Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saint February 18 : St. Simon of Jerusalem : Bishop and Martyr

St. Simon of Jerusalem
Feast: February 18

Feast Day:February 18
Died:106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

#Lent Inspiration - FREE Resources from Bishops + FREE Calendar

A graphic from Catholic News Service depicts the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

USCCB: In his Lenten message for 2015. . . , Pope Francis asks us to "make our hearts firm" (Jas 5:8) and to be "merciful, attentive and generous." Embrace his call to mercy by reaching out to those in need.  Be attentive to the Lenten call to prayer; be generous with your time and treasure. 
"Through prayer, charity and humility before God, people receive a heart "which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference," Pope Francis says in his Lenten message. Lent begins February 18 for Latin-rite Catholics.
Raise Up. Sacrifice. Offer.
Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from the pope's message and our calendar.
This Lent, you are encouraged to raise up the needs of the world in prayer, tosacrifice by giving up food and material wants, and to offer your time, talent and treasure as good stewards of the gifts God has given you. 
"…how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!" — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2015. . . 
During Lent, the Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.
In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
On these pages, you will find a variety of suggestions and resources to help you "raise up," "sacrifice," and "offer" during this Lent and to embrace your baptismal commitment.
Catholics are also encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives during Lent.  The U.S. Bishops' statement, "God's Gift of Forgiveness: The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation" can be distributed and shared in parishes.  Dioceses are encouraged to make the sacrament available often during Lent and to use these resources to promote participation.  We also have resources to help individuals who have not been to confession in a while "rediscover" the sacrament.

Amazing Real Ultrasound Pic of Baby giving Thumbs Up - Share if you are PROLIFE

An Unborn Baby gave his parents a Thumbs Up during a 20-week ultrasound scan. Paul Schofield, 31, and Cheryl Stevenson, 32, were in Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, England for a 20-week ultrasound. The Nurses said they had never seen a clearer picture of an unborn baby giving a thumbs up. Cameron, is now 18 months-old. Mr Schofield, a manager at a conservatory company, said: ‘It was all so clear. The midwife spent 15 minutes with Cheryl and the scan was very comprehensive. 360 degree images. ‘He was moving back and forth a lot and when it came to the end of the scan, . Then they asked us if we wanted some pictures. ‘. But as soon as the midwife said she would have to wrap things up, his little hand came out and he gave us the thumbs up. ‘We all burst into laughter. The midwife said she had seen a few hand gestures in her time but nothing as clear and forthright as this. It brought a great deal of happiness to our day.’ He explained: ‘It was a unique experience that we wanted to share – and it was a great way of him telling us that we are doing a good job by him so far.’ Share this Amazing True story and help others become PROLIFE!

#BreakingNews 45 Burned to Death in Iraq - Please PRAY for Peace

Terrorists from IS have burned to death 45 people in the west Iraq town of al-Baghdadi, according to the local police chief and BBC. The chief Col Qasim al-Obeidi said he thought some were members of the security forces. The town, near Ain al-Asad, was captured by  IS  last week. He indicated that the housing compound of the families of security personnel and local officials was under attack. He asked for help from the government and the international agencies. Al-Baghdadi was taken over Thursday.  Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby told reporters on Friday that al-Baghdadi's. The Ain al-Asad air base, has almost 320 US Marines are training members of the Iraqi army's 7th Division, is only 8km (5 miles) away. The base was itself attacked by IS militants on Friday. The militants were repelled by Iraqi troops and by US coalition aircraft. (Image share Google Images)
Please PRAY for Peace....

Mounting Attacks in Bangladesh as Political Instability increases

Where is Bangladesh heading?

