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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 45 min 55 sec ago

Ebola Kills 243 Children in Democratic Republic of Congo

3 hours 27 min ago

Two hundred and forty-three children have lost their lives to Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while 340 children are reported to have caught the disease, since the outbreak started in August last year, according to latest DRC government figures.

Of those children who have died from Ebola, 111 were girls and 132 boys. So far, 97 children have survived the disease.

A Save the Children spokesperson said: “Insecurity and violence in the east of the country, combined with fear and suspicion in some communities, is making it difficult to contain the outbreak. We have to scale up our efforts to build trust with community leaders. Everyone must understand the need to turn around this Ebola crisis.”

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Apostolic Trip of His Holiness Francis to Romania – Updated Program

6 hours 51 sec ago

The program of the Apostolic Trip of His Holiness Francis to Romania was published on March 25, 2019; the following is the updated program:

 

Friday 31 May 2019
ROME-BUCHAREST
08:10 Departure by air from Rome-Fiumicino Airport for Bucharest 11:30 Arrival at Henri Coandă-Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest OFFICIAL WELCOME at the airport 12:05 WELCOME CEREMONY at the entrance of the complex of the Cotroceni Presidential Palace 12:20 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF ROMANIA in the Cotroceni Presidential Palace 12:50 MEETING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER in the Cotroceni Presidential Palace 13:00 MEETING with the AUTHORITIES, with CIVIL SOCIETY and with the DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the Unirii Hall of the Cotroceni Palace Address of the Holy Father 15:45 PRIVATE MEETING WITH THE PATRIARCH in the Palace of the Patriarchate 16:15 MEETING WITH THE PERMANENT SYNOD OF THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH in the Palace of the Patriarchate Address of the Holy Father 17.00 THE LORD’S PRAYER in the new Orthodox Cathedral Greeting of the Holy Father 18.10 HOLY MASS in the Catholic Saint Joseph Cathedral Homily of the Holy Father Saturday 1 June 2019
BUCAREST-BACAU-SUMULEU-CIUC-IASI-BUCAREST
09:30 Departure by air for Bacau 10:10 Arrival at Bacau Airport and transfer by helicopter to the Air Base of the Mountain Brigade of Miercurea-Ciuc 11:30 HOLY MASS in the Shrine of Sumuleu-Ciuc Homily of the Holy Father Helicopter transfer to Iasi Airport 17:25 VISIT TO OUR LADY QUEEN OF IASI CATHEDRAL in Iasi 17:45 MARIAN MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES in the square in front of the Palace of  Culture in Iasi Address of the Holy Father 19:00 Departure by air for Bucarest 20:00 Arrival at Henri Coandă-Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest Sunday 2 June 2019
BUCHAREST-SIBIU-BLAJ-SIBIU-ROME
09:00 Departure by air for Sibiu 09:40 Arrival at Sibiu Airport and transfer by helicopter to Blaj 11:00 DIVINE LITURGY with the Beatification of 7 Greek-Catholic Martyr bishops in the Field of Liberty in Blaj Homily of the Holy Father
Regina Coeli
13:25 Lunch with the Papal entourage 15:45 MEETING WITH THE ROM COMMUNITY OF BLAJ Greeting of the Holy Father 16:35 Transfer by helicopter to Sibiu Airport 17:20 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Sibiu Airport 17:30 Departure of the Papal aircraft for Rome-Ciampino Airport 18:45 Arrival at Rome-Ciampino Airport

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Archbishop Follo: The Peace of the Risen One Fills our Hearts with Mercy

7 hours 4 min ago

Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy) – Year C- April 28th, 2019

Roman Rite
Acts 5:12-16; Ps 118; Rev 1:9-11A, 12-13, 17, 19; Jn 20:19-31

Ambrosian Rite
Acts 4:8-24; Ps117:Col2:8-15; Jn20; 19-31

 

1. Mercy is the love of God who loves and forgives the sinners.

Eight days ago, at Easter, we thanked the Lord who with his resurrection showed that his love is stronger than death and sin.

Today we celebrate this love that reveals itself, is implemented as mercy in our daily existence and urges each of us to have “mercy” towards the Crucifix. In fact, the life of the good Christian consists in the holy desire of God, loving him and his neighbor and even the “enemies”.

Christ reveals not only that God is Love, but that God is mercy because He not only loves man but the Risen One shows that He loved the guilty man. God has not only good children but also rebellious ones, beings who are not worthy neither useful nor pleasant in themselves nor good to Him.

He has loved and loves those who are farthest from him and the most miserable, the most adverse and the worst. This love was prodigious not only in itself and for the intimate happiness of God, but also for the undeserving beings who are its inexplicable object of love. God, paternally loving the sinner, gives an example of supreme goodness saving him with recreating forgiveness. Mercy bows over evil not for it to remain and or justice to be won, but rather for justice to be recomposed in its rights and have its claim. God loves the bad person not because he is such, but to make him a good one. While pushing mercy to the point of canceling the fatal consequences of sin, God restores the absoluteness of the moral law bringing the sinner back to it.

This singular relationship between mercy and justice is one of the most profound and most clearly resolved problems of Christianity. No one thinks that God’s mercy, announced as it should be and revealed in its source and in its term, which is Love, is complicit with evil and weakens the strength of the moral imperative. Mercy manifests to everyone that it alone can recover the lost good to repay the evil done and to generate new forces of justice and holiness.

Today as then, the liturgical celebration is not simply a commemoration of past events, nor even a mystical and interior experience, but essentially an encounter with the risen Lord, who lives in the dimension of God, beyond time and space. Nevertheless, he makes himself truly present amid the community, speaks to us in the Holy Scriptures and breaks for us the Bread of eternal life. Through these signs we live what the disciples experienced, that is the fact of seeing Jesus and at the same time not recognizing him. It can also happen to us to touch his body, a real Eucharistic body that gives peace.

In this regard, it is useful to recall what the Gospel says, namely that Jesus, in the two apparitions to the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room, greets them several times saying “Peace be with you” (Jn 20: 19.21.26). The traditional greeting, with which we wish each other hope and peace, becomes here a new thing: it becomes the gift of the peace that only Jesus can give because it is the fruit of his radical victory over evil. The “peace” that Jesus offers to his friends is the fruit of God’s love that led him to die on the cross and to shed all his blood as a gentle and humble Lamb “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). This is the reason why Saint John Paul II wanted to name the Sunday after Easter Sunday of the Divine Mercy with a very precise icon: that of the pierced side of Christ from which blood and water come out, according to the eyewitness testimony of the apostle John (see Jn 19: 34-37). Now Jesus is risen and from Him the Easter sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist spring forth: those who approach them with faith receive the gift of eternal life.

