Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Thursday, October 1, 2020 - #StTherese Memorial - Your Virtual Church

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 458

Reading 1
JB 19:21-27
Job said:

Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you hound me as though you were divine,
and insatiably prey upon me?

Oh, would that my words were written down!
Would that they were inscribed in a record:
That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14
R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

MK 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
LK 10:1-12
Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day
than for that town.”
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint October 1 : St. Therese of Lisieux, Little Flower, the Patron of AIDS, Illness, and Missionaries - Known for sending Roses from Heaven!

January 2, 1873, Alençon, France
September 30, 1897, Lisieux, France
May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI
Major Shrine:
Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse, Lisieux, France
Patron of:
AIDS sufferers; aviators; bodily ills; florists; France; illness; loss of parents; missionaries; tuberculosis

At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: "My God, I love You!"
The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, "Story of a Soul". She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

She loved flowers and saw herself as the "little flower of Jesus," who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden. Because of this beautiful analogy, the title "little flower" remained with St. Therese.

Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world. Text Source: - Image Source: Google Images -
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens And send it to me As a message of love.
O little flower of Jesus, Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence In your hands.
(Mention your specific requests)

St. Therese, help me to always believe, As you did,
In God's great love for me, So that I might imitate your
"Little Way" each day. Amen

Pope Francis Says We Should Keep "Our eyes fixed on Jesus, who saves and heals the world." FULL TEXT + Video

San Damaso courtyard
Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Catechesis “Healing the world”: 9. Preparing the future together with Jesus who saves and heals
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In recent weeks we have reflected together, in the light of the Gospel, on how to heal the world that is suffering from a malaise that the pandemic has highlighted and accentuated. The malaise was already there: the pandemic highlighted it more, it accentuated it. We have walked the paths of dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, paths that are essential to promote human dignity and the common good. And as disciples of Jesus, we have proposed to follow in His steps, opting for the poor, rethinking the use of material goods and taking care of our common home. In the midst of the pandemic that afflicts us, we have anchored ourselves to the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, letting ourselves be guided by faith, by hope and by charity. Here we have found solid help so as to be transformers who dream big, who are not stopped by the meanness that divides and hurts, but who encourage the generation of a new and better world.

I hope this journey will not come to an end with this catechesis of mine, but rather that we may be able to continue to walk together, to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Heb 12:2), as we heard at the beginning; our eyes fixed on Jesus, who saves and heals the world. As the Gospel shows us, Jesus healed the sick of every type (see Mt 9:35), He gave sight to the blind, the word to the mute, hearing to the deaf. And when He cured diseases and physical infirmity, He also healed the spirit by forgiving sins, because Jesus always forgives, as well as “social pains” by including the marginalised (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1421). Jesus, who renews and reconciles every creature (see 2 Cor 5.17; Col 1:19-20), gives us the gifts necessary to love and heal as He knew how to do (see Lk 10:1-9; Jn  15:9-17), to take care of all without distinction on the basis of race, language or nation.
So that this may truly happen, we need to contemplate and appreciate the beauty of every human being and every creature. We were conceived in the heart of God (see Eph 1:3-5). “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”.[1] Furthermore, every creature has something to say to us about God the creator (see Encyclical Laudato si’, 69239). Acknowledging this truth and giving thanks for the intimate bonds in our universal communion with all people and all creatures activates “generous care, full of tenderness” (ibid., 220). And it also helps us to recognise Christ present in our poor and suffering brothers and sisters, to encounter them and to listen to their cry and the cry of the earth that echoes it (see ibid., 49).
Inwardly mobilised by these cries that demand of us another course (see ibid., 53), that demand we change, we will be able to contribute to the restoration of relations with our gifts and capacities (cf. ibid., 19). We will be able to regenerate society and not return to so-called “normality”,  which is an ailing normality, which was ailing before the pandemic: the pandemic highlighted it! “Now we return to normality”: no, this will not do, because this normality was sick with injustice, inequality and environmental degradation. The normality to which we are called is that of the Kingdom of God, where  “the blind see again, and the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Mt 11:5). And nobody plays dumb by looking the other way. This is what we have to do in order to change. In the normality of the Kingdom of God, there is bread for all and more to spare, social organisation is based on contributing, sharing and distributing, not on possessing, excluding and accumulating (see Mt 14:13-21).
The gesture that enables progress in a society, a family, a neighbourhood, or a city, all of them, is to give oneself, to give, which is not giving alms, but to give from the heart. A gesture that distances us from selfishness and the eagerness to possess. But the Christian way of doing this is not a mechanical way: it is a human way. We will never be able to emerge from the crisis that has been highlighted by the pandemic, mechanically, with new tools - which are very important, they allow us to move forward, and we must not be afraid of them - but knowing that even the most sophisticated means, able to do many things, are incapable of one thing: tenderness. And tenderness is the very sign of Jesus' presence. Approaching others in order to walk together, to heal, to help, to sacrifice oneself for others.
So it is important, that normality of the Kingdom of God: there is bread for everyone, social organisation is based on contributing, sharing and distributing, with tenderness; not on possessing, excluding and accumulating. Because at the end of life, we will not take anything with us into the other life!
A small virus continues to cause deep wounds and to expose our physical, social and spiritual vulnerabilities. It has laid bare the great inequality that reigns in the world: inequality of opportunity, inequality of goods, inequality of access to health care, inequality of technology,  education: millions of children cannot go to school, and so the list goes on. These injustices are neither natural nor inevitable. They are the work of man, they come from a model of growth detached from the deepest values. Food waste: with that waste one can feed others. And this has made many people lose hope and has increased uncertainty and anguish. That is why, to come out of the pandemic, we must find the cure not only for the coronavirus - which is important! - but also for the great human and socio-economic viruses. They must not be concealed or whitewashed so they cannot be seen. And certainly we cannot expect the economic model that underlies unfair and unsustainable development to solve our problems. It has not and will not, because it cannot do so, even though some false prophets continue to promise the “trickle-down” that never comes.[2] You have heard yourselves, the theory of the glass: it is important that the glass is full, and then overflows to the poor and to others, and they receive wealth. But there is a phenomenon: the glass starts to fill up and when it is almost full it grows, it grows and it grows, and never overflows. We must be careful.
We need to set to work urgently to generate good policies, to design systems of social organisation that reward participation, care and generosity, rather than indifference, exploitation and particular interests. We must go ahead with tenderness. A fair and equitable society is a healthier society. A participatory society - where the “last” are taken into account just like the “first” - strengthens communion. A society where diversity is respected is much more resistant to any kind of virus.
Let us place this healing journey under the protection of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Health. May she, who carried Jesus in her womb, help us to be trustful. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we can work together for the Kingdom of God that Christ inaugurated in this world by coming among us. It is a Kingdom of light in the midst of darkness, of justice in the midst of so many outrages, of joy in the midst of so much pain, of healing and of salvation in the midst of sickness and death, of tenderness in the midst of hatred. May God grant us to “viralise" love and to “globalise” hope in the light of faith.

[1] Benedict XVI, Homily for the beginning of the Petrine ministry (24 April 2005); see Encyclical Laudato si’, 65.
[2] “Trickle-down effect” in English, “derrame” in Spanish (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 54).


Today I signed the Apostolic Letter "Sacrae Scripturae affectus", on the 16th centenary of the death of Saint Jerome.

May the example of this great doctor and father of the Church, who put the Bible at the center of his life, arouse in everyone a renewed love for Sacred Scripture and the desire to live in personal dialogue with the Word of God.

* * *

I address a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking faithful. May the Lord obtain for you the good that your heart desires for yourselves and for those close to you on the journey of life.

