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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 57 min 23 sec ago

Invitation to Joy

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 6:45 PM
Holy Father Reminds World of the Call to Joy

‘The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom

Angelus Address: On the Third Sunday of Advent or “Gaudete” Sunday

‘The Word of God Invites Us to Joy’

Pope Blesses Childrens’ Figures of Jesus on ‘Bambinelli Sunday’

Also Notes Upcoming Eucharistic Congress

Pope Receives Prime Minister of Montenegro

Discussion of Various International Themes

Pope Francis Celebrates Mass for Rome’s Filipino Community

Celebration Held in St. Peter’s Basilica

Pope Names New Bishop of Laï, Chad

Also Appoints Replacement in Kericho, Kenya

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Pope Names New Bishop of Laï, Chad

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 6:33 PM

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of the diocese of Laï, Chad, the Reverend Nicolas Nadju Bab, of the clergy of Laï, currently the diocesan administrator of the same diocese.

The bishop-elect was born on 2 September 1969 in Béré, diocese of Laï. He entered the Saint Luc major seminary in Bakara/N’Djaména, where he completed his studies in philosophy and theology. He was awarded a master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development at the University of Santander, Spain. He was ordained a priest on May 11, 2002, and incardinated in the diocese of Laï.

Since ordination, he has held the following offices: parish priest of Saint François D’Assise in Baktchoro (2002-2008); parish priest of the “Sainte Famille” Cathedral of Laï (2008-2009); specialist studies in Spain (2009-2010); director of diocesan Caritas (since 2010); parish priest of the “Sainte Famille” Cathedral of Laï (2010-2013); administrator of the Nodjikwa parish of Ngamongo (2015-2018), and diocesan administrator of Laï (since 2018).

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kericho, Kenya, presented by Bishop Emmanuel Okombo Wandera, at the same time appointing Bishop Alfred Kipkoech Arap Rotich, military ordinary for Kenya, as bishop of the same see.

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Pope Francis Celebrates Mass for Rome’s Filipino Community

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 6:22 PM

Pope Francis on December 15, 2019, celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Rome’s Filipino Community.

During his homily, Pope Francis began by drawing from Sunday’s liturgy, reported Vatican News. He said that “from the words of the Responsorial Psalm we learn that there are those vulnerable people who also deserve a look of special love from God.”

The Pope was referring to “the oppressed, the hungry, prisoners, foreigners, orphans and widows. These are the inhabitants of the existential peripheries of yesterday and of today.”

The Pope noted that as the world prepares to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, of Emmanuel, “we must ask the Lord to renew the miracle of Christmas every year, offering ourselves as instruments of his merciful love towards the least and the lowest.”

He explained that during the Season of Advent, we are called to “awaken in our hearts a sense of expectation and to intensify our prayer.”

Pope Francis said that “in the Philippines, for centuries, there has been a novena in preparation for a blessed Christmas called, Simbang-Gabi (Mass of the night). During nine days, the Filipino faithful gather in their parishes for a special Eucharistic celebration.”

He went on to say that, “in recent decades, thanks to Filipino migrants, this devotion has crossed national borders and has arrived in many other countries,” including Italy and the Vatican.

Through this celebration, the Pope continued, “we want to commit ourselves to manifest God’s love and tenderness towards everyone, especially the least.”

Pope Francis told those present that the people who had left their land in search of a better future, “have a special mission.” Your faith, he said, “is “leaven” in the parish communities to which you belong, today. I encourage you to increase opportunities for meeting to share your cultural and spiritual wealth, while at the same time allowing yourselves to be enriched by the experiences of others.”

The Pope concluded his homily by saying that, “we are all called to practice charity together with those who live in the existential peripheries, using our different gifts to renew the signs of the presence of the Kingdom. Together, we are all called to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, in all languages, so as to reach as many people as possible.”

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Pope Receives Prime Minister of Montenegro

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 6:13 PM

On December 14, 2019, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Duško Marković, prime minister of Montenegro, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the parties focused on the existing good bilateral relations, in the hope that they may be consolidated further. In particular, they highlighted the value of the harmonious inter-ethnic and interreligious co-existence which characterizes the millennia-long Montenegrin identity.

Finally, there was an exchange of views on some themes of an international nature, with particular reference to the future of the European project, the current religious challenges and the phenomenon of migration.

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Pope Blesses Childrens’ Figures of Jesus on ‘Bambinelli Sunday’

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 5:56 PM

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday. But to the children gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus with the Holy Father it also is “Bambinelli Sunday”.

It was during the Angelus fifty years ago that St. Paul VI first blessed the statues of the Child Jesus brought by children to St. Peter’s Square, according to Vatican News. Children bring the figures of Jesus from their home nativity scenes and the Pope blesses them.

“I greet you, dear youngsters, who have come with the statuettes of the Child Jesus for your crib,” Pope Francis said. “Raise the statuettes! I bless them from my heart.”

“The crib is like a living Gospel. [. . .] While we contemplate the Nativity Scene, we are invited to put ourselves spiritually on the way, drawn by the humility of Jesus, God, He who made himself man to encounter each one of us. And we discover that He loves us to such a point as to unite Himself to us so that we too can unite ourselves to Him” (Cf. Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, 1).

The Holy Father also noted that in less than a year, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest, from September 13-20, 2020. “For over a century Eucharistic Congresses recall that the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. The theme of the next Congress will be ‘All my Springs Are in You’ (Psalm 87”7). Let us pray that Budapest’s Eucharistic event may foster processes of renewal in Christian communities” (Address to the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, November 10, 2018).