This Sunday’s Gospel shows how the Risen Lord helps to confirm this faith in the Apostle Thomas and in each of us, who like this apostle want to meet Christ by touching him. This Gospel passage, in fact, shows the merciful goodness of Christ, who – to help the faith of St. Thomas the Apostle, appears a second time and asks him to put his finger into His pierced chest from which blood and water had come out. (Jn19, 34)

Today we are asked to remember the encounter of an incredulous man who could put his hand into Christ’s chest. From Christ’s heart pierced by sin surges the wave of mercy. Even if our sins were dark as the night, divine mercy is stronger than our misery. Only one thing is needed, that the sinner leaves ajar the door of his heart…God will do the job.

Saint Faustina Kowalska wrote that everything begins in His mercy and everything ends in His mercy.  For this reason, Saint John Paul II had dedicated the Second Sunday of Easter to the Divine Mercy.

In fact, today’s liturgy, starting with the first prayer, is a liturgy of mercy. Undoubtedly Saint John Paul II decision was inspired by the private revelations of Saint Faustina who saw two rays of light, a red one which represents blood and a white one which represents water, coming out from the chest of Christ. If blood recalls the sacrifice of the cross and the gift of the Eucharist, water recalls baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Jn 3:5; 4:14; 7:37-39).

Through the pierced chest of the crucified Christ, divine mercy reaches humanity. Jesus is “Love and Mercy personified” (Saint Faustina Kowlaska, Diaries 374). Mercy is the “second name” of Love (Dives in Misericordia, 7) caught in his most deep and tender meaning and in his ability to take charge of every need and, above all, of the need of forgiveness. “The great wound of the soul is the great mercy of God” (Saint Eusebius).

Jesus “uses” the ointment of his chest’s sore to cure Thomas’s heart, which has been wounded by incredulity. The medicine of his mercy is greater than human sins. He goes to Thomas, to his disciples and to every one of us and doesn’t ask “What did you do?” but “Do you love me?” as He did to Peter on the lake’s shore after the resurrection. The answer that Peter and we have is our pain, but that’s enough for Him. In the same way, He did with Peter, He confirms us in his merciful love, a love that liberates, heals and saves.

We are poor and fragile things, but we can rejoice if we say,” My God I trust you” (as suggested to Saint Faustina by Jesus; Diaries, 327) because the announcement of this mercy is the source of gladness: Jesus is mercy. He is the envoy by the Father to let us know that the supreme characteristic of the essence of God is mercy.

We should ask ourselves if we are always conscious of the fact that we live because of God’s mercy and of his charity that gives us life, freedom, love, hope, forgiveness and all graces. We should also ask ourselves if we practice charity. Charity is a fact that touches the roots of man’s life because it is acceptance of the way of living of Christ, who “for your sake became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). It is the acceptance that Christ is the richness of our life and that we must follow him without regretting what we leave behind. (Mt 19, 21)

Charity/ mercy is not pure and simple philanthropy, but it is the love for Christ that we reach through our poorest brothers: “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25).  Therefore, Christ accepts that the most expensive perfume is “wasted” on him instead of being sold to get money for the poor. Christ is the valid foundation of every love for the poor.

 

2. Mercy as vocation

Saint Thomas, touching the man and recognizing God, “My Master and my God”, believed and was confirmed together with the other disciples in his vocation to announce the Gospel of mercy. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. From now on the “wind” of God carried the disciples to the limits of the earth and to martyrdom. Like in a new creation, the Spirit of the Resurrected makes the disciples able to do something unheard of before: to forgive sins. They go to all because men and women in every part of the Earth need mercy and forgiveness.

Even pain is reversed: since Christ is resurrected “all the pain of the world is not the pain of agony but the pain of childbirth” (Paul Claudel). Then life can be lived as a feast. The Resurrected offers imagination and courage to create the “new thing”. Human ideologies and utopias break against the rock of death. Jesus opens the doors of the Christian hope that doesn’t disappoint and does not resolve to a “wish denied”.  No cross, no test, and no drama can take away peace or extinguish the joy which comes from the Resurrection.

The Easter of the Resurrection shows that death wins only for “a little while” and does not have the last word.

Our vocation, like the one of Thomas and the apostles, is to announce the Gospel of Mercy and to tell about the Father’s mercy through the ability of forgiveness and remission of sins (for the ones of us who are priests). Everybody, the lay people and priests, is called to be yeast of mercy.

If we listen to the Gospel, the expression” gracious and merciful is the LORD” (Ps 111:4) who with indescribable goodness gave us his only Son, our Redeemer, becomes clearer.

Being able through the Church to experience the love with which God had loved us (Eph 2,4), let’s welcome his mercy and let’s proclaim him inside the Christian community and in the world. We are called to be yeast of mercy in the world’s dough. We do not belong to the world; we belong to Christ and we share his mission to be yeast of mercy to resurrect the world.

We have an example of this in the face of Jesus’ Mother which is reflected in the face of the consecrated virgins who try to follow the divine Master and to be a sign of divine mercy and tenderness for the humankind.

Let’s follow the invitation of Pope Francis: “let’s learn to be merciful with everybody. Let’s invoke the intercession of the Virgin who had in her arms the Mercy of God made man’ (Pope Francis, Angelus, March 14th, 2013) and who was the first to contemplated Jesus Christ, the face of the Father’s mercy (see Id. 11 April 2015). Therefore, Pope Francis never tires of repeating that “the first name of God is mercy” (January 12, 2016 – these are some of the many quotations in which Pope Francis speaks of mercy, the last is that of 19 April 2019).

Mercy is God’s love in excess by which the consecrated Virgins live, donating themselves completely to Christ. It is the measure filled and overflowing beyond justice, neither commensurate to the merit of the other person nor to their own interests. They evangelize through mercy because, like Mary, in virginity, they welcome the dead Christ in their lap and proclaim His forgiveness.

They are sure of the Emmanuel, of the “God with us”, to whom they offer their life to be with him, Holy Bread of mercy who forgives and renews life.

By experiencing God’s forgiveness and always forgiving, we become certain that His power is greater than our weakness. We are certain of the “God with us”. Joy can come only from this certainty, only from the certainty of “God with us”. We must ask ourselves if we are always aware that we live for the mercy of God, for his almsgiving, which gives us life, freedom, love, hope, forgiveness and all graces. The mercy of Christ through them continues to be a gift of life and of a life lived in Christ, with Christ for Christ-Mercy.

