Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Pope Francis explains "...what we truly are: a Church of beggars in need of the Lord’s Mercy." to Religious in Macedonia - Full Text


[5-7 MAY 2019]
Cathedral (Skopje)
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to meet you. I am particularly grateful for this moment, in which I can see the Church breathing fully with both her lungs – the Latin rite and the Byzantine rite – and taking in the ever new and renewing air of the Holy Spirit. Two lungs that are necessary and complementary, that help us better to taste the beauty of the Lord (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 116). Let us give thanks for this chance to breathe deeply, as one, and to sense how good the Lord has been with us.
I thank you for your testimonies, which I would now like to take up. You mentioned the fact that you are few in number and risk giving into a certain inferiority complex. While I was listening to you, I thought of Mary, who took a pound of pure nard, anointed the feet of Jesus and then wiped them dry with her hair. The Evangelist concludes his description of the scene by saying: “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (Jn 12:3). That nard was able to permeate everything, leaving an unmistakable impression.
In more than a few situations, we feel the need to “take stock” and see where things stand. We can begin by looking at our numbers… we are few; the means at our disposal… and they are not many. Then we look at the number of houses and apostolates we have to support… they are too many. We could go on to list all those many situations in which we experience how precarious are the resources we have for carrying out the missionary mandate with which we have been entrusted. Whenever we do this, it can seem that our bottom line is “in the red”.
True, the Lord told us: if you want to build a tower, calculate the costs, lest once you have laid the foundations, you are unable to complete the work (cf. Lk 14:29). But “taking stock” of things can lead us into the temptation of putting too much trust in ourselves, falling back on our own abilities and our shortcomings. In this way, we might almost end up like the disciples of Emmaus, proclaiming the kerygma with our lips, while our heart is sunken in a silence marked by a subtle frustration that prevents it from listening to the One who walks at our side and is a source of joy and gladness.
Brothers and sisters, “taking stock” of things is always necessary, when it can help us to understand and draw near to all those persons who daily struggle to make ends meet. Families that fail to grow, the elderly and abandoned, the sick and bedridden, young people frustrated and without a future, and the poor who remind us what we truly are: a Church of beggars in need of the Lord’s Mercy. It is legitimate to “take stock” of things, only if it enables us once more to become fraternal and attentive to others, to show understanding and concern as we draw near to the frustrations and the uncertainties felt by so many of our brothers and sisters who yearn for an anointing that can lift them up and heal their hope.
It is legitimate to take stock of things, but only in order to speak out all the more forcefully and to pray together with our people: “Come, Lord Jesus!” I would like to repeat this with you: “Come, Lord Jesus!” [They repeat this prayer].
I need only say that this land was able to give to the world and to the Church in Mother Teresa just that kind of concrete sign of how one small person, anointed by the Lord, could permeate everything, once the fragrance of the Beatitudes was spread over the weary feet of our humanity. How many people were put at ease by the tenderness of her glance, comforted by her caress, sustained by her hope and nourished by the courage of her faith, which could make even the most forgotten in our midst realize that they are not forgotten by God! History is written by people like this, people unafraid to offer their lives for love: whenever you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me (cf. Mt 25:40). How much wisdom do we find in the words of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “Certainly, the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed” (Vorgebenes Leben und Epiphanie: GW XI, 145).
All too often we let ourselves think that things might be different if we were strong, powerful and influential. But isn’t it the truth that the secret of our strength, power and influence, and even of our youthfulness, comes from somewhere else, and not from the fact that our “accounts are in order”? I ask you this, because I was struck by Davor’s testimony, when he shared with us what really touched his heart. You were quite clear: what saved you from careerism was returning to your first vocation, your first calling, and setting out to seek the risen Lord where he is to be found. You set out, leaving behind your forms of security, to walk the streets and squares of the city. There you felt that your vocation and your life were renewed. Bending over the daily life of your brothers and sisters to share with them and to anoint them with the fragrance of the spirit, your priestly heart began to beat anew and with greater intensity.