If this violent political impasse continues, the future looks increasingly unstable

  • Porimol Palma, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • February 12, 2015
  • It’s more than a month since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country’s second largest political party, and its allies began a nationwide transport blockade. Already, it is the longest such political program in the history of the South Asian nation since her independence from Pakistan in 1971.
The blockade started after the ruling Awami League government put barricades in front of BNP Chairwoman Khaleda Zia’s office in Dhaka to prevent her from holding a rally on January 5.
The rally was to commemorate what the BNP termed “democracy killing day”. The day marked the one-year anniversary of the January 5, 2014 elections, which the BNP boycotted after the Awami League government refused to hold the polls under a neutral caretaker government. Amid the boycott, the Awami League won a landslide victory in which more than 50 percent of the 300 parliamentary seats were won without any contest.
Facing mounting criticism, the government removed barricades from Zia’s office on January 11. But the BNP, in turn, launched its own blockade, which is meant to cut off all transportation between Dhaka and other districts.
Apart from the blockade, the BNP-led 20 party alliance is also enforcing hartals (strikes) aimed at halting transportation within Dhaka.
However, peoples’ lives cannot halt. Many continue to make their way across Dhaka for work, school, business, and health care — only to become victims of mounting arson attacks.
Nearly 70 people thus far have died from firebombing, and over 400 have sustained burn injuries. Most schools have been shut down, and nearly 50 million students across the country face a huge setback in their education.
Farmers in villages are failing to supply and sell their produce, while garment manufacturers are facing immense problems in transporting products for shipment to international buyers. Wage earners and the poor are facing a particularly hard time given the chaotic situation. In all, the country is losing an estimated US$150 million each day, according to former economics professor Reza Kibria of Dhaka University.
Against this backdrop, civil society members have called for dialogue between the government and BNP to end the political crisis. Nagorik Shamaj, a citizens’ platform, wrote a letter to President Abdul Hamid, requesting him to initiate the dialogue.
BNP leaders have welcomed the move, but the Awami League government rejected it, saying they cannot hold a dialogue with a party that is burning and killing people and destroying the economy.
But while the government rejects dialogue, it also cannot manage the economy under such violence. Transport owners and drivers are reluctant to ply roads with buses and trucks. The government is now arranging police guards on highways, but that has failed to guarantee protection from firebombs.
Police arrested a number of BNP leaders and some 6,000 people allegedly linked to violence, but the firebomb menace shows no signs of abating.
Such a situation is almost beyond imagination in Bangladesh, which has been doing quite well despite its political problems. Its GDP growth was 4.75 percent throughout the 1990s, but in the last two decades it has been over six percent. Primary school enrolment is 98 percent and the gender gap is zero. Average life expectancy is nearly 70. These social indicators are better than its South Asian neighbors.
Though it is a Muslim-majority country, it is well known for its religious harmony and has no major record of religious or sectarian tension. All this is because the country was created based on secularism and democracy in 1971 through an armed conflict against what was then West Pakistan, which was separated from India on the basis of religion.
After the father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed in an army coup in 1975, military rule continued until 1990. During the military regimes, Islamist forces had spread their wings. But after the restoration of democracy in 1991 through mass movements, the country has progressed remarkably well. 
But the prolonged instability this time is more intense than ever with the government and BNP digging in. Security analysts believe the hardline elements will take advantage of this conflict between the center-left Awami League and center-right BNP and strengthen their ground if immediate democratic solutions are not sought through dialogue.
Democracy, secular values, freedom of expression and human rights will then suffer in the long run.
Porimol Palma is a senior correspondent of the Daily Star, Bangladesh’s leading English daily.
Shared from UCAN/Special to CNW by Porimol Palma
Image Shared from IndiaToday

Pope Francis prays "for our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian..." Homily