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Holy Father Reminds World of the Call to Joy

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 2:44 PM

Pope Francis had a short and warm message for the crowds gathered on December 15, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square to pray the noonday Angelus: Joy.

“To the prophet Isaiah’s explicit invitation to joy: ‘The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom’ (35:1) is opposed, in the Gospel, John the Baptist’s doubt: ‘Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ (Matthew 11:3)” the Pope recalled.

“In fact, the prophet sees beyond the situation: he has before him discouraged people: weak hands, hesitant knees, lost hearts (Cf. 35:3-4). It’s the same reality that in all times puts faith to the test. However, the man of God looks beyond, because the Holy Spirit makes him feel in his heart the power of His promise, and he proclaims salvation: “Be strong, fear not! Behold your God [. . . ] He will come and save you” (v. 4)”

The Holy Father went on to explain that the “new birth” in Jesus brings joy.  It cleans a person of sin and rejuvenates.

John the Baptist, the Pope explained, had to “convert himself” to Jesus, even though ” “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John”.

“Advent is a time of grace. It says to us that it’s not enough to believe in God: it’s necessary to purify our faith every day,” Francis reminded the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “As we draw close to Christmas, may the Virgin Mary help us not to let ourselves be distracted by exterior things, but to make room in our heart for Him who has already come, and wills to come again to heal our sicknesses and give us His joy.”

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Angelus Address: On the Third Sunday of Advent or “Gaudete” Sunday

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 2:20 PM

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this third Sunday of Advent, called Sunday “of joy,” the Word of God invites us on one hand to joy, and on the other to the awareness that existence includes also moments of doubt, in which it is hard to believe. Joy and doubt are both experiences that are part of our life.

To the prophet Isaiah’s explicit invitation to joy: ”The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom” (35:1) is opposed, in the Gospel, John the Baptist’s doubt: “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). In fact, the prophet sees beyond the situation: he has before him discouraged people: weak hands, hesitant knees, lost hearts (Cf. 35:3-4). It’s the same reality that in all times puts faith to the test. However, the man of God looks beyond, because the Holy Spirit makes him feel in his heart the power of His promise, and he proclaims salvation: “Be strong, fear not! Behold your God [. . . ] He will come and save you” (v. 4). And then everything is transformed: the desert blossoms, consolation, and joy take hold of lost hearts, the lame, the blind the mute are healed (Cf. vv. 5-6). It’s what is realized with Jesus: “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). This description shows us that salvation envelops the whole man and regenerates him. However, this new birth, with the joy that accompanies it, always implies a dying to ourselves and to the sin that is in us. From here stems the call to conversion, which is at the base of the preaching be it of the Baptist be it of Jesus; in particular, it’d about changing the idea we have of God. And the Season of Advent stimulates us precisely to this, with the question that John the Baptist asks Jesus: “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). We think: all his life John has waited for the Messiah; his style of life, his body itself is molded by this expectation. Because of this too, Jesus praises him with those words: “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John” (Cf. Matthew 11:11). Yet he also had to convert himself to Jesus. Like John, we are also called to recognize the face that God has chosen to assume in Jesus Christ, humble and merciful.

Advent is a time of grace. It says to us that it’s not enough to believe in God: it’s necessary to purify our faith every day. It’s about preparing to receive not a fairy tale character, but the God that questions us, involves us and before whom a choice is imposed. The Child that lies in the manger has the face of our neediest brothers and sisters, of the poor that “are the privileged ones of this mystery and, often, those that in the main are able to recognize God’s presence in our midst” (Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, 6).

As we draw close to Christmas, may the Virgin Mary help us not to let ourselves be distracted by exterior things, but to make room in our heart for Him who has already come, and wills to come again to heal our sicknesses and give us His joy.

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


After the Angelus

 Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I greet you all, families, parish groups and Associations that have come to Rome, from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrim of Korea, of Valencia and the group of Rotzo (VI).

I greet you, dear youngsters, who have come with the statuettes of the Child Jesus for your crib. Raise the statuettes! I bless them from my heart. “ The crib is like a living Gospel. [. . .] While we contemplate the Nativity Scene, we are invited to put ourselves spiritually on the way, drawn by the humility of Jesus, God, He who made himself man to encounter each one of us. And we discover that He loves us to such a point as to unite Himself to us so that we too can unite ourselves to Him” (Cf. Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, 1).

In less than a year, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest, from September 13-20, 2020.  For over a century Eucharistic Congresses recall that the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. The theme of the next Congress will be “All my Springs Are in You” (Psalm 87”7). Let us pray that Budapest’s Eucharistic event may foster processes of renewal in Christian communities” (Address to the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, November 10, 2018).