You drew near to anoint the weary feet of the Master, the weary feet of concrete individuals, there where they were to be found, and the Lord was waiting for you, to anoint you anew in your vocation. This is very important. In order to renew ourselves, we must frequently turn back and meet the Lord, revisiting the memories of our first calling. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews says to the Christians: “Remember the first days”. Remember the beauty of that meeting with Jesus who called us, and from that meeting, with the eyes of Jesus, receive the strength to move forward. Never lose your memory of the first call! Remembering the first call is a “sacramental”. The difficulties of apostolic labours can really exhaust us, and we can lose enthusiasm. We can also lose the desire to pray, to meet the Lord. If you find yourself in this position, stop! Turn back and meet the Lord of your first calling. This memory will save you.
How often do we expend our energies and resources, in meetings, discussions and programmes, on preserving approaches, methods and goals that not only excite no one, but prove incapable of bringing even a glimmer of that evangelical fragrance that can offer comfort and open paths of hope, while depriving us of personal encounter with others? How right Mother Teresa was, when she said: “Everything useless weighs me down!” (A. COMASTRI, Mother Teresa, Una goccia di acqua pulita, 39). Let us leave behind all the burdens that keep us from the mission and prevent the fragrance of mercy from being breathed in by our brothers and sisters. A pound of nard was able to permeate everything and leave behind an unmistakable impression.
Let us not deprive ourselves of the best of our mission; let us not stifle the heartbeat of the spirit.
Thank you, Father Goce and Gabriella: you have been courageous in life. And thank you to your children Filip, Blagoj, Luca and Ivan, for having shared with us your joys and concerns, both in ministry and in family life. But also the secret of how to keep going during the times of difficulty that you had to endure. The union of marriage, the grace of marriage in the life of ministry has helped you to walk together in this way, as a family.
Your testimony has that “Gospel fragrance” of the first communities. Let us remember that “the New Testament speaks of ‘churches that meet in homes’ (cf. 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:5; Col 4:15; Philem 2). A family’s living space could turn into a domestic church, a setting for the Eucharist – how many times have you celebrated the Eucharist in your home – the presence of Christ seated at its table. We can never forget the image found in the Book of Revelation, where the Lord says: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me’ (3:20). This is the image of a home filled with the presence of God, common prayer and every blessing” (Amoris Laetitia, 15). In this way, you give a vivid witness of how “faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it” (ibid., 181). The world may not be the way we would like it, nor are we ourselves “perfect” or spotless. But we are drawn into it in the precariousness of our lives and of our families, anointed each day with trust in God’s unconditional love for us. A trust that leads us, as you have clearly reminded us, Father Goce, to develop certain aspects of life that are as important as they are overlooked in a society frayed by frenetic and superficial relationships: the aspects of tender love, patience and compassion towards others. And I would like to stress here the importance of tenderness in priestly ministry as too in the witness of religious life. There is the danger that when we don’t live in family, when there isn’t a need to caress our own children, as Father Goce does, the heart becomes somewhat “bachelor or spinster” in character. There is also the danger that the vow of chastity of religious sisters and celibate priests actually turns into a vow of “entrenched spinsters or bachelors”. How much harm comes from a sister or a priest who lives like this! Thus I stress the importance of tenderness. Today I received the grace of observing sisters who show much tenderness: when I went to the Mother Theresa memorial I saw the religious sisters there and the way the cared for the poor with profound tenderness. Please: tenderness. Never raise your voice. Blessed water, not vinegar! Always with that sweetness of the Gospel that knows how to caress souls. Recalling a word mentioned by our brother: he spoke of careerism. When careerism enters priestly ministry and religious life, the heart becomes hardened and bitter and it loses tenderness. The priest or sister who is careerist has lost the ability to caress.
I like to think of each family as an “icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Its daily life had its share of burdens and even nightmares, as when they met with Herod’s implacable violence. This last was an experience that, sad to say, continues to afflict the many refugee families who in our day feel rejected and helpless” (Amoris Laetitia, 20). Through the faith built up by daily struggles, they are able “to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286). Material things are needed, they are necessary, yet they are not the most important thing. For this reason, we must never lose the ability to caress, never lose the ministerial tenderness and the tenderness of religious consecration.
Thank you for having shown the familiar face of the God with us, the God who never ceases to surprise us amid the pots and pans!
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you again for this ecclesial opportunity to take a deep breath with both lungs. Let us ask the Spirit to keep renewing us in our mission, with the confidence of knowing that he wants to permeate everything with his presence.
And here too, I want to thank – and you will be embarrassed now – I want to thank one of you priests, a father of a family, who has accepted to be the interpreter [applause].
[Our Father is sung]
[The Blessing]
Full Text + Image Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation

