In his daily Mass, Pope Francis cautioned Christians not to be overly-critical of those who preach the Gospel, emphasizing that focusing too much on personal precepts keeps us from being happy.Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus compares the generation to children who are always unhappy or dissatisfied, the Pope stated that “The people of God have a certain allergy to the preachers of the Word: they persecuted the prophets, (even) killed them.”
The pontiff’s Dec. 13 homily was directed at those who were present for his morning Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.
Following the day’s readings, Pope Francis explored the meaning of the Gospel passage, taken from Matthew, explaining that the unhappiness of the people in that generation was because they were “not open to the Word of God.”
Their refusal to listen, he noted, had nothing to do with the message, but the messenger, adding that “They reject John the Baptist,” who came “neither eating nor drinking,” saying that he was “a man possessed.”
They rejected Jesus, the Pope observed, referring to him as “a glutton, a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners,” going on to say that the people always had a reason to criticize the preacher.
“The people of that time preferred to take refuge in a more elaborate religion,” the Pope emphasized, “in the moral precepts, such as the group of Pharisees; in political compromise, as the Sadducees; in social revolution, as the zealots; in gnostic spirituality, such as Essenes.”
“They were (happy) with their clean, well-polished system. The preacher, however, was not (so pleased),” the pontiff explained, recalling that Jesus reminded them of how their ancestors had treated the prophets in the same way.
These people, noted the Pope, claim to accept the truth, “but the preacher, preaching, no.”
“They prefer a life caged in their precepts, in their compromises, in their revolutionary plans or in their (disembodied) spirituality.”
“These Christians are closed, they are trapped, sad,” observed the Pope, “these Christians are not free. Why? Because they are afraid of the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which comes through preaching.”
Stating that “This, then, is the scandal of preaching,” the pontiff recalled the words of Saint Paul in which the apostle referred to “the scandal of preaching that ends in the scandal of the Cross,” adding that “that God should speak to us through men with limits, sinful men, scandalizes.”
“And what scandalizes even more,” stated the Pope, “is that that God should speak to us and save us by way of a man who says he is the Son of God but ends (his life) as a criminal. That scandalizes.”
“These sad Christians,” the pontiff observed, “do not believe in the Holy Spirit, do not believe in the freedom that comes from preaching, which admonishes you, teaches you – slaps you, as well – but it is the very freedom that makes the Church grow.”
In seeing “these children who are afraid to dance, to cry, (who are) afraid of everything, who ask for certainty in all things,” Pope Francis reflected, “I think of these sad Christians, who always criticize the preachers of the Truth, because they are afraid to open the door to the Holy Spirit.”
Concluding his homily, the Pope urged the Mass attendees to “pray for them,” and to “pray also for ourselves, that we do not become sad Christians, cutting off the freedom of the Holy Spirit to come to us through the scandal of preaching.”
The Spirit Of The World Negotiates Everything…Even Faith!
God save us from the “hegemonic uniformity ” of the “one line of thought”, “fruit of the spirit of the world that negotiates everything”, even the faith. This was Pope Francis’ prayer during mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on a passage from the Book of Maccabees, in which the leaders of the people do not want Israel to be isolated from other nations , and so abandon their traditions to negotiate with the king.
They go to “negotiate ” and are excited about it. It is as if they said “we are progressives; let’s follow progress like everyone else does”. As reported by Vatican Radio, the Pope noted that this is the “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity”. These people, therefore , negotiate “loyalty to God who is always faithful” with the king. “This is called apostasy”, “adultery.” They are, in fact, negotiating their values, ” negotiating the very essence of being faithful to the Lord .”