And I wish you all a happy Sunday and a good Christmas Novena. You, youngsters, bring the Baby Jesus for the crib and, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

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


© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Pope at 50 Years as Priest

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 6:55 PM
*Special* for Pope’s 50th Anniversary of Ordination: ‘The Other Francis’ – Cardinals, Leaders of the Church, Pope’s Relatives & Friends Share Unfiltered Accounts of Their Pope Francis

In Deborah Castellano Lubov’s Book, Published Today in 5th Language of Polish, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin’s Preface Leads Into Many Conversations

50th Anniversary of Pope’s Ordination: A Priesthood Marked by Mercy

Pope Speaks on this Ministry

Francis Applauds French Mercy Movements

‘What unites you is the desire to make known to the world the joy of mercy through the diversity of your charisms’

Holy Father Receives Christmas Concert Contributors

Promoted by Congregation for Catholic Education

Fifty Years of Priesthood with Young People: New International Headquarters of Scholas Occurrentes

Opens on the Pope’s Anniversary

Second Advent Sermon of 2019: Mary in the Visitation

‘My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord’

Pope Francis Blesses Three Chilean Children Winners of the Competition ‘Together with the Pope’

It Makes Peter’s Pence Known

Pope Makes Several Episcopal Appointments

Latin America, Africa, Poland

Archbishop Follo: True Joy not from Things but from Encounter with Christ

With the wish to experience the joy of being loved.

Pope Appoints New Bishop of Sioux Falls, US

Reverend Donald Edward DeGrood

Two Nigerian Priests Kidnapped on December 6 Released

Fr. Joseph Nweke and Fr. Felix Efobi, of the Diocese of Awka

Outgoing Nuncio to Filipinos: Spread the Faith to the World

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia Moving to Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations

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Pope’s Message for Peace

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 6:53 PM
Pope’s Message for World Day of Peace (Full Text)

“Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion”

On Eve of Feast of Guadalupe, Pope Moves Several Closer to Sainthood

Promulgates Decrees for Causes of Saints

‘Holiness Is the True Light of the Church,’ Pope Tells Vatican’s Congregation for Causes for Saints

‘Your Dicastery is called to verify the various modalities of heroic holiness, both the one that shines most visible and the most hidden and least conspicuous, but equally extraordinary’

Migrants and Refugees: Cardinal Czerny’s Personal History

A Family Tested During World War II

Archbishop Kaigama has a Message for Nigerian Politicians

‘Be close to the people to understand their needs’

Lebanese are Resilient in Face of Crisis

Help from Food Banks in Parishes, Free Medical Services

Burkina Faso: ‘We Christians are persecuted, while the West remains indifferent’

Aid to Church in Need Interview with Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya

Mexico City Expects 10 Million Pilgrims for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

488th anniversary of Apparitions of Santa Maria of Guadalupe al Tepeyac

US Bishops Allocate $1.6 Million for Central and Eastern Europe

Funding for 100 Projects in 22 Countries

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Outgoing Nuncio to Filipinos: Spread the Faith to the World

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 5:00 PM

The outgoing Vatican’s envoy to the Philippines encouraged Filipino Catholics to go out into the world on a mission and spread the faith, reported CBCP News.

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia said he will forever be grateful for the witness of faith and devotion that he saw in the country.

“I hope that they (Filipinos) will continue to spread the Good News not just in the country but also in Asia and wherever they live outside in the bigger world,” he said.

Archbishop Caccia, who also serves as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the country, is ending his tour of duty on Dec. 22.

The nuncio also made his farewell call on the Department of Foreign Affairs on Dec. 5, as he prepares to leave for his new mission.

He will first go back to his home country in Italy before assuming his new post as Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York on Jan. 16, 2020.

“I’m also grateful to the Filipino people and to the Philippine Church that showed me great openness, generosity,” Caccia said.

Archbishop Caccia has served as the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines since November 2017.

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50th Anniversary of Pope’s Ordination: A Priesthood Marked by Mercy

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 4:48 PM

On December 13, 1969, four days before his 33rd birthday, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was ordained a priest.

The now Pope Francis received this Sacrament with the imposition of hands of the Archbishop of Cordoba, Monsignor Ramon Jose Castellano.

Young Jorge discovered his vocation on September 21, 1953, Memorial of Saint Matthew, the tax collector who converted when Jesus invited him to follow Him. During a Confession, he had a profound experience of God’s mercy, a joy that led him to decide to be a priest, reported “Vatican News.”

Priest, Man of Mercy

Divine Mercy has marked Francis’ priestly life. For him, priests leave everything, without making noise, to dedicate themselves to the daily life of communities, giving their lives to others; they are moved by the sheep, as Jesus was when He saw tired and exhausted persons as sheep without a shepherd.”

“So, in the image of the Good Shepherd, a priest is a man of mercy and compassion, close to the people and servant of all. This is a pastoral criterion that I would like to stress well: closeness. Proximity and service, but proximity, closeness . . . Whoever is wounded in life can find in the priest care and listening . . . The wounds need to be healed — many wounds! This is the time of mercy (Address to Parish Priests, Rome, March 6, 2014).”

Eucharist, Meaning of Life

 The Pope also believes that the priest is a man whose center in life is Christ, not himself. That is why he shows his gratitude to presbyters for the daily celebration of the Eucharist. “In the Eucharistic Celebration, we find every day our identity as Pastors. Every time we can make truly our own Jesus’ words: ‘This is my Body that is given up for you,’” points out the same source.

 “This is the meaning of our life, they are the words with which, in a certain way, we can renew daily the promises of our Ordination” (Homily for the Jubilee of Priests, June 3, 2016),” he

Mission in the Confessional

 Moreover, the Holy Father also highlights that the Church’s Pastors carry out an important part of their mission in the Confessional “It’s normal that there are different styles among the confessors, but these differences can’t refer to the essence, namely, a healthy moral doctrine and mercy,” he says about the Sacrament of Penance.

