Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saint April 1 : St. Hugh of Grenoble - Carthusian

Feast Day:
April 1
1053 at Chateauneuf, Dauphiné, France
1 April 1132
1134 by Pope Innocent II
St. Hugh was born in 1053 in southeastern France at Châteauneuf-sur-Isère, near Grenoble in the western foothills of the Alps. Such was his reputation for piety and theological knowledge that, although only in his mid-twenties, Hugh was elected bishop of Grenoble even though he had not yet been ordained. He was selected to carry out reforms of abuses within the Church which had been instituted under Pope Gregory VII, who ordained Hugh in Rome after his election as bishop. After two years of successfully battling abuses in Grenoble such as simony (the selling of church positions) and enforcing rules about clerical celibacy, Hugh wanted to retire to the great Benedictine monastery at Cluny. However, Pope Gregory ordered him to remain in his position as bishop. He was well-known for his inspired preaching and his generosity to the poor.

In 1084, Hugh helped St. Bruno of Cologne and six of his companions found the great Carthusian monastery "La Grande Chartreuse" high in the Alps. They devoted their monastic life to prayer and study and were visited by Hugh often. It was reported that, as much as he could in his role as bishop, Hugh adopted the monastic way of life practiced by the monks at Chartreuse. The 2005 film, Into Great Silence, documented the daily life at La Grande Chartreuse. After many years of illness which he endured in patient silence, St. Hugh died on April 1, 1132 and was canonized only two years later by Pope Innocent II. Text:

Quote to SHARE by St. Mother Teresa "If you judge people, you have no time to love them"

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them" 
 St. Mother Teresa

Holy Mass - Pope Francis says "...make each of your communities an oasis of mercy. I encourage you to continue to let the culture of mercy grow..." FULL TEXT Homily + Video

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex, Morocco with 10,000 people:
 Please find below the full Official text of the Pope’s homily:

            “While he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).

            Here the Gospel takes us to the heart of the parable, showing the father’s response at seeing the return of his son.  Deeply moved, he runs out to meet him before he can even reach home.  A son long awaited.  A father rejoicing to see him return.

That was not the only time the father ran.  His joy would not be complete without the presence of his other son.  He then sets out to find him and invites him to join in the festivities (cf. v. 28).  But the older son appeared upset by the homecoming celebration.  He found his father’s joy hard to take; he did not acknowledge the return of his brother: “that son of yours”, he calls him (v. 30).  For him, his brother was still lost, because he had already lost him in his heart.

            By his unwillingness to take part in the celebration, the older son fails not only to recognize his brother, but his father as well.  He would rather be an orphan than a brother.  He prefers isolation to encounter, bitterness to rejoicing.  Not only is he unable to understand or forgive his brother, he cannot accept a father capable of forgiving, willing to wait patiently, to trust and to keep looking, lest anyone be left out.  In a word, a father capable of compassion.

            At the threshold of that home, something of the mystery of our humanity appears.  On the one hand, celebration for the son who was lost and is found; on the other, a feeling of betrayal and indignation at the celebrations marking his return.  On the one hand, the welcome given to the son who had experienced misery and pain, even to the point of yearning to eat the husks thrown to the swine; on the other, irritation and anger at the embrace given to one who had proved himself so unworthy.

            What we see here yet again is the tension we experience in our societies and in our communities, and even in our own hearts.  A tension deep within us ever since the time of Cain and Abel.  We are called to confront it and see it for what it is.  For we too ask: “Who has the right to stay among us, to take a place at our tables and in our meetings, in our activities and concerns, in our squares and our cities?”  The murderous question seems constantly to return: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9).

            At the threshold of that home, we can see our own divisions and strife, the aggressiveness and conflicts that always lurk at the door of our high ideals, our efforts to build a society of fraternity, where each person can experience even now the dignity of being a son or daughter.

            Yet at the threshold of that home, we will also see in all its radiant clarity, with no ifs and buts, the father’s desire that all his sons and daughters should share in his joy.  That no one should have to live in inhuman conditions, as his younger son did, or as orphaned, aloof and bitter like the older son.  His heart wants all men and women to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).