The consecrated virgins are called in a special way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord, in which man finds his own salvation. These women keep alive the experience of God’s forgiveness because they have the awareness of being saved people, of being great when they recognize themselves as small, and of feeling renewed and wrapped in the holiness of God when they recognize their own sin.

In this way, they give the example that the humble recognition of their own misery allows a full trust in the mercy of God and in his love that never abandons.

To help you think about charity and to practice it, I’d like to point your attention to the etymology of the word” Alms,” the list of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and a reading from Saint Gregory of Nyssa.

 Alms: comes from the Greek elemosyne, mercy, compassion (towards the poor, charity. From the same origin: eleemon= merciful, eleos= piety, eleeo= to be merciful) The meaning is: what we give to the poor because of charity.

        The Church – using the Bible but also its millennial experience- summarizes the positive attitude towards to ones who are in need with two lists of works of mercy, the corporal and the spirituals ones:

Corporal Works of Mercy: 

  1. To feed the hungry
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To clothe the naked.
  4. To harbor the homeless.(also loosely interpreted today as To Shelter the Homeless)
  5. To visit the sick.
  6. To visit the imprisoned (classical term is “To ransom the captive)
  7. To bury the dead.

Spiritual Works of Mercy:

  1. To instruct the ignorant.
  2. To counsel the doubtful.
  3. To admonish sinners.
  4. To bear wrongs patiently.
  5. To forgive offenses willingly.
  6. To comfort the afflicted.
  7. To pray for the living and the dead.

Using twice the number seven for the lists, the Church intends to give to it the symbolic value it has in the Bible. In the number whose meaning is completeness, it is expressed everything that concerns help toward the poor. We are urged to exercise a concrete love toward the neighbor in need.

Saint John recommended to the first Christians: “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth”. (I John 3:18) and Saint James wrote: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding you”. (James 1:22).

 

Patristic reading

Saint Gregory of Nyssa – Homely on the Beatitudes-

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Compassion is loving identification with those in misery. Just as hardheartedness and malice originate in hate, so compassion flows from love, for without love compassion cannot exist. In fact, if one wanted to dig into the distinctiveness of compassion, one would find two qualities: a growing attitude of love combined with an understanding of the emotional ache of another. It is not unusual for our friends and our enemies to be willing to share in our prosperity, but the willingness to share in our misfortune is unique to those who are governed by loving kindness. I think most people would agree that practicing a life of love is the best way to live. Compassion is the deepening of love. As such, compassionate persons are truly blessed since they have reached the high point of goodness

Is it advisable, having a realistic view of our situation, to be only concerned with the misfortunes of others? Shouldn’t we also feel compassion for our own heart, as we consider our current situation, and what we have lost? … We don’t have compassion on ourselves because we are oblivious to our real situation. We are like the mentally ill, whose disorder renders them unconscious to their disease. If we did wake up to both our past and present situation—as Solomon says, the wise know themselves—we would continually have compassion on our souls, and this disposition of spirit would attract the compassion of God. That is why it says, ‘Blessed are the compassionate, for they will receive compassion.

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General Audience: Pope Offers Special Thought for Young, Elderly, Sick, Newlyweds

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 2:39 PM

Pope Francis had particular words for several groups during his April 24, 2019, General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, where he greeted thousands of pilgrims from around the world.

“A special thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds,” the Pope said. “I invoke for all the joy and hope that derive from Christ’s Pasch. May you be able to have an experience of the living Jesus, to receive the gift of His peace and to become His witnesses in the world.”

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Pope Francis Stresses Saying ‘Thank You’ in Prayer

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 2:15 PM

Prayer teaches a person to say “thank you” Pope Francis stressed during his April 24, 2019, General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Greeting the thousands of pilgrims from around the world, he completed his catechesis on the fifth question of the “Our Father,” the expression “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In fact, he said it is proper to be in debt to God – He gave us everything we have!

“We are all debtors of God and of so many persons who have given us favorable conditions of life,” the Holy Father said. “Our identity is built from the good received. The first is life.”

Why do we owe God so much? The Pope Explained:

“He loves us infinitely more than we love Him. And then, try as we might to live according to Christian teachings, there will always be something in our life for which to ask forgiveness: we think of days spent lazily, of moments in which resentment occupied our heart, and so on.  It’s these experiences, unfortunately not rare, which make us implore: ‘Lord, Father, forgive us our trespasses.’ So we ask God for forgiveness.”

Pope Francis reminded those listening that Christians know that God provides forgiveness for sins. In fact, he forgives everything and does so always.

“However, God’s grace,  which is so abundant, is always challenging,” Francis recalled. “One who has received so much must learn to give as much and not keep for himself what he has received.”

The Holy Father cited the parable of the unmerciful servant from the 18th chapter of Matthew:

“There was a servant who had contracted an enormous debt with his king: ten thousand talents! A sum impossible to restore; I don’t know how much it would be today, but hundreds of millions. However, the miracle happens, and that servant receives — not a postponement of the payment, but the full condoning of it — an unexpected grace! However, see how, in fact, that servant, immediately after, set upon his brother who owed him one hundred denarii — a small thing –, and, although this figure was accessible, he doesn’t accept excuses or entreaties. Therefore, in the end, the master calls him back and has him condemned. Because, if you don’t make an effort to forgive, you won’t be forgiven; if you don’t make an effort to love, you won’t be loved.”

The Holy Father concluded with an admonition to Christians to be forgiving. And if that is difficult, ask God for the grace to forgive.

“God gives every Christian the grace to write a story of goodness in the life of his brothers, especially those that have done something displeasing or mistaken,” Francis said. “With a word, an embrace, a smile, we can transmit to others what we received that is most precious. What is the precious thing we have received? It is forgiveness, which we must be capable of giving also to others.”

The Holy Father’s Full Catechesis

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April 24, 2019 General Audience (Full Text)

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 1:49 PM

The April 24, 2019, General Audience was held at 9:10 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Taking up the series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “As we forgive those who trespass against us” (Biblical passage: From the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-22).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we complete the catechesis on the fifth question of the “Our Father,” pausing on the expression “as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). We have seen that it’s proper to man to be a debtor before God: we have received everything from Him, in terms of nature and of grace.  Our life was not only willed but was also loved by God. There is truly no room for presumption when we join our hands to pray. “Self-made men” don’t exist in the Church — men who made themselves. We are all debtors of God and of so many persons who have given us favorable conditions of life. Our identity is built from the good received. The first is life.