Finally, my thoughts go, as usual, to the elderly, young people, the sick and newlyweds. Each one, in the situation in which he finds himself, knows how to be generous both in the commitment for a better future, both in the acceptance of trial and suffering, and in the mutual love for building a harmonious and true family.

Special greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful, especially the new seminarians who have arrived in Rome to begin their years of formation and the deacons of the Pontifical North American College. May the Lord sustain their efforts to be faithful servants of the Gospel. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française. Frères et sœurs, sous la protection de la Vierge Marie, mettons-nous à l’œuvre, chacun selon nos moyens, pour réaliser autour de nous une société où les derniers sont pris en considération au même titre que les premiers. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
[I cordially greet the French-speaking faithful. Brothers and sisters, under the protection of the Virgin Mary, let us set to work, each according to his own means, to create around us a society in which the last are considered as the first. God bless you!]
In einigen Tagen begehen wir das Schutzengelfest. Wenden wir uns im Gebet oft an sie, auf dass sie uns in allen Lebenslagen beistehen und uns helfen, unseren Blick fest auf Jesus, unsere einzige Rettung, zu richten.
[In a few days we will celebrate the feast of the Guardian Angels. Let us turn to them frequently in prayer, so that they will help us in all situations of our life and help us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, our only salvation.]
Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española. De modo particular, saludo al grupo de sacerdotes del Pontificio Colegio Mexicano, que siguen aquí en Roma su formación integral, para conformarse cada día más a Cristo Buen Pastor. Hoy hacemos memoria de san Jerónimo, un estudioso apasionado de la Sagrada Escritura, que hizo de ella el motor y el alimento de su vida. Que su ejemplo nos ayude también a nosotros a leer y conocer la Palabra de Dios, «porque ignorar las Escrituras ― decía él― es ignorar a Cristo». Que el Señor los bendiga.
(I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking faithful. In a particular way, I greet the group of priests of the Pontifical Mexican College, who continue their integral formation here in Rome, to conform more and more to Christ the Good Shepherd. Today we remember Saint Jerome, a passionate student of Sacred Scripture, who made it the engine and the nourishment of his life. May his example help us also to read and know the Word of God, "because to ignore the Scriptures - he said - is to ignore Christ." May the Lord bless you.)

Dirijo uma cordial saudação aos fiéis de língua portuguesa. Hoje celebramos a memória de São Jerônimo que nos lembra que a ignorância das Escrituras é ignorância de Cristo. Queridos amigos, de bom grado fazei da Bíblia o alimento diário do vosso diálogo com o Senhor, assim vos convertereis em colaboradores sempre mais disponíveis para trabalhar pelo Reino que Jesus inaugurou neste mundo. Que Deus vos abençoe a vós e a vossos entes queridos!
[I address a cordial greeting to the Portuguese-speaking faithful. Today we celebrate the memory of St. Jerome who reminds us that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Dear friends, gladly make the Bible the daily food of your dialogue with the Lord, in this way you will become collaborators more and more willing to work for the Kingdom that Christ has inaugurated in this world. God bless you and those dear to you!]أحيّي المؤمنين الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية. لِنَنْظُرْ إلى المسيح بشجاعة، ولِنَتأَمَلْ حياتَه ولِنَعْمَلْ معًا من أجلِ ملكوتِه الذي بدأه في هذا العالم عندما عاشَ بيننا. إنّه ملكوتُ النورِ في وسطِ الظلام، وملكوتُ العدالةِ في وسطِ العديدِ من الإساءات، وملكوتُ الفرحِ في وسطِ الكثيرِ من الآلام، وملكوتُ الشفاءِ والخلاصِ في وسطِ الأمراضِ والموت. ليباركْكُم الرّبُّ جميعًا ويحرسْكُم دائمًا من كلِّ شر!
[I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. Let us look to Christ with courage, contemplating his life and working together for his Kingdom, which he inaugurated in this world by coming among us. A Kingdom of light in the midst of darkness, of justice in the midst of so many outrages, of joy in the midst of so many pains, of healing and salvation in the midst of sickness and death. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil!]
‎‎‎Serdecznie pozdrawiam Polaków. Drodzy bracia i siostry, wchodzimy w miesiąc październik, tradycyjnie poświęcony Matce Bożej Różańcowej. Bądźcie wierni waszemu zwyczajowi modlitwy różańcowej w waszych wspólnotach, a szczególnie w rodzinach. Rozważając każdego dnia w tajemnice życia Maryi w świetle zbawczego dzieła Jej Syna, pozwólcie Jej uczestniczyć w waszych radościach, w waszych troskach i w chwilach szczęścia. Niech przez Jej ręce Bóg wam błogosławi!
[I cordially greet the Poles. Dear brothers and sisters, we are about to enter the month of October, traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. Be faithful to your custom of praying the rosary in your communities and, above all, in families. By meditating every day on the mysteries of Mary's life in the light of her Son's saving work, let her share in your joys, your worries and moments of happiness. By his hands God bless you!]

FULL TEXT at Freedom Symposium - US Sec. State Mike Pompeo Quotes Pope Francis saying the Church should be “permanently in a state of mission.” + Video

Moral Witness and Religious Freedom



SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good morning, everyone.

Thank you, Ambassador Gingrich, for that incredibly kind introduction.  You’ve done wonderful work with this important symposium.  I’m glad to be here for the second time.

To Your Eminence Cardinal Parolin, thank you for being here.

It’s great to see you again too, Archbishop Gallagher.

It’s wonderful to be with a lot of good friends, old friends.

I want to also welcome other members of the clergy, members of the diplomatic corps who are here as well, and all of the distinguished guests.  It’s an honor to be here.  It truly is.

I especially want to recognize many of the leaders of faith-based groups we have in the audience today.  You reflect the grace of God in serving others.  Thank you for what you do, and may God bless all of you.

And I’m humbled too by those of you here who have spent your entire lives in service of God in full-time pastoral ministry, makes my job look easy.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, an anniversary that I’ve reflected on quite a bit as I’ve traveled throughout Europe several times this year.

That life or death struggle was a crucible, a proving ground of moral witness.  Individual stories of valor were legion.  But I remember especially Father Bernhard Lichtenberg.

Some of you may know the story, but Father Lichtenberg – some of you may not – Father Lichtenberg was a priest in Berlin in the 1930s, who fervently resisted the Nazi regime, and helped Jews with finances, advice, emigration assistance as the Nazi fist tightened.

In 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, he began to speak up more loudly on their behalf, proclaiming at St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin, quote, “Outside the synagogue is burning, and that too, is a house of God.”

Father Lichtenberg didn’t stop with mere words.  From then on, he fearlessly prayed each day publicly for the Jews and other victims of Nazi brutality.

Eventually, the Nazis arrested him in 1941, October.  They offered that he could make a deal: He could go free in exchange for stopping his subversive preaching.  Instead, he asked to accompany deported Jews and Jewish Christians to Poland, so he could minister to them.

In May of 1942, some eight months later, he was given a two-year prison sentence.  When asked if he had anything to add when the sentence was read, he said, quote, “I submit that no harm results to the state by citizens who pray for the Jews.”

Towards the end of his sentence, the Nazis realized they could never break his spirit.  They ordered him sent to Dachau concentration camp, but he died on the way before he reached that grim destination.

Father Lichtenberg bore an incredible moral witness, and in 2004 he was honored by the State of Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, a non-Jew who risked his life to save Jews from Nazis.

Today, as we think about that man, I urge all faith leaders to exhibit a similarly moral, bold witness for the sake of religious freedom, for human dignity, and for peace.

Now, many of you know when I was here last year, I spoke about religious freedom at length.