            It is true that many situations can foment division and strife, while others can bring us to confrontation and antagonism.   It cannot be denied.  Often we are tempted to believe that hatred and revenge are legitimate ways of ensuring quick and effective justice.  Yet experience tells us that hatred, division and revenge succeed only in killing our peoples’ soul, poisoning our children’s hopes, and destroying and sweeping away everything we cherish.

            Jesus invites us, then, to stop and contemplate the heart of our Father.  Only from that perspective can we acknowledge once more that we are brothers and sisters.  Only against that vast horizon can we transcend our shortsighted and divisive ways of thinking, and see things in a way that does not downplay our differences in the name of a forced unity or a quiet marginalization.  Only if we can raise our eyes to heaven each day and say “Our Father”, will we be able to be part of a process that can make us see things clearly and risk living no longer as enemies but as brothers and sisters.

            “All that is mine is yours” (Lk 15:31), says the father to his older son.  He is not speaking so much about material wealth, as about sharing in his own love and compassion.  This is the greatest legacy and wealth of a Christian.  Instead of measuring ourselves or classifying ourselves according to different moral, social, ethnic or religious criteria, we should be able to recognize that another criterion exists, one that no one can take away or destroy because it is pure gift.  It is the realization that we are beloved sons and daughters, whom the Father awaits and celebrates.

            “All that is mine is yours”, says the Father, including my capacity for compassion.  Let us not fall into the temptation of reducing the fact that we are his children to a question of rules and regulations, duties and observances.   Our identity and our mission will not arise from forms of voluntarism, legalism, relativism or fundamentalism, but rather from being believers who daily beg with humility and perseverance: “May your Kingdom come!”

            The Gospel parable leaves us with an open ending.  We see the father asking the older son to come in and share in the celebration of mercy.  The Gospel writer says nothing about what the son decided.  Did he join the party?  We can imagine that this open ending is meant to be written by each individual and every community.  We can complete it by the way we live, the way we regard others, and how we treat our neighbour.  The Christian knows that in the Father’s house there are many rooms: the only ones who remain outside are those who choose not to share in his joy.

            Dear brothers and sisters, I want to thank you for the way in which you bear witness to the Gospel of mercy in this land.  Thank you for your efforts to make each of your communities an oasis of mercy.  I encourage you to continue to let the culture of mercy grow, a culture in which no one looks at others with indifference, or averts his eyes in the face of their suffering (cf. Misericordia et Misera, 20).  Keep close to the little ones and the poor, and to all those who are rejected, abandoned and ignored.  Continue to be a sign of the Father’s loving embrace.

            May the Merciful and Compassionate One – as our Muslim brothers and sisters frequently invoke him – strengthen you and make your works of love ever more fruitful.
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Pope Francis says "As disciples of Jesus Christ, from the very day of our baptism we have been called to be a part of this dialogue of salvation..." to Religious in Morocco - FULL TEXT + Video

[30-31 MARCH 2019]