He also warns that it’s not advisable for a confessor to show either a “rigorous” or “lax” attitude. “The rigorist washes his hands: he nails it, in fact, to the law understood in a cold and rigid way,” whereas the lax confessor “washes his hands: he is only apparently merciful but, in reality, he doesn’t take the problems of that conscience seriously, minimizing the sin. Genuine mercy takes charge of the person, listens to him attentively, gets close, with respect and truth, to his situation, and accompanies him in the journey of reconciliation (Address to Parish Priests of Rome, March 6, 2014).”

Men “of Prayer”

The Bishop of Rome also stresses the importance of prayer in Pastors’ life. “The priest is, in the first place, a man of prayer. It is from intimacy with Jesus that charity springs. It’s union with God that makes one overcome the innumerable temptations of evil.”

 In this connection, he stresses, “the devil exists; he isn’t a myth; he is astute, a liar, deceiver. Francis invites to look at Mary, to pray the Rosary every day, especially at this time, to protect the Church from the devil’s attacks who want to bring division (Letter to Priests on the 160th Anniversary of the Death of the Cure of Ars).”

Daily Life and Last Judgment

 The Pontiff believes that a priest’s spirituality is also incarnate in daily life, a “prophetic voice” in the face of oppression that mistreats the poor and the weak. The Church, he says, “cannot and must not stay on the margin in the fight for justice,” relegating religion, as some would like, ‘to persons’ secret intimacy, without any influence on social and national life’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 183), given that the Kingdom of God begins here, on earth, and it is where we find Jesus.

In this line, he remarks that the Last Judgment will focus precisely on what we have done to Christ in the poor, in the sick, in strangers, in the imprisoned (Matthew 25) and that, as John Paul II pointed out, we will be judged by love; however, the latter can’t exist without justice.

The Abuses

 Francis also referred to abuses committed by priests, expressing his closeness to the victims. Nevertheless, at the same time, he remembers those who have to bear the charge of crimes that they haven’t perpetrated.

He also clarifies that “it would be unjust not to recognize the many priests that, in a constant and honest way, give all that they are and have for the good of others.”

There are Pastors that “make of their life a work of mercy in regions or situations that very often are inhospitable, remote or abandoned, including at the risk of their own life”, whom he thanks for their “courageous and constant example” and he exhorts not to be discouraged. “The Lord is purifying his Bride and He is converting all of us to Himself (Letter to Priests on the 160th Anniversary of the Death of the Cure of Ars).”


The Holy Father says he thinks a lot about the exhaustion of presbyters: “I think a lot and pray often, especially when I am the tired one. I pray for those of you that work in the midst of God’s faithful people, who were entrusted to you, and many of you in abandoned and dangerous places. And our exhaustion, dear priests, is as incense that rises silently to Heaven. Our exhaustion goes directly to the Father’s heart.”

And he adds that exhaustion, as the result of being in the midst of the people, is good, because it’s “the exhaustion of the priest with the scent of sheep,” with the awareness that “only love rests (Homily in the Chrism Mass, April 2, 2015).”

Joy and Good Humour

 Moreover, Pope Francis reminds Pastors that “the saint is able to live with joy and a sense of humor,” and that it’s a joy that comes from union Jesus and fraternity.

In an interview given to TV2000 in 2016, he said: “a sense of humor is a grace that I pray for every day,” because “it relieves you, it makes you see how temporal life is and to take things with the spirit of a redeemed soul. It’s a human attitude, but it’s the closest to the grace of God.

The Homily, Positive Preaching”

 In regard to homilies, “Vatican News” points out that the Pope has often stressed the importance that priests prepare them well. He also invites priests to preach homilies that are neither a show nor an indoctrination lesson.

This implies being able to say “words that make hearts burn, with a positive language: not sayings so much what we must not do but proposing what we can do better, as positive preaching always gives hope, orients to the future, and doesn’t leave us enclosed in negativity (Evangelii Gaudium, 159),” he says.

Support and Prayer

 Finally, “Vatican News” highlights that the Bishop of Rome asks priests to be always close to the people, but he also exhorts the faithful to support priests. “Dear faithful, accompany your priests with affection and prayer so that they are always Pastors according to God’s heart (Homily for the Chrism Mass, March 28, 2013).”

In the letter he wrote on the occasion of this important anniversary, Monsignor De Donatis, the Pope’s Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, recalled the Pontiff’s constant requests for prayers at the end of his addresses: ‘Please, don’t forget to pray for  me.’ These are the last words every Sunday of the Angelus prayed from the window, of every meeting, of every moment.”

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Francis Applauds French Mercy Movements

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 4:31 PM

This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the members of associations, congregations, and movements dedicated to mercy that are active in France.

The following is the Holy Father’s address to those present:

Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters,

I thank you for this visit, on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome as representatives of associations, congregations, and movements dedicated to divine mercy. I thank Cardinal Barbarin for the words with which he introduced our meeting. What unites you is the desire to make known to the world the joy of mercy through the diversity of your charisms: with people in precarious situations, with migrants, the sick, prisoners, people with disabilities, and wounded families. This diversity that you represent is very beautiful: it expresses well the fact that there is no human poverty that God does not want to reach, touch and help. “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person” (Bull Misericordiae vultus, 12).

Mercy is, indeed, the ultimate and supreme act with which God comes to meet us and which opens our hearts to the hope of being loved forever, whatever our poverty, whatever our sin. God’s love for us is not an abstract word. It has become visible and tangible in Jesus Christ. For this reason, “this is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do His children. Just as He is merciful, we are called to be merciful to each other” (ibid., 9).

