Friday, December 11, 2015

#Christmas #Story by Children told from #Heaven - an Unexpected Christmas - SHARE - Viral Video

These children tell the Christmas story from a Heavenly Perspective - this cute video has gone viral - be sure to share....

#Amazing Lights show for #Christmas on #Cathedral in #Sydney Australia - SHARE

St Mary's Cathedral Lights Up for Christmas

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, 
11 Dec 2015
The spectacular Lights of Christmas presented by PAYCE was launched on Thursday night by the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP on the steps of St Mary's Cathedral.
Families and visitors to Sydney gathered in the Cathedral forecourt for the live entertainment which included Paulini before Archbishop Fisher called for the light show and animation for 2016 to be "switched on". The sandstone facade of the Cathedral became the backdrop to an amazing animated light show highlighting this year's theme of Light.
Naomi Price, who had recorded a special cover version of the traditional carol The Holly and the Ivy, performed the carol live with the George Ellis Orchestra.
The Lights of Christmas presented by PAYCE has become a tradition for thousands across Sydney, bringing a festive, communal and friendly feel to the heart of the city.
The projection will run every night from 8.30pm up to and including Christmas Day.
From 7.30pm every night there will also be entertainment including a range of choirs.  Australian musical virtuoso George Ellis has composed and recorded the traditional Christmas carol The Holly and the Ivy with the stirring vocals of Naomi Price and the backing of the George Ellis Orchestra.
The lyrics of the carol are reflected in the light projections, layered with meaning and lending itself to the imagination of children.
Since its creation by AGB in 2010, the light display has illuminated the massive 75-metre façade of St Mary's with a free display of sound and light, storytelling the themes of Christmas using Vivid-style 3D projections. A different theme has featured each year, this year being the universal theme of light. The projections will also feature a series of beautiful images of Mary and the Baby Jesus.
The word "Mercy" also features in the light display, marking the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis which began on 8 December 2015 and features a Holy Door of Mercy at St Mary's Cathedral.
The Lights of Christmas has become a gathering point for Sydneysiders and visitors to share in the spirit of the season and also to experience the true meaning of Christmas. The Cathedral is open each night to invite those who have come to see the laser light show to experience the beauty and serenity of this iconic shrine from the inside as well. Groups from across the Church in Sydney will be present inside the Cathedral to welcome visitors, play music and create an atmosphere of prayer. Those who enter are invited to "Light a Candle for Christmas".
But the opening night of the Lights is always very special and a great surprise with everyone wondering what amazing animation will be presented on the Cathedral facade for another Christmas.
Brian Boyd and Dominic Sullivan of PAYCE hosted a group of community and political leaders, friends and clients in the PAYCE marquee in the forecourt with the company also raising tens of thousands of dollars for charitable organisations, specifically the Matthew Talbot Hostel and the Brown Nurses.
Apart from PAYCE, the presenting partner, the Australian Catholic University is a foundation sponsor and Education sponsor, along with the Archdiocese of Sydney and Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria.
All are welcome to come and enjoy the Lights of Christmas presented by PAYCE every night up to and including Christmas Day. Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Fri. December 11, 2015

Friday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 185

Reading 1IS 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

Responsorial PsalmPS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord will come; go out to meet him!
He is the prince of peace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Saint December 11 : St. Damasus I : #Pope : Patron of #Acheologists

St. Damasus I
Feast: December 11

Feast Day:December 11
Born:304 in Rome, Italy
Died:11 December, 384 in Rome, Italy
Patron of:archeologists