Cathedral of of Saint Peter (Rabat)
Sunday, 31 March 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters, bonjour à tous!
I am very happy to have this opportunity to be with you. I especially thank Father Germain and Sister Mary for their testimonies. I would also like to greet the members of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, a clear sign of the communion experienced here in Morocco between Christians of different confessions along the path to unity. Christians are a small minority in this country. Yet, to my mind, this is not a problem, even though I realize that at times it can be difficult for some of you. Your situation reminds me of the question asked by Jesus: “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? … It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened” (Lk 13:18.21). Paraphrasing the Lord’s words, we can ask ourselves: What are Christians like, in these lands? To what can we compare them? They are like a little yeast that Mother Church wants to mix in with a great quantity of flour until all of it is leavened. For Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous! He called us to a mission. He put us in the midst of society like a handful of yeast: the yeast of the Beatitudes and the fraternal love by which, as Christians, we can all join in making present his kingdom. In this context I recall the counsel of Saint Francis to his brothers as he sent them out: “Go out and preach the Gospel: and if necessary, also with words”.
This means, dear friends, that our mission as baptized persons, priests and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion. We do this by the way we live as disciples of Jesus, in the midst of those with whom we share our daily lives, joys and sorrows, suffering and hopes (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1). In other words, the paths of mission are not those of proselytism. Please, these paths are not those of proselytism! Let us recall Benedict XVI: “the Church grows not through proselytism, but through attraction, through witness”. The paths of mission are not those of proselytism, which leads always to a cul-de-sac, but of our way of being with Jesus and with others. The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant, salt that has lost the flavour of the Gospel – this is the problem – or lamps that no longer shed light (cf. Mt 5:13-15).
I believe we should worry whenever we Christians are troubled by the thought we are only significant if we are the flour, if we occupy all the spaces. You know very well that our lives are meant to be “yeast”, wherever and with whomever we find ourselves, even if this appears to bring no tangible or immediate benefits (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 210). For being a Christian is not about adhering to a doctrine, or a temple or an ethnic group. Being Christian is about an encounter, an encounter with Jesus Christ. We are Christians because we have been loved and encountered, and not as the result of proselytism. Being Christian is about knowing that we have been forgiven and knowing that we are asked to treat others in the same way that God treated us. For “by this everyone shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
Dear brothers and sisters, in thinking of this setting in which you are called to live your baptismal vocation, your ministry and your consecration, I recall the words of Pope Saint Paul VI in his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam: “The Church must enter into dialogue with the world in which she lives. She has something to say, a message to give, a communication to make” (No. 65). To say that the Church has to enter into dialogue is not to follow a fashion – dialogue is in vogue today but that is not the reason for dialogue – or much less a strategy for increasing her membership, no, it is not a strategy. The Church has to enter into dialogue out of fidelity to her Lord and Master, who from the beginning, moved by love, wished to enter into dialogue as a friend and asks us to enter into friendship with him (cf. Dei Verbum, 2). As disciples of Jesus Christ, from the very day of our baptism we have been called to be a part of this dialogue of salvation and friendship, from which we are the first to benefit.
Christians, here in these lands, learn to be a living sacrament of the dialogue that God wants to initiate with each man and woman, wherever they are. A dialogue that we are nonetheless called to take up following the example of Jesus himself, who is meek and humble of heart (cf. Mt 11:29), with fervent and disinterested love, without calculations and limitations, and with respect for the freedom of others. In this spirit, we can find elder brothers and sisters who show us the way, for by their lives they testify that this dialogue is possible; they point to a “high standard” that challenges us and spurs us on. How can we fail to think of Saint Francis of Assisi, who at the height of the Crusades went to encounter Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil? Or Blessed Charles de Foucault, so deeply impressed by the humble and hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, whom he silently adored, that he wished to be a “brother to all”? Or again, those of our fellow Christians who chose to live in solidarity with another people, even to the point of giving their lives? When the Church, in fidelity to the mission she has received from the Lord, enters into dialogue with the world and gives her message, she takes part in the advent of that fraternity whose deepest source is not in ourselves but in the fatherhood of God.
