Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pope Francis ‘Lord, give me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it on my own’.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence at the Vatican on Thursday morning. In remarks to the gathered faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the Gospel command to love our enemies.The Gospel reading was from that according to St. Luke (6:27-38), in which the Lord tells his disciples, “[L]ove your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” The Holy Father said that this is a model of Christian life – of unconditional love in action. “Do good,” he said, “lend without hoping to have back what you have lent – [act] without interest, and your reward will be great,” he said. Pope Francis also recognized that this new way of the Gospel is one by which it is often difficult to live:
“‘But Father’ [one might say], ‘I don’t feel like behaving that way’. ‘Well’, [one might reply], ‘if you don’t feel like it, that’s your problem, but that’s the Christian way.” This is that way that Jesus teaches us. ‘And what can I hope?’ [one might ask]. Go on Jesus’ way, which is the way of mercy.Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Only with a merciful heart can we do all that, which the Lord counsels us to do – all the way. The Christian life is not a navel-gazing [It. autoreferenziale] one. It is a life in which one gets out of oneself in order to give oneself to others. It is a gift, it is love – and love does not turn in on itself, it is not selfish, but self-giving.”  
The Lord asks us to be merciful. He asks us not to judge. Often, said Pope Francis, “It seems that we have been named judges of others: engaging in gossip, talking behind people’s backs, we judge everyone.” The Lord, however tells us not to judge, lest we be judged ourselves. “Do not condemn [others],” said Pope Francis, “and you will not be condemned.” The Lord asks us to forgive, that we might be forgiven. “We say it every day in the Our Father,” noted the Holy Father, “forgive us as we forgive others – and if I do not forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?”:
“This is the Christian life. ‘But Father, this is folly!’ one might say. ‘Yes’, one might answer, ‘it is’. We have heard in these days, though, St Paul, who said the same: the foolishness of the Cross of Christ, which has nothing to do with the wisdom of the world. ‘But Father, to be Christian is to become some sort of fool?’ [one might ask]. ‘Yes’, [I would say], ‘in a certain sense, yes. It means renouncing the cunning of the world in order to do everything that Jesus tells us to do and that, if we do the sums, if we balance the ledger, seems to be against us.”
The Holy Father went on to explain that the way the Lord teaches us is the way of magnanimity, of generosity, of self-giving without measure. “It was for this,” he said, “that Jesus came into the world,” not to judge, not to engage in idle gossip, not to pass judgments, but to give and to forgive. “Being Christian isn’t easy,” said Pope Francis, adding that we can become Christians only by the grace of God, and not by our own strength:
“Here then arises the problem that we all must face daily: ‘Lord, give me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it on my own’. This is something quite frightening at first glance – quite frightening, indeed. If, however, we take the Gospel and we read the 6th chapter of St. Luke – and reread it and reread it and reread it – and let us do so – and let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be a Christian, to understand the grace He gives to us Christians, as well, because we cannot do it on our own."