It was important for me to attend this year, because the mission of defending human dignity – and religious freedom in particular – remains at the core of American foreign policy.

That’s because it’s at the heart of the American experiment.  Our founders regarded religious freedom as an absolutely essential right of mankind and central to our founding.

Indeed, I would say it’s an integral part to what Pope John Paul II described as the “universal longing for freedom” at the United Nations when he spoke in 1995.  Billions of people today – as Ambassador Gingrich said, people have always seeked to worship according to their conscience.

But sadly, authoritarian regimes, terrorists, and even secularists, free societies are – in their different ways – trampling religious freedom all around the world.

Vast swathes of humanity live in countries where religious freedom is restricted, from places like Iran, to Nigeria, and to Cuba, and beyond.

The State Department spends ample resources at chronicling these horrific situations in an annual report that extends to the thousands of pages.

Nowhere, however – nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today.  That’s because, as with all communist regimes, the Chinese Communist Party deems itself the ultimate moral authority.

An increasingly repressive CCP, frightened by its own lack of democratic legitimacy, works day and night to snuff out the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a horrifying scale.

I spoke on this topic last year for a bit, and I paid special attention last year to the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang.

But they’re not the only victims.  The Chinese Communist Party has battered every religious community in China: Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and more.

Nor, of course, have Catholics been spared this wave of repression:

Catholic churches and shrines have been desecrated and destroyed.

Catholic bishops like Augustine Cui Tai have been imprisoned, as have priests in Italy.[1]

And Catholic lay leaders in the human rights movement, not least in Hong Kong, have been arrested.

Authorities order residents to replace pictures of Jesus with those of Chairman Mao and those of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

All of these believers are the heirs of those Pope John Paul celebrated in his speech to the UN, those who had “taken the risk of freedom, asking to be given a place in social, political, and economic life which is commensurate with their dignity as free human beings.”

We must support those demanding freedoms in our time, like Father Lichtenberg did.

Now, the United States can and does play its part in speaking up for those oppressed, although we too can do more.  But we work hard to shine the light on abuses, punish those responsible, and encourage others to join us in this advocacy.

But for all that nation-states can do, ultimately, our efforts are constrained by the realities of world politics.  Countries must sometimes make compromises to advance good ends, leaders come and go, and indeed priorities change.

The Church is in a different position.  Earthly considerations shouldn’t discourage principled stances based on eternal truths.  And as history shows, Catholics have often deployed their principles in glorious, glorious service of human dignity.

The French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain helped lay the intellectual foundation for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the bishops of Poland and West Germany led the way towards reconciliation between their countries.

And every serious scholar of the Cold War now acknowledges that Pope John Paul II played a pivotal role in igniting the revolution of conscience that brought down the Iron Curtain.

John Paul II was also unafraid.  He challenged Latin America authoritarianism and helped inspire democratic transition.

Pope Emeritus Benedict described religious freedom as “an essential element of a constitutional state,” and indeed, “the litmus test for the respect of all human rights.”

And just like Pope Benedict, Pope Francis has spoken eloquently about the “human ecology” essential to decent societies.

And in my own country, movements to end slavery in the 19th century and expand civil rights for African Americans in the 20th century were largely led by Christians of many denominations who appealed to our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as well to our core founding principles.

These examples, these remarkable examples of Christian action for freedom, justice, and human dignity shame those who are trying to drive faith from the public square.

But even more importantly, they should inspire us today, and especially those of you who hold spiritual authority of any faith, to lead in our own time.

Pope Francis has exhorted the Church to be “permanently in a state of mission.”  It’s a hope that resonates with this evangelical Protestant who believes, as the Holy Father does, that those of us given the gift of Christian faith have an obligation to do our best to bless others.

To be a Church “permanently in a state of mission” has many meanings.  Surely, one of them is to be a Church permanently in defense of basic human rights.

A Church permanently in opposition to tyrannical regimes.

A Church permanently engaged in support of those who wish to take “the risk of freedom” of which Pope John Paul II spoke, especially, most especially where religious freedom is denied, or limited, or even crushed.

As Christians, we all know we live in a fallen world.  That means that those who have responsibility for the common good must sometimes deal with wicked men and indeed with wicked regimes.  But in doing so – in doing so, statesmen representing democracies must never lose sight of the moral truths and human dignity that make democracy itself possible.

So also should religious leaders.  Religious leaders should understand that being salt and light must often mean exercising a bold moral witness.

And this call to witness extends to all faiths, not just to Christians and Catholics.  It’s for leaders of all faiths at – indeed, at every level.

It’s my fervent hope that Muslim leaders will speak up for the Uyghurs and other oppressed Muslims in China, including ethnic Kazakhs and the Krygyz.

Jewish leaders, too, must stand up for the dwindling Jewish community in Yemen.

Christian leaders have an obligation to speak up for their brothers and sisters in Iraq, in North Korea, and in Cuba.

I call on every faith leader to find the courage to confront religious persecution against their own communities, as well as Father Lichtenberg did against members of other faiths as well.

Every man and woman of faith is called to exercise a moral witness against the persecution of believers.  Indeed – we’re here today to talk about religious freedom – the very future of religious freedom depends upon these acts of moral witness.

It’s now some twenty years ago this very week that Pope John Paul II canonized 87 Chinese believers and 33 European missionaries killed in China before the current Communist regime took power.

At the time, he said the following:  He said that “the Church intends merely to recognize that those martyrs are an example of courage and consistency to us all, and that they honor the noble Chinese people.”

Brave men and women all over the world, taking that “risk of freedom,” continue to fight for respect for their right to worship, because their conscience demands it.

Pope John Paul II bore witness to his flock’s suffering, and he challenged tyranny.  By doing so, he demonstrated how the Holy See can move our world in a more humane direction, like almost no other institution.

May the Church, and all those who know that we are ultimately accountable to God, be so bold in our time.  May we all be so bold in our time.

Thank you.

And may God bless each and every one of you who are here today.

Thank you.

[1] as have priests and laity.


Churches Opened in Hong Kong as Religious Gatherings Now Permitted after Lockdown is Lifted

Asia News IT reports that religious gatherings allowed after lockdown lifted.
by Paul Wang
The government is allowing religious and sporting gatherings. Some restrictions remain in place until 8 October. So far, Hong Kong has reported 5,079 cases with 105 deaths.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – "Let's begin again!" said a missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), after the diocese announced that public Masses can be celebrated again, starting next Friday, after months of lockdown.

The Chancery Office of the Diocese of Hong Kong sent a notice to its priests a few hours after local authorities lifted the ban on “group gatherings”, including those by religious groups and sporting organisations. This follows a significant drop in COVID-19 cases.

Since 15 September, no local cases have been reported. However, certain requirements remain in place until 8 October, such a wearing masks in public, both indoors and outdoors; keeping social distance in restaurants; and no groups of more than four people.

The guidelines of the Diocese of Hong Kong follow government regulations: Congregations in churches must be limited to 50 per cent of the buildings’ normal capacity; and worshippers entering churches must wear a mask, cleanse their hands with a sanitiser; and have their body temperature taken.

Since the number of worshippers will be reduced to maintain social distancing, the diocese suggests adding one or two masses to allow more people to take part in the services.

So far, Hong Kong has reported 5,079 SARS-coV-2 cases with 105 deaths.