One who prays learns to say “thank you.”  And we so often forget to say “thank you.” We are egoistic. One who prays learns to say, “thank you,” and asks God to be benevolent with him or with her. Try as we might, an overwhelming debt remains before God, which we will never be able to restore: He loves us infinitely more than we love Him. And then, try as we might to live according to Christian teachings, there will always be something in our life for which to ask forgiveness: we think of days spent lazily, of moments in which resentment occupied our heart, and so on.  It’s these experiences, unfortunately not rare, which make us implore: “Lord, Father, forgive us our trespasses.” So we ask God for forgiveness.

If we think properly, the invocation could also be limited to this first part; it would be good. Instead, Jesus welds it with a second expression that is altogether one with the first. The vertical relationship of benevolence on God’s part is refracted and we are called to translate it into a new relationship that we live with our brothers: a horizontal relationship. The good God invites us to be altogether good. The two parts of the invocation are linked together with a merciless conjunction:  we ask the Lord to forgive us our trespasses, our sins “as” we forgive our friends, the people that live with us, our neighbors, the people who have done something bad to us.

Every Christian knows that the forgiveness of sins exists for him; we all know this: God forgives everything and forgives always.  When Jesus tells His disciples about God’s face, He outlines it with expressions of tender mercy. He says that there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over a crowd of righteous persons who need no repentance (Cf. Luke 15:7.10). Nothing in the Gospels lets one suspect that God doesn’t forgive the sins of one who is well disposed and asks to be embraced again.

However, God’s grace, <which is> so abundant, is always challenging. One who has received so much must learn to give as much and not keep for himself what he has received. One who has received much must learn to give much. It’s no accident that Matthew’s Gospel, immediately after having given the text of the “Our Father,” pauses, among the seven expressions used, to stress in fact that of fraternal forgiveness: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).  But this is strong! I think: sometimes I’ve heard people who said: “I’ll never forgive that person! I’ll never forgive what they have done to me!” However, if you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you. You close the door. Let us think if we are capable of forgiving or if we don’t forgive. When I was in the other diocese, a priest told me anxiously that he had gone to give the last Sacraments to an elderly lady who was about to die. The poor lady couldn’t talk. And the priest said to her: “Lady, do you repent of your sins?” The lady said yes; he couldn’t hear her confession but she said yes. It’s enough. And then he asked again: “Do you forgive others?” And the lady, about to die, said: “No.” The priest remained anxious. If you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you. Let us think, we who are here, if we forgive or if we are capable of forgiving. “Father, I can’t do it, because those people did so much to me.” However, if you can’t do it, ask the Lord to give you the strength to do so: Lord, help me to forgive. We rediscover there the welding between love of God and that of our neighbor. Love calls for love, forgiveness calls for forgiveness. We find in Matthew again a very intense parable dedicated to fraternal forgiveness (Cf. 18:21-35).  Let us listen to it.

There was a servant who had contracted an enormous debt with his king: ten thousand talents! A sum impossible to restore; I don’t know how much it would be today, but hundreds of millions. However, the miracle happens, and that servant receives — not a postponement of the payment, but the full condoning of it — an unexpected grace! However, see how, in fact, that servant, immediately after, set upon his brother who owed him one hundred denarii — a small thing –, and, although this figure was accessible, he doesn’t accept excuses or entreaties. Therefore, in the end, the master calls him back and has him condemned. Because, if you don’t make an effort to forgive, you won’t be forgiven; if you don’t make an effort to love, you won’t be loved.

Jesus inserts in human relationships the strength of forgiveness. Not everything is resolved in life with justice. No. Above all where a stop must be put to evil, one must love beyond what is owed, to begin again a history of grace. Evil knows its revenge, and it’s not interrupted; the risk is that it solidifies suffocating the whole world. To the law of retaliation — what you did to me, I do to you. Jesus substitutes the law of love: what God has done to me, I do to you! Let us think today, in this lovely Easter week, if we are capable of forgiving. And if we don’t feel capable, we must ask the Lord to give us the grace to forgive, because it’s a grace to be able to forgive.

God gives every Christian the grace to write a story of goodness in the life of his brothers, especially those that have done something displeasing or mistaken. With a word, an embrace, a smile, we can transmit to others what we received that is most precious. What is the precious thing we have received? <It is> forgiveness, which we must be capable of giving also to others.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 In Italian

I greet affectionately the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

In particular, I receive joyfully the pre-adolescents of Milan, accompanied by their Archbishop, Monsignor Mario Delpini, and by their priests and educators. Dear youngsters, I encourage you to grow in faith and in charity, committed to bear good fruits.  May the Gospel be your rule of life, as it was for your Saints: Ambrose and Charles, who changed their world with love.

A special thought goes to the Confirmed of the Diocese of Treviso, gathered here with their Pastor, Monsignor Gianfranco Gardin; with the strength of the Holy Spirit, be generous witnesses of Christ.

I greet the faithful of the Oratories and Parishes, especially those of Lecce, of Cava dei Tirreni and of Magione; the new Deacons of the Society of Jesus with their relatives; the Women and Men Religious; the school Institutes and the Associations, in particular, the City of Hope Foundation of Monte di Malo.

A special thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. I invoke for all the joy and hope that derive from Christ’s Pasch. May you be able to have an experience of the living Jesus, to receive the gift of His peace and to become His witnesses in the world.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original Text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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Cardinal Bo Decries ‘Senseless Violence,’ Expresses ‘Sincere Anguish’ Over Sri Lanka Bombing Victims

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:12 AM
“Allow me to express my sincere anguish at this tragedy that has taken the toll on scores of innocent human lives on the very day when we celebrate world over the victory of life and goodness over death and evil.”

Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, expressed this in his message, provided by him to ZENIT, to Cardinal Ranjith, his brother bishops and faithful.

“It is with deep sorrow,” the Cardinal of Myanmar expressed, “that I heard about the multiple bomb blasts in 3 churches and 3 hotels this morning in your nations’s capital Colombo.” Expressing his “sincere anguish” for the tragedy claiming hundreds of innocent lives on the day we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection over death and evil, the Cardinal said, “I place my humble prayers for all the victims of this senseless violence, I also pray for the care givers and relief agents.” “We need to plead the mercy seat of the Risen Lord Jesus, the Prince of Hope and Peace, to strengthen all people of good will to help stabilize the situation of fear and suspicion that has arisen following the blasts.” Cardinal Bo concluded, extending the prayers of Brother Bishops and Faithful of all member countries of the Federation of the Asia Bishops’ Conference.