In the Bull calling for the Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae vultus, I expressed my hope that, in the perspective of the new evangelization which the world so badly needs, “the theme of mercy” would be “proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action. It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father” (ibid., 12).

I see, and I rejoice, that there are many in the Church in France who, with the support and encouragement of their pastors, listen to this appeal. And it is beautiful that you do it together, that you find together ways to meet each other to pray and share, to share your difficulties and experiences, but above all your joys and gratitude, because there is a real joy in proclaiming the mercy of the Lord, of He who kneeled before His disciples to wash their feet and said: “Blessed are you if you do these things” (cf. Jn 13: 17) (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24). I hope that you will be able to find ways to bear witness around you to this joy of evangelizing by proclaiming God’s mercy, to pass on His passion to others and to spread in the world the culture of mercy it urgently needs.

And so that you may do this, I would like to invite you to be always very attentive to keep alive, first of all in the depths of your hearts, this mercy of which you bear witness. May the sometimes very demanding and tiring fulfillment of your charitable activities never stifle the breath of tenderness and compassion by which they must be inspired, nor the gaze which expresses it. Not a look from above with condescension, but the look of a brother and sister, that elevates. This is the first thing that the people you help must find in you because they first need to feel understood, appreciated, respected and loved. And then another thing, which is not written but then the Cardinal will translate for you. There is only one legitimate way to look at a person from above to below, only one way: to help them rise up. Otherwise, you can never look down on a person. Just like you do: to help them lift themselves up.

On the other hand, I believe that you can only be authentic apostles of mercy if you are profoundly aware that you have been the object of mercy from the Father, and also, with humility, that you are still the object of mercy while we exercise it. Saint John Paul II wrote: “We must also continually purify all our actions and all our intentions in which mercy is understood and practiced in a unilateral way […]. An act of merciful love is only really such when we are deeply convinced at the moment that we perform it that we are at the same time receiving mercy from the people who are accepting it from us. If this bilateral and reciprocal quality is absent, our actions are not yet true acts of mercy” (Dives in Misericordia, 14).

In this time of preparation for Christmas, I propose that you contemplate the Nativity display. It invites us to “feel” and “touch” the poverty that God’s Son took upon himself in the Incarnation. Implicitly it summons us to follow Him along the path of humility, poverty, and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the Cross. It asks us to meet Him and serve Him by showing mercy to those of our brothers and sisters in greatest need (cf. Mt 25: 31-46)”. (Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum, 3), and I hope that you will be strongly encouraged and renewed in your dedication.

I thank you once again for this visit, and I wish you, your families and communities joyful Christmas celebrations. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.

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Holy Father Receives Christmas Concert Contributors

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 4:20 PM

This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the promotors, organizers, and artists of the Christmas Concert in the Vatican, which will take place on Saturday 14 December in the Paul VI Hall, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education. The proceeds of the event will be donated to the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation and the Salesian Missioni Don Bosco Valdocco Onlus.

The following is the Holy Father’s greeting to those present at the audience:

Greeting of the Holy Father

Dear Friends,

I offer a cordial greeting to all of you and I am pleased to meet you before the Christmas Concert in which you will take part. I greet Cardinal Versaldi and the officials of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves: what is it that I am waiting for in my life?  What is the great desire of my heart? You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human “yearning” in the hearts of many people. Deep down, it is God Himself who puts this desire, this “thirst” in our hearts. And He comes to meet us by this route. Certainly not in the vain compulsion to acquire possessions or to keep up appearances. It is not there that God comes; no one will meet on that route. But surely He comes wherever there is hunger and thirst for peace, hunger and thirst for justice, freedom and love.

Once more this year, in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, I asked everyone to see in the nativity scene a simple and admirable sign of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. “The nativity scene clearly teaches that we cannot let ourselves be fooled by wealth and fleeting promises of happiness… By being born in a manger, God Himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness. From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalized (Admirabile Signum, 6).

In this act of humility, we find ourselves before a disconcerting mystery. God is unpredictable and constantly acts in unforeseeable ways. By taking us aback in this way, He constantly invites us not to grow proud but to grasp His disarming power in every little gesture of goodwill. This is all the more true for those who – like you – work closely with young people, and have a certain influence on their ways of thinking and acting. Speaking about your role, Saint Paul VI observed that the world “needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the heart of man; it is that precious fruit that resists the wear and tear of time, unites generations and makes them share in wonderment” (Address of Pope Paul VI to Artists, 8 December 1965).

For this reason, all of us are called to build a “global village of education”, weaving a web of human relationships, for these are the best antidote to all forms of discrimination, violence and bullying. In this village, education and art meet through the languages of music and poetry, painting and sculpture, theatre and cinema. All these expressions of human creativity can be channels of fraternity and peace between the peoples that make up the human family, and of dialogue between the world’s religions. In this regard, I express my grateful appreciation to the Salesians and to Scholas Occurrentes for the commitment with which, in this spirit of service, they carry out their projects in the Amazon.

Dear artists, I thank you for all that you do. I wish you the best for your activities and your spiritual growth. May your hearts melt before the mystery of Christmas, so that you can convey some of that same tenderness to those who listen to you. Thank you and best wishes for your concert!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

The post Holy Father Receives Christmas Concert Contributors appeared first on ZENIT - English.

