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Pope urges sisters to be 'missionaries without frontiers'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity who are holding their 12th General Chapter in Rome this month. The theme of their assembly is focused on the need “to give oneself completely to God, to be completely given to one’s neighbour: missionary disciples and joyful witnesses to charity in the suburbs of the world”.

Listen to our report:

In his words to the sisters, Pope Francis noted that their institute, founded by Don Luigi Orione, is dedicated to caring especially for the poor and most marginalized members of society.

Thanking them for the work they do, the Pope urged them to be "missionaries without frontiers", bringing God’s love and mercy to all they meet.

Be bold and creative

Missionaries, he said, are called to be bold and creative people, capable of rethinking “the goals, structure, style and method” of their mission. We are living, he stressed, in a time when “it is necessary to rethink everything in light of what the Spirit is asking us”.

Be free from all ties

Pope Francis said missionaries are also called to be free and able to live with nothing but the word of the Lord to sustain them. He urged the sisters to free themselves from all material or emotional ties which hinder them from setting out on their missionary journey.

Be led by the Spirit

As missionaries, he continued, you are called to be filled with the Spirit, letting yourselves be guided as you bring the Gospel to the most unlikely places.

Be prophets of mercy

Finally, Pope Francis told the sisters they are called to be prophets of mercy, letting themselves be provoked by the call for help from so many situations of pain and suffering. Together with the other institutes founded by Don Orione, he urged them to work together in a spirit of encounter and cooperation as they share God’s love and forgiveness with all who are searching for Him in today’s world.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: The Christian's gaze is on heaven, his feet on earth

(Vatican Radio) The Christian’s place is in the world, in order to proclaim Jesus; but his gaze is turned to heaven in order to be united to Him: that was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday.

Galilee, the place of the first encounter with Jesus

The Scriptures, Pope Francis said in his homily, give us three words, three points of reference for the Christian journey. The first word is “memory.” The risen Jesus tells the disciples to go before Him to Galilee, and this was the first encounter with the Lord. Each one of us “has his own ‘Galilee,’” where Jesus shows Himself for the first time, where we have known Him and have had “this joy, this enthusiasm for following Him.” In order “to be a good Christian it is necessary to always have this memory of the first encounter with Jesus, or of subsequent encounters.” It is “the grace of memory” which in “the moment of trial gives me certainty.”

A gaze fixed in heaven, our feet in the world

The second point of reference is “prayer.” When Jesus ascended into heaven, the Pope explained, He did not break off His relationship with us: “Physically, yes, but He is always joined to us by interceding for us. He shows the Father His wounds, the price He has paid for us, for our salvation.” And so “we must ask for the grace to contemplate heaven, the grace of prayer, the relationship with Jesus in prayer, that in the moment He hears us, He is with us”:

“Then there is a third [point of reference]: “the world.” Jesus, before He left them—as we heard yesterday in the Gospel of the Ascension—says to the disciples: ‘Go into the world and make disciples.’ Go: the Christian’s place is in the world in order to proclaim the Word of Jesus, in order to say that we are saved, that He is come to give us grace, to bring us all with Him before the Father.”

Memory, prayer, and mission

This, the Pope said, is “the topography of the Christian spirit,” the three points of reference of our life: memory, prayer, mission; and the three words for our journey: Galilee, heaven, the world:

“A Christian must move in these three dimensions, and request the grace of memory: saying to the Lord, ‘Don’t let me forget the moment when You chose me, don’t let me forget the moment we met.’ Then, praying, looking to heaven because He is there, interceding. He intercedes for us. And then, going on mission: that is, not saying that everyone has to go to the foreign missions; [rather] going on mission is living and bearing witness to the Gospel, it is making Jesus known to all people. And doing so through witness and through the Word: because if I tell people about Jesus, and about the Christian life, and then live like a pagan, that won’t do. The mission will not go forward.”

The Christian life is joyful

If, instead, we live in memory, in prayer, and on mission, Pope Francis concluded, the Christian life will be beautiful, and also joyful:

“And this is the final word Jesus speaks to us today in the Gospel: ‘On that day, the day in which you live the Christian life in this way, you will know all things and no one will be able to take your joy away from you.” No one, because I have the memory of my encounter with Jesus; I have the certainty that Jesus is in heaven in this moment and He is interceding for me, He is with me; and I prayer and I have the courage to speak, to go out of myself, and to speak to others and bear witness with my life that the Lord is risen, He is alive. Memory, prayer, mission. May the Lord give us the grace to understand this topography of the Christian life and to go forward with joy, with that joy that no one can take from us.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope makes surprise telephone call to sick children in Genoa

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, May 27th, Pope Francis will travel to the northern Italian city of Genoa for a one-day apostolic visit.

One of the highlights of the day will undoubtedly be represented by his meeting with sick children and their families in the “Giannina Gaslini” Paediatric Hospital.