FULL TEXT Source: Asia News IT

Vatican Intends to Renew Provisional Agreement on Appointment of Bishops with Church in China

Vatican News reports of the Holy See and China: reasons for Agreement on appointment of bishops.
Vatican News release: By October a decision is expected regarding the Vatican proposal to extend the Provisional Agreement ad experimentum: “It is worth continuing”, Cardinal Parolin explains.
By Andrea Tornielli

The Provisional Agreement signed on 22 September 2018 between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China regarding the appointment of bishops, which went into effect a month later, will expire this coming 22 October. Signed in Beijing, the term of the ad experimentum Provisional Agreement was set for two years after which it would eventually be definitively confirmed or some other decision reached. Recently, the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin explained that the intention is to propose an extension to the Chinese authorities, maintaining the Agreement as provisional, “as done in these first two years, so as to further verify its usefulness for the Church in China”. Notwithstanding the lengthy period of time and difficulties, aggravated in the last ten months due to the pandemic, Parolin said, “it seems to me that a direction has been marked out that is worth continuing; then we will see”.

From the first communiqué, jointly published by the Holy See and the Chinese government on 22 September 2018, the subject matter of the Agreement itself had been clearly specified immediately: that it does not cover direct diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, the juridical status of the Catholic Chinese Church, or the relations between the clergy and the country’s authorities. The Provisional Agreement exclusively treats the process for the appointment of bishops: an essential question for the life of the Church and for the necessary communion between the pastors of the Chinese Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome and with the bishops throughout the world. The goal of the Provisional Agreement, therefore, has never been merely diplomatic, much less, political, but was always genuinely pastoral. Its objective is to permit the Catholic faithful to have bishops in full communion with the Successor of Peter who are at the same time recognized by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China.

Right after the signing of the Provisional Agreement, in his September 2018 Message to the Catholics of China and the Universal Church, Pope Francis recalled that in the last decades, wounds and divisions in the heart of the Catholic Church in China were “centered especially on the figure of the bishop as the guardian of the authenticity of the faith and as guarantor of ecclesial communion”. The interventions of political structures on the internal life of the Catholic community had provoked the phenomenon of the so-called “underground” community, which sought to remove itself from the control of the religious politics of the government.

Well aware of the wounds inflicted on the communion of the Church caused by weakness and error, but also by undue external pressure on people, Pope Francis, after years of lengthy negotiations undertaken by his predecessors, has reestablished full communion with Chinese bishops ordained without papal mandate. This decision was taken after having reflected, prayed and examined each individual personal situation. The sole scope of the Provisional Agreement, the Pontiff clarified, is “to support and advance the preaching of the Gospel, and to reestablish and preserve the full and visible unity of the Catholic community in China”.

The first two years led to new episcopal appointments with Rome’s agreement, some of which were officially recognized by the government in Beijing. Even though contact was blocked in recent months due to the pandemic, the results have been positive, although limited, and suggest going forward with the application of the Agreement for another determined period of time.
Full Text Source:

Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter on Sacred Scripture and St. Jerome - "Scripturae Sacrae Affectus" - "an ever deeper understanding of the Christian mystery." FULL TEXT