Latest from Vatican Information Service News - Pope Francis Appoints

- Dialogue, religious freedom and rejection of extremism and violence at the centre of the Pope's meeting with the president of Tunisia
- Pope Francis to visit the European Parliament
- The Pope's message to the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network
- Satisfactory meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group
- Cardinal Sandri: educate so as not to fall prey to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions
- Audiences
Dialogue, religious freedom and rejection of extremism and violence at the centre of the Pope's meeting with the president of Tunisia
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, president of the Tunisian Republic, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, various themes of common interest were reviewed, such as the promotion of peace, interreligious dialogue and human rights, with particular reference to the defence of freedom of conscience and religious freedom, as well as the refusal of every form of extremism or violence. The Parties noted the commitment of the Catholic Church in social issues and the fields of health and education, in the service of all Tunisian citizens, especially the poorest and most in need.
Finally, various questions of an international and regional nature were examined, paying special attention to the situation in the Mediterranean Basin.
Pope Francis to visit the European Parliament
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the communique issued this morning in Strasbourg by the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, that Pope Francis has accepted the invitation to visit the European Parliament and to address its members during a solemn session. The visit will take place on 25 November.
The Pope's message to the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a message on behalf of the Holy Father to the participants in the meeting of the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network in Brasilia, Brazil, which concludes tomorrow. The message is addressed to Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno S.J., of Huancayo, Colombia, president of the Department of Justice and Solidarity of the CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council).
The Pope, referring to his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”, remarks that the participants in the meeting respond to the crucial challenge of “living together, of mingling, of meeting, of taking each other's hands, of supporting each other, of participating in this chaotic and high tide so that it may be transformed into a true experience of fraternity, a cavalcade of solidarity, a holy pilgrimage. In this way, the great potential of communication translates into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity”.
Francis expresses his joy at seeing the results of his appeal for the creation of an innovative network dedicated specifically to ecological matters related to the Amazon and his hopes for the outcome of the initiative. He also takes the opportunity to remind those present that the network must be rich in humanity – a network not of threads, but of people. “It is not enough to circulate on digital 'paths'”, he writes. “It is necessary for this connection to be accompanied by true encounter: we cannot live alone, closed up in ourselves; we need to love and be loved, and we need tenderness. Only in this way can Christian witness, thanks to this network, reach the existential peripheries of humanity, facilitating the work of Christian leaven and bringing progress to the living cultures of Amazonia and their values”.
Satisfactory meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – The Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group held its fifth meeting in Hanoi from 10 to 11 September, co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, deputy minister for foreign affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and Msgr. Antoine Camilleri of the Holy See Secretariat for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.
According to a press release published at the end of the meeting, the Holy See delegation “appreciated the support given by the competent authorities at all levels to the Catholic Church in Vietnam for the accomplishment of her mission. It also took note of the development in the religious policies of Vietnam, reflected in the 2013 Amended Constitution. The Vietnamese State has facilitated working visits to Vietnam by the non-resident special envoy of the Holy See to Vietnam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See delegation reaffirmed that it attached great importance to the development of relations with Vietnam in particular and Asia in general, as evidenced by the recent and upcoming papal trips to the continent. The Holy See reaffirmed its commitment towards the goal of establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and, together with the Catholic Church in the country, wishes to make more active contributions to the country’s development where the Catholic Church is strong, for example in health care, education, charity and humanitarian works. The Vietnamese side reiterated the consistent policy of the State and Party in respecting freedom of religion and belief of all people and supporting the Catholic Church in Vietnam to actively participate in national social and economic development”.
“Both Parties emphasised again the underlying principles of 'living the Gospel within the Nation' and that 'being a good Catholic means being a good citizen'. The Holy See delegation stressed that Pope Francis had followed with interest recent developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, and encouraged the Catholic Community in Vietnam to continue contributing towards the country’s major goals. Both Parties noted with satisfaction the positive developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, as shown by increased exchanges and contacts at all levels, meetings of the Joint Working Group and working visits of the non-resident special envoy in Vietnam. They agreed on maintaining dialogue and contacts while creating favourable conditions for his mission, as he helps the Catholic Church in Vietnam to implement papal teaching”.
“The meeting took place in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere. The Parties agreed to convene the 6th meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican, at a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels”.
“On this occasion, the Holy See delegation paid a courtesy visit to the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Pham Binh Minh, and met with the deputy minister of of the interior and Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Pham Dung. The delegation also took the opportunity to visit some Catholic institutions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”.
Cardinal Sandri: educate so as not to fall prey to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, addressed the Permanent Council of the United States Episcopal Conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 9 September. The prelate declared that after his trips to Syria in January 2011 and Iraq in December 2012, he “never would have imagined that we would find ourselves in the present situation”. He added, “Still in the twenty-first century, as if history has taught nothing, we must witness barbarities and atrocities which strike above all the weakest: the elderly, women and children. Along with my preoccupations for the thousands of refugees … I have ever in mind the bishops and priests still in the hands of kidnappers in Syria, and I cannot forget the journalists so brutally killed”.