As consecrated persons, we are invited to experience this dialogue of salvation above all as intercession for the people entrusted to us. I remember once speaking with a priest who, like yourselves, lived in a land where Christians were a minority. He told me that “Our Father” had taken on a particular meaning for him because, praying in the midst of people of other religions, he felt the power of the words, “Give us this day our daily bread”. His intercessory prayer, as a missionary, expanded to that people which was in some way entrusted to him, not to govern but to love, and this led him to pray this prayer with special feeling. Consecrated persons and priests bring to the altar and to their prayer the lives of all those around them; they keep alive, as if through a small window, the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. How beautiful it is to know that, in different parts of this land, through your voices, all creation can constantly pray: “Our Father”.
Dialogue, then, becomes prayer. We can carry it out daily in the name “of the human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal. In the name of this fraternity, torn apart by the policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies, that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019). A prayer that does not distinguish, separate or marginalize, but embraces the life of our neighbour. A prayer of intercession that says to the Father, “Thy kingdom come”. Not by violence, not by hatred, not by ethnic, religious or economic supremacy, and so forth, but by the power of the compassion poured out on the cross for all mankind. This is the experience of the majority of you.
I thank God for all that you are doing as followers of Jesus Christ here in Morocco, daily discovering through dialogue, cooperation and friendship the way to sow a future of hope. In this way, you will unmask and lay bare every attempt to exploit differences and ignorance in order to sow fear, hatred and conflict. For we know that fear and hatred, nurtured and manipulated, destabilize our communities and leave them spiritually defenceless.
I encourage you, then, with no other desire than to make visible the presence and love of Christ, who for our sake became poor in order to enrich us by his poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9): continue to be neighbours to those who are often left behind, the little ones and the poor, prisoners and migrants. May your charity be ever active and thus a path of communion between Christians of every confession present in Morocco: the ecumenism of charity. May it be also a path of dialogue and cooperation with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and with all men and women of good will. Charity, especially towards the vulnerable, is the best opportunity we have to keep working to build of a culture of encounter. May it also be a way for those who experience pain, struggles and exclusion to realize that they are members of the one human family, under the banner of fraternity. As disciples of Jesus Christ, may you, in that same spirit of dialogue and cooperation, be ever concerned to serve the advancement of justice and peace, the education of children and young people, and the protection and accompaniment of the elderly, the vulnerable, the disabled and the oppressed.
Once again, I thank all of you, brothers and sisters, for your presence and your mission here in Morocco. Thank you for your humble and discreet service, following the example of our forebears in consecrated life, among whom I want to greet your dean, Sister Ersilia. Through you, dear Sister, I offer a cordial greeting to the elderly sisters and brothers who, for reasons of health, are not physically present here, but are united to us in prayer.
All of you are witnesses of a glorious history. A history of sacrifices, hopes, daily struggles, lives spent in service, perseverance and hard work, for all work is hard, done “by the sweat of our brow”. But let me also tell you that “you have a glorious history to remember and recount, but also a great history to be accomplished! Look to the future – envisage the future – where the Holy Spirit is sending you” (Vita Consecrata, 110). In this way, you will continue to be living signs of that fraternity to which the Father has called us, without intransigence or passivity, but as believers who know that the Lord always goes before us and opens spaces of hope wherever something or someone appeared hopeless.
May the Lord bless each of you and, through you, the members of all your communities. May his Spirit help you to bear abundant fruit: the fruit of dialogue, justice, peace, truth, and love, so that here in this land which God loves, human fraternity may grow ever stronger. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[Four children go up beside the Pope. He says: “Voici le futur! Le maintenant et le future!