*Special* for Pope’s 50th Anniversary of Ordination: ‘The Other Francis’ – Cardinals, Leaders of the Church, Pope’s Relatives & Friends Share Unfiltered Accounts of Their Pope Francis

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 3:24 PM

Today, Dec. 13, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Francis’ ordination. To commemorate the day, the Polish translation of the book ‘The Other Francis’, by ZENIT Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, was published and presented at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, and Secretary General, Bishop Artur J. Mizinski, presented along with Lubov. Also, Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, left a video message. Archbishop Gadecki’s interview is published in the Polish edition.

Lubov’s book was published in English as ‘The Other Francis’ (ed. Gracewing), in Italian as ‘L’Altro Francesco’ (ed. Cantagalli), in Spanish as ‘El Otro Francisco’ (ed. Homo Legens), in Lithuanian as ‘Kitoks Franciskus’, and now in Polish as ‘Franciszek Nieznany’.

The English version was presented at a private roundtable of Ambassadors to the Holy See, hosted by British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, at her residence.

Today I enjoyed hosting the launch of the English version of @DeborahLubov’s book ‘The Other Francis’ which explains the Pope through interviews with those who know him. Interesting to hear the different perspectives of the journalists and diplomats present. pic.twitter.com/eHbmQ13S8Y

— Sally Axworthy (@SallyAxworthy) February 19, 2019

Here is an interview ZENIT staff had conducted with Lubov on ‘The Other Francis,’ which we publish to commemorate further Francis’ 50-year-anniversary of his priesthood:


From ZENIT’s Archives:

The ambitious objective, stated already on the book’s cover, is to offer the reader a portrait of the “Other Francis,” namely, to tell all that has never been said about Pope Francis. Not an easy task, given the impressive amount of volumes dedicated to Francis, which already crowd the shelves of bookstores.

The author is the American journalist – but transplanted to Rome – Deborah Castellano Lubov, Senior Vatican Correspondent of Zenit. “The Other Francis,” (L’Altro Francesco’) (published in Italian by the prestigious publishing house Cantagalli of Siena, but which soon will be translated into English) contains a preface by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and 14 interviews with personalities of the Roman Curia (and of the Church), spread throughout the five continents, and relatives and friends of the Argentine Pontiff.

The Polish Bishops’ Conference celebrated the 50th anniversary of priestly ordination of Pope Francis with the presentation of the Polish edition of the book “The Other Francis” by @DeborahLubov, which was held at the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate.https://t.co/JV1i9TilMQ pic.twitter.com/Znsi3isxfR

— Church in Poland (@ChurchInPoland) December 13, 2019

However, not lacking in these 200 pages is interesting original news, information, revelations, and sometimes even courageous opinions about the Argentine Pope and various timely questions raised by him. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a simple and friendly man, who likes to joke a lot, but who is also the Pope who has been able to focus the attention of all humanity on the topics most dear to him: human dignity, unbridled globalization, the distribution of wealth, the safeguarding of Creation.

* * *


Cardinal Pietro Parolin

The Interviewees:

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Maria Elena Bergoglio, Cardinal Kurt Koch, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Patriarch F.B. Fouad Twal, Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Adrian Pallarols, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka

* * *

Who is “The Other Francis” (L’Altro Francesco) to which you make reference in the title?

A man that first of all wants to be considered and treated as a “normal” person, even if now, Cardinal Koch told me, it disappoints him that he can no longer easily agree to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a bar in Rome’s Piazza Navona to have a cappucchino together.

From your many interviews, one would say he is a very friendly man with quite a sense of humor . . .

Indeed! Cardinal Dolan of New York also bore the brunt of it, because, as he told me, he is a ‘man of girth.’ Yet, he told me:  “But thus, I feel immediately at ease with him,” he told me. Cardinal Dolan’s interview shares quite a few fun, heartwarming anecdotes with Francis, especially from when the Pontiff visited New York in September of 2015.

Or Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who then became his great friend. They were in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, after a solemn celebration. Cardinal Bergoglio made a joke to him about ‘chickens,’ the nickname used by the adversary fans to make fun of the River plate soccer players. It was a way of being ironic about that team’s losing streak, but very inappropriate in that situation. So Rabbi Skorka, a River fan, did not appreciate this at first, feeling offended. Then he understood, he says, that there was a message between the lines: “treat me without formality, like any other person!”

How was the idea to write this book born?

The beginning of the Bergoglio pontificate coincided, more or less, with the beginning of my activity as Vatican correspondent of Zenit. Francis attracted much attention immediately, because of all the novelties brought within and outside the Church. In this atmosphere of great excitement, for journalists used to following the Vatican’s news, I often felt the need to confront truly expert voices. Thus, many interviews came about, day after day, in doing my work, and even many friendships. Then I wondered if they would be able to share with me an unfiltered  account of their view of and relationship with Francis. This is the result.

In regard to interviews, Francis has granted many more than any other predecessor. Did you discover anything particularly interesting about these?

Many things! Once, for instance, during one of the interviews on a plane there was talk of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the Vatican. “It’s like having a wise grandfather at home,” Francis said. Then, he thought about it again and right after landing in Rome, he mentioned it immediately with concern to Archbishop Gaenswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and private secretary of the Pope Emeritus: “Today, I said something a bit strong . . . I hope Benedict XVI won’t be offended!”

