Friday, March 28, 2014

POPE FRANCIS at 24 hour Confession service - "The love of Jesus Christ lasts forever," Share

JCE - Pope Francis went to Confession himself after the service - 53:08 on the video -

Vatican Radio RELEASE: 
Pope Francis delivered the homily at a penitential service over which he was presiding in St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday afternoon. The order of the celebration included Psalms, readings from Sacred Scripture, and hymns, all focused on the theme of repentance and God’s boundless mercy.

The service was a part of the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, being celebrated throughout the Rome diocese and in many local Churches throughout the world, in which the faithful receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then become special ambassadors of Christ’s mercy, inviting people to avail themselves of the Lord’s forgiveness in churches that are to remain open through the night.

Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks…


In the period of Lent, the Church, in the name of God, renews the call to conversion. It is the call to change one’s life. Conversion is not a matter of a moment or a year, is a commitment that lasts a lifetime. Who among us can be assumed not to be a sinner? No one. The Apostle John writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).” This is what happens in our celebration and throughout this day of penance. The Word of God we have heard introduces us to two essential elements of the Christian life.

The first [is]: put on the new man. The new man, “created according to God(Eph 4:24),” is born in Baptism, where one receives the very life of God, which makes us His sons and incorporates us into Christ and his Church. This new life allows one to look at reality with different eyes, without being distracted by things that do not matter and cannot last long. For this we are called to abandon sinful behaviour and fix our gaze on that, which is essential. “Man is more precious for what he is than for what he has. (Gaudium et Spes, 35)” Behold the difference between the life deformed by sin and the life illumined by grace. From the heart of the man renewed according to God come good behaviors: always to speak with truth and avoid any lie; to steal not, but rather to share what you have with others; especially with those in need; not to give in to anger, resentment and revenge, but to be gentle, magnanimous and ready to forgive; not to fall into backbiting that ruins people’s good name, but to look more rather on each person’s positive side.

The second factor [is]: Remain in my love. The love of Jesus Christ lasts forever, will never end because it is the very life of God. This love conquers sin and gives strength to get up and start anew, because with pardon the heart is renewed and rejuvenated. Our Father never tires of loving and His eyes did not grow heavy in looking at the way home, to see if his Son who left and was lost will return. And this Father does not tire of loving even His other son, who, though he remains ever in the house with Him, nevertheless does not take part in His mercy, His compassion. God is not only the source of love, but in Jesus Christ calls us to imitate his own way of loving: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. (Jn 13:34)” To the extent that Christians live this love, they become credible disciples of Christ in the world. Love cannot stand to remain locked up in itself. By its very nature [Love] is open, it spreads and is fruitful, [it] always generates new love.

Dear brothers and sisters, after this celebration, many of you will make yourselves missionaries to the experience of reconciliation with God. “24 hours for the Lord” is an initiative in which many dioceses all over the world are participating. To everyone you meet, you will communicate the joy of receiving the Father’s forgiveness and regaining full friendship with Him. The one who experiences the mercy of God, is driven to be the creator of mercy among the poor and the least. In these “littlest brothers and sisters” Jesus waits for us (cf. Mt 25:40). Let us go to meet them! And we will celebrate Easter in the joy of God!

Text from  Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis "Confession is not a court of condemnation, but an experience of forgiveness and mercy!"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday spoke to participants of a “Course on the Internal Forum,” which deals with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the ministry of Confessors. 

In his discourse, Pope Francis spoke about how the annual course helps “the Church and Confessors to better carry out the ministry of mercy, which is so important.”

He reminded priests that the Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the ministry of reconciliation, calling on them to “always be ‘men of the Holy Spirit.’” As such, priests must welcome penitents not with the attitude of a judge, but with “the charity of God, with the love a father who sees the son returning, the shepherd who has found the lost sheep.” 

For this reason, the Pope said, priests are called to be generous in making themselves available for Confession. “We must never forget,” he said, “that the faithful often have difficulty approaching the Sacrament of Confession.” And so, priests must work hard to encourage people to draw near to the Sacrament “of mercy and forgiveness.”