And now, let us place ourselves under the protection of the Virgin Mary by reciting the Angelus.

#BreakingNews Catholic Underground Bishop Msgr. Cui Tai - Arrested in China - Please Pray

Xuanhua underground bishop Msgr. Cui Tai arrested
The police also detained the episcopal vicar, Fr. Zhang Jianlin. A priest banned from ministry accused him of "not following the Vatican's instructions" and urged the police to arrest him. The faithful and the priests of the diocese are asking Christians worldwide for prayers for a "safe return as soon as possible". From 2007 onwards, Msgr. Cui Tai has been subjected to continuous detention or house arrest.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The underground bishop of Xuanhua (Hebei) Agostino Cui Tai, was taken away by police yesterday, faithful of the diocese report adding that the episcopal vicar, Fr. Zhang Jianlin was arrested with him.

At the moment the official reason for his arrest or the length of his detention are unknown. Msgr. Cui Tai had to struggle to assert his authority as a bishop (recognized by the Holy See) against a priest, Fr. Zhang Li, who accused him of not following the Vatican's directions.

According to Fr. Zhang Li the agreement signed between China and the Holy See establishes the end of the underground Church and from now on all the faithful and bishops must flow back into the official Church.

Strengthened by the support of the local government, Fr. Zhang Li also pushed the police to arrest the bishop.

After appealing to the "competent Holy See authority ", the episcopal vicar and then the bishop intervened by banning the priest from ministry.

After a few days, Msgr. Cui Tai was taken by police for 15 days, prompting him to lift the ban. The ban on Fr. Zhang Li from ministry is also motivated by the fact that he is the promoter of a "Pentecostal" group in ambiguous collaboration with a Protestant pastor, in which miraculous effects [of prayer] are exaggerated, and miracles invented.

According to some priests, the reason for the new arrest is precisely the fact that Msgr. Cui Tai "exposed" publicly revealing his episcopal identity: this is considered illegal, because he is recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government. The faithful and priests of the diocese ask Christians throughout the world to pray for them, hoping that they "return safely as soon as possible".

Since 2007, the authorities have illegally detained or placed Msgr. Cui Tai under house arrest almost continuously, without any reason and without any legal process.

During these years, the bishop was often locked up in various secret detention centers, or in hotels, or taken away for forced "trips" under the escort of government officials.