On Easter Sunday, in his ‘Urbi et Orbi Message’ and in his Regina Coeli address on Monday, Pope Francis condemned the attacks in Sri Lanka that left an estimated 300 dead and hundreds more injured.

On Easter, he said: “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.,” the Holy Father said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

According to Vatican News, terrorists set off at least seven explosives on Easter Sunday morning at three churches and four hotels. Two of the churches targeted were Catholic and one was an evangelical church.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said it is “a very, very sad day for all of us.”

“I wish, therefore, to express my deepest sorrow and sympathy to all those innocent families that have lost someone, and also to those who have been injured and rendered destitute. I condemn – to the utmost of my capacity – this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people.”

***

Here is Cardinal Bo’s full message to Cardinal Ranjith, which he provided to Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov

Dear Cardinal Ranjith, Brother Bishops and faithful, It is with deep sorrow that I heard about the multiple bomb blasts in 3 churches and 3 hotels this morning in your nations’s capital Colombo. Allow me to express my sincere anguish at this tragedy that has taken the toll on scores of innocent human lives on the very day when we celebrate world over the victory of life and goodness over death and evil. As I place my humble prayers for all the victims of this senseless violence, I also pray for the care givers and relief agents. We need to plead the mercy seat of the Risen Lord Jesus, the Prince of Hope and Peace, to strengthen all people of good will to help stabilize the situation of fear and suspicion that has arisen following the blasts. I also extend the prayers of Brother Bishops and Faithful of all member countries of the Federation of the Asia Bishops’ Conference. Charles Cardinal Bo, SDB [Courtesy of Cardinal Bo] Related: https://zenit.org/articles/let-faith-in-jesus-make-us-see-power-of-resurrection-in-our-lives-cardinal-bos-easter-message/

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General Audience: Pope: We Can Be Confident God Will Forgive Us, When We Ask With Contrite Hearts

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 9:53 AM

We can be confident that the Lord will forgive us, when we ask forgiveness with contrite hearts…

Pope Francis stressed this during his first General Audience, April 24, since Easter Sunday, as he continued his catecheses on the Our Father.

Speaking on the expression “as we forgive those who trespass against us,” Francis recalled God’s infinite love and willingness to pardon those who sincerely, contritely repent and ask forgiveness, but at the same time there is the expectation we do the same.

Reminding that “this grace also calls us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us,” Pope Francis underscored: “The message is clear: if you refuse to forgive, then you will not be forgiven.”

Here is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the General Audience this morning:

***

Speaker: Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the expression: “as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Since everything we have, including our very existence, comes as a gift from God, we are always in his debt, for our life was not simply willed, it was also loved into being.  We can be confident, then, that the Lord will always forgive our trespasses when we ask him with contrite hearts.  Yet this grace also calls us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us.  We see this in the parable of the unmerciful servant, who though having his own enormous debt written off, in turn refuses to cancel a much smaller debt owed to him.  The message is clear: if you refuse to forgive, then you will not be forgiven.  God, however, grants every Christian the grace to be able to transmit to others the precious gift of forgiveness, which we can do with a word, an embrace, or a smile. © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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‘Let Faith in Jesus Make Us See Power of Resurrection in Our Lives’ — Cardinal Bo’s Easter Message

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 9:21 AM

Below is the Easter message of Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon (Myanmar), which His Eminence has provided to ZENIT:

***

Easter  Message 2019

Cardinal Charles  Maung Bo., DD.,SDB

Archbishop of Yangon –  Myanmar

Friends  in the loving, living and liberating Lord,

Blessings and  Joy of the Great Easter. The darkness gives way to light, the Empty tomb proclaims love is stronger than Death.

To Each one of you,  My warmest  greetings of this season of Hope.  Christ is risen. Hold your hands up high and say  Hallelujah!    Christ is the light – Lumen Christi.  As the Easter Vigil proclaims  – he is the alpha and omega,  he is the Light of the World. 

This year  a film is made with the name  “Mary Magdalene” –  a feminist view of Jesus life and mission.  The  film portrays her as  the apostle of Resurrection.  Mary Magdalene her life, and her example, tells us what it means to follow in the way of Jesus, in the Way of Love.   Jesus walked through the way of the Cross; Mary Magdalene walked the way of Resurrection through the way of Love.

She inspires us: Believe!  Be Faithful!  Fall in Love, Stay in Love.

Men who followed Jesus did not have the same faith as this simple woman. John’s Gospel says in the 20th chapter, early in the morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb.

“They went to the tomb when it didn’t make any sense. They went to the tomb when the evidence was against them. Jesus was dead. They knew that. The power of the Empire had crushed the hope of love. They knew that. And they got up in the morning and went to the tomb anyhow”.

Because Jesus was the Light of Love enshrined in their hearts as eternal hope. Love, they know, is stronger than death. (Song of Songs 8:6)  So they went to the tomb anyhow.

Being Faithful is more important than being Successful, says Mother Teresa…   For those who are faithful, failure perishes.  And Mary Magdalene encounters the eternal light, darkness dissipates, death dissolves.  Hallelujah!

“But when she went to the grave, John’s Gospel says it was dark. It was dark. That’s not just the time of day in John’s Gospel. The darkness in John is the domain of evil. The darkness is the domain of wrong, of hatred, of bigotry, of violence, of injustice, of oppression, the domain of sin and death and horror.”  Mary Magdalene went when it ‘was still dark’.

We are’ still in dark”.  In personal life, in the Family, in our country.   “Still in dark”.   Easter tells us the longest night has a sober dawn;   even the suffocating evil has an expiry date.  God is in charge.  Easter urges us:

  • From Darkness to light
  • From Death to resurrection to life. 