Cardinal Sandri remarked that, “On the one hand, the action of the Holy Spirit continues to make the Church fertile in every part of the world, manifesting its characteristic maternity. Yet, on the other hand, it must be recognised that the Churches, which gave rise in great part to the diffusion of the Gospel in the Apostolic era, are now shaken at their foundations and threatened in their very existence”. He also referred to the difficulties experienced by the Church in Jerusalem, reiterating his conviction that “a durable peace in the Holy Land would contribute significantly to the stability of the whole Middle East”, also highlighting “the drama of the Church in Antioch”. He emphasised, “If these Churches, the historic mothers of the evangelising mission, are struck at their foundations, we, as their children, cannot be silent. … God chose that part of the world as 'the cradle of a universal plan of salvation in love'”, adding that “for nearly two thousand years these Christians have kept alive the flame of the first Pentecost in those lands”.
Cardinal Sandri repeated the words of Pope Francis to the members of the Oriental Congregation at the end of their Plenary Session last November: “Every Catholic owes a debt of thanks to the Churches that live in that region. From these Churches we may learn, among other things, the effort of the daily exercise of the spirit of ecumenism and of interreligious dialogue. The geographical, historical and cultural context in which they have lived for centuries has indeed made them natural interlocutors with numerous other Christian confessions and with other religions”.
He thanked the American Episcopal Conference for the “constant and generous attention” shown to the Oriental Churches, especially in relation to efforts to raise the awareness of the political authorities. He also thanked the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) for the work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, as well as Aid to the Church in Need and Catholic Relief Services, and highlighted the “great hospitality the United States has given over the decades to all of the Eastern Churches in the diaspora”.
He mentioned the situation “of extreme urgency” in Iraq, and remarked that “in dialogue both clarity and fraternal respect are needed. … We have the responsibility of educating our faithful lest they yield to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions. We must recall that it has taken Catholic theological and biblical reflection centuries to arrive at its present capacity for interpreting our sacred texts without undue fear of violating the depositum fidei”.
He concluded by encouraging those present to follow with attention the interventions of the Holy See in its various modes and the representatives of the Holy See in various international organisations, and to support the role of the United Nations, an “effective forum through which to prevent the repetition of violence and injustice”.
Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Santo Gangemi, apostolic nuncio in Guinea and Mali
- Twenty-four prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Congo, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu;
- Bishop Melchisedech Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni;
.- Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma;
- Bishop Placide Lubamba Ndjibu, M. Afr., of Kasongo;
- Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, M. Afr., of Kindu;
- Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira;
- Archbishop Marcel Madila Basanguka of Kananga
- Bishop Valentin Masengo Nkinda of Kabinda;
- Bishop Pierre-Celestin Tshitoko Mamba of Luebo;
- Bishop Felicien Mwanama Galumbulula of Luiza;
- Bishop Bernard-Emmanuel Kasanda Mulenga of Mbujimayi;
- Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba of Mweka;
- Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe;
- Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Edouard Kisonga Ndinga, S.S.S., and Bishop Timothee Bodika Mansiyai, P.S.S.;
- Bishop Cyprien Mbuka, C.I.C.M., of Boma;
- Bishop Jose Moko Ekanga, P.S.S., of Idiofa;
- Bishop Philippe Nkiere Kena, C.I.C.M., of Inongo;
- Bishop Jean Gaspard Mudiso Mund’la, S.V.D., of Kenge;
- Bishop Edouard Mununu Kasiala of Kikwit;
- Bishop Fidele Nsielele Zi Mputu of Kisantu;
- Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi of Matadi; and
- Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka.
- Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio in Argentina.
Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages following the catechesis of today's general audience, the Pope addressed, among others, the Arab-speaking faithful and in particular those from Syria and the Middle East, to remind them that the Church, following the example of her Master, excels in mercy: “she faces hatred with love, vanquishes violence with forgiveness, and responds to weapons with prayer”.
He added, “May the Lord reward your faithfulness, inspire you with courage in the struggle against the forces of evil, and open the eyes of those who have been blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for the mistakes they have made. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”.
He also greeted the officers and members of the Italian naval forces who participate in the operation “Mare Nostrum”, assisting migrants and refugees who attempt to cross the Mediterranean. “I give thanks for your admirable work in the aid of so many of our brethren in search of hope”, he said.
Before the general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father greeted a group of sick people, mostly children, who were not able to attend the audience in St. Peter's Square. He thanked them all for their visit and asked them to pray for him. “I ask you to pray for me. Don't forget! Pray so that I can continue my work. I will pray for all of you and for the children. And so, together, let us pray to the Virgin to bless us”, he exclaimed. After praying a Hail Mary with those present, Francis wished them a good day and encouraged them to persevere with hope.
Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that this coming Sunday, 14 September, at 12.15 p.m., Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will take possession of the diaconate of Sant'Agnese in Agone, Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 30/A.
Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Archbishop Luigi Bianco, apostolic nuncio in Ethiopia, as apostolic nuncio in Djibouti and apostolic delegate in Somalia.
- Rev. Fr. Robert J. Geisinger, S.J., (U.S.A.), as procurer general of the Society of Jesus.
- Msgr. Robert W. Oliver of the clergy of the archdiocese of Boston, as secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Msgr. Oliver was formerly promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Today's Mass Readings : Thursday September 11, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 440

Reading 11 COR 8:1B-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.

So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols:
we know that there is no idol in the world,
and that there is no God but one.
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth
(there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”),
yet for us there is

one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

But not all have this knowledge.
There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now
that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols,
their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Thus, through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Responsorial Psalm PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 23-24

R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Gospel LK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”