Pope Francis offered Mass Tuesday morning for the repose of the souls of the twenty-one Coptic Christians martyred for their faith in Christ.
The Mass was attended by the Pope’s personal secretary, Abuna Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who is Coptic Catholic. As he prepared to begin Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel, the Pope invited the congregation to join him in prayer for ‘our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, for my brother Tawadros, who is suffering greatly’.
He then prayed: “Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me; guide me, for the sake of your name”. Monday evening the Pope had made a personal phone call to Patriarch Tawadros, who is the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, to express his sorrow at the brutal murder. During his homily the Pope spoke of man’s capability for evil and destruction and condemned what he termed ‘merchants of death’, business people who sell arms to those at war, furthering a cycle of hate, fratricide and violence.   
Pope Francis was reflecting on the passage from Genesis that speaks of God’s wrath at man’s wickedness that is a prelude to the great flood. The Pope noted with regret that man, "seems to be more powerful than God", because he is capable of destroying the good things that God has made.>Man is capable of destroying fraternity
Pope Francis pointed out that in the first chapters of the Bible we find many examples - Sodom and Gomorrah, the Tower of Babel - in which man reveals his wickedness. "An evil that lurks in the depths of the heart”.

The Pope noted some people would urge him not to be so negative, but – he continued – “this is the truth. We are also capable of destroying fraternity: Cain and Abel in the first pages of the Bible. They destroy fraternity. This is where wars begin. Jealousy, envy, so much greed for power, to have more power. Yes, this sounds negative, but it is realistic. You only have to pick up a newspaper, any newspaper – left-wing, center, right-ring ... whatever. And you will see that more than 90% of the news is news of destruction. More than 90%. We see this every day".

Pope Francis then asked the question: "What is happening in man’s heart?". He said Jesus reminds us that "from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil." Our "weak heart is wounded”.
Merchants of death sell arms to those who are at war
Pope Francis observed that man always "desires autonomy": "I do what I want and if I want to do something, I will! So, if I want to make war, I will!

"Why are we like this? Because we are capable of destruction, that’s the problem.  There are wars, arms trafficking ... 'But, we are businessmen!' Yes, but of what? Of death? And there are countries that sell weapons, are at war with one side but also selling weapons to them, so that the war continues. A capacity for destruction.  It’s not coming from our neighbors: it’s coming from us! ‘Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’. Everyone has this seed within, this possibility, but we also have the Holy Spirit who saves us! We must choose, in the little things".
Pope Francis went on to warn against using gossip or slander against our neighbor: "Even in parishes and associations", "jealousy" and "envy" can push people to go to their pastor to speak ill of others.
He warned: "This is evil and we all have this ability to destroy". As Lent begins, the Church “invites us to reflect on this”. Pointing to today's Gospel where Jesus rebukes the disciples who are arguing among themselves about having forgotten to bring bread. The Lord tells them to “watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod".  He gives the example of two people: Herod who "is bad, a murderer, and the Pharisees who are hypocrites." In doing so, Jesus reminds them of when he broke the five loaves and urges them to think of the Salvation, of what God has done for all of us. Pope Francis went on to note that "they did not understand, because their hearts were hardened by this passion, by this evil need to argue among each other and see who was guilty of having forgotten the bread".
Choosing to do good thanks to the strength Jesus gives us
Pope Francis said we have to take the Lord’s message "seriously". “There is nothing strange in this, these are not the words of a Martian", "man is able to do so much good", he continued citing the example of Mother Teresa, "a woman of our time".  All of us, he said, "are capable of doing good, but we are also all capable of destruction; destruction great and small and even within our own family.  [We are capable of destroying] our children", not allowing them to grow "in freedom, not helping them to mature; cancelling out our children”.  We are capable of this and this means that we need to constantly “meditate, pray, discuss things with each other, so as not to fall into this evil that destroys everything":
"And we have the strength, Jesus reminds us. Remember. He says to us today: 'Remember. Remember Me, I shed my blood for you; remember Me, I have saved you, I have saved you all; Remember Me, I have the strength to accompany you on the journey of life, not on the path of evil, but on the path of goodness, of doing good to others; not the path of destruction, but the path that builds: builds a family, builds a city, builds a culture, builds a home and much, much more".
During Lent, we pray not to be misled by temptations
The Pope concluded: "We ask the Lord, today, before the beginning of Lent for this grace: to always choose the right path with his help and not be misled by temptations down the wrong path." (Emer McCarthy)