We wish to see Easter 2019 at three levels:

  1. Personal lives:  Death has a dark romance with us.   The seduction of sin tastes sweet before it destroys us.  Hopeless men and women make their bodies mobile graves.   Sin suffocates us and enslaves us. The animal in us takes over in our moments of darkness.  Let the hopeless bones in us rise up to the splendor of grace in this season of hope.   Let the darkness of Sin be expelled by the enchanting power of Love.   For “you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life,but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)  Identify the graves that entomb us every day:  despair, anger, jealousy, debilitating habits, mutilating prejudices, gripping vices and grotesque illusions.  Roll down the stones and be born again into grace.
  2. Family Lives:  God engaged with a family in the beginning, not with a state, not a company.    Christian God lives in a Trinitarian Family.    The biggest threat to humanity is not nuclear bombs, but the emerging threat to the integrity of family. Death of family is the incremental death of humanity.  In many countries, families are dying or recast as unnatural unions. Divorces are becoming norms.    Even those families that are intact face great challenges from social media:  internet connects gadgets but they fail to connect the hearts. Smart Phones have become the digital graves to   the young generation.   Encounter across the generation is diluted.   Families need to be born again from the graves of lifelessness. We pray that the grace of resurrection may penetrate the walls of ego in families.  We pray for families that are displaced, families that had their children trafficked, families who are under great stress.
  3. Lives of our Country:  This great nation, blessed by God with all resources, had a long way of the Cross.   The people remained Good Friday people without any hope of Easter.    Now there is democracy.  But many people our country is still in Holy Saturday.   The silence of hope.  Waiting for a better tomorrow.   Let this Easter be period of Grace for our Country leaders, the army and all others.    Let us roll the stones from the graves of enmity, war, displacement, poverty and unsafe migration and rise up to a new nation of hope and prosperity.  Let the Easter of 2019 be the resurrection year for our nation.   Pray for the showers of blessings.
  4. Roll down the five stones: As the angel roll down the stones to bring the news of resurrection, Myanmar   urgently needs to roll down five stones.  Church has already planned to work for a new dawn through working for the following  five major needs :
  5. Quality Education  – investing in the people of Myanmar 
  6. Integral   development of our people especially poor and the needy.
  7. Women development:   Special attention to the women, specially girls and women at risk of  exploitation
  8. Indigenous rights and  right to land and livelihood with special attention to spread of  Laudato Si. 
  9. Inter religious initiatives for peace. 

Many a visitor to this country has commented that this is the virtual Eden Garden  – with all resources, especially  the wonderful human resource.   But poverty and oppression made this  a virtual grave for thousands of people.

Let us roll down the stones  of hopelessness and conflict from this country.   Hope is great power.  Darkness never wins.  Christ is the  light,  lumen Christi.

            Let the faith in Jesus make us to see the power of resurrection in our lives.  Always  remember Mary Magdalene : She went  when it was STILL Dark  the  Grave.

            And Resurrection  Happened  through that  suffocating  darkness. Hallelujah!   Let the same light shine on  each  one of us, on our family,  on our dear Country. 

[Text of Message provided by Cardinal Bo to Zenit’s Deborah Lubov]

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Pope Francis’ Remarks at Easter Monday Regina Coeli

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 2:38 PM

Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli on Easter Monday with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He offered a reflection, recalling the Easter joy that continues this week.

Here is a Vatican News translation of the full text of the Pope’s reflection.

Today and throughout this week, the Easter joy of the Resurrection of Jesus, the wonderful event we commemorated yesterday, will continue.

During the Easter Vigil, the words spoken by the Angels at the empty tomb of Christ resounded. To the women who had gone to the tomb at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, they said: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen”. The Resurrection of Christ is the most shocking event in human history, attesting to the victory of God’s Love over sin and death and giving our hope of life a rock-solid foundation. What was humanly unthinkable happened: “Jesus of Nazareth…God raised Him up, freeing Him from the pains of death”.

On this Easter Monday (in Italian “Monday of the Angel”), the liturgy, with the Gospel of Matthew, takes us back to the empty tomb of Jesus. The women, full of awe and joy, are leaving in a hurry to go and bring the news to the disciples; and at that moment Jesus presents Himself before them. They “came up to Him and, falling down before Him, clasped His feet”. Jesus drives fear out of their hearts and encourages them, even more, to announce to their brothers and sisters what has happened. All the Gospels emphasize the role of women, Mary of Magdala and the others, as the first witnesses of the resurrection. The men were frightened, they were closed in the Upper Room. Peter and John, advised by Mary Magdalene, only went out briefly and saw that the tomb was open and empty. But it was the women who were the first to meet the Risen One and to bring the message that He was alive.

Today, dear brothers and sisters, the words of Jesus addressed to the women resound for us too: “Do not be afraid; go and proclaim…”. After the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, which allowed us to relive the mystery of our Lord’s death and resurrection, now with the eyes of faith, we contemplate Him risen and alive. We too are called to meet Him personally and to become His heralds and witnesses.

With the ancient Easter Sequence, we repeat during these days: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. In Him we too have risen, passing from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Let us, therefore, allow ourselves to be touched by the consoling message of Easter and be enveloped by its glorious light, which dispels the darkness of fear and sadness. The risen Jesus walks beside us. He manifests Himself to those who call on Him and who love Him. First of all, in prayer, but also in simple joys lived with faith and gratitude. We can also feel His presence when we share moments of cordiality, welcome, and friendship, or when we contemplate nature. May this feast day, on which it is traditional to enjoy some leisure and free time, help us to experience the presence of Jesus.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us draw with full hands the gifts of peace and serenity of the Risen One, and to share them with our brothers and sisters, especially with those who most need comfort and hope.

 

 

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The Promise of Easter

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 1:41 PM
Pope Francis: There Resounds a call to Praise: ‘Alleluia, Alleluia!’

‘Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world.’

Holy Father’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Blessing (Full Text)

‘Today the Church renews the proclamation made by the first disciples: Jesus is risen!’

Pope Francis Expresses Sympathy for Sri Lanka Bombing Victims

Hundreds Killed and Injured in Easter Sunday Attacks

Church in Australia Deeply Saddened by Sri Lankan Attacks

‘Attacks such as this are always atrocious but especially when worshippers are the target and it’s the Resurrection they’re celebrating.’

The Astounding Question: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’

‘At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone’

Pope Francis’ Homily at Easter Vigil (Full Text)

Today We See Our Journey is not in Vain

Pope Francis Welcomes New Members into Church

Pope Presides at Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica

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Church in Australia Deeply Saddened by Sri Lankan Attacks

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 1:27 PM

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge on April 21, 2019, has expressed shock at the attacks in Sri Lanka that have left many dead, including Catholics attending Easter celebrations.

“Attacks such as this are always atrocious,” he said, “but especially when worshippers are the target and it’s the Resurrection they’re celebrating.

“We don’t know who planned the attack or what their motive may have been. But we do know that whoever’s responsible, this attack has something demonic about its planning and execution. We also know that violence like this won’t have the last word. That’s what Easter is about.”

Archbishop Coleridge said he will contact Church leaders in Sri Lanka as soon as possible and extend the sympathies and prayers of the Catholic Church in Australia.

He also expressed solidarity with the more than 22,000 Sri Lankan Catholics who now call Australia home, saying that the Catholic community in this country will rally around them in every way possible.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the attacks at the conclusion Easter Sunday of his “Urbi et Orbi” message in St. Peter’s Square.