Devotion to sacred Scripture, a “living and tender love” for the written word of God: this is the legacy that Saint Jerome bequeathed to the Church by his life and labours. Now, on the sixteen hundredth anniversary of his death, those words taken from the opening prayer of his liturgical Memorial[1] give us an essential insight into this outstanding figure in the Church’s history and his immense love for Christ. That “living and tender love” flowed, like a great river feeding countless streams, into his tireless activity as a scholar, translator and exegete. Jerome’s profound knowledge of the Scriptures, his zeal for making their teaching known, his skill as an interpreter of texts, his ardent and at times impetuous defence of Christian truth, his asceticism and harsh eremitical discipline, his expertise as a generous and sensitive spiritual guide – all these make him, sixteen centuries after his death, a figure of enduring relevance for us, the Christians of the twenty-first century.
On 30 September 420, Saint Jerome died in Bethlehem, in the community that he had founded near the grotto of the Nativity. He thus entrusted himself to the Lord whom he had always sought and known in the Scriptures, the same Lord whom, as a Judge, he had already encountered in a feverish dream, possibly during the Lenten season of 375. That dream proved to be a decisive turning point in his life, an occasion of conversion and change in outlook. He saw himself dragged before the Judge. As he himself recalled: “Questioned about my state, I responded that I was a Christian. But the Judge retorted: ‘You lie! You are a Ciceronian, not a Christian’”.[2] Jerome had loved from his youth the limpid beauty of the Latin classics, whereas the writings of the Bible had initially struck him as uncouth and ungrammatical, too harsh for his refined literary taste.
That experience inspired Jerome to devote himself entirely to Christ and his word, and to strive through his translations and commentaries to make the divine writings increasingly accessible to others. It gave his life a new and more decisive orientation: he was to become a servant of the word of God, in love, as it were, with the “flesh of Scripture”. Thus, in the pursuit of knowledge that marked his entire life, he put to good use his youthful studies and Roman education, redirecting his scholarship to the greater service of God and the ecclesial community.
As a result, Saint Jerome became one of the great figures of the ancient Church in the period known as the golden age of patristics. He served as a bridge between East and West. A youthful friend of Rufinus of Aquileia, he knew Ambrose and was frequently in correspondence with Augustine. In the East, he knew Gregory of Nazianzus, Didymus the Blind and Epiphanius of Salamis. The Christian iconographic tradition presents him, in the company of Augustine, Ambrose and Gregory the Great, as one of the four great Doctors of the Western Church.
My predecessors have honoured Saint Jerome on various occasions. A century ago, on the fifteenth centenary of his death, Benedict XV dedicated his Encyclical Letter Spiritus Paraclitus (15 September 1920) to Jerome, presenting him to the world as “doctor maximus explanandis Scripturis”.[3] More recently, Benedict XVI devoted two successive catecheses to his person and works.[4] Now on the 1600th anniversary of his death, I too desire to commemorate Saint Jerome and to emphasize once more the timeliness of his message and teachings, beginning with his immense love for the Scriptures.
Indeed, as a sure guide and authoritative witness, Jerome in some sense dominated both the XII Assembly of the Synod of Bishops devoted to the Word of God,[5] and the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini of my predecessor Benedict XVI, published on the feast day of the Saint, 30 September 2010.[6]
From Rome to Bethlehem
The journey of Saint Jerome’s life traversed the roads of the Roman Empire between Europe and the East. Born around 345 in Stridon, on the border between Dalmatia and Pannonia, in present-day Croatia and Slovenia, he received a solid upbringing in a Christian family. As was the custom in those times, he was baptized as an adult sometime between 358 and 364, while studying rhetoric in Rome. During his Roman sojourn, he became an insatiable reader of the Latin classics, studying under the most celebrated teachers of rhetoric then living.
Following his studies, he undertook a long journey through Gaul, which brought him to the imperial city of Trier, now in Germany. There he first encountered Eastern monasticism as disseminated by Saint Athanasius. The result was a deep and enduring desire for that experience, which led him to Aquileia, where, with a few of his friends, “a choir of the blessed”,[7] he inaugurated a period of life in common.
Around the year 374, passing through Antioch, he decided to retire to the desert of Chalcis, in order to realize in an ever more radical manner an ascetical life in which great space was reserved for the study of the biblical languages, first Greek and then Hebrew. He studied under a Christianized Jew who introduced him to the knowledge of Hebrew and its sounds, which he found “harsh and aspirate”.[8]
Jerome consciously chose the desert and the eremitic life for their deeper meaning as a locus of fundamental existential decisions, of closeness and encounter with God. There, through contemplation, interior trials and spiritual combat, he came to understand more fully his own weakness, his own limits and those of others. There too, he discovered the importance of tears.[9] The desert taught him sensitivity to God’s presence, our necessary dependence on him and the consolations born of his mercy. Here, I am reminded of an apocryphal story in which Jerome asks the Lord: “What do you want of me?” To which Christ replies: “You have not yet given me everything”. “But Lord, I have given you all sorts of things”. “One thing you have not given me”. “What is that?” “Give me your sins, so that I may rejoice in forgiving them once more”.[10]
We then find him in Antioch, where he was ordained a priest by the bishop of that city, Paulinus, and later, about 379, in Constantinople, where he met Gregory of Nazianzus and continued his studies. He translated from Greek into Latin several important works (the homilies of Origen and the Chronicle of Eusebius) and was present for the Council celebrated there in 381. Those years of study revealed his generous enthusiasm and a blessed thirst for knowledge that made him tireless and passionate in his work. As he put it: “From time to time I despaired; often I gave up, but then I went back out of a stubborn will to learn”. The “bitter seed” of his studies was to produce “savoury fruits”.[11]
In 382, Jerome returned to Rome and placed himself at the service of Pope Damasus who, appreciating his outstanding gifts, made him one of his close associates. There Jerome engaged in a constant activity, without however neglecting spiritual matters. On the Aventine, supported by aristocratic Roman women intent on a radically evangelical life, like Marcella, Paula and her daughter Eustochium, he created a cenacle devoted to the reading and the rigorous study of Scripture. Jerome acted as exegete, teacher and spiritual guide. At this time, he undertook a revision of the earlier Latin translations of the Gospels and perhaps other parts of the New Testament as well. He continued his work of translating Origen’s homilies and biblical commentaries, engaged in a flurry of letter writing, publically refuted heretical writers, at times intemperately but always moved by the sincere desire to defend the true faith and the deposit of Scripture.
This intense and productive period was interrupted by the death of Pope Damasus. Jerome found himself forced to leave Rome and, followed by friends and some women desirous of continuing the experience of spiritual life and biblical study already begun, left for Egypt, where he met the great theologian Didymus the Blind. He then travelled to Palestine and in 386 settled definitively in Bethlehem. He resumed his study of the biblical texts, texts now anchored in the very places of which they spoke.
The importance he attributed to the holy places is seen not only by his decision to live in Palestine from 386 until his death, but also by the assistance he gave to pilgrims. In Bethlehem, a place close to his heart, he founded in the environs of the grotto of the Nativity, “twin” monasteries, male and female, with hospices to provide lodging for pilgrims to the holy places. This was yet another sign of his generosity, for he made it possible for many others to see and touch the places of salvation history, and to find both cultural and spiritual enrichment.[12]
In his attentive listening to the Scriptures, Jerome came to know himself and to find the face of God and of his brothers and sisters. He was also confirmed in his attraction to community life. His desire to live with friends, as he had in Aquileia, led him to establish monastic communities in order to pursue the cenobitic ideal of religious life. There, the monastery is seen as a “palaestra” for training men and women “who consider themselves least of all, in order to be first among all”, content with poverty and capable of teaching others by their own style of life. Jerome considered it a formative experience to live “under the governance of a single superior and in the company of many” in order to learn humility, patience, silence and meekness, in the awareness that “the truth does not love dark corners and does not seek grumblers”.[13] He also confessed that he “yearned for the close cells of the monastery” and “desired the eagerness of ants, where all work together, nothing belongs to any individual, and everything belongs to everyone”.[14]
Jerome saw his studies not as a pleasant pastime and an end unto itself, but rather as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God. His classical training was now directed to the deeper service of the ecclesial community. We think of the assistance he gave to Pope Damasus and his commitment to the instruction of women, especially in the study of Hebrew, from the time of the first cenacle on the Aventine. In this way, he enabled Paula and Eustochium to “enter the serried ranks of translators”,[15] and, something unheard of in those days, to read and chant the Psalms in the original language.[16]
His great erudition was employed in offering a necessary service to those called to preach the Gospel. As he reminded his friend Nepotianus: “the word of the priest must be flavoured by the reading of Scripture. I do not wish that you be a disclaimer or charlatan of many words, but one who understands the sacred doctrine (mysterii) and knows deeply the teachings (sacramentorum) of your God. It is typical of the ignorant to play around with words and to garner the admiration of inexpert people by speaking quickly. Those who are shameless often explain that which they do not know and pretend to be a great expert only because they succeed in persuading others”.[17]
Jerome’s years in Bethlehem, to the time of his death in 420, were the most fruitful and intense period of his life, completely dedicated to the study of Scripture and to the monumental work of translating the entire Old Testament on the basis of the original Hebrew. At the same time, he commented on the prophetic books, the Psalms and the letters of Paul, and wrote guides to the study of the Bible. The deep learning that flowed over into his works was the fruit of a collaborative effort, from the copying and collating of manuscripts to further reflection and discussion. As he put it: “I have never ever trusted in my own powers to study the divine volumes… I have the habit of asking questions, also about that which I thought I knew and even more so about that of which I was not sure”.[18] Conscious of his limitations, he asked for constant prayer and intercession for his efforts to translate the sacred texts “in the same Spirit by whom they were written”.[19] Nor did he fail to translate works by authors indispensable for exegesis, such as Origen, “in order to make them available to those who would like to study this material more deeply and systematically”.[20]
As an enterprise carried out within the community and at the service of the community, Jerome’s scholarly activity can serve as an example of synodality for us and for our own time. It can also serve as a model for the Church’s various cultural institutions, called to be “places where knowledge becomes service, for no genuine and integral human development can occur without a body of knowledge that is the fruit of cooperation and leads to greater cooperation”.[21] The basis of such communion is Scripture, which we cannot read merely on our own: “The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in this communion with the People of God can we truly enter as a ‘we’ into the heart of the truth that God himself wishes to convey to us”.[22]