“And this is a contradiction: we do not negotiate values, but faithfulness. And this is the fruit of the devil, the prince of this world , who leads us forward with the spirit of worldliness. And then there are the direct consequences. They accepted the habits of the pagan, then a further step: the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and everyone would abandon their customs. A globalizing conformity of all nations is not beautiful, rather, each with own customs but united, but it is the hegemonic uniformity of globalization, the single line of thought . And this single line of thought is the result of worldliness . ”
And after “all peoples had adapted themselves to the king’s demands, they also accepted his cult , they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath .”Step by step”, the moved along this path. And in the end “the king raised an abomination upon the altar of devastation”. “But, Father , this also happens today ! . Yes, because the worldly spirit exists even today, even today it takes us with this desire to be progressive and have one single thought . If someone was found to have the Book of the Covenant and if someone obeyed the law, the king condemned them to death : and this we have read in the newspapers in recent months . These people have negotiated the fidelity to the Lord and this people , moved by the spirit of the world , negotiated their own identity , negotiated belonging to a people, a people that God loves so much that God desires to be like Him . ”
The Pope then referred to the 20th century novel, “Master of the World” that focuses on “the spirit of worldliness that leads to apostasy”. Today it is thought that “we have to be like everyone else, we have to be more normal , like everyone else, with this adolescent progressivism .” And then “what follows is history”: “the death sentences, human sacrifices”. “But you think that today there are no human sacrifice s? There are many, many ! And there are laws that protect them .”
” But what consoles us faced with the progress of this worldly spirit, the prince of this world , the path of infidelity, is that the Lord is always here, that he can not deny Himself , the Faithful One : He is always waiting for us, He loves us so much and He forgives us when we repent for a few steps, for some small steps in this spirit of worldliness, we go to him, the faithful God. With the spirit of the Church’s children, we pray to the Lord for His goodness, His faithfulness to save us from this worldly spirit that negotiates all , to protect us and let us move forward, as his people did through the desert , leading them by the hand like a father leads his child. The hand of the Lord is a sure guide”.
Let Us Pray That The Consecration Aids In The Restoration Of The Church And Peace In The World!
Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13. The consecration will take place as part of a pilgrimage that will bring thousands of members of groups promoting Marian piety to the Vatican.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal announced in early August that Pope Francis requested that the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima be brought to the Vatican for the celebration.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, wrote in a letter to Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima: “The Holy Father strongly desires that the Marian day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant Marian icons for Christians throughout the world and, for that reason, we thought of the beloved original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.”
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima is scheduled to travel to Rome on October 12. It will be only the 11th time since the statue was made in 1920 that it has been removed from the Portuguese Marian shrine.
Pope Francis and the pilgrims will welcome the statue to St Peter’s Square during an evening prayer service on October 12. The statue will then be taken to the Rome Shrine of Divine Love, where the Diocese of Rome plans an all-night vigil.
The statue and the pilgrims will return to St Peter’s Square on October 13 for the recitation of the rosary and Mass with Pope Francis. In a press statement, the directors of the Fatima shrine said Pope Francis will consecrate the world to Mary during the event.
The Marian pilgrimage is part of the Year of Faith celebrations that will resume in late September with an international meeting of catechists.
The International Conference on Catechesis will run from September 26-28 and will bring together leaders of national and diocesan offices for religious education. After the conference they will begin a two-day Year of Faith pilgrimage to the tomb of St Peter and they will also celebrate Mass with Pope Francis.
In another Year of Faith event, Catholic families from around the world will gather in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo and walk to St Peter’s Square for a celebration of family life with Pope Francis on October 26. The Pope will celebrate Mass with the families in St. Peter’s Square on the following day.
The Year of Faith, convoked by Benedict XVI to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, will conclude on November 24.
Vatican City, 1 September 2012 (VIS) – Pope Francis has launched a heartfelt appeal for peace in Syria, expressing his pain and concern regarding the conflict and asking the concerned parties and the international community to embark on the path of negotiation, setting aside partisan interests. His plea was made during the Angelus prayer at midday in St. Peter’s Square, in the presence of thousands of faithful. We offer below the full text of the Holy Father’s homily:
“Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.
“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgement of God and of history upon our actions which is inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
“With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.
“May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.
“What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love.
“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!
“I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.
“May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.
“To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.
“On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
“Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”
Tom Hoopes – Happy Assumption Day. My wife just consecrated herself to Mary today (using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book) , and I’m preparing to do the same (on Sept. 8, along with Benedictine College. A good part of the inspiration for doing so is Pope Francis, a man of deep Marian piety. Let me count the ways he is a friend of Mary …
1. His trips to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the future Pope, always made it a point to pray before the basilica’s Byzantine icon of Mary and the infant Jesus, the Protectress of the Roman People. The day after he became Pope, he knew right where to go for help (in an unann0unced visit).