Here, the Holy Father said, priests must avoid both rigorism and laxity. “Confession is not a court of condemnation, but an experience of mercy and forgiveness!”

Finally, recognising the difficulties encountered in Confession, Pope Francis encouraged priests to take particular care in the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In particular, he said “it’s good that in every parish, the faithful know when they can find priests” available to hear Confessions. 

Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis’ to participants in the course offered by the Apostolic Penitentiary: 

Dear Brothers,

I welcome you on the occasion of the annual Course on the Internal Forum. I thank Cardinal Mauro Piacenza for the words with which he introduced our meeting.

For a quarter of a century the Apostolic Penitentiary, aware of the importance of this ministry, has offered, especially to new priests and deacons, the opportunity of this course, in order to contribute to the formation of good confessors. I thank you for this valuable service and I encourage you to take it forward with renewed commitment, building on experience gained and with skilful creativity, to always help the Church and confessors to better carry out the ministry of mercy, which is so important!

In this regard, I wish to offer a few thoughts.

First of all, the protagonist of the ministry of reconciliation is the Holy Spirit. The forgiveness that the Sacrament confers is the new life sent by the Risen Lord by means of His Spirit: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, are retained” (Jn 20:22-23). Therefore, you are called to always be “men of the Holy Spirit,” witnesses and heralds, joyful and strong, of the resurrection of the Lord. This testimony is read on the face, is heard in the voice of the priest who administers with faith and with “unction” the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He welcomes penitents not with the attitude of a judge, not even with that of a simple man, but with the charity of God, with the love of a father who sees the son returning and goes to meet him, [with the love] of the shepherd who has found the lost sheep. The heart of the priest is a heart that knows how to be moved, not by sentimentality or mere emotion, but to the “tender mercy” [viscere di misericordia] of the Lord! If it is true that tradition points out the dual role of doctor and judge for confessors, we must never forget that as a doctor he is called to heal and as a judge, to absolve.

The second aspect: if Reconciliation transmits the new life of the Risen Lord and renews baptismal grace, then your task is to give it generously to others. To give this grace. A priest who does not attend to this part of his ministry, both in the amount of time spent and in the spiritual quality, is like a shepherd who does not take care of the sheep that were lost; he is like a father who forgets the lost son and neglects waiting for him. But mercy is the heart of the Gospel! Don’t forget this: mercy is the heart of the Gospel! It is the good news that God loves us, that He always loves the sinner, and with this love draws him to Himself and invites him to conversion. We must not forget that the faithful often have difficulty approaching the sacrament, whether for practical reasons, or because of the natural difficulty of confessing one’s sins to another person. For this reason it is necessary to work hard on ourselves, on our humanity, never to be an obstacle but always to favour drawing near to mercy and forgiveness. But many times it happens that a person comes and says, “I haven’t confessed for many years, I have this problem, I left Confession because I found a priest and he told me this,” and you see the imprudence, the lack of pastoral love, in what that person says. And they draw away, because of a bad experience in Confession. If there is this attitude of a father, that comes from the goodness of God, this would never happen.

And we must guard against two extremes: rigorism and laxism. Neither is good, because in reality they don’t take charge of the person of the penitent. Instead, mercy truly listens with the heart of God and wants to accompany the soul on the path of reconciliation. Confession is not a court of condemnation, but an experience of forgiveness and mercy!

Finally, we all know the difficulties often encountered in Confession. There are many reasons, both historical and spiritual. However, we know that the Lord wanted to give this immense gift to His Church, offering to the baptized the security of the Father's forgiveness. It is this: it is the security of the Father’s forgiveness. For this reason, it is very important that in every diocese and in the parish communities, particular care is taken of the celebration of this Sacrament of forgiveness and salvation. It’s good that in every parish the faithful know when they can find priests available: when there is fidelity, the fruits are seen. This is particularly true for the churches entrusted to religious Communities, which can ensure a constant presence of confessors.

To the Virgin, Mother of Mercy, we entrust the ministry of priests, and every Christian community, that they might always grow in understanding the value of the Sacrament of Penance. I entrust all of you to our Mother and I bless you from the heart.