In these years, only during the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival (of the moon) Msgr. Cui Tai could occasionally return home for a brief visit to his elderly sister. For the rest of the time he has always remained under the guard and control of the government.

The Diocese of Xuanhua was founded by the Holy See since 1946, but in 1980 the government formed the official diocese of Zhangjiakou, joining it with that of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi. The diocese of Zhangjiakou is not recognized by the Holy See.
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Saint March 31 : St. Guy of Pomposa : Abbot

St. Guy of Pomposa (1046) was born in Italy and gave everything to the poor. He spent three years, as a hermit, on the island of Po River. He become the abbot of St. Severus. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. His feast day is March 31.

Saint March 31 : St. Benjamin : Martyr and Deacon of Persia

St. Benjamin
Feast: March 31
Feast Day:
March 31
424 in Persia Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.

The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations,  no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sunday Mass Online : Sunday, March 31, 2019 - #Eucharist 4th in Lent - Laetare - Readings + Video

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings
Lectionary: 33

Reading 1JOS 5:9A, 10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated the Passover
on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover,
they ate of the produce of the land
in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.
On that same day after the Passover,
on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.
No longer was there manna for the Israelites,
who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

Responsorial PsalmPS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7.

R. (9a)  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
 and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 22 COR 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Verse Before The GospelLK 15:18

I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

GospelLK 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Pope Francis and King Mohammed VI sign Joint Appeal for Jerusalem " a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence..." FULL TEXT

[30-31 MARCH 2019]

On the occasion of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Kingdom of Morocco, His Holiness and His Majesty King Mohammed VI, recognizing the unique and sacred character of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif, and deeply concerned for its spiritual significance and its special vocation as a city of peace, join in making the following appeal:
“We consider it important to preserve the Holy City of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif as the common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions, as a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue can be cultivated.
To this end, the specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension and the particular cultural identity of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif must be protected and promoted.
It is our hope, therefore, that in the Holy City, full freedom of access to the followers of the three monotheistic religions and their right to worship will be guaranteed, so that in Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif they may raise their prayers to God, the Creator of all, for a future of peace and fraternity on the earth”.
Rabat, 30 March 2019

His Majesty King Mohammed VI 
Amir al-Mu’minin
His Holiness Pope Francis

FULL TEXT Source: - Official Translation
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Pope Francis "For every human being has the right to life, every person has the right to dream and to find his or her rightful place in our “common home”! FULL TEXT