Today's Mass Readings : Tuesday February 17, 2015

Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10 65
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 71Then the LORD said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; 3and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth. 4For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground." 5And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him. 10And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
Responsorial Psalm Psalms 29:1-4, 3, 9-10 
1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array. 3The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters. 4The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 9The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, "Glory!" 10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever.
Holy Gospel according to; "" Mark 8:14-21 "
" The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” < The Word of the Lord > “God showered his blessing, always on you and you’re beautiful family; Amen †”

#PopeFrancis Official World Youth Day Message "God does not look to appearances, but to the heart ..." Full Text

Message for the 30th World Youth Day, celebrated in dioceses globally on Palm Sunday. Next year’s International World Youth Day will be in Krakow, Poland, in July.
Full text of the Message of Pope Francis for the 30th World Youth Day 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt 5: 8)
Dear Young Friends,
                We continue our spiritual pilgrimage toward Krakow, where in July 2016 the next international World Youth Day will be held.  As our guide for the journey we have chosen the Beatitudes.  Last year we reflected on the beatitude of the poor in spirit, within the greater context of the Sermon on the Mount.  Together we discovered the revolutionary meaning of the Beatitudes and the powerful summons of Jesus to embark courageously upon the exciting quest for happiness.  This year we will reflect on the sixth beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
1.            The desire for happiness
The word “blessed”, or “happy”, occurs nine times in this, Jesus’ first great sermon (cf. Mt 5:1-12).  It is like a refrain reminding us of the Lord’s call to advance together with him on a road which, for all its many challenges, leads to true happiness.
                Dear young friends, this search for happiness is shared by people of all times and all ages.  God has placed in the heart of every man and woman an irrepressible desire for happiness, for fulfillment.  Have you not noticed that your hearts are restless, always searching for a treasure which can satisfy their thirst for the infinite?
                The first chapters of the Book of Genesis show us the splendid “beatitude” to which we are called.  It consists in perfect communion with God, with others, with nature, and with ourselves.  To approach God freely, to see him and to be close to him, was part of his plan for us from the beginning; his divine light was meant to illumine every human relationship with truth and transparency.  In the state of original purity, there was no need to put on masks, to engage in ploys or to attempt to conceal ourselves from one another.  Everything was clear and pure.
                When Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and broke off this relationship of trusting communion with God, sin entered into human history (cf. Gen 3).  The effects were immediately evident, within themselves, in their relationship with each other and with nature.  And how dramatic the effects are!  Our original purity as defiled.  From that time on, we were no longer capable of closeness to God.  Men and women began to conceal themselves, to cover their nakedness.  Lacking the light which comes from seeing the Lord, they saw everything around them in a distorted fashion, myopically.  The inner compass which had guided them in their quest for happiness lost its point of reference, and the attractions of power, wealth, possessions, and a desire for pleasure at all costs, led them to the abyss of sorrow and anguish.
                In the Psalms we hear the heartfelt plea which mankind makes to God: “What can bring us happiness?  Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord” (Ps 4:7).  The Father, in his infinite goodness, responded to this plea by sending his Son.  In Jesus, God has taken on a human face.  Through his Incarnation, life, death and resurrection, Jesus frees us from sin and opens new and hitherto unimaginable horizons.
                Dear young men and women, in Christ you find fulfilled your every desire for goodness and happiness.  He alone can satisfy your deepest longings, which are so often clouded by deceptive worldly promises.  As Saint John Paul II said: “He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.  It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives” (cf. Discourse at the Prayer Vigil at Tor Vergata, 19 August 2000: Insegnamenti XXIII/2, [2000], 212).
2.            Blessed are the pure in heart…
Let us now try to understand more fully how this blessedness comes about through purity of heart.  First of all, we need to appreciate the biblical meaning of the word heart.  In Hebrew thought, the heart is the centre of the emotions, thoughts and intentions of the human person.  Since the Bible teaches us that God does not look to appearances, but to the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), we can also say that it is from the heart that we see God.  This is because the heart is really the human being in his or her totality as a unity of body and soul, in his or her ability to love and to be loved.