He has returned several times since. He stopped there on the way to Rio for World Youth Day, and then stopped there again as soon as he came back.
2. His emulation of Pope John Paul II’s Marian piety.
In 2005, he began to pray 15 decades of the rosary after watching Pope John Paul II, as he describes here:
“I began to imagine the young priest, the seminarian, the poet, the worker, the child from Wadowice… in the same position in which I knelt at that moment, reciting Ave Maria after Ave Maria. His witness struck me. … I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego: “Don’t be afraid, am I not your mother?” I understood the presence of Mary in the life of the Pope. … From that time on I have recited the 15 mysteries of the Rosary every day.”
In Lumen Fidei’s final passage, he also emulates Pope John Paul II’s custom of ending encyclicals with a prayer to Mary.
3. His affectionate Marian words at World Youth Day.
The Pope’s visit to Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil produced some of the most endearing moments of World Youth Day in Rio.
He explained to the pilgrims:
“The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America.”
He delighted in telling the story about the discovery of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Aparecida, and gave an impromptu address from the balcony of the basilica, where he joked about his decision to speak to them in Spanish:
“Well now, I’ll soon find out whether you understand me. I’m going to ask you a question: does a mother forget her children?” “No!” the pilgrims answered. “She does not forget us, either! She loves us and takes care of us!”
4. A signature theme of his, “the joy of faith,” is Marian in its origin.
A constant theme of Pope Francis’ is that we should have joy in our faith. He hates defeatist attitudes and the “sad Christian” syndrome.
In a letter last summer, he held out Mary as a model of evangelization to catechists in Argentina, he explained:
“As in that joyous encounter of Mary and Elizabeth, the catechist must imbue his or her entire person and ministry with the joy of the Faith.”
Joy “opens the way to receive the love of God who is Father of all. We note in the Annunciation of the angel to the Virgin Mary that, before telling her what was going to happen to her, he invites her to be filled with joy.”
On Oct. 13, with his pontificate barely half a year old, Pope Francis plans to consecrate the entire world to Mary, using the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima — the one whose crown now incorporates the bullet that was removed from Pope John Paul II’s body.
This is yet another point of emulation of Pope John Paul II, the Fatima fan. And maybe that emulation is the point. Benedictine College is likewise consecrating the college to Mary on Sept. 8 (all the U.S. bishops are invited). Maybe more and more Catholics will follow the Pope’s example, and devote more time and offer more initiatives to Mary.
And then maybe we will emulate and imitate Mary, the woman of faith who put God first and herself last and changed the course of history.
In the Creed we profess that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in God’s likeness and ends with the Last Judgement of Christ. These two poles of history are often forgotten; and, at times, especially faith in Christ’s return and in the Last Judgement, are not so clear and firm in Christian hearts. In his public life Jesus frequently reflected on the reality of his Final Coming. Today I would like to reflect on three Gospel texts that help us to penetrate this mystery: those of the ten virgins, of the talents and of the Last Judgement. All three are part of Jesus’ discourse on the end of time which can be found in the Gospel of St Matthew.
Let us remember first of all that in the Ascension, the Son of God brought to the Father our humanity, which he had taken on, and that he wants to draw all to himself, to call the whole world to be welcomed in God’s embrace so that at the end of history the whole of reality may be consigned to the Father. Yet there is this “immediate time” between the First and the Final Coming of Christ, and that is the very time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins fits into this context of “immediate” time (cf. Mt 25:1-13). They are ten maidens who are awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, but he is late and they fall asleep. At the sudden announcement that the Bridegroom is arriving they prepare to welcome him, but while five of them, who are wise, have oil to burn in their lamps, the others, who are foolish, are left with lamps that have gone out because they have no oil for them. While they go to get some oil the Bridegroom arrives and the foolish virgins find that the door to the hall of the marriage feast is shut.