Death Toll Rises from Hundreds of Rockets launched by Jihadists in Gaza and Rockets sent by Israel in Return

Washington Post reports that on Sunday, May 5, 2019, Palestinian militants launched over 600 rockets and Israel responded with airstrikes on more than 300 targets.

Four Israeli civilians were killed, the first from rocket fire from Gaza since 2014, and 23 Palestinians died.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  said he had ordered “massive attacks against terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip.”

“We are preparing for a campaign against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and we will extract a price from them they have not experienced yet,” he said.

 Israel generally holds Hamas, which controls Gaza, for rocket fire from the area.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was overwhelmed thus intercepting only 150 of the 510 rockets that crossed into Israeli territory.

Israel said it responded with airstrikes against more than 320 military targets in Gaza. Palestinian militant factions said they were retaliating in an “unprecedented manner” after residential buildings were hit, and they threatened to expand the range of their rockets if the “aggression” continued.

Palestinian health officials said the dead in Gaza included two pregnant women, a 12-year-old boy and two infants.

It was the deadliest round of fighting since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
The media reports that both parties have agreed to a cease-fire.
Edited from the Washington Post
Please Pray for peace....

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Pope Francis tells Youth "Each of you is called, like Mother Teresa, to work with your hands..." Full Text + Video

[5-7 MAY 2019]
Pastoral Centre (Skopje)
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Dear Friends,
Having these meetings always gives me joy and hope. Thank you for making this possible and offering me this opportunity. I am very grateful for your dance – so beautiful – and for your questions. I knew about these questions: I received them and thought about them, and so I have prepared some points to reflect with you on these questions.
I will begin with the last question: after all, as the Lord said, the last shall be first! Liridona, after you shared your hopes with us, you asked me: “Am I dreaming too much?” A very fine question, and I would like all of us to answer it together. What do you think? Is Liridona dreaming too much?
Let me tell you that one can never dream too much. One of the big problems people have today, including so many young people, is that they have lost their ability to dream. They don’t dream, either much or little. When someone does not dream, when a young person does not dream, that empty space gets filled with complaints and a sense of hopelessness or sadness. “We can leave that to those who worship the ‘goddess of lament’… She is a false goddess: she makes you take the wrong road. When everything seems to be standing still and stagnant, when our personal issues trouble us, and social problems do not meet with the right responses, it does no good to give up” (Christus Vivit, 141). This is why, dear Liridona, dear friends, a person can never, never dream too much. Try to think of your greatest dreams, like Liridona’s dream – do you remember it? To give hope to a weary world, together with others, both Christians and Muslims. This is certainly a very fine dream. She didn’t think about little things, “on the ground level”, but she dreamed in a big way and you, young people, should dream big.
A few months ago, a friend of mine, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and I had a dream much like yours, that made us want to make a commitment and sign a document that says that faith must lead us believers to see other persons as our brothers and sisters. As brothers and sisters that we need to support and love, without letting ourselves be manipulated by petty interests.[1] We are old and it’s not the age to have dreams, but you, please dream and dream big!
This makes me think of what Bozanka told us. She said that, as young people, you like adventures. I am glad about that, for it is a beautiful way to be young: to experience an adventure, a good adventure. Young people do not fear making of their lives a good adventure. So I would ask you: what adventure requires more courage than the dream that Liridona shared with us, the dream of giving hope to a weary world? Our world is weary; our world has become old. The world is divided, and we can be tempted to keep it divided, and to become divided ourselves. There are those adults who want us to be divided; be on your guard. Yet how forcefully do we hear our Lord’s words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9)! What can give us more excitement than being committed daily to becoming faithful builders of dreams, artisans of hope? Dreaming helps us to keep alive our certainty that another world is indeed possible, and that we are called to get involved, to help build that world through our work, our efforts and our actions.
In this country, you have a fine tradition of stonecarving, practised by artisans skilled at cutting stone and working it. We need to become like those craftsmen, to become expert carvers of our own dreams. We need to work at our dreams. A stonecarver takes a stone in his hands and slowly begins to shape and transform it with concentration and effort, and especially with a great desire to see how that stone, which no one thought was worth anything, can become a work of art.
“Our best dreams are only attained through hope, patience and commitment, and not in haste, like these artisans. At the same time, we should not be hesitant, afraid to take chances or make mistakes. No, do not be afraid. Rather, we should fear experiencing the paralysis of the living dead, who have no life because they are afraid to take risks. And young people who do not take risks are dead. Some don’t want to take risks because they don’t want to persevere in their commitments or they fear making mistakes. Even if you make mistakes, you can always get up and start over, for no one has the right to rob you of hope” (cf. Christus Vivit, 142). Don’t allow yourselves to be robbed of hope. Dear young people, don’t be afraid to become artisans of dreams and of hope! Agreed?
“Certainly, as members of the Church, we should not stand apart from others. All should regard us as friends and neighbours, like the apostles, who, as the Bible says, ‘enjoyed the good will of all the people’ (Acts 2:47; cf. 4:21.33; 5:13). Yet at the same time we must dare to be different, to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, the beauty of prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, the beauty of love for the poor, and social friendship” (ibid., 36)”.
Think of Mother Teresa: when she lived here, she could not have imagined where her life would have ended up. Yet she kept dreaming and tried to see the face of her great love, Jesus, and to discover it in all those people on the sides of the road. She dreamed in a big way, and this is why she also loved in a big way. She had her feet firmly planted here, in her native land, but she didn’t stand still. She wanted to be “a pencil in the hands of God”. This was the dream she crafted. She offered it to God, she believed in it, she suffered for it, and she never gave it up. And God began to write new and amazing pages of history with that pencil; a woman from your land, who dreamed, who wrote great things. It is God who wrote them but she dreamed and allowed herself to be guided by God.
Each of you is called, like Mother Teresa, to work with your hands, to take life seriously and make something beautiful of it. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of our dreams (cf. Christus Vivit, 17); be on your guard. Let us not deprive ourselves of the newness that the Lord wants to give us. You will encounter many, many unexpected twists and turns in life, but it is important to face them and find creative ways of turning them into opportunities. But never alone! No one can fight alone. As Dragan and Marija told us: “our communion gives us strength to face the challenges of today’s society”.