His solid experience of a life nurtured by the word of God enabled Jerome, through the many letters he wrote, to become a spiritual guide. He became a fellow traveller to many, for he was convinced that “no skill can be learned without a teacher”. Thus he wrote to Rusticus: “This is what I would like to make you understand, taking you by the hand like an ancient mariner, the survivor of several shipwrecks, attempting to teach a young sailor”.[23] From his peaceful corner of the world, he followed the course of human affairs in an age of great upheaval, marked by events like the sack of Rome in 410, which affected him deeply.
In those letters he dealt with doctrinal controversies, constantly in defence of sound doctrine. His letters also show the value he placed on relationships. Jerome could be forceful but also gentle, sincerely concerned for others, and, since “love is priceless”,[24] enthusiastic in showing genuine affection. This can also be seen from the fact that he offered his works of translation and commentary as a munus amicitiae. They were to be a gift above all for his friends, correspondents and those to whom his works were dedicated – all of whom he begged to read them with a friendly rather than a critical eye – but also for his readers, his contemporaries and those who would come after them.[25]
Jerome spent the last years of his life in the prayerful reading of Scripture, both privately and in community, in contemplation and in serving his brothers and sisters through his writings. All this in Bethlehem, near the grotto where the eternal Word was born of the Virgin Mary. For he was convinced that “they are blessed who bear within them the cross, the resurrection, the places of Christ’s nativity and ascension! Blessed are they who have Bethlehem in their heart, in whose heart Christ is born each day!”.[26]
The “sapiential” aspect of Jerome’s life
To understand Saint Jerome’s personality fully, we need to unite two dimensions that characterized his life as a believer: on the one hand, an absolute and austere consecration to God, renouncing all human satisfaction for love of Christ crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2; Phil 3:8.10), and on the other, a commitment to diligent study, aimed purely at an ever deeper understanding of the Christian mystery. This double witness, wondrously offered by Saint Jerome, can serve as a model above all for monks, since all who live a life of asceticism and prayer are urged to devote themselves to the exacting labour of research and reflection. It is likewise a model for scholars, who should always keep in mind that knowledge has religious value only if it is grounded in an exclusive love for God, apart from all human ambition and worldly aspiration.
These two aspects of his life have found expression in the history of art. Saint Jerome was frequently depicted by great masters of Western painting following two distinct iconographic traditions. One can be described as primarily monastic and penitential, showing Jerome with a body emaciated by fasting, living in the desert, kneeling or prostrate on the ground, in many cases clutching a rock and beating his breast, his eyes turned towards the crucified Lord. In this line, we find the moving masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci now in the Vatican Museums. Another tradition shows Jerome in the garb of a scholar, seated at his writing desk, intent on translating and commenting on the sacred Scriptures, surrounded by scrolls and parchments, devoted to defending the faith through his erudition and his writings. Albrecht Dürer, to cite one famous example, portrayed him more than once in this pose.
The two aspects are brought together in the painting by Caravaggio located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome: indeed in a single scene the elderly ascetic is shown dressed simply in a red robe with a skull on his table, a symbol of the vanity of earthly realities; but at the same time he is evidently depicted as a scholar, his eyes fixed on a book as his hand dips a quill into an inkwell – the typical act of a writer.
These two “sapiential” aspects were very much evident in Jerome’s own life. If, as a true “Lion of Bethlehem”, he could be violent in his language, it was always in the service of a truth to which he was unconditionally committed. As he explained in the first of his writings, the Life of Saint Paul, Hermit of Thebes, lions can roar but also weep.[27]What might at first appear as two separate aspects of Saint Jerome’s character were joined by the Holy Spirit through a process of interior maturation.
Love for sacred Scripture
The distinctive feature of Saint Jerome’s spirituality was undoubtedly his passionate love for the word of God entrusted to the Church in sacred Scripture. All the Doctors of the Church – particularly those of the early Christian era – drew the content of their teaching explicitly from the Bible. Yet Jerome did so in a more systematic and distinctive way.
Exegetes in recent times have come to appreciate the narrative and poetic genius of the Bible and its great expressive quality. Jerome instead emphasized in sacred Scripture the humble character of God’s revelation, set down in the rough and almost primitive cadences of the Hebrew language in comparison to the refinement of Ciceronian Latin. He devoted himself to the study of sacred Scripture not for aesthetic reasons, but – as is well known – only because Scripture had led him to know Christ. Indeed, ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.[28]
Jerome teaches us that not only should the Gospels and the apostolic Tradition present in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Letters be studied and commented on, but that the entire Old Testament is indispensable for understanding the truth and the riches of Christ.[29]The Gospel itself gives evidence of this: it speaks to us of Jesus as the Teacher who appeals to Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (cf. Lk 4:16-21; 24:27.44-47) in order to explain his own mystery. The preaching of Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles is likewise rooted in the Old Testament, apart from which we cannot fully understand the figure of the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour. Nor should the Old Testament be thought of merely as a vast repertoire of citations that prove the fulfilment of the ancient prophecies in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Rather, only in light of the Old Testament prefigurements is it possible to know more profoundly the meaning of the Christ event as revealed in his death and resurrection. Today we need to rediscover, in catechesis and preaching, as well as in theological exposition, the indispensable contribution of the Old Testament, which should be read and digested as a priceless source of spiritual nourishment (cf. Ez 3:1-11; Rev 10:8-11).[30]
Jerome’s complete devotion to Scripture is shown by his impassioned way of speaking and writing, similar to that of the ancient prophets. From them, this Doctor of the Church drew the inner fire that became a vehement and explosive word (cf. Jer 5:14; 20:9; 23:29; Mal 3:2; Sir 48:1; Mt 3:11; Lk 12:49) necessary for expressing the burning zeal of one who serves the cause of God. As with Elijah, John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, indignation at lies, hypocrisy and false teaching inflamed Jerome’s speech, making it provocative and seemingly harsh. We can better understand the polemical dimension of his writings if we read them in the light of the most authentic prophetic tradition. Jerome thus emerges as a model of uncompromising witness to the truth that employs the harshness of reproof in order to foster conversion. By the intensity of his expressions and images, he shows the courage of a servant desirous not of pleasing others, but his Lord alone (Gal 1:10), for whose sake he expended all his spiritual energy.
The study of sacred Scripture
Saint Jerome’s impassioned love for the divine Scriptures was steeped in obedience. First, to God who revealed himself in words that demand a reverent hearing,[31] and, then to those in the Church who represent the living Tradition that interprets the revealed message. The “obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; 16:26) is not, however, a mere passive reception of something already known; on the contrary it demands an active personal effort to understand what was spoken. We can think of Saint Jerome as a “servant” of the word, faithful and industrious, entirely devoted to fostering in his brothers and sisters in faith a more adequate understanding of the sacred “deposit” entrusted to them (cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14). Without an understanding of what was written by the inspired authors, the word of God itself is deprived of its efficacy (cf. Mt 13:19) and love for God cannot spring up.
Biblical passages are not always immediately accessible. As Isaiah said (29:11), even for those who know how to “read” – that is, those who have had a sufficient intellectual training – the sacred book appears “sealed”, hermetically closed to interpretation. A witness is needed to intervene and provide the key to its liberating message, which is Christ the Lord. He alone is able to break the seal and open the book (cf. Rev 5:1-10) and in this way unveil its wondrous outpouring of grace (Lk 4:17-21). Many, even among practising Christians, say openly that they are not able to read it (cf. Is 29:12), not because of illiteracy, but because they are unprepared for the biblical language, its modes of expression and its ancient cultural traditions. As a result the biblical text becomes indecipherable, as if it were written in an unknown alphabet and an esoteric tongue.
This shows the need for the mediation of an interpreter, who can exercise a “diaconal” function on behalf of the person who cannot understand the meaning of the prophetic message. Here we think of the deacon Philip, sent by the Lord to approach the chariot of the eunuch who was reading a passage from Isaiah (53:7-8), without being able to unlock its meaning. “Do you understand what you are reading?” asked Philip, and the eunuch replied: “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31).[32]
Jerome can serve as our guide because, like Philip (cf. Acts 8:35), he leads every reader to the mystery of Jesus, while responsibly and systematically providing the exegetical and cultural information needed for a correct and fruitful reading of the Scriptures.[33] In an integrated and skilful way he employed all the methodological resources available in his day – competence in the languages in which the word of God was handed down, careful analysis and examination of manuscripts, detailed archeological research, as well as knowledge of the history of interpretation – in order to point to a correct understanding of the inspired Scriptures.
This outstanding aspect of the activity of Saint Jerome is also of great importance for the Church in our own time. If, as Dei Verbum teaches, the Bible constitutes as it were “the soul of sacred theology”[34] and the spiritual support of the Christian life,[35] the interpretation of the Bible must necessarily be accompanied by specific skills.
Centres of excellence for biblical research – such as the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and the École Biblique and the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem – and for patristic research, like the Augustinianum in Rome, certainly serve this purpose, but every Faculty of Theology should strive to ensure that the teaching of sacred Scripture is carried out in such a way that students are provided with necessary training in interpretative skills, both in the exegesis of texts and in biblical theology as a whole. Sadly, the richness of Scripture is neglected or minimized by many because they were not afforded a solid grounding in this area. Together with a greater emphasis on the study of Scripture in ecclesiastical programmes of training for priests and catechists, efforts should also be made to provide all the faithful with the resources needed to be able to open the sacred book and draw from it priceless fruits of wisdom, hope and life.[36]
Here I would recall an observation made by Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: “The [sacramental nature] of the word can be understood by analogy with the real presence of Christ under the appearances of the consecrated bread and wine… Saint Jerome speaks of the way we ought to approach both the Eucharist and the word of God: ‘We are reading the sacred Scriptures. For me, the Gospel is the body of Christ; for me, the holy Scriptures are his teaching. And when he says: whoever does not eat my flesh and drink my blood (Jn 6:53), even though these words can also be understood of the [Eucharistic] Mystery, Christ’s body and blood are really the word of Scripture, God’s teaching’”.[37]
Sadly, many Christian families seem unable – as was prescribed in the Torah (cf. Dt 6:6) – to introduce their children to the word of the Lord in all its beauty and spiritual power. This led me to institute the Sunday of the Word of God[38] as a means of encouraging the prayerful reading of the Bible and greater familiarity with God’s word.[39] All other expressions of piety will thus be enriched with meaning, placed in their proper perspective and directed to the fulfilment of faith in complete adherence to the mystery of Christ.