They knock on it again and again, but it is now too late, the Bridegroom answers: I do not know you. The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us, to all of us, before his Final Coming with mercy and patience; it is a time of watchfulness; a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth. It is a time to live in accordance with God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return. What he asks of us is to be ready for the encounter — ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall asleep so as to not forget about God. The life of slumbering Christians is a sad life, it is not a happy life. Christians must be happy, with the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!
Now is the Time for Action
The second parable, the parable of the talents, makes us think about the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return, when he will ask us what use we made of them (cf. Mt 25:14-30). We are well acquainted with the parable: before his departure the master gives a few talents to each of his servants to ensure that they will be put to good use during his absence. He gives five to the first servant, two to the second one and one to the third. In the period of their master’s absence, the first two servants increase their talents — these are ancient coins — whereas the third servant prefers to bury his and to return it to his master as it was.
On his return, the master judges what they have done: he praises the first two while he throws the third one out into the outer darkness because, through fear, he had hidden his talent, withdrawing into himself. A Christian who withdraws into himself, who hides everything that the Lord has given him, is a Christian who… he is not a Christian! He is a Christian who does not thank God for everything God has given him!
This tells us that the expectation of the Lord’s return is the time of action — we are in the time of action — the time in which we should bring God’s gifts to fruition, not for ourselves but for him, for the Church, for ;xxc ,c m,v vm others. The time to seek to increase goodness in the world always; and in particular, in this period of crisis, today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual, and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but, rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others.
Lastly, a word about the passage on the Last Judgement in which the Lord’s Second Coming is described, when he will judge all human beings, the living and the dead (cf. Mt 25: 31-46). The image used by the Evangelist is that of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. On his right he places those who have acted in accordance with God’s will, who went to the aid of their hungry, thirsty, foreign, naked, sick or imprisoned neighbor — I said “foreign”: I am thinking of the multitude of foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome: what do we do for them? While on his left are those who did not help their neighbor. This tells us that God will judge us on our love, on how we have loved our brethren, especially the weakest and the neediest. Of course we must always have clearly in mind that we are justified, we are saved through grace, through an act of freely-given love by God who always goes before us; on our own we can do nothing. Faith is first of all a gift we have received. But in order to bear fruit, God’s grace always demands our openness to him, our free and tangible response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of a God who saves. We are asked to trust in him, to correspond to the gift of his love with a good life, made up of actions motivated by faith and love.
Dear brothers and sisters, may looking at the Last Judgement never frighten us: rather, may it impel us to live the present better. God offers us this time with mercy and patience so that we may learn every day to recognize him in the poor and in the lowly. Let us strive for goodness and be watchful in prayer and in love. May the Lord, at the end of our life and at the end of history, be able to recognize us as good and faithful servants. Many thanks!
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“When a Christian has no difficulties in life . . .
something is wrong.”
Vatican City, May 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News).- Faithful Christians will always face difficulties, said Pope Francis on Tuesday, warning that a worldly, career-based approach to faith avoids the suffering and persecution inherent in following Christ.
“Many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead,” the Pope said.
“When a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful – something is wrong.”
He suggested this temptation is common for a Christian who is “a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness.”
“You cannot remove the cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there,” he added.
Pope Francis delivered his homily at morning Mass at the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence. Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Monsignor José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, respectively the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, concelebrated Mass.
“Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? ‘Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others.’ The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours in adoration … Never!” the Pope said.
He explained that the worldly spirit “reduces Christian activity to doing social good.”
“As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity,” he said. “The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and changes us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution.”
Just as Pope Francis criticized career-based Christianity, he also warned about a solely culture-based approach to the faith.
He criticized the attitude of following Jesus because one was born in a Christian culture. He said this ignores “the necessity of true discipleship of Jesus, the necessity to travel his road.”
“If you follow Jesus as a cultural proposal, then you are using this road to get higher up, to have more power. And the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors and then many rulers and many people, no?” the Pope observed.
The Holy Father said that this attitude is present even among some priests and bishops.
He concluded with an exhortation to follow Jesus Christ truly.
“Following Jesus is just that: going with him out of love, behind him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did,” he said.
“Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that he has revealed to us and that he has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us. So be it.”