Much has been said and written about the relationship between Francis and Benedict, often also with much superficiality, inventing oppositions … is it true?

Suffice it to say what Francis’ sister said, hence a privileged source of news, said to the journalist and my friend Michael Hesemann (German author and historian, co-author of My Brother the Pope co-authored with Georg Ratzinger), whom I thank for having allowed me to include his precious interview in my book. “You owe me obedience. If you are elected, you must accept,” said Pope Ratzinger to Cardinal Bergoglio, when they met the last time before the Conclave.

And what other interesting thing did you discover on the biography of Bergoglio before becoming Pope?

First of all that Bergoglio’s famous grandmother, being a fervent anti-Fascist,  was the reason why the family felt almost constrained to leave Italy for Argentina. Then an episode, which goes back to when Jorge, having finished high school, said to his mother that he wanted to become a doctor. She was so happy that she immediately freed a small room so that he could study peacefully but, one day, she only found books of philosophy, theology and Latin. The explanation, he told her, was that he did want to become ‘a doctor,’ but one ‘of souls.’

Who is Adrian Pallarols, the Pope’s other friend who you interviewed?

Adrian is a famous Buenos Aires silversmith, a very dear friend of the Pope. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the reader. I will tell you only that it was Bergoglio himself to celebrate his marriage and baptized his children. The problem with the wedding was that the parish priest, who held the course that Adrian and his wife had, was very abrupt with all. When Bergoglio called him, introducing himself as “Father Jorge,” to come to an agreement about the celebration of Adrian’s marriage, he began as usual to shout and vehemently protest, until he discovered that . . . you read the rest.

Returning to the topic of the relationship between Francis and the mass media in general, what did you learn?

Archbishop Gaenswein’s judgment seems important to me: the media were never so well disposed with Pope Benedict as they are today with Pope Francis. Even if Francis  — I learned from the former director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Lombardi –, that Pope Francis doesn’t always appreciate journalists’ questions during air travel. Instead, he is often rather disappointed, because he doesn’t find them interesting, or because journalists ask anything that passes through their mind instead of focusing on the contents or the most significant episodes of every trip.

It is said that the ‘normality,” the sobriety of Francis, who for instance lives in a very small space compared to the large apartments of some cardinals, brought much disarray in the Vatican.

This is true in part, but it’s not even necessary to emphasize it. When I went to interview Cardinal Turkson in his office in his dicastery, we spoke about the greatness of the rooms: He also expressed that similarly, his residence,  is large and one of his architect friends once said that in that surface a good four rooms could be made, but certainly not in a building as ancient a structure as that one. And in any case, do you know where Cardinal Turkson went to furnish his house when he arrived in Rome? IKEA!

.@DeborahLubov is presenting her obok and greeting readers. pic.twitter.com/9J41VEcGCE

— Church in Poland (@ChurchInPoland) December 13, 2019

Francis made everyone understand thoroughly that he cannot endure adulators. He wants everyone to tell him exactly what he thinks. And then, among all the judgments and opinions expressed by various Cardinals and Bishops, is there someone that surprised you for his frankness?

Returning to interviews on a plane, there comes to mind the Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins, His Beatitude Fouad Twal. On the return flight from Poland, in July 2016, there was talk of terrorism and Islam. It’s true, he told me, that the head of the Catholic Church can’t say explicitly everything about Islam. However, according to him, it was surprising to hear the Pope explain that violence exists in all the religions, including Catholicism, and that one religion alone can’t be accused, or Cardinal Napier of Durban, South Africa, on the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetita. How can the African Church go about not losing her credibility? — he wondered. Now, in fact, the Church must tell Africans that she was mistaken 200 years ago, preaching that to become Christians they must abandon customs such as polygamy; because today one can go to Communion even if one has more than one wife, because one cannot turn one’s back on them.

On the list of interviewees there are also personalities of the Church considered not very in tune with Pope Francis. Why did you want to include these voices also in the book?

I believe that a variety of opinions and points of view is a merit, not a defect, for a book of this nature. Therefore, there is also, for instance, Cardinal Muller, who became “former” Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith precisely while the book was going to press; a man who is certainly very different from Francis in provenance, orientations, mentality. Therefore, it has all the more of an effect to hear him say what is the strongest impression Francis makes on him: It is when he embraces men and women even with a deformed face from a serious sickness, without that aversion that would be simply natural. Cardinal Muller also admits that it is certainly easy to preach love of neighbor, but difficult to practice it.

Then there is also Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, in Myanmar, certainly a country “of the periphery” for the Catholic Church, but Francis in fact decided to honor it undertaking an Apostolic Trip there?

Not “periphery” but “periphery of peripheries,” Cardinal Bo corrected me! It’s a Church that has suffered so much, in 60 years of “inhuman” dictatorship, as he himself described it. No contact with the rest of the world, the foreign missionaries expelled overnight . . . Not only “periphery,” “but a country forgotten by the world,” he said, noting the only exception was now by the Church and now by Francis.


The post *Special* for Pope’s 50th Anniversary of Ordination: ‘The Other Francis’ – Cardinals, Leaders of the Church, Pope’s Relatives & Friends Share Unfiltered Accounts of Their Pope Francis appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Second Advent Sermon of 2019: Mary in the Visitation

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 2:16 PM

In this meditation, we go with Mary “into a hill country” and enter into the house of Elizabeth. Mary speaks to us personally with her canticle of praise, the Magnificat. Today the Catholic Church celebrates the priestly golden Jubilee of the successor of Peter and the canticle of Mary is the prayer that most spontaneously springs from the heart in a circumstance like this. A meditation on it is our little way of celebrating the event.

