Thursday, September 14, 2017

#PopeFrancis meets with Fr. Tom “Really, every day, I felt Jesus close to me." - Priest released by ISIS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately in the Vatican with the Indian Catholic priest who was freed from abduction by gunmen in Yemen.
The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported on the Pope's meeting with Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil at the papal residence of Santa Marta, after his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. 
After being rescued on Tuesday, the 57-year old missionary was flown to the Omani capital, Muscat, and then to Rome, where he is recuperating in a Salesian community. He will return to India after a short stay in Rome.
'Pope visibly moved'
Upon meeting the Pope, Fr. Uzhunnalil went down on his knees kissing the feet of the Holy Father in profound reverence.  The Pope lifted Father Tom to his feet and kissed his hands.  Pope Francis embraced and encouraged the Indian missionary assuring him of his continued prayers, just as he had done during Fr. Tom's captivity.  L’Osservatore Romano said the Pope, “visibly moved, blessed him.”  Among several photos circulating the social media, one showed Pope Francis kissing the hand of Fr. Uzhunnalil.
Born in Ramapuram, in southern India’s Kerala state, Father Uzhunnalil belongs to the Bangalore Salesian province. He ‎was abducted on March ‎‎4, 2016 when four unidentified gunmen attacked a care home in Yemen's ‎southern port city of Aden, ‎killing 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother ‎Teresa. The 57-year old priest had been working for more than four years as a chaplain at the care home. ‎
Interior prayer
Fr. Uzhunnallil thanked the Pontiff saying he “prayed for him every day, offering his suffering for his mission and for the good of the Church.”  The Pope was touched by his words, the L’Osservatore Romano reported. The Salesian priest also said he was “unable to celebrate the Eucharist,” but would recite “in my heart all the prayers of the Mass.” 
The Indian priest assured the Pope he would continue praying for all who had been close to him spiritually. He particularly recalled the four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother Teresa and twelve people killed during the attack last year.
Fr. Uzhunnallil was particularly grateful to the government of Oman for obtaining his release. The Holy See, in a communique, has already expressed its gratitude to all those in obtaining his release, especially the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos, and competent authorities of the sultanate. 
'Jesus is great and loves us'
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who is in the Vatican for the 'C9' Council of Cardinals meeting, accompanied the Salesian priest to the Pope. “After this terrible experience, the essential message that Fr. Tom gives is that Jesus is great and loves us,”  Cardinal Gracias told L’Osservatore Romano.  Fr. Uzhunnalil agreed with him saying, “Really, every day, I felt Jesus close to me.  I always knew and felt in my heart that I was not alone.” 
L’Osservatore Romano said that Fr. Uzhunnalil will be in Rome in a Salesian community for some time to undergo some medical check-ups. Cardinal Gracias said that the priest was in “good” health, adding that during his 18-month captivity he did not have any particular problem and was treated well.  
Fr. Uzhunnalil was born and brought up in a devout Catholic family. His uncle Matthew, who died in 2015, was also a Salesian priest, and founded the mission in Yemen, where he served. 

#PopeFrancis "The Cross is a mystery of love; the Cross is faithful; the Cross is noble." #Homily + Video on Feast of the Holy Cross