Born about 304; died 11 December, 384. His father, Antonius, was probably a Spaniards; the name of his mother, Laurentia, was not known until quite recently. Damasus seems to have been born at Rome; it is certain that he grew up there in the service of the church of the martyr St. Laurence. He was elected pope in October, 366, by a large majority, but a number of over-zealous adherents of the deceased Liberius rejected him, chose the deacon Ursinus (or Ursicinus), had the latter irregularly consecrated, and resorted to much violence and bloodshed in order to seat him in the Chair of Peter. Many details of this scandalous conflict are related in the highly prejudiced "Libellus Precum" (P.L., XIII, 83-107), a petition to the civil authority on the part of Faustinus and Marcellinus, two anti-Damasan presbyters (cf. also Ammianus Marcellinus, Rer. Gest., XXVII, c. iii). Valentinian recognized Damasus and banished (367) Ursinus to Cologne, whence he was later allowed to return to Milan, but was forbidden to come to Rome or its vicinity. The party of the antipope (later at Milan an adherent of the Arians and to the end a contentious pretender) did not cease to persecute Damasus. An accusation of adultery was laid against him (378) in the imperial court, but he was exonerated by Emperor Gratian himself (Mansi, Coll. Conc., III, 628) and soon after by a Roman synod of forty-four bishops (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, s.v.; Mansi, op. cit., III, 419) which also excommunicated his accusers.
Damasus defended with vigour the Catholic Faith in a time of dire and varied perils. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism; he also sent his legates to the Council of Constantinople (381), convoked against the aforesaid heresies. In the Roman synod of 369 (or 370) Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, was excommunicated; he held the see, however, until his death, in 374, made way for St. Ambrose. The heretic Priscillian, condemned by the Council of Saragossa (380) appealed to Damasus, but in vain. It was Damasus who induced Saint Jerome to undertake his famous revision of the earlier Latin versions of the Bible (see VULGATE). St. Jerome was also his confidential secretary for some time (Ep. cxxiii, n. 10). An important canon of the New Testament was proclaimed by him in the Roman synod of 374. The Eastern Church, in the person of St. Basil of Cæsarea, besought earnestly the aid and encouragement of Damasus against triumphant Arianism; the pope, however, cherished some degree of suspicion against the great Cappadocian Doctor. In the matter of the Meletian Schism at Antioch, Damasus, with Athanasius and Peter of Alexandria, sympathized with the party of Paulinus as more sincerely representative of Nicene orthodoxy; on the death of Meletius he sought to secure the succession for Paulinus and to exclude Flavian (Socrates, Church History V.15). He sustained the appeal of the Christian senators to Emperor Gratian for the removal of the altar of Victory from the Senate House (Ambrose, Ep. xvii, n. 10), and lived to welcome the famous edict of Theodosius I, "De fide Catholica" (27 Feb., 380), which proclaimed as the religion of the Roman State that doctrine which St. Peter had preached to the Romans and of which Damasus was supreme head (Cod. Theod., XVI, 1, 2).