Text from Vatican Radio website 

President Obama exchanges gifts with Pope Francis - A box of seeds and bronze medals

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the United States, Barack Obama on Thursday morning in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. 

President Obama arrived at the meeting through the Hall of St. Ambrose - a bright, high-ceilinged rectangular room decorated with allegories of Felicity, Prudence and the Virtues, Rest and Security. He was preceded by a column of the Gentlemen of His Holiness, and accompanied by the Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who walked at his side. Pope Francis made his way briskly from the library to the Sala dei troni – the Hall of Thrones - to greet the President. 

A handshake and a brief exchange of pleasantries, and the Pope and the President were in the library of the Apostolic Palace, sitting across from one another at the Holy Father’s desk. “It’s a great honor,” said the President to the Pope, “I’m a great admirer – thank you so much for receiving me.” President Obama went on to say, “[I bring] greetings from my family,” adding, “the last time I came to meet your predecessor I was able to bring my wife and children.” 

Then, the room was cleared of journalists, and the Pope and the President, assisted by their interpreters – Msgr. Mark Miles of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, and Alessandra Bonatti of the US State Dept. – spoke privately for nearly an hour: fifty-two minutes, to be precise.

The private meeting concluded and the members of the official White House delegation were presented to Pope Francis, among whom were the Secretary of State, John Kerry, US Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. After the Holy Father greeted the delegation members, the Pope and the President exchanged gifts. 

Obama offered his first: a seed box, encased in American leather, and built of wood recovered from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Archdiocese of Baltimore – the first cathedral constructed in the United States, the cornerstone of which was laid by John Carroll – a Jesuit priest and the first Catholic bishop and Archbishop in the United States; given in honor of the opening of the Pontifical Gardens of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo to the public, the box contained seeds from fruits and vegetables of the White House garden, and represent a gift of seeds to be made in the name of the Holy Father to charity, the yield of which is hoped to be several tons of fresh produce. “This gift,” reads an official statement from the White House, “honors the commitment of Your Holiness to sow the seeds of global peace for future generations.”

President Obama presented the gift, saying, “If you have a chance and come to the White House, you can see our garden.” Smiling, Pope Francis replied in Spanish, “Como no? [Why not?]”

The Holy Father then gave the President two medals cast in bronze: one a work of Italian artist Guido Veroi, called The Medallion with the Angel – Solidarity and Peace – which illustrates the contemporary challenges of bringing together the world’s northern and southern regions, and harmonizing them while combating all disruptive forces, such as exploitation, intransigent opposition, new forms of colonization, indifference, mistrust and prejudice; the second, a cast of a medal, the original of which was buried beneath the cornerstone of the north colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Alexander VII.

“I will treasure that,” said the President to the Pope, upon receiving the gift.

Pope Francis also gave the President a copy of his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, on the joy of the Gospel. “You know,” said President Obama, “I will actually probably read this when I am in the Oval Office and when I am deeply frustrated,” adding, “I am sure it will give me strength and calm me down.” Speaking in English, Pope Francis replied, “I hope.”

Between the end of the private meeting and the presentation of the US delegation, the number of people in the Library had grown significantly – and there was a flurry of hand-shaking and picture taking. The Papal attendants did not miss a beat, however, conducting the guests smoothly and courteously to the door. “Tell His Holiness,” said the President to the Pope’s translator, Msgr. Miles, “I think His Holiness is the only person who has to put up with more protocol than me.”

On their leave-taking, at the door to the Library, President Obama thanked the Holy Father in Spanish. “Muchas gracias,” said the President to the Pope. Obama went on to say, “Please pray for me and my family,” adding, “they are with me on this journey – pray for them.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis - "This is our Father, the God that waits for us. ALWAYS”

(Vatican Radio) God always forgives and does not know how to do otherwise, said Pope Francis in his homily at Friday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Lord always waits for us and forgives us, he said. He is “the God of forgiveness” and he celebrates every person’s return to him. 

The Pope went on to say that God longs for us when we distance ourselves from him. Drawing on the day’s first reading from Hosea, he observed that the Lord speaks to his people with tenderness. 