The Vulgate
The “sweetest fruit of the arduous cultivation”[40] of Jerome’s study of Greek and Hebrew was his translation of the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew. Up to that time, Christians of the Roman empire could read the Bible in its entirety only in Greek. The books of the New Testament had been written in Greek; a complete Greek version of the Old Testament also existed, the so-called Septuagint, the translation made by the Jewish community of Alexandria around the second century before Christ. Yet for readers of Latin, there was no complete version of the Bible in their language; only some partial and incomplete translations from the Greek. To Jerome and those who continued his work belongs the merit of undertaking a revision and a new translation of the whole of Scripture. Having begun the revision of the Gospels and the Psalms in Rome with the encouragement of Pope Damasus, Jerome, from his cell in Bethlehem, then started the translation of all the Old Testament books directly from the Hebrew. This work lasted for many years.
To complete this labour of translation, Jerome put to good use his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, as well as his solid training in Latin, employing the philological tools he had at his disposal, in particular Origen’s Hexapla. The final text united continuity in formulas by now in common use with a greater adherence to the Hebrew style, without sacrificing the elegance of the Latin language. The result was a true monument that marked the cultural history of the West, shaping its theological language. Jerome’s translation, after initially encountering some rejection, quickly became the common patrimony of both scholars and ordinary believers; hence the name “Vulgate”.[41] Medieval Europe learned to read, pray and think from the pages of the Bible translated by Jerome. In this way, “sacred Scripture became a sort of ‘immense lexicon’ (Paul Claudel) and ‘iconographic atlas’ (Marc Chagall), from which both Christian culture and art could draw”.[42] Literature, art and even popular language have continually been shaped by Jerome’s translation of the Bible, leaving us great treasures of beauty and devotion.
It was due to this indisputable fact that the Council of Trent, in its decree Insuper, affirmed the “authentic” character of the Vulgate, thus attesting to its use in the Church through the centuries and bearing witness to its value as a tool for the purpose of study, preaching and public disputation.[43] Yet the Council did not seek to minimize the importance of the original languages, as Jerome never stopped insisting, much less forbid undertaking a comprehensive translation in the future. Saint Paul VI, following the indication of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, desired that the work of revising the Vulgate be brought to completion and placed at the service of the whole Church. Thus in 1979 Saint John Paul II, in the Apostolic Constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus,[44] promulgated the typical edition called the “Neo-Vulgate”.
Translation as inculturation
By his translation, Jerome succeeded in “inculturating” the Bible in the Latin language and culture. His work became a permanent paradigm for the missionary activity of the Church. In effect, “whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel ”.[45] Here a kind of circularity is established: just as Jerome’s translation is indebted to the language and culture of classical Latin, whose influence is very evident, so his translation, by its language and its symbolic and highly imaginative content, became in turn an impetus to the creation of a new culture.
Jerome’s work of translation teaches us that the values and positive forms of every culture represent an enrichment for the whole Church. The different ways by which the word of God is proclaimed, understood and experienced in each new translation enrich Scripture itself since, according to the well-known expression of Gregory the Great, Scripture grows with the reader,[46] taking on new accents and new resonance throughout the centuries. The entrance of the Bible and the Gospel into different cultures renders the Church ever more clearly “a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10). At the same time it witnesses to the fact that the Bible continually needs to be translated into the linguistic and mental categories of each culture and generation, also in the secularized global culture of our time.[47]
It has been rightly pointed out that an analogy exists between translation as an act of “linguistic” hospitality and other forms of hospitality.[48] This is why translation does not concern language alone but really reflects a broader ethical decision connected with an entire approach to life. Without translation, different linguistic communities would be unable to communicate among themselves; we would close the doors of history to one another and negate the possibility of building a culture of encounter.[49] In effect, without translation there can be no such hospitality; indeed hostility would increase. A translator is a bridge builder. How many hasty judgments are made, how many condemnations and conflicts arise from the fact that we do not understand the language of other persons and fail to apply ourselves, with firm hope, to the endless demonstration of love that translation represents.
Jerome too had to counter the dominant thought of his time. If the knowledge of Greek was relatively common at the dawn of the Roman Empire, by his time it was already becoming a rarity. He came to be one of the best experts in Greco-Christian language and literature and he undertook a still more arduous and solitary journey when he undertook the study of Hebrew. If, as it has been said, “the limits of my language are the limits of my world”[50], we can say that we owe to Saint Jerome’s knowledge of languages a more universal understanding of Christianity and one steeped more deeply in its sources.
With the celebration of this anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome, our gaze turns to the extraordinary missionary vitality expressed by the fact that the the word of God has been translated into more than three thousand languages. To how many missionaries do we owe the invaluable publication of grammars, dictionaries and other linguistic tools that enable greater communication and become vehicles for “the missionary aspiration of reaching everyone”![51] We need to support this work and invest in it, helping to overcome limits in communication and lost opportunities for encounter. Much remains to be done. It has been said that without translation there can be no understanding:[52] we would understand neither ourselves nor others.
Jerome and the Chair of Peter
Jerome always had a special relationship with the city of Rome: Rome was the spiritual haven to which he constantly returned. In Rome he was trained as a humanist and formed as a Christian; Jerome was a homo Romanus. This bond arose in a very particular way from the Latin language of which he was a master and which he deeply loved, but above all from the Church of Rome and especially the Chair of Peter. The iconographic tradition anachronistically depicts him wearing the robes of a cardinal as a sign of his being a priest of Rome under Pope Damasus. In Rome he began to revise the earlier translation. Even when jealousies and misunderstandings forced him to leave the city, he always remained strongly linked to the Chair of Peter.
For Jerome, the Church of Rome is the fertile ground where the seed of Christ bears abundant fruit.[53] At a turbulent time in which the seamless garment of the Church was often torn by divisions among Christians, Jerome looked to the Chair of Peter as a sure reference point. “As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but Your Holiness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built”. At the height of the controversy with the Arians, he wrote to Damasus: “He that does not gather with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of antichrist”.[54] Consequently Jerome could also state: “He who is united to the Chair of Peter is one with me”.[55]
Jerome was often involved in bitter disputes for the cause of the faith. His love for the truth and his ardent defence of Christ perhaps led him to an excess of verbal violence in his letters and writings. Yet he lived for peace: “I wish for peace as much as others; and not only do I wish for it, I ask for it. But the peace which I want is the peace of Christ; a true peace, a peace without rancour, a peace which does not involve war, a peace which will not reduce opponents but will unite friends”.[56]
Today more than ever, our world needs the medicine of mercy and communion. Here I would like to say once again: let us offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion.[57] “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). This is what Jesus, with intense prayer, asked of the Father: “that they may all be one… in us… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
Loving what Jerome loved
At the conclusion of this Letter, I wish to address an appeal to everyone. Among the many tributes paid to Saint Jerome by later generations, one is that he was not simply one of the greatest scholars of the “library” from which Christianity was enriched over the course of time, beginning from the treasury of sacred Scripture. It could also be said of Jerome that, as he himself said of Nepotianus, “by assiduous reading and constant meditation he made his heart a library of Christ”.[58] Jerome spared no effort in expanding his own library, which he always viewed as an indispensable workshop for understanding the faith and the spiritual life; in this way he serves as a fine example also for the present time. But he did not stop there. For him, study was not limited to the years of his youthful training, but a continual commitment, a daily priority. We can say that he became himself a library and a source of knowledge for countless others. Postumianus, who traveled throughout the East in the fourth century in order to explore the growth of monasticism and spent some months with Jerome, saw this with his own eyes. As he wrote: “[Jerome] is always occupied in reading, always at his books: he takes no rest day or night; he is perpetually either reading or writing something”.[59]
In this regard, I often think of the experience a young person can have today entering a bookshop in his or her city, or visiting an Internet site, to look for the section on religious books. In most cases, this section, when it exists, is not only marginal but poorly stocked with works of substance. Looking at those bookshelves or webpages, it is difficult for a young person to understand how the quest of religious truth can be a passionate adventure that unites heart and mind; how the thirst for God has inflamed great minds throughout the centuries up to the present time; how growth in the spiritual life has influenced theologians and philosophers, artists and poets, historians and scientists. One of the problems we face today, not only in religion, is illiteracy: the hermeneutic skills that make us credible interpreters and translators of our own cultural tradition are in short supply. I would like to pose a challenge to young people in particular: begin exploring your heritage. Christianity makes you heirs of an unsurpassed cultural patrimony of which you must take ownership. Be passionate about this history which is yours. Dare to fix your gaze on the young Jerome who, like the merchant in Jesus’ parable, sold all that he had in order to buy the “pearl of great price” (Mt 13:46).
Jerome can truly be called the “library of Christ”, a perennial library that, sixteen centuries later, continues to teach us the meaning of Christ’s love, a love that is inseparable from an encounter with his word. This is why the present anniversary can be seen as a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself. How can we not heed, in our day, the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand”?[60]
A radiant example of this is the Virgin Mary, evoked by Jerome above all as Virgin and Mother, but also as a model of prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Mary pondered these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19.51) “because she was a holy woman, had read the sacred Scriptures, knew the prophets, and recalled that the angel Gabriel had said to her the same things that the prophets had foretold… She looked at her newborn child, her only son, lying in the manger and crying. What she saw was, in fact, the Son of God; she compared what she saw with all that she had read and heard”.[61] Let us, then, entrust ourselves to Our Lady who, more than anyone, can teach us how to read, meditate, contemplate and pray to God, who tirelessly makes himself present in our lives.
Given in Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on 30 September, the Memorial of Saint Jerome, in the year 2020, the eighth of my Pontificate.