[30-31 MARCH 2019]
Premises of diocesan Caritas (Rabat)
Saturday, 30 March 2019

Dear Friends,
I am happy to have this opportunity to meet with you during my visit to the Kingdom of Morocco. It gives me a chance once more to express my closeness to all of you and, together with you, to discuss a great and deep wound that continues to afflict our world at the beginning of this twenty-first century. A wound that cries out to heaven. We do not want our response to be one of indifference and silence (cf. Ex 3:7). This is all the more the case today, when we witness many millions of refugees and other forced migrants seeking international protection, to say nothing of the victims of human trafficking and the new forms of enslavement being perpetrated by criminal organizations. No one can be indifferent to this painful situation.
I thank Archbishop Santiago [Agrelo Martínez] for his words of welcome and for the Church’s work in assisting migrants. I also thank Jackson for his testimony, and all of you, both migrants and members of associations dedicated to their care. We have met this afternoon to strengthen our ties and to continue our efforts to ensure worthy living conditions for all. And thank you to the children! They are our hope. We need to fight for them. They have the right to life, the right to dignity. Let us fight for them. All of us are called to respond to the many challenges posed by contemporary movements of migration with generosity, enthusiasm, wisdom and farsightedness, each to the best of his or her ability (cf. Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees).
A few months ago, here in Marrakech, the Intergovernmental Conference approved the adoption of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. “The migration Compact represents an important step forward for the international community, which now, in the context of the United Nations, has for the first time dealt on a multilateral level with this theme in a document of such importance” (Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 7 January 2019).
This Compact helps us to see that “it is not just about migrants” (cf. Theme of the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees), as if their lives and experiences were completely unrelated to the rest of society, or their status as persons with rights was somehow “on hold” because of their current situation. “The side of the border on which a migrant stands does not make him or her more or less human”.[1]
It is also about the face we want to give to our society and about the value of each human life. Many positive steps have been taken in different areas, especially in the developed countries, yet we cannot forget that the progress of our peoples cannot be measured by technological or economic advances alone. It depends above all on our openness to being touched and moved by those who knock at our door. Their faces shatter and debunk all those false idols that can take over and enslave our lives; idols that promise an illusory and momentary happiness blind to the lives and sufferings of others. How arid and inhospitable a city becomes, once it loses the capacity for compassion! A heartless society... a barren mother. You are not the marginalized; you are at the centre of the Church’s heart.
I wanted to suggest four verbs – acceptprotectpromote and integrate – that can help those who want to help make this covenant more concrete and real, to act prudently rather than remain silent, to assist rather than isolate, to build up rather than abandon.
Dear friends, I would like to reiterate the importance of these four verbs. They form a frame of reference for us all. For we are all involved in this effort – involved in different ways, but all involved – and all of us are needed in the work of building a more dignified, safe and fraternal life. I like to think that the very first volunteer, assistant, rescuer or friend of a migrant is another migrant who knows at first hand the sufferings of the journey. We cannot develop large-scale strategies capable of restoring dignity by adopting a welfare approach alone. That kind of assistance is essential, but insufficient. You who yourselves are migrants should feel called to take the lead and assist in organizing this whole process.
The four verbs that I mentioned can help us find shared strategies to create space for welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating. Spaces, ultimately, for conferring dignity.
“In view of the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally” (Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees). Indeed, expanding regular migration channels is one of the main objectives of the Global Compact. This shared commitment is needed in order to avoid presenting new opportunities to those “merchants of human flesh” who exploit the dreams and needs of migrants. Until this commitment is fully implemented, the emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable. On the other hand, special legalization strategies, especially in the case of families and minors, should be encouraged and simplified.
Protecting means defending “the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status” (ibid.). In the context of this entire region, protection must first and foremost be ensured along migration routes, which, sadly, are often theatres of violence, exploitation and abuse of all kinds. Here too, it seems necessary to pay particular attention to migrants in situations of great vulnerability: to the many unaccompanied minors and to women. It is essential that everyone be guaranteed the right to the medical, psychological and social assistance needed to restore dignity to those who have lost it along the way, as you who work in this agency are doing with great dedication. Among those present, some can testify personally to the importance of these protection services for providing hope during the time of a stay in host countries.
Promoting means ensuring that everyone, migrants and local residents alike, can enjoy a safe environment in which they can develop all their gifts. This promotion begins with the recognition that no human being is worthy of being discarded, but rather should be seen as a potential source of personal, cultural and professional enrichment in whatever place they find themselves. Host communities will be enriched if they learn how best to appreciate and utilize the contribution made by migrants, while working to forestall all forms of discrimination and xenophobia. Migrants should be encouraged to learn the local language as an essential vehicle of intercultural communication, and helped in positive ways to develop a sense of responsibility towards the society that accepts them, learning to respect individuals and social bonds, laws and culture. This will contribute to the integral human development of all.
But let us not forget that the human promotion of migrants and their families begins also with their communities of origin, where the right to migrate must be guaranteed, but also the right not to be forced to emigrate, that is, the right to enjoy in their native land suitable conditions for a dignified life. I appreciate and encourage programmes of international cooperation and transnational development free of partisan interests, which involve migrants as active protagonists (cf. Address to the Participants in the International Forum on Migration and Peace, 21 February 2017).
Integrating means engaging in a process that enhances both the cultural heritage of the welcoming community and that of migrants, thus building an open and intercultural society. We know that it is not easy – for those who arrive and for those who receive them – to encounter a foreign culture, to put ourselves in the shoes of people quite different from ourselves, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result, we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves (cf. Homily at the Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 14 January 2018). Integrating requires us not to be conditioned by fear and ignorance.
Ahead of us, then, is a journey we must make together, as true travelling companions. It is a journey that engages everyone, migrants and locals, in building cities that are welcoming, respectful of differences and attentive to intercultural processes. Cities that are capable of valuing the richness of the diversity born of our encounter with others. Here too, many of you can personally testify to how essential that commitment is.
Dear migrant friends, the Church is aware of the sufferings that accompany your journey and she suffers with you. In reaching out to you in your very different situations, she is concerned to remind you that God wants us all to live our lives to the full. The Church wants to be at your side to help you achieve the very best for your life. For every human being has the right to life, every person has the right to dream and to find his or her rightful place in our “common home”! Every person has a right to the future.
Once again, I renew my gratitude to all engaged in assisting migrants and refugees throughout the world, and particularly to you, the personnel of Caritas, and to your partner agencies, who have the honour of showing God’s merciful love to so many of our brothers and sisters in the name of the whole Church. You know well from experience that for Christians, “it is not just about migrants”, for it is Christ himself who knocks on our doors.
May the Lord, who during his earthly life experienced in his own flesh the suffering of exile, bless each one of you. May he give you the strength needed never to lose heart and always be for one another a “safe haven” of welcome and acceptance.
Thank you!