Taking up what Dragan and Marija said: “Our communion gives us the strength to face the changes of contemporary society”. Here is a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation; no one can live the life of faith or realize his or her dreams alone, without leaving home, without being part of a community, alone at heart or at home, enclosed and isolated behind four walls. We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead.
How important it is to dream together! Just as you are doing today: everyone together, here in one place, without barriers. Please, dream together, not by yourselves; dream with others, never against others! Dream with others and never against others! By yourselves, you risk seeing mirages, seeing things that are not there. Dreams are built together.
A few minutes ago we saw two children playing here. They wanted to play, to play together. They didn’t go to play on their computers, they wanted to play for real! We observed them: they were happy, content. Because they dreamed of playing together, with one another. Did you see this? Yet, at a certain point, one of them realized that the other was stronger, and instead of dreaming with the other, began to dream against the other, and tried to overcome the other. And that joy changed as we saw the weaker one in tears, on the floor. You saw how we can pass from dreaming with others to dreaming against others. Never dominate others! Build up community with others: this is the joy of moving ahead. This is very important. Dragan and Marija have told us how difficult this can be, when everything conspires to isolate us and deprive us of the opportunity to encounter one another, the opportunity of “dreaming with others”. Now at my age (and I am not young!), do you want to know what I think was the best lesson I ever learned? It was how to talk to people “face-to-face”. We have entered into the digital age, but actually we know very little about communication. Many contacts, but we communicate little. We are all “connected”, but not really “involved” with one another. Getting involved requires life; it calls for being there and sharing the good times but also the not so good times. At last year’s Synod on young people, we were able to have the experience of meeting one another face to face, both the young and the not-so-young. We were able to listen to one another, to dream together and to look to the future with hope and gratitude. That was the best antidote to discouragement and manipulation, to too many contacts without communication, to the culture of the ephemeral and to all those false prophets who proclaim only misfortune and destruction. The antidote is listening, listening to one another. And now, let me tell you something I feel very strongly about: give yourselves a chance to share and enjoy a good “face-to-face” with everyone, but especially with your grandparents, with the elderly of your community. Perhaps some of you have heard me say this, but for me that is an antidote to those who would lock you up in the present, overwhelming you with pressures and demands, all in the name of an alleged happiness, as if the world is about to end and you have to experience everything right away. In the long run, this creates anxiety, dissatisfaction and a sense of hopelessness. For a heart tempted by hopelessness, there is no better remedy than listening to the experiences of older people.
Dear friends, spend time with the elderly, listen to their stories, which may sometimes seem a bit unreal but in fact are full of rich experiences, eloquent symbols and a hidden wisdom waiting to be discovered and appreciated. Those stories take time to tell (cf. Christus Vivit, 195). Don’t forget the old saying that a little person can see further by standing on the shoulders of a giant. In this way, you will gain a new and broader vision. Enter into the wisdom of your people, your community, enter without shame or hesitations, and you will discover an unexpected source of creativity which will prove most fulfilling. It will let you perceive paths where others see barriers, possibilities where others see threats, resurrection where so many proclaim only death.
For this reason, dear young people, I tell you to speak with your grandparents and with your elders. They are your roots, the roots of your history, the roots of your people, the roots of your families. You should hold on tight to your roots to receive the sap that will make the tree grow, flourish and bear fruit, but always holding onto your roots. I do not say that you should go underground with those roots: no, not this. But you should journey and listen to these roots and take from them the strength needed to grow, to move forward. If a tree’s roots are cut off, that tree dies. If your roots as young people are cut off, which are the roots of the history of your people, you will die. Yes, you will live, but without bearing fruit: your country, your people will not be able to bear fruit because you have removed yourselves from your roots.
When I was a child, we were told at school that when the Europeans went to discover America, they took with them coloured glass. This was shown to the Indians, to the indigenous peoples, and they were enthralled by the coloured glass which they had never seen before. And these Indians forgot their roots and bought this glass in exchange for gold. So gold was robbed by means of coloured glass. The glass was a novelty and they gave everything to have this novelty which was worth nothing. You, young people, please be on your guard, because today also there are those who want to conquer, those who want to colonize, offering you coloured glass: this is ideological colonization. They will come to you and say: “No, you must be a more modern people, more advanced, take these things and take a new path, forget older things: progress ahead!” And what should you do? Discern. What this person is bringing to me, is it a good thing, something in harmony with the history of my people? Or is it “coloured glass”? In order for you not to be tricked, it’s important to speak to the elderly, speak to those who will pass onto you the history of your people, the roots of your people. Speak to the elderly, in order to grow. Speak to our history in order to make it develop. Speak to our roots in order to produce flowers and fruits.
And now I have to finish, because we are running out of time. But I want to confess this to you: from the beginning of this meeting with you, I have been distracted by something. I was looking at this lady here in front of me; she is expecting a baby. She is waiting for a baby to be born, and perhaps one of you could think: “What a hardship, poor woman, how great will be her work!” Does any of you think this? No. No one thinks: “Oh she will have sleepless nights due to her crying child…” No. That child is a promise, look ahead! This lady has taken risks in order to bring an infant into the world, because she looks forward, she looks at history. Because she feels the strength of the roots that help her bring forth life, her country and her people.
And let us conclude together applauding all the young people, all the courageous women who bring forth history. And thankyou to the interpreter who is been really good!
DO YOU NEED MY HANDS, LORD? (Prayer of Mother Teresa)
Do your need my hands, Lord,
to help the sick and the poor
who are in need today?
Lord, this day I offer you my hands.
Do you need my feet. Lord,
to lead me today
to those who need a friend?
Lord, this day I offer you my feet.
Do you need my voice, Lord,
so that I can speak to all those
who need a word of love?
Lord, this day I offer you my voice.
Do you need my heart, Lord,
so that I can love everyone,
without exception?
Lord, this day I offer you my heart.