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated his first daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday following the summer break, reflecting on the Cross of Christ as the mystery of love.
On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Pope Francis during his homily at daily Mass preached on the “mystery of love” that is the Cross of Christ and warned against two spiritual temptations related to it.
The first temptation, he said, is to think of Christ without a cross or to reduce him a “spiritual teacher”. The second, he said, is to think of a cross without Christ or to remove all hope in a type of “spiritual masochism”.
Pope Francis said the Liturgy speaks of the Cross as a noble and faithful tree, pointing out that it is not always easy to understand the Cross. “We advance in the mystery of love only through contemplation,” he said.
Mystery of the Cross
In the day’s Gospel, Jesus explains the Cross to Nicodemus with the verbs “to go up” and “to come down”.
“Jesus comes down from Heaven to raise all of us up to Heaven. This is the mystery of the Cross,” he said.
In the First Reading, St. Paul says that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
“Jesus’ descent is to the lowest point, even unto humiliation. He emptied himself for love, and because of this God exalted him and made him go up. Only if we succeed in understanding this complete descent can we understand the salvation which this mystery of love offers us.”
Two temptations
Pope Francis pointed out that true understanding is not easy, because there is always the temptation to aim for one goal instead of the other.
St. Paul rebukes the Galatians for “giving in to the temptation not to enter the mystery of love but to explain it”. As the serpent had bewitched Eve and had poisoned the Israelites in the desert, Pope Francis said the Galatians were bewitched “by the illusion of a Christ without a cross and a cross without Christ.”
“A Christ without a cross is not the Lord: he is a teacher, nothing else. This is perhaps what Nicodemus, without realizing it, was seeking. It is one of the temptations. Yes, Jesus: ‘What a good teacher’, but… without the cross, [only] Jesus. Who bewitched you with this image? Paul is angry. Jesus Christ is presented but not as crucified. The other temptation is a cross without Christ, that is, the anguish of remaining down, depressed by the weight of sin and without hope. This is a type of spiritual masochism: only the cross, without hope and without Christ.”
Mystery of love
Pope Francis said the Cross without a Christ would be a “mystery of tragedy”, like a pagan tragedy.
“The Cross is a mystery of love; the Cross is faithful; the Cross is noble. Today we should take a minute to ask ourselves these questions. Is Christ crucified a mystery of love? Do I follow Jesus without a cross: a spiritual teacher who fills me with consolation and good counsel? Do I follow a cross without Jesus, without complaining, with this masochism of the spirit? Do I let myself be carried by this mystery of lowering, that is, of total emptying and lifting up of the Lord?”
Pope Francis concluded with the wish that the Lord grant His grace, not just to understand, but to enter into this mystery of love “with the heart, mind, and body. Totally.”

(Devin Sean Watkins)

#PopeFrancis "Only in the silence of prayer can one learn the voice of God..." FULL Official TEXT to Bishops