When, in 379, Illyricum was detached from the Western Empire, Damasus hastened to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of a vicar Apostolic in the person of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see. The primacy of the Apostolic See, variously favoured in the time of Damasus by imperial acts and edicts, was strenuously maintained by this pope; among his notable utterances on this subject is the assertion (Mansi, Coll. Conc., VIII, 158) that the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Roman Church was based, not on the decrees of councils, but on the very words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). The increased prestige of the early papal decretals, habitually attributed to the reign of Siricius (384-99), not improbably belongs to the reign of Damasus ("Canones Romanorum ad Gallos"; Babut, "La plus ancienne décrétale", Paris, 1904). This development of the papal office, especially in the West, brought with it a great increase of external grandeur. This secular splendour, however, affected disadvantageously many members of the Roman clergy, whose worldly aims and life, bitterly reproved by St. Jerome, provoked (29 July, 370) and edict of Emperor Valentinian addressed to the pope, forbidding ecclesiastics and monks (later also bishops and nuns) to pursue widows and orphans in the hope of obtaining from them gifts and legacies. The pope caused the law to be observed strictly.
Damasus restored his own church (now San Lorenzo in Damaso) and provided for the proper housing of the archives of the Roman Church (see VATICAN ARCHIVES). He built in the basilica of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way the (yet visible) marble monument known as the "Platonia" (Platona, marble pavement) in honour of the temporary transfer to that place (258) of the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, and decorated it with an important historical inscription (see Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotterranea). He also built on the Via Ardeatina, between the cemeteries of Callistus and Domitilla, a basilicula, or small church, the ruins of which were discovered in 1902 and 1903, and in which, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", the pope was buried with his mother and sister. On this occasion the discoverer, Monsignor Wilpert, found also the epitaph of the pope's mother, from which it was learned not only that her name was Laurentia, but also that she had lived the sixty years of her widowhood in the special service of God, and died in her eighty-ninth year, having seen the fourth generation of her descendants. Damasus built at the Vatican a baptistery in honour of St. Peter and set up therein one of his artistic inscriptions (Carmen xxxvi), still preserved in the Vatican crypts. This subterranean region he drained in order that the bodies buried there (juxta sepulcrum beati Petri) might not be affected by stagnant or overflowing water. His extraordinary devotion to the Roman martyrs is now well known, owing particularly to the labours of Giovanni Battista De Rossi. For a good account of his architectural restoration of the catacombs and the unique artistic characters (Damasan Letters) in which his friend Furius Dionysius Filocalus executed the epitaphs composed by Damasus, see Northcote and Brownlow, "Roma Sotterranea" (2nd ed., London, 1878-79). The dogmatic content of the Damasan epitaphs (tituli) is important (Northcote, Epitaphs of the Catacombs, London, 1878). He composed also a number of brief epigrammata on various martyrs and saints and some hymns, or Carmina, likewise brief. St. Jerome says (Ep. xxii, 22) that Damasus wrote on virginity, both in prose and in verse, but no such work has been preserved. For the few letters of Damasus (some of them spurious) that have survived, see P.L., XIII, 347-76, and Jaffé, "Reg. Rom. Pontif." (Leipzig, 1885), nn. 232-254.
Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia - Image source Google Images