[1] Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019.

Pope Francis at Mass says "...Mother Teresa...desired to build her life on the twin pillars of Jesus incarnate in the Eucharist and Jesus incarnate in the poor!" Full Text Homily + Video

Macedonia Square (Skopje)
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). We have just heard the Lord speak these words.
In the Gospel, a crowd had gathered around Jesus. They had just seen the multiplication of the loaves; it was one of those events that remained etched in the mind and heart of the first community of disciples. There had been a party: a feast that showed God’s superabundant generosity and concern for his children, who became brothers and sisters in the sharing of bread. Let us imagine for a moment that crowd. Something had changed. For a few moments, those thirsting and silent people who followed Jesus in search of a word were able to touch with their hands and feel in their bodies the miracle of a fraternity capable of satisfying superabundantly.
The Lord came to give life to the world. He always does so in a way that defies the narrowness of our calculations, the mediocrity of our expectations and the superficiality of our rationalizations. A way that questions our viewpoints and our certainties, while inviting us to move to a new horizon enabling us to view reality in a different way. He is the living Bread come down from heaven, who tells us: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”.
All those people discovered that hunger for bread has other names too: hunger for God, hunger for fraternity, hunger for encounter and a shared feast.
We have become accustomed to eating the stale bread of disinformation and ending up as prisoners of dishonour, labels and ignominy. We thought that conformism would satisfy our thirst, yet we ended up drinking only indifference and insensitivity. We fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real.
Let us not be afraid to say it clearly: Lord, we are hungry. We are hungry, Lord, for the bread of your word, which can open up our insularity and our solitude. We are hungry, Lord, for an experience of fraternity in which indifference, dishonour and ignominy will not fill our tables or take pride of place in our homes. We are hungry, Lord, for encounters where your word can raise hope, awaken tenderness and sensitize the heart by opening paths of transformation and conversion.
We are hungry, Lord, to experience, like that crowd, the multiplication of your mercy, which can break down our stereotypes and communicate the Father’s compassion for each person, especially those for whom no one cares: the forgotten or despised. Let us not be afraid to say it clearly: we are hungry for bread, Lord: the bread of your word, the bread of fraternity.
In a few moments, we will approach the table of the altar, to be fed by the Bread of Life. We do so in obedience to the Lord’s command: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). All that the Lord asks of us is that we come. He invites us to set out, to be on the move, to go forth. He urges us to draw near to him and to become sharers in his life and mission. “Come”, he says. For the Lord, that does not mean simply moving from one place to another. Instead, it means letting ourselves be moved and transformed by his word, in our choices, our feelings and our priorities, daring in this way to adopt his own way of acting and speaking. For his is “the language of bread that speaks of tenderness, companionship, generous dedication to others” (Corpus Christi Homily, Buenos Aires, 1995), the language of a love that is concrete and tangible, because it is daily and real.
In every Eucharist, the Lord breaks and shares himself. He invites us to break and share ourselves together with him, and to be part of that miraculous multiplication that desires to reach out and touch, with tenderness and compassion, every corner of this city, this country, and this land.
Hunger for bread, hunger for fraternity, hunger for God. How well Mother Teresa knew all this, and desired to build her life on the twin pillars of Jesus incarnate in the Eucharist and Jesus incarnate in the poor! Love received and love given. Two inseparable pillars that marked her journey and kept her moving, eager also to quench her own hunger and thirst. She went to the Lord exactly as she went to the despised, the unloved, the lonely and the forgotten. In drawing near to her brothers and sisters, she found the face of the Lord, for she knew that “love of God and love of neighbour become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God” (Deus Caritas Est, 15). And that love alone was capable of satisfying her hunger.
Brothers and sisters, today the Risen Lord continues to walk among us, in the midst of our daily life and experience. He knows our hunger and he continues to tell us: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn6:35). Let us encourage one another to get up and experience the abundance of his love. Let us allow him to satisfy our hunger and thirst: in the sacrament of the altar and in the sacrament of our brothers and sisters.