Pope Francis on Thursday, September 14, 2017 addressed Catholic Bishops from across the world who have been appointed during the past year.
  Vatican Press Office-Official translation of the Pope’s address:
Dearest brothers,
With great joy I welcome you in this moment, almost at the end of your Roman pilgrimage, organised by the Congregations for Bishops and for the Eastern Churches. I thank Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, and the dicasteries they preside over respectively, for their generous efforts in organising this event, which now allows me to meet you personally and to consider with you, new Pastors of the Church, the grace and responsibility of the ministry we have received.
Indeed, not by our merit, but by pure divine benevolence we have been entrusted “the ministry … to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” ( Acts 20: 24; cf. Rm 15: 16) and “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor 3: 8-9). This year, the programme of your days in Rome has tried to penetrate the mystery of the Episcopate through one of its central tasks, that of offering to the “the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” ( At 20 , 28) that spiritual and pastoral discernment necessary for it to reach the knowledge and fulfilment of God’s will in which all fullness resides.
Let me therefore share some reflections on this subject that is increasingly important in our times, paradoxically marked by a sense of self-referentiality, which proclaims the end of the time of the masters, while in his solitude the real man continues to call out the need to be helped in facing the dramatic issues that assail him, to be paternally guided in the not always clear path that challenges him, to be initiated in the mystery of his search for life and happiness.
It is precisely through authentic discernment, which Paul presents as one of the gifts of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:10) and St. Thomas Aquinas calls “the superior virtue that judges according to those higher principles” ( Sum Theol ., II -II, q, 51, a, 4, to 3) that we can respond to this human need today.
The Holy Spirit, protagonist of any authentic discernment
Not long ago, the Church invoked upon you the  “ Spiritus Principalis ” or the “ Pneuma hegemonikon ”, the power that the Father gave to the Son and which They transmitted to the holy Apostles, that is, “ the Spirit that supports and guides ”.
One has to be aware that such a great gift, of which with gratitude we are perpetual servants, rests on fragile shoulders. Perhaps for this reason the Church, in her prayer for episcopal consecration, derived such an expression from the Miserere (cf. Ps 51,14b) in which he who prays, after exposing his failure, implores that Spirit to allow him immediate and spontaneous generosity in obedience to God, so fundamental to those who lead a community.
Only those who are led by God have the title and authority to be proposed as leaders of others. One may teach and grow in discernment only if familiar with this inner teacher who, like a compass, offers the criteria to distinguish, for himself and for others, the times of God and His grace; to acknowledge His passage and the way of His salvation; to indicate concrete means, pleasing to God, to accomplish the good that He predisposes in His mysterious plan of love for each and for all. This wisdom is the practical wisdom of the Cross, which, though it includes reason and prudence, transcends them because it leads to the very source of life that does not die, namely, to “knowing the Father, the only true God, and He Who sent Jesus Christ”(cf. Jn 17: 3).
The bishop cannot take for granted the possession of a gift of such a high and transcendent gift, as if it were a right acquired, without falling into a ministry devoid of fruitfulness. It is necessary to continually implore it as a primary condition for illuminating any human, existential, psychological, sociological and moral wisdom that may be of use to us in the task of discerning the ways of God for the salvation of those who have been entrusted to us.
Therefore, it is imperative continually to return in prayer to Gabaon (cf. 1 Kings 3: 5-12), to remind the Lord that before him we are perennial “children who do not know how to settle” and to implore “not long days or riches, nor the life of enemies”, but only “discernment in judging among His people”. Without this grace, we will not become good meteorologists of what can be seen “in the appearance of heaven and earth” but rather we will be unable to “evaluate God’s time” (cf. Lk 12: 54-56).
Discernment, therefore, is born in the heart and mind of the bishop through his prayer when he puts the people and situations entrusted to him into contact with the Divine Word pronounced by the Spirit . It is in such intimacy that the Pastor matures the inner freedom that makes him firm in his choices and behaviour, both personal and ecclesial. Only in the silence of prayer can one learn the voice of God, perceive the traces of His language, have access to His truth, which is a very different light, that “ is not above intelligence as oil is above water “, but much higher since only “ he who know the Truth knows that light ” (cf. Augustine, Confessions VII, 10.16).
Discernment is a gift of the Spirit to the Church, to which she responds with listening
Discernment is the grace of the Spirit to the holy faithful people of God , Who constitutes it a prophetic people, endowed with the sense of faith and that spiritual instinct that makes it capable of feeling cum Ecclesia . It is a gift received in the midst of the People and is oriented towards its salvation. Since from Baptism the Spirit already dwells in the heart of the faithful, the apostolic faith, bliss, righteousness, and evangelical spirit are not strangers to them.
Therefore, although vested with unavoidable personal responsibility (see the Directory Apostolorum Successores , 160-161), the Bishop is called to live his own discernment as a Pastor as a member of the People of God, or in an ever- ecclesial dynamic, at the service of the koinon├Ča . The bishop is not the self-sufficient “father and master”, nor is he the frightened and isolated “solitary pastor”.
The bishop’s discernment is always a community action , which does not disregard the richness of the opinion of his priests and deacons, of the People of God and of all those who can offer him a useful contribution, also through concrete and not merely formal contributions. “When one does not consider his brother in any way, and considers oneself superior, then one ends up becoming proud even against God Himself” [1].
In serene dialogue, He is not afraid to share, and even sometimes change, his discernment with others: with confreres in the episcopate , to whom he is sacramentally united, and then discernment becomes collegiate; with his own priests , for whom he the guarantor of that unity that is not imposed by force, but rather is woven with the patience and wisdom of an artisan; with the lay faithful , because they retain the “sense” of the true infallibility of the faith that resides in the Church: they know that God does not diminish in His love and does not deny His promises.