[1]“Deus qui beato Hieronymo presbitero suavem et vivum Scripturae Sacrae affectum tribuisti, da, ut populus tuus verbo tuo uberius alatur et in eo fontem vitae inveniet”. Collecta Missae Sanctae Hieronymi, Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, Civitas Vaticana, 2002.
[2] Epistula (hereafter Ep.) 22, 30: CSEL 54, 190.
[3] AAS 12 (1920), 385-423.
[4] Cf. General Audiences of 7 and 14 November 2007Insegnamenti, III, 2 (2007), 553-556; 586-591.
[5] SYNOD OF BISHOPSTwelfth Ordinary General Assembly, Message to the People of God (24 October 2008).
[6] Cf. AAS 102 (2010), 681-787.
[7] Chronicum 374: PL 27, 697-698.
[8] Ep. 125, 12: CSEL 56, 131.
[9] Cf. Ep. 122, 3: CSEL 56, 63.
[10] Cf. Morning Meditation, 10 December 2015. The anecdote is related in A. LOUF, Sotto la guida dello Spirito, Qiqaion, Mangano (BI), 1990, 154-155.
[11] Cf. Ep. 125, 12: CSEL 56, 131.
[12] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 89: AAS 102 (2010), 761-762.
[13] Cf. Ep. 125, 9.15.19: CSEL 56, 128.133-134.139.
[14] Vita Malchi monachi captivi, 7, 3: PL 23, 59-60.
[15] Praefatio in Librum Esther, 2: PL 28, 1505.
[16] Cf. Ep. 108, 26: CSEL 55, 344-345.
[17] Ep. 52, 8: CSEL 54, 428-429; cf. Verbum Domini, 60: AAS 102 (2010), 739.
[18] Praefatio in Librum Paralipomenon LXX, 1.10-15: Sources Chrétiennes 592, 340.
[19] Praefatio in Pentateuchum: PL 28, 184.
[20] Ep. 80, 3: CSEL 55, 105.
[21] Message on the Occasion of the Twenty-fourth Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, 4 December 2019: L’Osservatore Romano, 6 December 2019, p. 8.
[22] Verbum Domini, 30: AAS 102 (2010), 709.
[23] Ep. 125, 15.2: CSEL 56, 133.120.
[24] Ep. 3, 6: CSEL 54, 18.
[25] Cf. Praefatio in Librum Iosue, 1, 9-12: SCh 592, 316.
[26] Homilia in Psalmum 95: PL 26, 1181.
[27] Cf. Vita S. Pauli primi eremitae, 16, 2: PL 23, 28.
[28] Cf. In Isaiam Prologus: PL 24, 17.
[29] Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 14.
[30] Cf. ibid.
[31] Cf. ibid., 7.
[32] Cf. SAINT JEROME, Ep. 53, 5: CSEL 54, 451.
[33] Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.
[34] Ibid., 24.
[35] Cf. ibid., 25.
[36] Cf. ibid., 21.
[37] N. 56; cf. In Psalmum 147: CCL 78, 337-338.
[38] Cf. Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Aperuit Illis, 30 September 2019.
[39] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 152.175: AAS 105 (2013), 1083-1084.1093.
[40] Cf. Ep. 52, 3: CSEL 54, 417.
[41] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 72: AAS 102 (2010), 746-747.
[42] SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Artists (4 April 1999), 5: AAS 91 (1999), 1159-1160.
[43] Cf. DENZIGER-SCHÖNMETZER, Enchiridion Symbolorum, ed. 43, 1506.
[44] 25 April 1979: AAS 71 (1979), 557-559.
[45] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 116: AAS 105 (2013), 1068.
[46] Homilia in Ezechielem I, 7: PL 76, 843D.
[47] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 116: AAS 105 (2013), 1068.
[48] Cf. P. RICOEUR, Sur la traduction, Paris, 2004.
[49] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24: AAS 105 (2013), 1029-1030.
[50] L. WITTGENSTEIN, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.6.
[51] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 31: AAS 105 (2013), 1033.
[52] Cf. G. STEINER, After Babel. Aspects of Language and Translation, New York, 1975.
[53] Cf. Ep. 15, 1: CSEL 54, 63.
[54] Ibid., 15, 2: CSEL 54, 62-64.
[55] Ibid., 16, 2: CSEL 54, 69.
[56] Ibid., 82, 2: CSEL 55, 109.
[57] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 99: AAS 105 (2013), 1061.
[58] Ep. 60, 10; CSEL 54, 561.
[59] SULPICIUS SEVERUS, Dialogus I, 9, 5: SCh 510, 136-138.
[60] Ep. 52, 7: CSEL 54, 426.
[61] Homilia de Nativitate Domini IV: PL Suppl. 2, 191.