Remarks of His Holiness Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Mass in Skopje
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Before the final blessing, I feel bound to express my gratitude to all of you. I thank the Bishop of Skopje for his kind words and especially for the great effort that went into preparing for this day. Along with him, I thank all those who assisted in any way, priests, religious and lay faithful. My deep thanks to all!

Once more, I express my gratitude to the civil Authorities of the country, the forces of order and the volunteers. The Lord will surely repay you as he knows best.  For my part, I remember you in my prayers and I ask you, please, to pray for me. 
FULL TEXT +Image Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation

#BreakingNews Death of Jean Vanier founder of L'Arche for Disabled - RIP at Age 90 - Full Text Official Release

Press Release -For Immediate Release
May 7, 2019


Montreal, Quebec, Canada: We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Jean Vanier. Jean passed away peacefully today Tuesday, May 7 at 2:10 am in Paris surrounded by some relatives. In recent days, while remaining very present, he had quickly declined. He was 90 years old.

“Jean leaves a long life and legacy of exceptional achievement, said L’Arche International Leader Stephan Posner. “His community of Trosly, the communities of L’Arche, Faith and Light, many other movements, and countless thousands of people have cherished his words and benefitted from his vision.”

Vanier founded L'Arche in 1964 in response to the treatment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in institutions. L'Arche grew quickly across France and the world and continues to welcome people of many faiths and cultures. Today, L’Arche includes more than 150 communities in 38 countries including 29 communities and two projects in 9 provinces across Canada. More than 10,000 members welcome and celebrate people with intellectual disabilities, fostering growth and allowing everyone to share their talents and abilities. 

Companion of the Order of Canada, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Templeton Prize recipient, Jean Vanier received many honours and awards for his groundbreaking work and inspiring vision of a more human society where each person - regardless of their age, abilities, or background - has a place and contributes their gifts. He shared this vision through 40 books, countless public talks, and interviews. Yet to us in L’Arche, he was simply Jean, our founder, guide, and companion in the journey.

When Jean welcomed Raphael, Philippe, and the others to begin L’Arche in 1964, he wore a suit and had the erect bearing of a former naval officer and professor of philosophy born into a family of deep faith and commitment to public service. Over the years, as he aged and let go of leadership roles, Jean’s tall frame, wrapped in his blue windbreaker, bent down to listen to us, especially his many friends with intellectual disabilities.

To learn more about the life and legacy of Jean Vanier please read the attached backgrounder or visit jean-vanier.org/en.  Source: L'Arche

Biographical Info: 

Jean Vanier, CC, GOQ was born on September 10, 1928 and died on May 7, 2019. He was a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964 he founded L'Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries,for people with disabilities. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light with Marie-Hélène Mathieu, which also helps those with developmental disabilities, in over 80 countries. Vanier's parents were Canadian, Major-General Georges Vanier, the 19th Governor General of Canada (1959–1967), and his wife Pauline Vanier (born Archer). He was born in Geneva while his father was on diplomatic service in Switzerland. The fourth of five siblings.

Pope at meeting with Poor in the Birth Place of St. Mother Teresa "May he grant us a heart capable of loving God present in every man and woman..." Full Text Prayer + Video

