Monday, April 25, 2016

#PopeFrancis "You perform a miracle with your work of changing the desert..." #EarthDay Surprise Visit

(Vatican Radio)  “We must not be afraid to go into the desert and to transform it into a forest:” that’s what Pope Francis told hundreds of people on a surprise visit to an Earth Day Italy and Focolari Movement event in a Rome park Sunday.
Listen to our report:
In the more than hour-long visit, the Pope listened to testimonials from members of the many volunteer social and environmental organizations participating in "Village for Earth" and “Mariapolis,” a four day event in Rome’s Villa Borghese park. 
The idea behind these gatherings, which take place in many countries throughout the world, is the invitation "to do to others what we would like to be done to us." Many of the 3,500 people participating in the Rome event are involved in networks of social solidarity, interreligious dialogue, and organizations which care for the environment.
Turn deserts of our cities, the lives of others, into forests
Pope Francis arrived just before 5:00 pm, but set aside his prepared remarks, preferring to speak off the cuff.  He told  those present “you transform deserts into forests!”  “There are many deserts in the cities,” the Pope continued, “deserts in people’s lives who don’t have a future, because there’s always – I’ll underline a word here – always there are prejudices, fears.  These people live and die in the desert of the cities.  You perform a miracle with your work of changing the desert into a forest: go forward that way.”
“The desert is ugly, both the desert in the heart of all of us, as well as the desert in the city, in the peripheries, which is also an ugly thing.  There’s also a desert that’s in the gated neighborhoods…it’s ugly, but the desert is there too.  We must not be afraid to go to the desert to transform it into a forest, where there’s exuberant life, and to go dry the many tears so that everyone can smile.”
Pope Francis urged them to not be discouraged by failures and challenges: “You must not be afraid of life or afraid of conflicts.”
Conflict is a risk but also an opportunity
Conflict, he said, “is a risk, but it’s also an opportunity.” Citing the parable of the Levite and the priest who walked past the man who had stumbled along the path, the Pope said, they took the “path of not seeing and not getting involved.”
“We can react to conflict as something from which we distance ourselves,” he observed.  But, “whoever doesn’t take risks, can never get close to reality.  To know reality, to know it in one’s heart, it’s necessary to get close.”  Taking  the example of prison ministry, the Pope added that getting close is “a risk, but it’s also an opportunity: for me, and for the person whom I approach.  For me, and for the community I approach.”
“Never, never, never, turn away in order not to see conflict,” stressed the Pope.  “Conflict has to be faced, evils have to be faced, in order to resolve them.”
Pope Francis then challenged those present to do some homework: “look at the faces of people when you go into the street – they are worried, everyone is closed in on themselves; they lack a smile.  In other words, they lack tenderness, social friendship… they lack social friendship.”
A lack of “social friendship” brings hatred and war
“Where there isn’t social friendship,” he said, “there’s always hatred and war. We are living a piecemeal Third World War, everywhere.  Look at the geographic map of the world, and you’ll see.”
“Social friendship has to do with forgiveness,” he added.  “Many times, that’s done by getting close:  I approach this problem, this conflict, this difficulty, as we heard is done by these great young people in the places where there’s gambling, and so many people there lose everything, everything, everything…”
He mentioned the work of those who minister to people affected by gamblingand remembered his own pastoral work in Buenos Aires where he “saw elderly people who went  to the bank to get their pensions and then headed immediately for the casino.”
Social friendship, he added, “has to do with gratuity [giving freely of oneself], and one has to learn the wisdom of gratuity, learn it with play…with sport, with art, with the joy of being together, with getting close.”
Counter the god of money with gratuity, forgiveness
Today, “it seems that if you don’t pay you can’t live,” the Pope noted. “The man and woman that God created to be the center of the world…at the center of the economy,” “are thrown out and instead, we have at the center at the center a god, the god of money”
Gratuity, giving freely of oneself, and forgiveness are the antidotes to such a negative world – as is a constructive, rather than destructive, mindset.   And, “with forgiveness,” he said, “regret and resentment fall away.”
But how to achieve such a forest in the desert?  “Simply [by possessing] the awareness that we all have something in common, we’re all human,” concluded Pope Francis.  “And in this humanity, we can get close to each other to work together” regardless of our background or religion the Pope affirmed.
“Let’s all go forward to work together, respecting each other, respecting!” he added.  “I see this miracle: the miracle of a desert that becomes a forest.  Thanks for everything you do!”