Latest #News of #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee - SHARE

10-12-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 221 

- Twelfth meeting of the Pope with the Council of Cardinals
- The Pope expresses his condolences for the death of Cardinals Furno and Terrazas Sandoval
- Postponement of pastoral visits in Italy during the Jubilee year
- Presentation of the document “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”
- Summary of “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”
- Shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world
- Francis opens the Holy Door: mercy must precede judgement
- Angelus: the Solemnity of the Immaculate reminds us that mercy is all
- Homage to Mary Immaculate: I come on behalf of families, the elderly, the incarcerated, and those from faraway lands
- Adoption by Moneyval of Second Progress Report of the Holy See and Vatican City State
- Other Pontifical Acts
Twelfth meeting of the Pope with the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 10 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning the twelfth meeting of the Holy Father with the Council of Cardinals (“C9”) began in Vatican City. The meeting will continue untilSaturday 12 December.
The Pope expresses his condolences for the death of Cardinals Furno and Terrazas Sandoval
Vatican City, 10 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent telegrams of condolences to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Archbishop Sergio Alfredo Gualberti Calandrina of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, following the death on 9 December of cardinals Carlo Furno, Grand Master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, aged 91, and Julio Terrazas Sandoval, archbishop emeritus of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, aged 79.
In his telegram to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope expresses his deepest condolences to the College of Cardinals and recalls Cardinal Furno's long and valuable collaboration in the Holy See, especially as apostolic nuncio, archpriest of the papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, and Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Francis asks that the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Salus Populi Romani, welcome the cardinal in His eternal peace.
In his telegram to Archbishop Sergio Alfredo Gualberti Calandrina, the Holy Father unites his prayers with those of the pastors, clergy and faithful of Santa Cruz de la Sierra that the Lord grant His light and peace to the cardinal who, “with the light of faith and the strength of hope, stayed faithful to the ministry he received, and with generosity and courage devoted his life to the service of the Gospel, justice and peace”. In this moment of inevitable human suffering, when the mystery of the Lord's coming brings hope, he invokes the maternal intercession of Our Lady.
Postponement of pastoral visits in Italy during the Jubilee year
Vatican City, 10 December 2015 (VIS) – As confirmed by the cardinal archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, this morning during a press conference, the Secretary of State has communicated that it is the Holy Father's intention to postpone pastoral visits in Italy due to the intensification of activities due to the Jubilee. As a consequence, the visit to Milan already officially planned and announced for 7 May 2016 will be postponed until 2017. Cardinal Scola observed that it will provided the opportunity for the Holy Father to conclude the pastoral visit in process in the archdiocese of Milan.
Presentation of the document “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”
Vatican City, 10 December 2015 (VIS) - “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable: a Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic–Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of 'Nostra Aetate' (No. 4)” is the title of the document published by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office. The panel was composed of Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the dicastery; Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, the theologian Professor Edward Kessler of Cambridge, and Fr. Norbert Hoffmann, S.D.B.
Cardinal Koch recalled that on 28 October this year, in accordance with Pope Francis' wishes, a special general audience was organised to commemorate the promulgation of the Conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate” exactly fifty years earlier. The audience was attended by numerous representatives of other religions, whose presence demonstrated that the declaration represented a cornerstone in the change in Church's attitude towards other religions. The Commission chaired by the cardinal decided this year to present a new document returning to the theological principles of the fourth part of “Nostra Aetate”, extending and exploring them in further depth where they regard the relations between the Catholic Church and Jews.
He said, “It is an explicitly theological document that intends to retrace and clarify the issues that have emerged during the recent decades of the Jewish-Catholic dialogue. Prior to this text, no other document of a strictly theological nature has been published by our Commission: the three preceding documents, 'Guidelines and suggestions for implementing the Conciliar Declaration “Nostra Aetate” (No. 4)' (1974), 'Notes on the correct way to present Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Catholic Church' (1985) and 'We remember: a reflection on the Shoah' (1998), referred mainly to concrete themes, useful for dialogue with Judaism from a practical point of view”.
The new document – summarised below, along with a link to the full text – seeks to emphasise that dialogue with Judaism after fifty years now stands on solid ground, as during this period significant results have been achieved. “We are very grateful for the efforts that have been made by both Jews and Catholics for the promotion of our dialogue”, concluded Cardinal Koch. “But it is very important to remember that, as emphasised in the document and especially from a theological point of view, we are only at a new beginning: many questions remain open and require further study”.
Rabbi Rosen highlighted that the new document shows “not only the advancement of the recommendations of the 1974 Guidelines on 'Nostra Aetate', to appreciate and respect Jewish self-understanding, but also a deepening recognition of the place of the Torah in the life of the Jewish people and, in accordance with the Pontifical Biblical Commission's work, an acknowledgement of the integrity of Jewish reading of the Bible that is different from the Christian one. Indeed, the very fact that the document also quotes extensively from Jewish rabbinical sources is further testimony of this respect”.
The rabbi also mentioned that, as Cardinal Koch and Fr. Hoffman had already mentioned, “this is a Catholic document reflecting Catholic theology. Inevitably, then, there are passages in it that do not resonate with a Jewish theology”. He notes the importance of appreciating “the centrality that the Land of Israel plays in the historic and contemporary religious life of the Jewish people”.