Awaiting Francis’ visit, many of the little patients have been busy preparing small gifts and messages, but meanwhile,  the Pope himself decided to surprise them ahead of time with a personal greeting.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genoa that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly programme especially dedicated to the children’s hospital, Pope Francis told the little patients that it is with joy that he is preparing to be with them.

“Dear children of the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, I greet you all with affection” he said.

The Pope said he is coming to be close to them, to listen to them, and to bring the caress of Jesus.

“He is always close to us especially when we are in difficulty and in need. He always gives us trust and hope” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his call with assurances that he is praying for the sick children and their families, and as he always does, he asked them to pray for him!
       
Established in 1931, the Istituto Giannina Gaslini is a tertiary level paediatric hospital affiliated with the University of Genoa. It is considered one of the foremost children’s hospital in Europe and it is formally recognized as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: Jesus journeys with us even in bad times

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told pilgrims that God walks with us always, “even in the most painful moments” of our lives as he did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. 

Pope Francis continued his series of reflections on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience shortly after his meeting with US president Donald Trump. The Pope spoke about the disciples’ meeting with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, in Luke’s Gospel, as “a journey of hope”. 

He told pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square that Christians today are a bit like those two disciples: so often we find ourselves “a step away from happiness” but then experience sadness and disappointment.

The Pope said Jesus’ accompaniment of the two disciples shows a “therapy of hope” which “gradually opens us to trust in God’s promises”. Hope, the Pope said, is “never a small price” to pay and always involves defeats and sufferings. However, walking with the disciples in a discreet way, he said, Jesus is able to rekindle their hope.

Pope Francis explained that it was only when the disciples witnessed Jesus breaking the bread that he is revealed to them as the Risen Lord, who is present in their midst. This, the Pope said, “shows us the importance of the Eucharist in which, like the bread, Jesus ‘breaks our lives’ and offers them to others”.

Noting how the disciples return to Jerusalem after their encounter with the Risen Lord to proclaim the good news, the Pope said that “we too are sent forth to encounter others, to hear their joys and sorrows, and to offer them words of life and hope, based on God’s unfailing love.”

“All of us,” the pope said, have had difficult and dark times, when there is “just a wall in front” of us. But “Jesus is always beside us to give us hope, warm our hearts and say, "Go forward, I'm with you. Go forward.”

Listen to Richard Marsden’s report here:

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: ‘a Church without martyrs breeds distrust’

(Vatican Radio) On the second anniversary of the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed in 1980 by military squadrons linked to the Regime in San Salvador as he defended the poor, Pope Francis recalled Romero’s religious fervor and passion for justice while warning the faithful against a ‘lukewarm’ Church. 

The Pope was speaking during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

Listen to Linda Bordoni's report: 

Pope Francis exhorted believers to leave comfort to the side and embrace an energetic lifestyle proclaiming Jesus with joy. 

He reflected on the liturgical reading of the day which tells the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi where they were followed by a slave girl with an oracular spirit who was shouting “These people are slaves of the Most High God”. This seemed like praise, the Pope said, but Paul became annoyed and cast out the spirit.  Paul understood, the Pope explained, that that was not the path to conversion of that city; it was not the Church of Christ. Everyone there accepted the doctrine, there were no conversions.

Similar situations, the Pope continued, have been repeated in the history of salvation: when the people of God are quiet, they do not take risks, but are servants of ‘worldliness’.

Then the Lord, he said, sent the prophets who – like Paul - were persecuted "because they made people uncomfortable." 

“In the Church when someone cries out against the many ways of worldliness, they are given ‘the crooked eye’ as if something were wrong with them, and then they are distanced” he said.

Francis spoke of personal memories from his own homeland recalling many men and women, whom he said, were not supporters of an ideology but  “were good consecrated people” who spoke out saying “No, the Church of Jesus is like this....: they were branded as communists and persecuted” he said.

“Think of the Blessed Romero.What happened to him for having told the truth? And so many others in the history of the Church, even here in Europe. Why? Because the evil spirit prefers a tranquil, risk-free Church, a business-like Church, a comfortable and lukewarm Church” he said.

In chapter 16 of the Acts it is also said that the slaves of the slave were angry: they had lost their hope of earning money because the slave could no longer divine. 

"The evil one, the Pope warned, always starts from the pocket. When the Church is lukewarm, quiet, organized, when there are no problems, look to where business is to be made" he said.

Pope Francis also focused his homily, on joy. In fact, he told of how Paul and Silas were dragged by the slaves to the magistrates who ordered them to be beaten and then thrown into jail. The jailer threw them into the innermost part of the jail where the two men broke into song. Towards midnight a tremendous earthquake flung all the gates of the prison open.  The jailer was about to take his life because he would have been killed if the prisoners had escaped but Paul urged him not to do so because, he said, “we are all here”. Then the jailer asked for explanations and converted. He washed their sores, was baptized, and “was filled with joy”. 