[1] Message of His Majesty King Mohammed VI at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration, Marrakech, 10 December 2018.
FULL TEXT and Image Source Share from - Official Translation 

Pope Francis says to Diplomats "... faith in God leads us to acknowledge the eminent dignity of each human being..." in Morocco - FULL TEXT

[30-31 MARCH 2019]
Esplanade of the Hassan Tower (Rabat)
Saturday, 30 March 2019

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished Authorities of the Kingdom of Morocco,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Friends,
As-Salam Alaikum!
I am pleased to set foot in this country so filled with natural beauty, while at the same time preserving the traces of ancient civilizations and bearing witness to a long and fascinating history. Before all else, I would like to express my deep gratitude to His Majesty King Mohammed VI for his kind invitation, for the warm welcome which he has given me in the name of the entire Moroccan people, and, in particular, for his gracious introduction.
This visit is for me an occasion of joy and gratitude, for it allows me to see at first hand the richness of your land, your people and your traditions. I am also grateful that my visit offers a significant opportunity for advancing interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding among the followers of our two religions, as we commemorate – at a distance of eight centuries – the historic meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. That prophetic event shows that the courage to encounter one another and extend a hand of friendship is a pathway of peace and harmony for humanity, whereas extremism and hatred cause division and destruction. It is my hope that our mutual esteem, respect and cooperation will help strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship, and enable our communities to prepare a better future for coming generations.
In this land, a natural bridge between Africa and Europe, I would like to affirm once more our need for cooperation in giving new impetus to the building of a world of greater solidarity, marked by honest, courageous and indispensable efforts to promote a dialogue respectful of the richness and distinctiveness of each people and every individual. All of us are called to rise to this challenge, especially at the present time, when our differences and our lack of reciprocal knowledge risk being exploited as a cause for conflict and division.
If we wish, then, to share in the building a society that is open, fraternal and respectful of differences, it is vital to foster the culture of dialogue and adhere to it unfailingly, to adopt mutual cooperation as our code of conduct and reciprocal understanding as our method and standard (cf. Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019). We are called to pursue this path tirelessly, in the effort to help each other overcome tensions and misunderstandings, clichés and stereotypes that generate fear and opposition. In this way, we will encourage the growth of a fruitful and respectful spirit of cooperation. It is likewise essential that fanaticism and extremism be countered by solidarity on the part of all believers, grounded in the lofty shared values that inspire our actions. For this reason, I am happy that I will shortly visit the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates. Established by Your Majesty, the Institute seeks to provide effective and sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offense against religion and against God himself. We know how important it is to provide a suitable preparation for future religious leaders, if we wish to awaken a genuinely religious spirit in the heart of future generations.
Authentic dialogue, then, makes us appreciate more fully the importance of religion for building bridges between people and successfully meeting the challenges that I mentioned above. While respecting our differences, faith in God leads us to acknowledge the eminent dignity of each human being, as well as his or her inalienable rights. We believe that God created human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and he calls them to live as brothers and sisters and to spread the values of goodness, love and peace. That is why freedom of conscience and religious freedom – which is not limited to freedom of worship alone, but allows all to live in accordance with their religious convictions – are inseparably linked to human dignity. In this regard, there is a constant need to progress beyond mere tolerance to respect and esteem for others. This entails encountering and accepting others in their distinctive religious beliefs and enriching one another through our diversity, in a relationship marked by good will and by the pursuit of ways we can work together. Understood in this way, creating bridges between people – from the point of view of interreligious dialogue – calls for a spirit of mutual regard, friendship and indeed fraternity.
The International Conference on the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries, held in Marrakech in January 2016, addressed this issue, and I am pleased to note that it condemned, in effect, any exploitation of religion as a means of discriminating against or attacking others. It also stressed the need to move beyond the concept of religious minority in favour of that of citizenship and the recognition of the value of the person, which must have a central place in every legal system.
I also see as a prophetic sign the creation in 2012 of the Al Mowafaqa Ecumenical Institute in Rabat. The Institute, an initiative of Catholics and other Christian denominations in Morocco, seeks to help promote ecumenism, as well as dialogue with culture and with Islam. This praiseworthy undertaking manifests the concern and the desire of the Christians living in this country to build bridges as a means of expressing and serving human fraternity.
All these are ways to halt the misuse of religion to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and the invocation of the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019).
The genuine dialogue we want to encourage also leads to a consideration of the world in which we live, our common home. The International Conference on Climate Change, COP 22, also held here in Morocco, once more demonstrated that many nations are conscious of the need to protect this planet where God has placed us to live and to contribute to a true ecological conversion for the sake of integral human development. I express my appreciation for the progress being made in this area and I am gratified by the growth of authentic solidarity between nations and peoples in the effort to find just and lasting solutions to the scourges that threaten our common home and the very survival of the human family. Only together, in patient, judicious, candid and sincere dialogue, can we hope to devise adequate solutions for reversing the trend of global warming and to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty (cf. Laudato Si’, 175).
Similarly, today’s grave migration crisis represents an urgent summons for concrete actions aimed at eliminating the causes that force many people to leave country and family behind, often only to find themselves marginalized and rejected. Last December, once more here in Morocco, the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration adopted a document intended to serve as a point of reference for the entire international community. At the same time, much still remains to be done, especially in passing from the commitments undertaken there, at least in principle, to concrete actions, and, more particularly, to a change of attitude towards migrants, one that sees them as persons, not numbers, and acknowledges their rights and dignity in daily life and in political decisions. You are aware of my great concern for the frequently grim fate of such people, who for the most part would not have left their countries were they not forced to do so. I trust that Morocco, which hosted that Conference with great openness and exceptional hospitality, will continue to be an example of humanity for migrants and refugees within the international community, so that here, as elsewhere, they can find generous welcome and protection, a better life and a dignified integration into society. When conditions permit, they can then decide to return home in conditions of safety and respect for their dignity and rights. The issue of migration will never be resolved by raising barriers, fomenting fear of others or denying assistance to those who legitimately aspire to a better life for themselves and their families. We know too that the consolidation of true peace comes through the pursuit of social justice, which is indispensable for correcting the economic imbalances and political unrest that have always had a major role in generating conflicts and threatening the whole of humanity.
Your Majesty, distinguished Authorities, dear friends! Christians are deeply appreciative of the place accorded them in Moroccan society. They wish to do their part in building a fraternal and prosperous nation, out of concern for the common good of its people. In this regard, I think of the significant work of the Catholic Church in Morocco in providing social services and in the field of education, thanks to its schools, which are open to students of every confession, religion and background. In thanking God for all that has been accomplished, allow me to encourage Catholics and all Christians to be servants, promoters and defenders of human fraternity here in Morocco.
Your Majesty, distinguished Authorities, dear friends! I thank you and all the Moroccan people once more for your warm welcome and your kind attention. Shukran bi-saf! May the Almighty, Gracious and Merciful, protect you and bless Morocco! Thank you.
FULL TEXT Source: - Official Translation
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#BreakingNews Pope Francis Arrives for Historic 1st Trip to Morocco and is Greeted by King Mohammed VI

Pope Francis has arrived in Morocco for his Apostolic Journey in the Kingdom of Morocco on his first-ever visit to the Maghreb region of Northern Africa. Pope Francis landed at the Rabat-Salé airport and was met at the foot of the plane by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, for a very brief ceremony of greeting.  Pope Francis to building bridges between Christians and Muslims. The small Catholic community in Morocco is commemorating, the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-K'mall. (Image Source: Vatican News va - ANSA)
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