would return to Aparecida for the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Maria.
“Irmaos e Irmas … Irmaos e Irmas, eu nao falo brasileiro” (“Brothers and sisters, I don't speak Brazilian, ed.”). Forgive me, I will speak to you in Spanish. Obrigado (thank you, ed.) for being here. I thank you from my heart, with all my heart, and I ask that the Virgin, Our Lady of Aparecida, bless you, that she bless your families, that she bless your children, that she bless your parents, that she bless your homeland. Let's see, now I will know if you understand me. I have one question – does a mother forget her children? She does not forget us: she loves and cares for us. Now we ask for the blessing, the blessing of God Almighty. May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon you, forever. I ask a favour of you – pray for me, pray for me, I need your prayers. May God bless you, and may Our Lady of Aparecida care for you. Until 2017, when I will return”.
The Holy Father then proceeded by Popemobile to the Missionary Seminary of Bom Jesus, a distance of three kilometres, to have lunch with the bishops of the province and the seminarians. Upon arrival he blessed an image of Frei Galvao (St. Antonio de Santana Galvao, canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in Sao Paulo during his apostolic trip in 2007), which is located in the sanctuary dedicated to the saint in the town of Guaratingueta.
After lunch, the Pope returned to the heliport near Aparecida and from there, returned by helicopter to Rio de Janeiro to visit the San Francisco de Asis Hospital.
Vatican City, 25 July 2013 (VIS) – At 6.30 p.m., local time, Pope Francis arrived at the Hospital Sao Francisco de Assis na Providencia de Deus (St Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital) of the Venerable Third Order of St. Francis, a centre dedicated to drug- or alcohol-dependent patients and which provides free medical and surgical assistance for indigenous peoples. The hospital has approximately five hundred beds and is managed by the eponymous Association, founded in 1985 by Brother Francis. Upon arrival Pope Francis was received by the director of the Association and by the secretary of State for health, and proceeded directly to the chapel where he was welcomed with songs, prayers, greetings and the profound testimony of two patients.
“God has willed that my journey, after the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, should take me to a particular shrine of human suffering – the St. Francis of Assisi Hospital”, said the Pope, who went on to speak of the saint's conversion: “the young Francis abandoned the riches and comfort of the world in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world – material things and the possession of them – but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others”.
In his address, the Holy Father emphasised that we all have to learn to embrace those in need, as Saint Francis did. “There are so many situations in Brazil, and throughout the world, that require attention, care and love, like the fight against chemical dependency. Often, instead, it is selfishness that prevails in our society. How many 'dealers of death' there are who follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage. A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America. Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love”.
The Pope continued, “We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: You can get up, you can stand up. It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to. Dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on our journey: You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensible condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! The Church and so many people are close to you. Look ahead with confidence. Yours is a long and difficult journey, but look ahead, there is a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives”.
He urged all of those present, “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!”, and continued, “I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is no apathy, but love”.
Finally, the Pope thanked all medical professionals and their associates working in the hospital: “Your service is precious; undertake it always with love. It is a service given to Christ present in our brothers and sisters. As Jesus says to us: 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'”.
He also emphasised to all those “who struggle against drug addiction, and to those family members who share in your difficulties” that “the Church is not distant from your troubles, but accompanies you with affection. The Lord is near you and he takes you by the hand. Look to him in your most difficult moments and he will give you consolation and hope. And trust in the maternal love of his Mother Mary. … Where there is a cross to carry, she, our Mother, is always there with us, by our side”.
At the end of his visit, the Holy Father addressed some words to the young Italians who followed the proceedings live from Maracanazinho, exhorting them to “Trust Christ, listen to him, follow in his footsteps. He never abandons us, not even in the darkest moments of our lives. He is our hope. Tomorrow in Copacabana we will have an opportunity to explore this truth more deeply, in order to shine his light on our lives. See you tomorrow!”
Vatican City, 26 July 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to convey his condolences for the 78 dead and more than 140 casualties due to the derailment of a train in the city station yesterday evening. The full text of the telegram is given below:
“Profoundly saddened by the serious rail accident near Santiago de Compostela, which has claimed numerous victims and many further casualties, I raise fervent prayers to the Almighty for all those killed and injured in this tragic event. With great suffering I ask your excellency to kindly convey my spiritual closeness, affection and sincere fraternal solidarity to those who have suffered in this tragedy and to their families. I assure them of my prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of the dead, and for all those afflicted in their time of grief, in the hope of their speedy and complete recovery.
“On this day, in which the Church is entrusted to the intercession of St. James, the celestial patron of Spain and witness to the Risen Christ, I wish to express my support to all the sons of this noble land, and impart a heartfelt apostolic blessing, bearer of the hope that comes from faith and the consolation offered by authentic love”.