[5-7 MAY 2019]
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

God, Father of mercy and all goodness, we thank you for giving us the life and the charism of Saint Mother Teresa. In your boundless providence, you called her to bear witness to your love among the poorest of the poor in India and throughout the world. She was able to do much good to those in greatest need, for she saw in every man and woman the face of your Son. Docile to your Spirit, she became the prayerful cry of the poor and of all those who hunger and thirst for justice. Taking up the words uttered by Jesus on the cross: “I thirst” (Jn 19:28), Mother Teresa sated the thirst of the crucified Lord by accomplishing works of merciful love.
Saint Mother Teresa, mother of the poor, we ask for your special intercession and help, here in this city where you were born, where you had your home. Here you received the gift of rebirth in the sacraments of Christian initiation. Here you heard the first words of faith in your family and in the community of the faithful. Here you began to see and meet people in need, the poor and the helpless. Here you learned from your parents to love those in greatest need and to help them. Here, in the silence of the church, you heard the call of Jesus to follow him as a religious in the missions.
Here in this place, we ask you to intercede with Jesus, that we too may obtain the grace to be watchful and attentive to the cry of the poor, those deprived of their rights, the sick, the outcast and the least of our brothers and sisters. May he grant us the grace to see him in the eyes of all who look to us in their need. May he grant us a heart capable of loving God present in every man and woman, a heart capable of recognizing him in those who experience suffering and injustice. May he grant us the grace to become signs of love and hope in our own day, when so many are poor, abandoned, marginalized and migrants. May he grant that our love not only be on our lips, but that it be effective and genuine, so that we may bear credible witness to the Church whose duty it is to proclaim the Good News to the poor, freedom to prisoners, joy to the afflicted and the grace of salvation to all.

Saint Mother Teresa, pray for this city, for this people, for its Church and for all those who wish to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, as his disciples, by carrying out works of justice, love, mercy, peace and service. To follow him, who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many: Christ our Lord. Amen.

FULL TEXT +Image Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation

Pope Francis Arrives in Birth place of Mother Teresa "..she carried out her apostolate of humble and complete self-giving.." to Authorities in Macedonia

[5-7 MAY 2019]
Mosaique Hall of the Presidential Palace (Skopje)
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Mr President,
Mr Prime Minister,
Honourable Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Civil and Religious Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters
I am very grateful to the President for his kind words of welcome and for the gracious invitation to visit North Macedonia that he, together with the Prime Minister, extended to me.
I also thank the representatives of the other religious communities present among us. I offer a warm greeting to the Catholic community, represented here by the Bishop of Skopje and Eparch of the Eparchy of Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption in Strumica-Skopje, which is an active and integral part of your society, sharing fully in the joys, concerns and daily life of your people.
This is the first time that the Successor of the Apostle Peter has come to the Republic of North Macedonia. I am happy to do so on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, which occurred a few years after the country became independent in September 1991.
Your land, a bridge between East and West and a meeting-point for numerous cultural currents, embodies many of the distinctive marks of this region. With the elegant testimonies of its Byzantine and Ottoman past, its lofty mountain fortresses and the splendid iconostases of its ancient churches, which speak of a Christian presence dating back to apostolic times, North Macedonia reflects all the depth and richness of its millennial culture. But allow me to say that these great cultural treasures are themselves only a reflection of your more precious patrimony: the multiethnic and multi-religious countenance of your people, the legacy of a rich and, indeed, complex history of relationships forged over the course of centuries.
This crucible of cultures and ethnic and religious identities has resulted in a peaceful and enduring coexistence in which those individual identities have found expression and developed without rejecting, dominating or discriminating against others. They have shown a greater disposition for tolerance; they have been able to demonstrate respect. They have thus given rise to a fabric of relationships and interactions that can serve as an example and a point of reference for a serene and fraternal communal life marked by diversity and reciprocal respect.
These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe. It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.
Here, in fact, the different religious identities of Orthodox, Catholics, other Christians, Muslims and Jews, and the ethnic differences between Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Croats, and persons of other backgrounds, have created a mosaic in which every piece is essential for the uniqueness and beauty of the whole. That beauty will become all the more evident to the extent that you succeed in passing it on and planting it in the hearts of the coming generation.
Every effort made to enable the diverse religious expressions and the different ethnic groups to find a common ground of understanding and respect for the dignity of every human person, and consequently the guarantee of fundamental freedoms, will surely prove fruitful. Indeed, those efforts will serve as the necessary seedbed for a future of peace and prosperity.
I would also like to acknowledge the generous efforts made by your Republic – both by the State authorities themselves and with the valued contribution of various international Agencies, the Red Cross, Caritas and several non-governmental organizations – to welcome and provide assistance to the great number of migrants and refugees coming from different Middle Eastern countries. Fleeing from war or from conditions of dire poverty often caused precisely by grave outbreaks of violence, in the years 2015 and 2016, they crossed your borders, headed for the most part towards northern and western Europe. With you, they found a secure haven. The ready solidarity offered to those in such great need – people who had left behind so many of their dear ones, to say nothing of their homes, their work and their homeland – does you honour. It says something about the soul of this people that, having itself experienced great privations, you recognize in solidarity and in the sharing of goods the route to all authentic development. It is my hope that you will cherish the chain of solidarity that emerged from that emergency, and thus support all volunteer efforts to meet the many different forms of hardship and need.
I wish likewise to pay homage in a very special way to one of your illustrious fellow-citizens, who, moved by the love of God, made love of neighbour the supreme law of her life. She won the admiration of the whole world and pioneered a specific and radical way of devoting one’s life to the service of the abandoned, the discarded, and the poorest of the poor. I am naturally referring to the woman universally known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Born in 1910 in a suburb of Skopje with the name of Anjezë Gonxha Bojaxhiu, she carried out her apostolate of humble and complete self-giving in India and, through her Sisters, reached out to the most varied geographical and existential peripheries. I am pleased that I will shortly be able to pause in prayer at the Memorial dedicated to her, built on the site of the Church of the Sacred Heart, where she was baptized.
You are rightly proud of this great woman. I urge you to continue to work in a spirit of commitment, dedication and hope, so that the sons and daughters of this land, following her example, can recognize, attain and fully develop the vocation that God has envisaged for them.
Mr President,
From the time that North Macedonia gained its independence, the Holy See has closely followed the steps that this country has taken to advance dialogue and understanding between the civil authorities and religious confessions.
Today, God’s providence offers me the chance to demonstrate personally this closeness and to express gratitude as well for the yearly visit made to the Vatican by an official Delegation of yours on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. I encourage you to persevere with confidence along the path you have taken, in order to make your country a beacon of peace, acceptance and fruitful integration between cultures, religions and peoples. Drawing from their respective identities and the vitality of their cultural and civil life, they will thus be able to build a common destiny in openness to the enrichment that each has to offer.