As history teaches, the great Pastors, in defending the true faith, have been able to converse with such a store present in the heart and in the awareness of the faithful and, not rarely, have been supported by them. Without this exchange “the faith of the most educated can degenerate into indifference and that of the most humble into superstition” [2].
Therefore, I invite you to cultivate an attitude of listening, growing in the freedom of renouncing one’s own point of view (when it is shown to be partial and insufficient), to assume that of God. Without letting oneself be conditioned by the eyes of others, make efforts to get to know with your own eyes the places and the people, the spiritual and cultural “tradition” of the diocese entrusted to you, to respectfully enter into the memory of its testimony of Christ and to interpret its concrete present in the light of the Gospel outside which there is no future for the Church.
The mission that awaits you is not to bring your own ideas and projects, nor solutions that are abstractly designed by those who consider the Church a home garden but humbly, without attention-seeking or narcissism , to offer your concrete witness of union with God, serving the Gospel that should be cultivated and helped to grow in that specific situation.
Discerning therefore means humility and obedience . Humility with regard to one’s own projects. Obedience to the Gospel, the ultimate criterion; to the Magisterium, which conserves it; to the norms of the universal Church, which serve it; and to the concrete situation of people, for whom we want nothing other than to draw from the treasure of the Church what is most fruitful for their salvation today (cf. Mt 13: 52).
Discernment is a remedy for the immobility of “it has always been so” or “let us take time”. It is a creative process that does not just apply schemas. It is an antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions are not valid everywhere. It is always the perennial today of the Risen Lord that demands that we do not resign ourselves to the repetition of the past, and have the courage to ask ourselves whether the proposals of yesterday are still evangelically valid. Do not let yourselves be imprisoned by the nostalgia of having only one answer to apply in all cases. This would perhaps calm our anxiety regarding performance, but would leave us relegated to the margins and to “barren” lives that need to be watered by the grace we conserve (cf. Mk 3: 1-6; Ezek 37: 4).
I recommend a special delicacy with the culture and religiosity of the people .
They are not something to tolerate, or mere tools to manoeuvre, or a “Cinderella” to keep hidden because they are unworthy of access to the noble salon of the concepts and higher reasons for faith. Indeed, it is necessary to care for and engage in dialogue with them, because besides constituting the backbone of the people’s self-comprehension, they are a true subject of evangelisation, which your discernment cannot ignore. Such a charism, given to the community of believers, cannot but be recognised, called upon and involved in the ordinary path of discernment made by the Pastors.
Remember that God was already present in your dioceses when you arrived and will still be there when you are gone. And, in the end, we will all be measured not by counting our works but on the growth of God’s work in the heart of the flock that we keep in the name of the “Pastor and keeper of our souls” (cf. 1 Pt 2:25).
Called to grow in discernment
We must strive to grow in incarnate and inclusive discernment, which dialogues with the consciousness of the faithful which is to be formed and not substituted (cf. Amoris Laetitia , 37) in a patient and courageous process of accompaniment, so as to mature the capacity of each one – the faithful, families, priests, communities, and societies – of all those called to advance in the freedom to choose and accomplish the good God wants. Indeed, the activity of discernment is not reserved to the wise, the perspicacious and the perfect. Rather, God often resists the haughty and shows himself to the humble (cf. Mt 11:25).
The Pastor knows that God is the way and trusts His company; knows and never doubts His truth , nor despairs of His promise of life . But of these certainties, the Pastor is seized by the humble darkness of faith. To send them to the flock is therefore make obvious proclamations, but to introduce to the experience of God Who saves by sustaining and guiding the possible steps to be accomplished.
Therefore, true discernment, though definitive in every step, is an always open and necessary process that can be completed and enriched. It cannot be reduced to the repetition of formulas that “like high clouds send little rain” to the real man, often immersed in an reality that cannot be reduced to black or white. The Shepherd is called to make available to the flock the grace of the Spirit, Who knows how to penetrate the folds of the real and to take account of its nuances to reveal what God wants to achieve at all times. I particularly think of young people, families, priests, those who have the responsibility for leading society. In your lips, may they seek and find the steadfast witness of this Word, which is “the lamp for the steps and light for the way” (cf. Ps 118,105).
An essential condition for progressing in discernment is to educate ourselves in the patience of God and His times , which are never ours. He does not “rain fire on the infidels” (cf. Lk 9: 53-54), nor does He permit the zealots to “rip out of the field the darnel” they see growing there (cf. Mt 13: 27-29). It is up to us every day to welcome from God the hope that preserves us from all abstraction, because it enables us to discover the hidden grace in the present without losing sight of the longanimity of His design of love that surpasses us.
Dear brothers,
I beg you to keep scrupulously before your eyes Jesus and the mission that was not His but of His Father (cf. Jn 7: 16), and to offer to the people – confused and lost today, just as they were yesterday – what He was able to give: the chance to encounter God personally, to choose His way and to progress in His love.
Keep your gaze today fixed on Him today, Feast of the Holy Cross, a permanent place of God’s discernment in our favour, contemplating the depth of His incarnation and learning from it the criterion of every authentic discernment (cf. 1 Jn 4: 1).
May the Virgin, who keeps her gaze firmly on her Son, keep and bless you and your particular Churches.
[1] Dorotheus of Gaza, Communion with God and with men , Edizioni Qiqajon, 2014, 101-102.
[2] John Henry Newman, On consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine , Morcelliana, Brescia 1991, 123.

