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Pope: 'to have faith is to live our lives with joy'

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged Christians to get on with things, living life with joy.

Speaking during the homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he urged them to avoid complaining and not to let themselves be paralyzed by the ugly sin of sloth.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Gospel story at the heart of Pope Francis’ reflection tells of a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He was lying at the side of a pool called Bethesda with a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled who believed that when an angel came down and stirred up the waters the first to bathe in the pool would be healed. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him: “Do you want to be well?”

“It’s what Jesus repeatedly says to us as well” the Pope said: “do you want to be well? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

When Jesus, the Pope pointed out, asked that strange man if he wanted to be well, instead of saying “yes” he complained there was on one to put him in the pool while the water is stirred up and that someone else always got there  before him. His answer, Francis said, was a complaint, he was  implying that life had been unjust with him. 

“This man, the Pope noted,  was like the tree planted along the bank of the rivers, mentioned in the first Reading, but it had arid roots, roots that did not reach the water, could not take nourishment from the water”.

The Pope said this is clear from his attitude of always complaining and trying to blame the other. 

“This is an ugly sin: the sin of sloth” he said.

Pope Francis said this man’s disease was not so much his paralysis but sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart.

It causes one to live without the desire to move forward, to do something in life, it causes one to lose the memory of joy, he explained, saying the man had lost all of this.

Jesus, the Pope continued, did not rebuke him but said: “Take up your mat, and walk”.

The man was healed but since it was a Sabbath, the doctors of the law said it was not lawful to carry a mat on that day and they asked him who was the man who told him to do so.

The sick man, the Pope noted, had not even thanked Jesus or asked for his name: “he rose and walked with that slothful attitude “living his life because oxygen is free”, always looking to others “who are happier” and forgetting joy.

"Sloth, he said, is a sin that paralyzes us, stops us from walking”.

Even today, the Pope said, the Lord looks to each of us sinners - we are all sinners - and says “Rise”.

The Lord tells each of us, Pope Francis concluded, to take hold of our life, be it beautiful or difficult and move on: “Do not be afraid, go ahead carrying your mat” and remember to come to the waters and quench your thirst with joy and ask the Lord to help you get up and know the joy of salvation. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope sends message to UN conference on nuclear weapons

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination,” the first part of which is taking place in New York from 27-31 March. The message was read by Msgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the meeting.

Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message:

 

To Her Excellency Elayne Whyte Gómez
President of the
United Nations Conference
to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument
to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,
Leading Towards their Total Elimination

I extend cordial greetings to you, Madam President, and to all the representatives of the various nations and international organizations, and of civil society participating in this Conference.  I wish to encourage you to work with determination in order to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons.

On 25 September 2015, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, I emphasized what the Preamble and first Article of the United Nations Charter indicate as the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between nations.  An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations.  We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit (cf. Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

But why give ourselves this demanding and forward-looking goal in the present international context characterized by an unstable climate of conflict, which is both cause and indication of the difficulties encountered in advancing and strengthening the process of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation? 

If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges.  These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.  Similar cause for concern arises when examining the waste of resources spent on nuclear issues for military purposes, which could instead be used for worthy priorities like the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.           

International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.  Peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights, on the protection of creation, on the participation of all in public life, on trust between peoples, on the support of peaceful institutions, on access to education and health, on dialogue and solidarity.  From this perspective, we need to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.

In this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative.  A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today.  Achieving a world without nuclear weapons involves a long-term process, based on the awareness that “everything is connected” within the perspective of an integral ecology (cf. Laudato Si’, 117, 138).  The common destiny of mankind demands the pragmatic strengthening of dialogue and the building and consolidating of mechanisms of trust and cooperation, capable of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Growing interdependence and globalization mean that any response to the threat of nuclear weapons should be collective and concerted, based on mutual trust.  This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests; such dialogue, as far as possible, should include all: nuclear states, countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, the military and private sectors, religious communities, civil societies, and international organizations.  And in this endeavour we must avoid those forms of mutual recrimination and polarization which hinder dialogue rather than encourage it.  Humanity has the ability to work together in building up our common home; we have the freedom, intelligence and capacity to lead and direct technology, to place limits on our power, and to put all this at the service of another type of progress: one that is more human, social and integral (cf. ibid., 13, 78, 112; Message for the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP22), 10 November 2016).

This Conference intends to negotiate a Treaty inspired by ethical and moral arguments.  It is an exercise in hope and it is my wish that it may also constitute a decisive step along the road towards a world without nuclear weapons.  Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach.

Madam President, I sincerely wish that the efforts of this Conference may be fruitful and provide an effective contribution to advancing an ethic of peace and of multilateral and cooperative security, which humanity very much needs today.  Upon all those gathered at this important meeting, and upon the citizens of the countries you represent, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty.

                                                                                                            FRANCIS

From the Vatican, 23 March 2017

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis' activities for Holy Week and Easter

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday released details of the celebrations that Pope Francis will preside over for Holy Week and Easter.

A note from the liturgical office said that on Palm Sunday, April 9th, the Pope will lead a procession for the blessing of the olive and palm branches in St Peter’s Square, starting at 10am, and then celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Passion. Palm Sunday also marks the XXXII World Youth Day with the theme taken from St Luke’s Gospel ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’ 

On Thursday April 13th Pope Francis will preside at the Chrism Mass with the blessing of the holy oils in St Peter’s Basilica, starting at 9.30am.