Even when God invites us to conversion and uses stern words, God’s words always include “this loving longing” and the exhortation of the Father who says to the son: “Come back. It is time to come back home.” 

“This is the heart of our Father,” he said. “God is like that: he does not tire, he does not tire. And God did this for many centuries, with so much apostasy… among the people. And he always returns because our God is a God who waits. 

“Adam left paradise with a punishment but also with a promise. And … the Lord is faithful to his promise because he cannot deny himself. He is faithful. And, in this way, he waited for all of us, throughout all of history. He is the God who waits for us always,” the Pope added.

Francis then turned his thoughts to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Gospel of Luke, he said, tells us that the father saw the son from afar because he was waiting for him. The father, he said, “went onto the terrace every day to see if his son would return. He waited. And when he saw him, he went out in haste and ‘threw himself on his neck’. The son had prepared some words to say but the father did not let him speak; his embrace covered his mouth.” 

“This is our Father, the God that waits for us. Always,” he said. 

“‘But father, I have so many sins, I do not know if he will be happy’,” the Pope said, suggesting a conversation between a priest and a person fallen from God. “‘But try! If you want to know the tenderness of this Father, go to him and try. Then come and tell me.’”

The Pope insisted on the loving welcome of God: “The God who waits for us. God who waits and also God who forgives. He is the God of mercy; he does not tire of forgiving. We are the ones who tire in asking for forgiveness, but he does not tire.” 

“Seventy times seven, always. Let us go forward with forgiveness. And from a business point of view, the balance is negative. He always loses: he loses in the balance of things but he wins in love,” he said. 

God “is the first to fulfill the commandment of love,” he continued. “He loves and does not know how to do otherwise.” 

“The miracles that Jesus did with many sick people were also a sign of the great miracle that every day the Lord does with us when we have the courage to get up and go to him,” he added. When people return to God, God celebrates “not like the banquet of the rich man, who had the poor Lazarus at his door,” he said. “He holds banquet, like the father of the prodigal son.”

Every person who has the courage to approach God “will find the joy of the feast of God,” he said. “May this word help us to think of our Father, who waits for us always and who always forgives us and celebrates our return.”

Text from  Vatican Radio website 

President of Greece meets with Pope Francis

(Vatican Radio) This morning, Friday 28 March 2014, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in Audience the President of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Mr. Karolos Papoulias, who subsequently went on to meet with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, an expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and Greece, focused on issues of common interest, such as, in particular, the legal status of religious communities, the role of religion in society, and ecumenical collaboration.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the worldwide economic crisis, as well as the contribution of Greece within the European Union. Finally, concern was expressed regarding the future presence of Christians in the Middle East, in relation to political instability and the situations of conflict that affect various regions of the world. 

Text from  Vatican Radio website 


Pope St. Sixtus III
Feast: March 28

Feast Day:March 28
Died:18 August 440 in Rome, Italy
Consecrated 31 July, 432; d. 440. Previous to his accession he was prominent among the Roman clergy and in correspondence with St. Augustine. He reigned during the Nestorian and Pelagian controversies, and it was probably owing to his conciliatory disposition that he was falsely accused of leanings towards these heresies. As pope he approved the Acts of the Council of Ephesus and endeavoured to restore peace between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch. In the Pelagian controversy he frustrated the attempt of Julian of Eclanum to be readmitted to communion with the Catholic Church. He defended the pope's right of supremacy over Illyricum against the local bishops and the ambitious designs of Proclus of Constantinople. At Rome he restored the Basilica of Liberius, now known as St. Mary Major, enlarged the Basilica of St. Lawrence-Without-the-Walls, and obtained precious gifts from the Emperor Valentinian III for St. Peter's and the Lateran Basilica. The work which asserts that the consul Bassus accused him of crime is a forgery. He is the author of eight letters (in P.L., L, 583 sqq.), but he did not write the works "On Riches", "On False Teachers", and "On Chastity" ("De divitiis", "De malis doctoribus", "De castitate") attributed to him. His feast is kept on 28 March.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)

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