May God protect and bless North Macedonia, preserve it in concord, and grant it prosperity and joy!
FULL TEXT +Image Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation

#BreakingNews Government in China Demolishes Church and plans to Destroy 23 more. - Please Pray!

Handan, Shen Liu church demolition begins. The destruction of 23 more churches is scheduled (VIDEO)
Asia News Report: by Peter Zhao
The government wants to demolish the church because it is "too visible from the highway". It also says that there are no building permits. But the faithful say this is false. The Communist Party changes attitudes "like the moon": first it gives the permits, then it denies them. Prayer campaign of the faithful. Handan is only the first step: other dioceses are next.

Handan (AsiaNews) – Last night, between May 6 and 7, the demolition of the Catholic church of the village of Shen Liu in the diocese of Handan (Hebei) began. So far the destruction has entailed removing a huge cross from the bell tower, but soon the walls will be torn down.

Local authorities have motivated their decision because the church and the cross are "too visible" from the nearby highway and passing cars can be distracted by the Christian symbol and the building. They also say that the church does not have all the necessary building permits. Instead parishioners maintain that the church – belonging to the official community - was built with the permission of the Religious Affairs Office.

According to some priests of the diocese, the local government has already planned the destruction of 23 other churches, all belonging to the official community.

The injunction to demolish Shen Liu's church dates  to April1 8, Holy Thursday. After much discussion with the priest in charge, the authorities agreed to removing only  the cross and saving the building, however, only if it is used for other purposes not related to worship.

It is very likely that the priest will accept this condition. As one of the faithful comments, taking his cue from the game of Chess, he is willing "to sacrifice the  knight to save the queen".

The Diocese of Handan has already been warned that there are at least 24 churches that "have no building permits" and will therefore be destroyed. In fact, as the pastor of one of them explains, "at the beginning of the construction of the church, we filed the request and we also obtained permission from the Religious Affairs Office of the village, the municipality and the county. Now they say that it is no longer valid! ".

An elderly Shanxi priest comments laconically: "The Communist Party is like a moon: it changes every day, from the first to the 15th of the month!"

Throughout the diocese the faithful are organizing moments of prayer to Our Lady to "ask for her protection", hoping that "the holders of power will change their mind and grant true religious freedom to the people".

Others, especially among the priests, express some considerations: "The violence of the world can demolish the crosses and the churches, but it cannot destroy the Church and the faith in people's hearts! According to history, totalitarianism has never succeeded in destroying the Church, on the contrary it has made it has purified and strengthened it! More than 2000 years have passed since the Church was founded: how many tyrants wanted to destroy it? And how many dynasties has the Church survived? No dictator can escape the grip of death, and no society always thrives; time is the best tool! The Zhou dynasty respected ceremonies and rituals, and therefore lasted 800 years; violence reigned in the Qin dynasty, and it lasted only two generations. Whoever gains the heart of the people will reign! ".

Another priest warns: "I fear that after starting from the diocese of Handan, they will soon pass to other dioceses to make them suffer the same fate. Long ago, Handan's minor seminary was dissolved; then they put the Chinese flag in place of the cross. Thus, slowly, other dioceses will also have to follow the example. Last night is the first church in the Hebei province from which they have torn down the Cross. Who knows whose turn is next! ". Full Text Share from Asia News IT