“Indeed even in terms of the historical survey of the milestones along this remarkable journey since 'Nostra Aetate', the establishment of full bilateral relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See (very much guided and promoted by St. John Paul II) was one of the historic highlights. Moreover, the preamble and the first article of the Fundamental Agreement between the two parties precisely acknowledges this significance. Without 'Nostra Aetate', the establishment of these relations would surely not have been feasible. The Fundamental Agreement not only paved the way for the historic papal pilgrimages to the Holy Land and thus to the establishment of the bilateral commission with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, but arguably reflected more than anything else the fact that the Catholic Church had truly repudiated its portrayal of the Jewish people as condemned wanderers to be homeless until the final advent”.
“The reference to peace in the Holy land as pertinent to the Catholic-Jewish relationship is also important. The peoples there live in mutual alienation and disappointment, and I believe that the Catholic Church can play an important role in rebuilding trust, such as the initiative of prayer for peace taken by Pope Francis. Let me express the hope that there soon will be further initiatives to enable religion to be a source of healing rather than conflict; and to ensure that these are coordinated with those who have the political authority to pave the way to enable the land and the city of peace to fulfil its name”.
Summary of “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”
Vatican City, 10 December 2015 (VIS) – The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has published today the document “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable: a Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of 'Nostra Aetate' (No. 4)”. The text consists of a Preface and seven chapters, entitled: “A brief history of the impact of 'Nostra Aetate' (No.4) over the last 50 years”, “The special theological status of Jewish-Catholic dialogue”, “Revelation in history as 'Word of God' in Judaism and Christianity”, “The relationship between the Old and New Testament and the Old and New Covenant”, “The universality of salvation in Jesus Christ and God’s unrevoked covenant with Israel”, “The Church’s mandate to evangelise in relation to Judaism”, and “The goals of dialogue with Judaism”.
“Fifty years ago”, says the Preface, “the declaration 'Nostra Aetate' of the Second Vatican Council was promulgated. Its fourth article presents the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people in a new theological framework. The following reflections aim at looking back with gratitude on all that has been achieved over the last decades in the Jewish–Catholic relationship, providing at the same time a new stimulus for the future. Stressing once again the unique status of this relationship within the wider ambit of interreligious dialogue, theological questions are further discussed, such as the relevance of revelation, the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant, the relationship between the universality of salvation in Jesus Christ and the affirmation that the covenant of God with Israel has never been revoked, and the Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism. This document presents Catholic reflections on these questions, placing them in a theological context, in order that their significance may be deepened for members of both faith traditions. The text is not a magisterial document or doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church, but is a reflection prepared by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews on current theological questions that have developed since the Second Vatican Council. It is intended to be a starting point for further theological thought with a view to enriching and intensifying the theological dimension of Jewish–Catholic dialogue”.
The first chapter explains that great steps have been taken in the dialogue over the last fifty years, and from a detached co–existence we have arrived at a deep friendship. The Conciliar declaration “Nostra aetate” (No.4) definitively clarified, for the first time, the theological position of the Catholic Church with respect to Judaism; the document has had a profound impact on many levels.
With regard to the special theological status of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, the second chapter affirms that due to the Jewish roots of Christianity, the dialogue with Judaism cannot in any way be compared with the dialogue with the other world religions. Jesus can only be understood in the Jewish context of his time, even though as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God he transcends that historical horizon.
God reveals himself in his Word, he communicates with humanity. For Jews, this Word is present in the Torah; for Christians, the Word of God is incarnated in Jesus Christ. However, the Word of God is indivisible and calls people to respond in such a way that enables them to live in the right relationship with God, as explained in the third chapter.
The relationship between the Old and New Testament and the Old and New Covenant is the subject of the fourth chapter. There is an indissoluble unity between them, even though the two Testaments are interpreted differently by Jews and Christians on the basis of their respective religious traditions. For Christians, the Old Testament is to be comprehended and interpreted in the light of the New Testament. The Old and the New Testament are part of the one and only history of the covenant between God and his people, even though the New Testament is to be considered as the fulfilment of the promises of the Old.
The fifth chapter emphasises that through Jesus Christ – and through his death and resurrection – all people have a part in salvation, all are saved. Although Jews cannot believe in Jesus Christ as the universal redeemer, they have a part in salvation, because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. How that can be possible remains an unfathomable mystery in the salvific plan of God.
The sixth chapter considers the Church’s mandate to evangelise in relation to Judaism. While in the dialogue with Judaism Catholics bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ, they refrain from active attempts at conversion or mission towards Jews. The Catholic Church does not envisage any institutional mission towards the Jews.
In the seventh and final chapter, it is concluded that engaging in fraternal dialogue, Jews and Catholics must learn to understand one another better, to seek reconciliation increasingly, and to commit themselves together to promote justice, peace and the care of creation, and to make every effort to oppose anti–Semitism. They must intensify their cooperation in the humanitarian sphere in assisting the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalised, in order to become, together, a blessing for the world.
The full text of the document can be consulted at:
09-12-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 220 

Shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world
Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated today's general audience, the first of the Holy Year, to explaining why he convoked a Jubilee of Mercy. “The Church needs this extraordinary moment”, he explained. “In our time of profound change, the Church is called upon to offer her special contribution, making visible the signs of God's presence and closeness. And the Jubilee is a propitious time for all, as contemplating Divine Mercy, that exceeds all human limits and shines onto the darkness of sin, we can be surer and more effective witnesses”.
“Celebrating a Jubilee of Mercy means restoring the specifics of Christian faith to the centre of our personal life and of our communities. … This Holy Year is offered to us so that we are able to experience in our life the sweet and gentle touch of God's forgiveness, His presence next to us and His closeness, especially in our moments of greatest need. … This Jubilee is therefore a special moment for the Church to learn to choose solely 'what God likes the most'. … Forgiving His children, having mercy on them, so that they can in turn forgive their brethren, to shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world. … The Jubilee will be a propitious moment for the Church if we learn to choose what God likes the most, without giving in to the temptation to think that there is something else more important or that takes priority. Nothing is more important than choosing what God likes most, His mercy”.
“The necessary work of renewing institutions and structures of the Church is also a way that can lead us to a more lively and life-giving experience of God's mercy that alone can ensure that the Church is that city on the mount that cannot remain hidden. If we should forget, even for just a moment, that mercy is what God likes the most, all our efforts would be in vain, as we would become slaves to our institutions and our structures, no matter how reformed they may be”.
The Pope emphasised that the Church's aim during this Holy Year is to “strongly feel the joy of being found by Jesus, Who like the Good Shepherd has come in search of us as we were lost. … In this way we strengthen in ourselves our certainty that mercy can truly contribute to building a more human world. Especially in these times of ours, in which forgiveness is a rare guest in the circles of human life, the call for mercy becomes more urgent, and this is true in all places: in society, in institutions, at work and in the family”.
Before concluding, he commented that while there appear to be many other needs more urgent than that of mercy, at the root of the negation of mercy there is always self-love, “which results in the pursuit of self-interest and the accumulation of honours, riches or worldliness. There are so many manifestations of self-love, “that make mercy foreign to the world” that often we are not even able to recognise them as limitations and sins. He concluded, “we must recognise that we are sinners, so as to strengthen our certainty of divine mercy”.
Francis opens the Holy Door: mercy must precede judgement
Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9.30, in the presence of 60 thousand faithful in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The celebration preceded the opening of the Holy Door, the gesture with which the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. In his homily the Pope spoke about the fullness of grace as revealed in Mary, which is capable of transforming the heart. He described the Holy Year as a gift of grace that leads us to discover the depth of the Father's mercy and, finally, he recalled the other door opened to the world by the Vatican Council II fifty years ago, allowing the Church to encounter the men and women of our time.
The following is the full text of the homily:
“In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act – as I did in Bangui – so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: 'Hail, full of grace'.
The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, a cause for faith, a cause for abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan. Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Sin can only be understood in this light. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.
This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgement before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgement, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.
Today, here in Rome and in all the dioceses of the world, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel, and the mercy and forgiveness of God. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan”.
Following the Holy Mass, the Pope, followed by the cardinals, bishops and priests who participated in the rite, proceeded to the vestibule of the Basilica to open the Holy Door. First, he greeted and embraced Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and then walked alone to the Door where he recited the words of Psalm 118: “Open to me the gates of justice”.
Francis pushed against the Door with his hands until it opens and then prayed a moment before entering the Basilica. The Pope emeritus then entered, followed by the cardinals, bishops, religious and laypeople, including some of Italy's most prominent political figures.
The Jubilee of Mercy is the first extraordinary Jubilee of the 21st century. In the 20th century Pius XI proclaimed a Holy Year in 1933 to commemorate the nineteenth centenary of the death of Christ, and Paul VI inaugurated another in 1966 that lasted five months, dedicated to the closure shortly beforehand of Vatican Council II. St. John Paul II convoked a Jubilee with the Bull “Aperite Portas Redemptori” the Holy Year of Redemption in 1983, for the 1950th anniversary of the Redemption.
Angelus: the Solemnity of the Immaculate reminds us that mercy is all
Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – After the opening of the Holy Door, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that Holy Father recalled that Mary is our sister in suffering, but not in evil or in sin, which were defeated in her befor they even touched her, since God had filled her with grace.