On Good Friday, April 14th, the Pope will lead the celebration of Our Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, beginning at 5pm. That will be followed at 9.15pm by the traditional Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, at the Colosseum, after which the Pope will greet the crowds and impart his Apostolic Blessing.

On Saturday April 15th the Holy Father will celebrate the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica beginning at 8.30pm with the blessing of the new fire and a procession with the Pasqual candle. During the celebration he will administer the Sacrament of Baptism before concelebrating Mass with the other cardinals and bishops.

Finally on Easter morning, Sunday April 16th, beginning at 10am, Pope Francis will preside at the Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection in St Peter’s Square before giving his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing (to the city of Rome and to the world) from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Angelus: look to the light of Christ

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus in a sunny St Peter’s Square took inspiration from the Gospel reading in which Jesus restores the sight of the blind man.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

With this miracle the Holy Father explained, “Jesus reveals himself as light of the world”. Each of us, the Pope said, is blind from birth, in that, “we were created to know God, but because of sin we are like the blind, we need a new light, that of faith, that Jesus has given us.”

In fact, Pope Francis went on to say, “the blind man of the Gospel regaining his vision is opened up to the mystery of Christ.”

This man represents us when we do not realize that Jesus is "the light of the world" and when we look elsewhere when we prefer to rely on small lights when fumbling in the dark,” the Pope said.

We too, he continued, have been "enlightened" to Christ in baptism, and then we are called to behave as children of light.”

Posing the question, “What does it mean to have true light and to walk in the light?, the Holy Father answered by saying, “it means first of all to abandon false lights.” Another false light, Pope Francis noted, is self-interest: “if we evaluate people and things based on the criterion of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we are not being truthful in relationships and situations.”

Following the recitation of the Marian prayer the Pope remembered José Álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre, and one hundred and fourteen companion martyrs who were beatified on Saturday in Spain. He said, “these priests, religious and lay people have been heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of peace and fraternal reconciliation. Their example and their intercession sustain the Church's involvement in building a civilization of love.”

Pope Francis also recalled his one day pastoral visit to Milan on Saturday expressing his thanks to the organisers and those who took part, both believers and non-believers, adding, it felt home.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope wraps up day in Milan meeting newly confirmed youngsters

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up his one-day pastoral journey to the northern Italian city of Milan with an encounter with newly confirmed youngsters.

At the end of his busy day in the city, the Pope travelled to the football stadium of San Siro where he was welcomed by almost 80,000 people, including parents, god-parents, catechists, teachers and volunteers.

The Pope took questions from some of those present and in his off-cuff answers he focused on the importance of education and formation.

A good teacher he said knows how to enhance and promote the qualities of his pupils without neglecting the person as a whole.
“Education is “head-hands-heart” he said.

He reminded teachers and trainers that “children also need to play, to have fun, to rest.”

The Pope concluded the encounter with a strong appeal to defeat ‘bullying’: “Please be careful, be on the look-out for the phenomenon of bullying” he said and invited the tens of thousands of boys and girls to reflect in silence and ask themselves whether there is someone in their school or in their community that teases them for whatever reason or whether they themselves are mean and even aggressive towards others. “This is bullying” he said and asked them to promise the Lord never to be bullies or to allow others to be victims of bullies.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s Mass in Monza: ‘A people at the peripheries’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Monza Park for the people of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy on Saturday during a pastoral visit, reflecting on the annunciation of Jesus as a message of joy at the peripheries of society.

The Holy Father invited them to be joyful members of God’s people and to avoid “speculating” on the future of others.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

 

Two were the questions Pope Francis put to the people gathered for Mass in Monza Park: “How can we live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?”

The Holy Father said these two questions “touch our identities” and “require of us a new way of seeing our place in history”.

He was reflecting on the difference between the two annunciation stories in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: that of John the Baptist (Lc 1,26-38), which took place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and that of Jesus (Lc 1,5-10).

He said the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary by the Angel Gabriel took place in Galilee: “a peripheral city with a less-than-excellent reputation (Jn 1,46)”.

The Pope said the contrast indicates that “God’s new encounter with His people will take place in places we would not normally expect: on the margins and peripheries”.

He said, “It is God Himself who takes the initiative and chooses to enter – as Mary did – in our houses and daily struggles, full of anxiety and desires.”

Pope Francis said finding joy in our daily lives can be a challenge due to the speculation or taking advantage of others.

“Some people speculate on life, on work, and on the family. They speculate on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, on the other hand leaving the daily life of families to be discolored by precariousness and insecurity.”

The keys to finding joy in our mission, the Pope said, are “memory, belonging, and seeing the possible in the impossible”.

“The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke her memory, in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.”

This memory, the Holy Father said, allows Mary to recognize her belonging to the People of God.

He said the Archdiocese of Milan is inhabited by “a people called to welcome differences and integrate them with respect and creativity, celebrating the newness offered by others. It is a people unafraid of embracing borders.”

Third, Pope Francis reminded Milan’s pilgrims that “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lc 1,37).

“When we open to allowing ourselves to be helped or counseled and when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become reality.”

In conclusion, the Pope said, “As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognizing themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.”

(from Vatican Radio)