Litany of the Holy Cross - #Prayer #Litany to SHARE


Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Cross, whereon the Lamb of God was offered for the sins of the world,
Deliver and save us.

Hope of Christians,
Save us, O Holy Cross*

Pledge of the resurrection from the dead,*
Shelter of persecuted innocence,*
Guide of the blind,*
Way of those who have gone astray,*
 Staff of the lame,*
Consolation of the poor,*
Restraint of the powerful,*
Destruction of the proud,*
Refuge of sinners,*
Trophy of victory over hell,*
Terror of demons,*
Mistress of youth,*
Succor of the distressed,*
Hope of the hopeless,*
Star of the mariner,*
Harbor of the wrecked,*
Rampart of the besieged,*
Father of orphans,*
Defense of widows,*
Counsel of the just,*
Judge of the wicked,*
Rest of the afflicted,*
Safeguard of childhood,*
Strength of manhood,*
Last hope of the aged,*
Light of those who sit in darkness,*
Splendor of kings,*
Civilizer of the world,*
Buckler impenetrable,*
Wisdom of the foolish,*
Liberty of slaves,*
Knowledge of the ignorant,*
Sure rule of life,*
Heralded by prophets,*
Preached by apostles,*
Glory of martyrs,*
Study of anchorites,*
Chastity of virgins,*
Joy of priests,*
Foundation of the Church,*
Salvation of the world,*
Destruction of idolatry,*
Stumbling-block of the Jews,*
Condemnation of the ungodly,*
Support of the weak,*
Medicine of the sick,*
Health of the leprous,*
Strength of the paralytic,*
Bread of the hungry,*
Fountain of those that thirst,*
Clothing of the naked,*

Lamb of God, Who wast offered on the cross for the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who wast offered on the cross for the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who wast offered on the cross for the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

V. We adore the, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because through Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Let us Pray:

O God, Who, for the redemption of the world, wast pleased to be born in a stable, and to die upon a cross; O Lord Jesus Christ, by Thy holy Sufferings, which we, Thy unworthy servants, devoutly call to mind, by Thy holy Cross, and by Thy Death, deliver us from the pains of hell, and vouchsafe to conduct us whither thou didst conduct the thief who was crucified with Thee. Who livest and reignest eternally in heaven.     Amen.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday September 14, 2017 - #Eucharist

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Lectionary: 638

Reading 1NM 21:4B-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. 

Responsorial PsalmPS 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2PHIL 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.