As for the definition of the word pure, however, the Greek word used by the evangelist Matthew is katharos, which basically means clean, pure, undefiled.  In the Gospel we see Jesus reject a certain conception of ritual purity bound to exterior practices, one which forbade all contact with things and people (including lepers and strangers) considered impure.  To the Pharisees who, like so many Jews of their time, ate nothing without first performing ritual ablutions and observing the many traditions associated with cleansing vessels, Jesus responds categorically: “There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mk 7:15, 21-22).
In what, then, does the happiness born of a pure heart consist?  From Jesus’ list of the evils which make someone impure, we see that the question has to do above all with the area of our relationships.  Each one of us must learn to discern what can “defile” his or her heart and to form his or her conscience rightly and sensibly, so as to be capable of “discerning the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).  We need to show a healthy concern for creation, for the purity of our air, water and food, but how much more do we need to protect the purity of what is most precious of all: our heart and our relationships.  This “human ecology” will help us to breathe the pure air that comes from beauty, from true love, and from holiness.
Once I asked you the question: “Where is your treasure?  In what does your heart find its rest?” (cf. Interview with Young People from Belgium, 31 March 2014).  Our hearts can be attached to true or false treasures, they can find genuine rest or they can simply slumber, becoming lazy and lethargic.  The greatest good we can have in life is our relationship with God.  Are you convinced of this?  Do you realize how much you are worth in the eyes of God?  Do you know that you are loved and welcomed by him unconditionally, as indeed you are?  Once we lose our sense of this, we human beings become an incomprehensible enigma, for it is the knowledge that we are loved unconditionally by God which gives meaning to our lives.  Do you remember the conversation that Jesus had with the rich young man (cf. Mk 10:17-22)?  The evangelist Mark observes that the Lord looked upon him and loved him (v. 21), and invited him to follow him and thus to find true riches.  I hope, dear young friends, that this loving gaze of Christ will accompany each of you throughout life.
Youth is a time of life when your desire for a love which is genuine, beautiful and expansive begins to blossom in your hearts.  How powerful is this ability to love and to be loved!  Do not let this precious treasure be debased, destroyed or spoiled.  That is what happens when we start to use our neighbours for our own selfish ends, even as objects of pleasure.  Hearts are broken and sadness follows upon these negative experiences.  I urge you: Do not be afraid of true love, the love that Jesus teaches us and which Saint Paul describes as “patient and kind”.  Paul says: “Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-8).
In encouraging you to rediscover the beauty of the human vocation to love, I also urge you to rebel against the widespread tendency to reduce love to something banal, reducing it to its sexual aspect alone, deprived of its essential characteristics of beauty, communion, fidelity and responsibility.  Dear young friends, “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment.  They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘for ever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love.  I have confidence in you and I pray for you.  Have the courage to ‘swim against the tide’.  And also have the courage to be happy” (Meeting with the Volunteers of the XXVIII Word Youth Day, 28 July 2013).
                You young people are brave adventurers!  If you allow yourselves to discover the rich teachings of the Church on love, you will discover that Christianity does not consist of a series of prohibitions which stifle our desire for happiness, but rather a project for life capable of captivating our hearts.
3.            …for they shall see God
In the heart of each man and woman, the Lord’s invitation constantly resounds: “Seek my face!” (Ps 27:8).  At the same time, we must always realize that we are poor sinners.  For example, we read in the Book of Psalms: “Who can climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who shall stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps 24:3-4).  But we must never be afraid or discouraged: throughout the Bible and in the history of each one of us we see that it is always God who takes the first step.  He purifies us so that we can come into his presence.