This, the Pope said, is the path of our daily conversion: “to move from a worldly, tranquil, safe, Catholic” lukewarm yes, to the true proclamation of Jesus Christ; to the joy of ' Christ's announcement. We must move, he said, from a religion that looks too much to earnings, to faith and to the proclamation that ‘Jesus is the Lord'.

This, Francis continued, is the miracle performed by the Holy Spirit, and he invited the faithful to read Chapter 16 of the Acts in order to see how the Lord “together with his martyrs” makes the Church move forward.

The Pope concluded his homily saying that a Church without martyrs breeds distrust; a Church that doesn’t take risks breeds distrust; a Church that is afraid of proclaiming Jesus Christ and of chasing out demons, idols and the lord of money is not Christ’s Church.

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace for renewed vigor in faith and conversion from a lukewarm way of life so we are able to make the joyful proclamation that Jesus is the Lord” he said.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to Sister Disciples of the Divine Master: 'be prophets of hope'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday greeted the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM) and encouraged them to go forward in their mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of today with joy in unity, giving voice to plurality and respecting each other’s differences.

The Pope words came as he addressed the Sisters who are holding their 9th General Chapter in Rome (10 April-28 May) on the theme “New wine in new wineskins.”

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

First of all, Pope Francis said to the Sisters, always be open the Holy Spirit, Master of diversity, Master of unity within differences.

“Walk together in communion, he said, respecting plurality and tirelessly weaving your legitimate differences into unity, taking into account you are present in different Countries and cultures”.

Basing his discourse on the many fruits yielded by communion, the Pope encouraged the Sisters to allow each other to express themselves freely, to be accepted with their own special gifts, and to become fully co-responsible.

He urged them to cultivate mutual attention and practice sisterly correction and respect the weakest members.

“Grow in the spirit of living together, banish divisions, envy, and gossip from your communities, speak frankly and with charity” he said.

The Pope noted that the Disciples of the Divine Master share Fr. Giacomo Alberione as father and founder with the Pauline family, as well as the mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of our time.

He spoke of the fruits of communion born from collaboration with other charisms saying it is the time for synergy between all consecrated persons who are called to welcome the riches of other charisms and put them all in the service of evangelization, remaining faithful to their identity.

“No one, he said, builds the future by isolating themselves or on their own strength alone” and he invited them to cultivate dialogue and communion with other charisms, and to combat self-referentialism in every way.

The Pope also mentioned the importance of the fruits produced by communion with the men and women of our time: “Our God is the God of history and our faith is a faith that works in history. In the questions and expectations of today's men and women, there are important indications for our pursuit of Christ”.

Pope Francis said the Chapter is a time to listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the signs of the times.

He said it is also a time for peaceful and unbiased confrontation which requires the opening of mind and heart, and he urged those present never to tire of the practice of listening and sharing with the men and women of today.

“In this time of great challenges, which require devoted creative fidelity and passionate research, listening and sharing are more than ever necessary if we want our lives to be fully meaningful to ourselves and to the people we meet” he said.

Pope Francis then told the Sisters that to this end it is necessary to maintain a climate of discernment, to recognize what belongs to the Spirit and what is contrary to it. 

He said that a world of possibilities is open before us and that “the culture in which we are immersed presents them all as valid and good, but if we do not want to fall victim to the culture of zapping and sometimes to a culture of death”, we must always be discerning and never tire of asking the Lord “What do you want me to do?”

The Chapter, the Pope said, is also a time in which to renew our docility towards the Spirit that animates prophecy. This, he said, is an indispensable value for consecrated life which itself is a special form of participation in the prophetic mission of Christ. 

“As consecrated women, you live the prophecy of joy, that joy that comes from your encounter with Christ through a life of personal and communal prayer” he said, as well as in a joyful life of fraternity within the community and in your embrace of Christ’s flesh when you minister to the poor.

Joy, the Pope said, is a beautiful reality in the lives of many consecrated persons, but it is also a great challenge for all of us because joy must be of the authentic kind, never self-referential or self-satisfied.

“This joy, Francis continued, which fills your hearts and shows on your faces will lead you to go out to the peripheries and participate in the joy of the Church that is evangelization, convinced that Jesus is the Good News and is joy for all. This joy distances you from the cancer of resignation, the fruit of sloth that withers the soul”.

Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging the Sisters to be prophets of hope with eyes turned to the future, and to let themselves be guided by the Spirit in order to continue to do great things.

Trusting in Christian hope and in the strength it gives you, he said: “fortify your vocation of morning sentinels in order to announce the coming of the dawn: Wake up the world, light up the future”.

(from Vatican Radio)