(Tracey McClure)

#PopeFrancis "Always be certain that God loves you personally,” writes to Prisoners

Pope Francis washes the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday (file photo). On Thursday, the Vatican released the text of a letter written by Pope Francis to detainees at a nearby prison.  - ANSA
Pope Francis washes the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday (file photo). On Thursday, the Vatican released the text of a letter written by Pope Francis to detainees at a nearby prison. - ANSA
25/04/2016 13:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to prisoners detained in a prison in the Italian city of Velletri, a short distance from Rome.
Prisoners at the facility had written to the Holy Father earlier this year, entrusting their letter to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a pastoral visit to the facility. In his response, Pope Francis thanked the detainees for thinking of him, and assured them that they, and others in similar situations, were often in his thoughts as well. He noted that during his Apostolic Voyages, he always tries to make a visit to local prisons.
The Pope noted that during the Holy Year of Mercy, there will also be a jubilee for prisoners, and he assured them that on that day he would be “in communion” with all prisoners “spiritually and in reciprocal prayer.”
Pope Francis also expressed his sympathy, noting that prisoners “are living an experience in which time seems both to be stopped, and to never end.” But, he said, “the true measure of time is not that of the clock”; rather, “the true measure of time is called hope.” He expressed his desire that all those incarcerated might “always keep lit the light of the hope of faith to illuminate” their lives.
“Always be certain that God loves you personally,” the Pope wrote to the prisoners. He encouraged them to never allow themselves to be closed in by their past, but rather to transform the past “into a journey of growth, of faith and charity.” He called on them to “give God the possibility” of making them “to shine” through their experience, recalling that many saints throughout history “have achieved sanctity” in harsh and difficult situations. “With Christ,” he said, “all this is possible.”

#BreakingNews Large March in Poland to make Abortion Illegal - #ProLife groups Winning!

Hundreds of pro-life activists took to the streets of Warsaw on Sunday in support of the ban. Photo: PAP/Jakub KamińskiHundreds of pro-life activists took to the streets of Warsaw on Sunday in support of the ban. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński
Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz said: “We don't defend human life because that is what the gospel says. Not even because it's the fifth commandment [...] We defend life, because it is a fundamental value for everyone. It is the foundation of human dignity.”
Bishop Henryk Hoser expressed regret that the right to protect the lives of unborn children is still not absolute and unconditional within Polish law.
Poland’s current abortion laws, which have been in place since 1993, only allow the procedure if a woman's life or health is jeopardised by the continuation of a pregnancy, if the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act such as rape or incest, or if the foetus is seriously malformed.
However, the PRO Foundation (Fundacja Pro) group is gathering signatures for a total ban as part of a so-called citizen's bill.
If 100,000 signatures are gathered, the draft legislation can be submitted to parliament.
The Catholic Church has appealed to MPs to pass legislation that would bring about a total ban, and Prime Minister Beata Szydło has stated that she favoured the ban.
Nevertheless, it appears that opinions in Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice party are divided.
Many in Poland have protested the potential ban, with several marches and rallies being organised in support of a separation between church and politics. (rg/pk)
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#BreakingNews Ted Cruz and John Kasich Join to Fight #DonaldTrump in GOP

Ted Cruz and John Kasich are joining to prevent Donald Trump from obtaining the Republican presidential nomination. Late Sunday the pair released statements announcing a strategy aimed at blocking Trump from gaining the 1,237 delegates to claim to GOP nomination. Trump replied on  Twitter. "Wow, just announced that Lyin' Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!"   Cruz has stayed in second place behind Trump. Kasich is also low in funds thus this makes sense .  Cruz has often called for Kasich to move aside.  "The primary has done the job it's supposed to do, it has narrowed the field. As we stand here today, there are two people with any plausible path whatsoever to the nomination, me and Donald Trump," Cruz said Sunday in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday April 25, 2016

Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
Lectionary: 555

Reading 11 PT 5:5B-14

Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another, for:

God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world
undergo the same sufferings.
The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.

I write you this briefly through Silvanus,
whom I consider a faithful brother,
exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.
Remain firm in it.
The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Responsorial PsalmPS 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
The heavens proclaim your wonders, O LORD,
and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can rank with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD among the sons of God?
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia1 COR 1:23A-24B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We proclaim Christ crucified;
he is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.