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Pope Francis: There Resounds a call to Praise: ‘Alleluia, Alleluia!’

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 1:16 PM

Pope Francis on Easter Sunday offered a message of hope and prayer for peace in his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square.

Speaking to a crowd estimated at 70,000 in the square – and millions more around the world via radio and television – the Holy Father proclaimed that risen Christ and said His message is for every person in the world.

“Today the Church renews the proclamation made by the first disciples: ‘Jesus is risen!’ the Pope said. “And from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart, there resounds a call to praise: ‘Alleluia, Alleluia!'”

The Holy Father turned to the opening words of his recent apostolic exhortation on youth,  Christus Vivit, to focus his message not only on young people but on the youth of the Church”

“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world. Everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope” (Christus Vivit, 1-2).

The Holy Father offered his hope for peace in the many areas of the world suffered in conflict. In particular, he mentioned Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan,  South Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

“Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent. May he make us builders of bridges, not walls,” Francis said. “May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries. May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity.”

The Holy Father’s Full Message

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Pope Francis Expresses Sympathy for Sri Lanka Bombing Victims

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 12:38 PM

Pope Francis lamented the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka that left an estimated 200 dead and hundreds more injured. His comments came at the conclusion of his “Urbi et Orbi” message from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.,” the Holy Father said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

Unknown attackers set off at least seven explosives on Easter Sunday morning at three churches and four hotels, according to Vatican News.

Two of the churches targeted were Catholic and one was an evangelical church.

The first blast hit St. Anthony’s Catholic Shrine in Kochchikade, a district north of the capital Colombo, causing heavy casualties.

Dozens of people died at St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in Negombo, another district north of Colombo.

The targeted evangelical church was in Batticaloa in Eastern Province, where more than two dozen people were killed.

The explosions struck within a short period of time, all targeting the faithful as Easter services were beginning.

At around the same time on Sunday morning, blasts struck four hotels in Colombo, including the Shangri-La Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand.

At least nine foreigners were killed in Sunday’s attacks.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, said it is “a very, very sad day for all of us. I wish, therefore, to express my deepest sorrow and sympathy to all those innocent families that have lost someone, and also to those who have been injured and rendered destitute. I condemn – to the utmost of my capacity – this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people.” He called for the government to determine who was responsible.

 

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Holy Father’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Blessing (Full Text)

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 12:17 PM

Pope Francis at noon on Easter Sunday gave his message “Urbi et Orbi” from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica. An estimated 70,000 pilgrims were present in St. Peter’s Square and millions more listening through radio and television around the world.

Following is the Vatican-provided text of his message:

Today the Church renews the proclamation made by the first disciples: “Jesus is risen!”   And from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart, there resounds a call to praise: “Alleluia, Alleluia!” On this morning of Easter, the perennial youth of the Church and of humanity as a whole, I would like to address each of you in the opening words of my recent Apostolic Exhortation devoted especially to young people:

“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world. Everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope” (Christus Vivit, 1-2).

Dear brothers and sisters, this message is also addressed to every person in the world. The resurrection of Christ is the principle of new life for every man and every woman, for true renewal always begins from the heart, from the conscience. Yet Easter is also the beginning of the new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity.

Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain, and sorrow. May he, the Living One, be hope for the beloved Syrian people, victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent. Now is instead the time for a renewed commitment for a political solution able to respond to people’s legitimate hopes for freedom, peace, and justice, confront the humanitarian crisis and favor the secure re-entry of the homeless, along with all those who have taken refuge in neighboring countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan.

Easter makes us keep our eyes fixed on the Middle East, torn by continuing divisions and tensions. May the Christians of the region patiently persevere in their witness to the Risen Lord and to the victory of life over death. I think in particular of the people of Yemen, especially the children, exhausted by hunger and war. May the light of Easter illumine all government leaders and peoples in the Middle East, beginning with Israelis and Palestinians, and spur them to alleviate such great suffering and to pursue a future of peace and stability.

May conflict and bloodshed cease in Libya, where defenseless people are once more dying in recent weeks and many families have been forced to abandon their homes. I urge the parties involved to choose dialogue over force and to avoid reopening wounds left by a decade of conflicts and political instability.

May the Living Christ grant his peace to the entire beloved African continent, still rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction, and death, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. I think too of Sudan, presently experiencing a moment of political uncertainty; it is my hope that all voices will be heard, and that everyone will work to enable the country to find the freedom, development, and well-being to which it has long aspired.

May the Risen Lord accompany the efforts of the civil and religious authorities of South Sudan, sustained by the fruits of the spiritual retreat held several days ago here in the Vatican.    May a new page open in the history of that country, in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation.

May this Easter bring comfort to the people of the eastern regions of Ukraine, who suffer from the continuing conflict. May the Lord encourage initiatives of humanitarian aid and those aimed at pursuing a lasting peace.

May the joy of the resurrection fill the hearts of those who on the American continent are experiencing the effects of difficult political and economic situations. I think in particular of the Venezuelan people, of all those who lack the minimal conditions for leading a dignified and secure life due to a crisis that endures and worsens. May the Lord grant that all those with political responsibilities may work to end social injustices, abuses, and acts of violence, and take the concrete steps needed to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.

May the Risen Lord shed his light on the efforts made in Nicaragua to find as rapidly as possible a peaceful negotiated solution for the benefit of the entire Nicaraguan people.

Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent. May he make us builders of bridges, not walls. May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries. May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is alive! He is hope and youth for each of us and for the entire world. May we let ourselves be renewed by him! Happy Easter!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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A Message to Our Readers

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 9:42 AM

ZENIT will return Wednesday, April 24, with a limited dispatch, and will return to normal, Thursday, April 25. We hope all our readers have had a blessed and joyful Easter. God bless you and your loved ones, ZENIT

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Pope Francis Welcomes New Members into Church

Sat, 04/20/2019 - 8:22 PM

Pope Francis presided at the Easter Vigil on April 20, 2019, in the Vatican Basilica. The Rite began in the atrium of St. Peter’s with the blessing of the fire and the preparation of the Paschal candle. The procession to the Altar, with the Easter candle lit and the song of the Exultet, was followed by the Liturgy of the Word and the Baptismal Liturgy, during which the Pope administered the Sacraments of Christian initiation to 8 people joining the Church from Italy, Albania, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Peru.