“The Immaculate Conception means that Mary was the first to have been saved by the Father's infinite mercy, as a preview of the salvation that God intended for every man and woman in Christ. Therefore Mary Immaculate has become the sublime icon of divine mercy that defeats sin, and in her we are invited to recognise the dawn of a new world, transformed by the salvific work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The dawn of a new creation put into effect by divine mercy”.
“Celebrating this feast day means two things”, he continued. “Firstly, it means fully welcoming God and His merciful grace in our life; secondly, it means in turn becoming makers of mercy through the path of the Gospel. The feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes a feast for all of us if, by our daily 'yes', we manage to vanquish our selfishness and make the lives of our brothers and sisters happier, bringing them hope, drying their tears and giving them joy. In imitation of Mary, we are called upon to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first to those who are privileged in Jesus' eyes”.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception also bears a specific message for us: it reminds us that our life is a gift, that all is mercy. “May the Holy Virgin, first among the saved, model of the Church, holy and immaculate bride, beloved of the Lord, help us increasingly rediscover divine mercy as the distinctive sign of the Christian!” exclaimed Francis. “It is impossible to conceive of a true Christian who is not merciful, just as it is impossible to understand God without His mercy. It is the key word of the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of Christ's face: that face we recognise in the various aspects of its existence: when He goes towards the people, when He heals the sick, when He sits at the table with sinners, and above all, when nailed on the Cross, He forgives. There we see the face of divine mercy. Let us not be afraid: let us be embraced by the mercy of God, Who awaits and forgives all. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy”.
Homage to Mary Immaculate: I come on behalf of families, the elderly, the incarcerated, and those from faraway lands
Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father went to Piazza di Spagna where he performed the traditional act of veneration below the statue of Mary Immaculate crowning the Roman marble column commemorating the proclamation of the dogma by Pope Pius IX on 8 December 1854.
Continuing a tradition established by St. John XXIII in 1958, Francis left a floral tribute at the foot of the column and, accompanied by thousands of faithful led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, recited a prayer to the Virgin that he had composed himself, the full text of which is published below:
“Virgin Mother, on this day, the feast of your Immaculate Conception, I pay homage to you in faith and love on behalf of God’s holy people who live in this city and diocese. I come before you in the name of families, with their joys and troubles; on behalf of children and young people, exposed to life’s challenges; on behalf of the elderly, laden with age and years of experience. I come especially on behalf of the sick, the imprisoned, and those who struggle. As a leader I also come here for the sake of all those who have come from faraway lands in search of peace and work”.
There is space for everyone beneath your mantel, because you are the Mother of Mercy. Your heart is full of tenderness towards all your children: the tenderness of God, who, by you, became incarnate and became our brother, Jesus, Saviour of every man and every woman. Looking at you, Our Immaculate Mother, ee see the victory of divine mercy over sin and all its consequences; and hope for a better life is reignited within us, free from slavery, rancour and fear.
Here, today, in the heart of Rome, we hear your motherly voice calling all of us to walk towards that door, which represents Christ. You say to everyone: “Come, come closer, faithful ones; enter and receive the gift of mercy; do not be afraid, do not be ashamed: the Father awaits you with open arms. He will forgive and welcome you into his house. Come, all those in search of peace and joy”.
“We thank you, Immaculate Mother, because you do not make us walk along this path alone; you guide us, you are near us and help us through every difficulty. May God bless you, now and forever. Amen”.
After his homage to the statue of Mary Immaculate, the Pope greeted those present and, as his final act on the first day of the Holy Year of Mercy, he transferred to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of Mary “Salus Populi Romani”, where he was awaited by a large crowd. As he left for the Vatican, the bells of the Basilica, whose Holy Door he will open on 1 January 2016, rang in celebration.
Adoption by Moneyval of Second Progress Report of the Holy See and Vatican City State
Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique:
“Yesterday in Strasbourg, the Plenary Meeting of Moneyval (the 'Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism' of the Council of Europe) approved the Second Progress Report of the Holy See/Vatican City State. The approval of this latest Report, which follows on the Mutual Evaluation Report of 4 July 2012 and on the Progress Report of 9 December 2013, is part of the ordinary reporting process foreseen in the Rules of Procedure of Moneyval for all member States.
The Moneyval Committee has welcomed the outcome of the continued efforts by the Holy See and the Vatican City State to further strengthen their institutional, legal and operational framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
'The latest Progress Report confirms that the Holy See has established a functional, sustainable and effective system, aiming at preventing and fighting financial crimes', said Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States, and Head of Delegation of the Holy See and Vatican City State to the Moneyval Plenary”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Aachen, Germany, presented by Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff upon reaching the age limit.
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Garissa, Kenya by Bishop Paul Darmanin, O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Joseph Alessandro, O.F.M. Cap., coadjutor of the same diocese.