When the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord’s call to speak in his name, he was terrified and said: “Woe is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Is 6:5).  And yet the Lord purified him, sending to him an angel who touched his lips, saying: “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin is forgiven” (v. 7).  In the New Testament, when on the shores of lake Genessaret Jesus called his first disciples and performed the sign of the miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter fell at his feet, exclaiming: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8).  Jesus’ reply was immediate: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be fishers of men” (v. 10).  And when one of the disciples of Jesus asked him: “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied”, the Master replied: “He who has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:8-9).
The Lord’s invitation to encounter him is made to each of you, in whatever place or situation you find yourself.  It suffices to have the desire for “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter you; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 3). We are all sinners, needing to be purified by the Lord.  But it is enough to take a small step towards Jesus to realize that he awaits us always with open arms, particularly in the sacrament of Reconciliation, a privileged opportunity to encounter that divine mercy which purifies us and renews our hearts.
Dear young people, the Lord wants to meet us, to let himself “be seen” by us.  “And how?”, you might ask me.  Saint Teresa of Avila, born in Spain five hundred years ago, even as a young girl, said to her parents, “I want to see God”.  She subsequently discovered the way of prayer as “an intimate friendship with the One who makes us feel loved” (Autobiography, 8,5).  So my question to you is this: “Are you praying?”  Do you know that you can speak with Jesus, with the Father, with the Holy Spirit, as you speak to a friend?  And not just any friend, but the greatest and most trusted of your friends!  You will discover what one of his parishioners told the CurĂ© of Ars: “When I pray before the tabernacle, ‘I look at him, and he looks at me’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2715).
Once again I invite you to encounter the Lord by frequently reading sacred Scripture.  If you are not already in the habit of doing so, begin with the Gospels.  Read a line or two each day.  Let God’s word speak to your heart and enlighten your path (cf. Ps 119:105).  You will discover that God can be “seen” also in the face of your brothers and sisters, especially those who are most forgotten: the poor, the hungry, those who thirst, strangers, the sick, those imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:31-46).  Have you ever had this experience?  Dear young people, in order to enter into the logic of the Kingdom of Heaven, we must recognize that we are poor with the poor.  A pure heart is necessarily one which has been stripped bare, a heart that knows how to bend down and share its life with those most in need.
Encountering God in prayer, the reading of the Bible and in the fraternal life will help you better to know the Lord and yourselves.  Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35), the Lord’s voice will make your hearts burn within you.  He will open your eyes to recognize his presence and to discover the loving plan he has for your life.
                Some of you feel, or will soon feel, the Lord’s call to married life, to forming a family.  Many people today think that this vocation is “outdated”, but that is not true!  For this very reason, the ecclesial community has been engaged in a special period of reflection on the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world.  I also ask you to consider whether you are being called to the consecrated life or the priesthood.  How beautiful it is to see young people who embrace the call to dedicate themselves fully to Christ and to the service of his Church!  Challenge yourselves, and with a pure heart do not be afraid of what God is asking of you!  From your “yes” to the Lord’s call, you will become new seeds of hope in the Church and in society.  Never forget: God’s will is our happiness!
4.            On the way to Krakow
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).  Dear young men and women, as you see, this beatitude speaks directly to your lives and is a guarantee of your happiness.  So once more I urge you: Have the courage to be happy!
This year’s World Youth Day begins the final stage of preparations for the great gathering of young people from around the world in Krakow in 2016.  Thirty years ago Saint John Paul II instituted World Youth Days in the Church.  This pilgrimage of young people from every continent under the guidance of the Successor of Peter has truly been a providential and prophetic initiative.  Together let us thank the Lord for the precious fruits which these World Youth Days have produced in the lives of countless young people in every part of the globe!  How many amazing discoveries have been made, especially the discovery that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life!  How many people have realized that the Church is a big and welcoming family!  How many conversions, how many vocations have these gatherings produced!  May the saintly Pope, the Patron of World Youth Day, intercede on behalf of our pilgrimage toward his beloved Krakow.  And may the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, all-beautiful and all-pure, accompany us at every step along the way.
From the Vatican, 31 January 2015
Memorial of Saint John Bosco