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The Astounding Question: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’

Sat, 04/20/2019 - 7:53 PM

Pope Francis recalled the remarkable scene and astounding words of the Gospel when the woman comes to Jesus’ tomb and discovers he isn’t there. And this comes after the women who came earlier found their way blocked by a huge stone in front of the tomb.

Reflecting in his homily during the April 20, 2019, Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father, he recalls that they feared their visit had been in vain. So did the later visitor. Then came the question that changed everything.

“A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ (Lk 24:5),” the Pope said. Further, he suggested it is a question for us today.

“Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones?” Francis asked. “Why do you give in to resignation and failure?

“Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the ‘living stone’ (cf. 1 Pet 2:4), the risen Jesus.

“We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?”

The Holy Father went on to suggest the name that our stones might bear: discouragement. He warned against building – stone by stone – a “monument to our own dissatisfaction,” which could lead to complaints and sickness of spirit.

The Pope said another stone can bear the name of “sin.” This arises from the “glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure.” And he reminded listeners that when confronted by the angel at the tomb, the women were first filled with fear and were afraid to look up.

“How often do we do the same thing?” Francis asked. “We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears…we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up.”

Pope Francis concluded by reminding those listening that Christians don’t “linger in graveyards” but focus on the living. He suggested each person must consider their destination.

” Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the center of our lives,” Francis urged. “Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.”

The Holy Father’s Full Homily

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Pope Francis’ Homily at Easter Vigil (Full Text)

Sat, 04/20/2019 - 7:46 PM

Pope Francis presided at the Easter Vigil on April 20, 2019, in the Vatican Basilica.

Following is the Vatican-provided translation of the homily of the Holy Father:

The women bring spices to the tomb, but they fear that their journey is in vain, since a large stone bars the entrance to the sepulcher. The journey of those women is also our own journey; it resembles the journey of salvation that we have made this evening. At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone: the beauty of creation against the tragedy of sin; liberation from slavery against infidelity to the covenant; the promises of the prophets against the listless indifference of the people. So too, in the history of the Church and in our own personal history. It seems that the steps we take never take us to the goal. We can be tempted to think that dashed hope is the bleak law of life.

Today however we see that our journey is not in vain; it does not come up against a tombstone. A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones? Why do you give in to resignation and failure? Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the “living stone” (cf. 1 Pet 2:4), the risen Jesus. We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?

Often what blocks hope is the stone of discouragement. Once we start thinking that everything is going badly and that things can’t get worse, we lose heart and come to believe that death is stronger than life. We become cynical, negative and despondent. Stone upon stone, we build within ourselves a monument to our own dissatisfaction: the sepulcher of hope. Life becomes a succession of complaints and we grow sick in spirit. A kind of tomb psychology takes over: everything ends there, with no hope of emerging alive. But at that moment, we hear once more the insistent question of Easter: Why do you seek the living among the dead? The Lord is not to be found in resignation. He is risen; he is not there. Don’t seek him where you will never find him: he is not the God of the dead but of the living (cf. Mk 22:32). Do not bury hope!

There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death. Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why not make up your mind to abandon that sin which,  like a stone before the entrance to your heart, keeps God’s light from entering in? Why not prefer Jesus, the true light (cf. Jn 1:9), to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure? Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?

Let us return to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. They halted in amazement before the stone that was taken away. Seeing the angels, they stood there, the Gospel tells us, “frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground” (Lk 24:5). They did not have the courage to look up. How often do we do the same thing? We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears. It is odd, but why do we do this? Not infrequently because, glum and closed up within ourselves, we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up. A poet once wrote: “We never know how high we are. Till we are called to rise” (E. DICKINSON). The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word,  to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

God asks us to view life as he views it, for in each of us he never ceases to see an irrepressible kernel of beauty. In sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand. In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of living it completely, experiencing anguish, abandonment, death, and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: “You are not alone; put your trust in me!”. Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11). With him,  we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover – from self-centeredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?

Why do you seek the living among the dead? The women hear the words of the angels, who go on to say: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee” (Lk 24:6). Those women had lost hope because they could not recall the words of Jesus, his call that took place in Galilee. Having lost the living memory of Jesus, they kept looking at the tomb. Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to him with all our mind and all our heart. To return to a lively love of the Lord is essential. Otherwise, ours is a “museum” faith, not an Easter faith. Jesus is not a personage from the past; he is a person living today. We do not know him from history books; we encounter him in life.  Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his

The women, remembering Jesus, left the tomb. Easter teaches us that believers do not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I going? Sometimes we go only in the direction of our problems, of which there are plenty, and go to the Lord only for help. But then, it is our own needs, not Jesus, to guide our steps. We keep seeking the Living One among the dead. Or again, how many times, once we have encountered the Lord, do we return to the dead, digging up regrets, reproaches, hurts, and dissatisfactions, without letting the Risen One change us? Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the center of our lives. Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[00670-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

 

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Holy Father Presides at Stations of the Cross in Colosseum

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 8:15 PM

Pope Francis presided over the Stations of the Cross on the evening of Good Friday in the Colosseum in Rome. The meditations for the service were written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti.

See the full text of the meditations here

Pope Francis concluded the even with the following prayer:

Prayer of the Holy Father

Lord Jesus, help us to see in Your Cross all the crosses of the world:

the cross of people hungry for bread and love;

the cross of lonely people abandoned even by their own children and relatives;

the cross of people thirsting for justice and peace;

the cross of people who do not have the comfort of faith;

the cross of the elders wh0 stagger under the weight of years and loneliness;

the cross of the migrants who find the doors closed due to fear and hearts locked in by political calculations;

the cross of the little ones, wounded in their innocence and in their purity;

the cross of humanity that wanders in the darkness of uncertainty and in the darkness of the culture of  living only for the moment;

the cross of families broken by treachery, by the seductions of the evil one or by the murderer lightness and selfishness;

the cross of the consecrated who tirelessly seek to bring Your light into the world and feel it rejected, mocked and humiliated;

the cross of consecrated persons who, along the way, have forgotten their first love;

the cross of your children who, believing in You and trying to live according to Your word, find themselves marginalized and discarded even by their families and their peers;

the cross of our weaknesses, of our hypocrisies, of our betrayals, of our sins and of our many broken promises;

the cross of Your Church that, faithful to Your Gospel, bears your Your love with difficulty even among the baptized themselves;

the cross of the Church, your bride, who feels herself continually attacked from inside and outside;

the cross of our common home that seriously withers under our egoistic eyes and
blinded by greed and power.

Lord Jesus, revive in us the hope of resurrection and your definitive victory against every evil and every death. Amen!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[00699-IT.01] [Original text: Italian] ZENIT Working Translation

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