To understand the place and the meaning of the canticle of Mary we need to say something about the canticles in general. In the Gospels of the infancy of Jesus these canticles –  Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis – are there to explain what came about in a spiritual way, that is, to enhance the meaning of the events –the Annunciation, the Visitation, Christmas -, making them a form of confession of faith and praise. They stress the hidden meaning of the events which must be brought to light.

As such, they are an in­tegral part of the historic narration and not just interludes or separate passages, because every historic event is made up of two factors: the event and the meaning of the event. It has been writ­ten that “the Christian Liturgy begins with the canticles of the story of the infancy.” (H. Schürmann).  In other words, these canticles contain the Christmas liturgy in an embryonic stage. They are the fulfillment of the essential elements of the liturgy which is a joyful celebration of belief in the event of salva­tion.

Many problems remain unsolved about these canticles according to the biblical scholars: the real authors, the sources, the structure. For­tunately, we can leave all these problems to the critics who continue to study them. We don’t have to wait for these obscure points to be solved to be edified by these canticles. This is not because these problems are of no importance but because there’s a certainty that makes all these un­certainties less important. Luke accepted these canticles in his Gospel and the Church has accepted Luke’s Gospel in its Canon. These canticles are the “Word of God” inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Magnificat is Mary’s because the Holy Spirit attributed it to her and this makes it more “hers” than if she had actually written it herself! In fact, we are not really interested in whether Mary com­posed the Magnificat or not but in knowing whether she composed it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Even is we were certain that Mary composed it, we wouldn’t be interested in it because of this but because it is the Holy Spirit who speaks through it.

Mary’s canticle is a new way of seeing God and the world. In the first part which embraces verses 46-50, following what has come about in her, Mary’s glance is turned towards God; in the second part which embraces the remaining verses, her glance is turned towards the world and history.

 A new look at God

The first movement in the Magnificat is towards God; God has absolute primacy over everything else. Mary doesn’t delay in answering Elizabeth’s greeting, she doesn’t either enter into discourse with man, but with God. She recollects herself and immerses herself in the infinite God. An incomparable experience of God has been “fixed” in the Magnificat for all time. It is the most sublime example of the so-called numinous language. It has been observed that when the divine reality is manifested to a soul it usually produces two opposing sentiments: fear and love, awe and attraction. God shows himself as a “tremendous and fascinating mystery,” tremendous in his majesty, fascinating in his goodness. When God’s light first shone on him, Augustine confessed: “I trembled with love and terror” and even later on contact with God made him “shudder and burn” at the same time.[1]

We find something similar in Mary’s canticle, expressed biblically, through the titles used. God is seen as Adonai (much more meaningful than the term “Lord” we translate it with), as “God,” as “Powerful” and above all as Qadosh, “Holy”: Holy is his name! At the same time, however, this holy and powerful God is all trusting, seen as “my Savior,” as being indulgent and lovable, one’s “own” God, a God for his creature. Above all, it is the insistence on God’s mercy that brings to light his benevolence and closeness to mankind. “His mercy from generation to generation”: these words suggest the idea of God’s mercy as a mighty river flowing throughout all human history.

Knowledge of God provokes, as a reaction and contrast, a new and true perception and knowledge of oneself and one’s own being. The self is only grasped in front of God Coram Deo. This is what happens in the Magnificat. Mary feels ”looked” upon by God; she her­self enters into that look and sees herself as God sees her. And how does she see herself in this divine light? As be­ing “small” (here “humility” means real smallness and low­ness and not the virtue of humility!). She sees herself as a “servant.” She sees herself as a nothing that God has deigned to look upon. Mary doesn’t attribute the divine election to her virtue of humility, but to God’s grace. To think otherwise would mean to destroy Mary’s humility. This virtue has something special about it: has it who thinks he or she has not, doesn’t have it who thinks he or she has it.

From this acknowledgment of God, of herself and of the truth, spring joy and exultation: My spirit rejoices . . . the joy of truth bursting forth, joy for the divine work, a joy of pure and gratuitous praise. Mary magnifies God for him­self, even if she magnifies him for what he has done in her; she magnifies him for her own personal experience, as do all the great biblical worshippers. Mary’s jubilation is an es­chatological jubilation for God’s decisive action and it is the jubilation of the created being for being creatures loved by their Creator, at the service of the Holy One, of love, of beauty, of eternity. It is the fullness of joy.

St. Bonaventure who personally experienced the transform­ing effects on a soul visited by God, speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Mary at the moment of the Annunci­ation as a fire which inflamed all of her:

The Holy Spirit came upon her,” he wrote, “like a divine fire which in­flamed her mind and sanctified her flesh conferring on her a most perfect purity. . . . Oh, if only you were able to feel in some measure how great was the fire that descended from heaven and how wonderful it was, what freshness it brought. … If you could only hear the Virgin’s jubilant hymn.[2]

Even the strictest and most exacting scien­tific exegesis is aware that we are dealing with words that cannot be comprehended through the normal means of philological analysis and admits that: “Whoever reads these lines is called to share in the jubilation; only the celebrat­ing community of those who believe in Christ and those faithful to him are able to comprehend these texts.”8 It is speaking “in the Spirit” and cannot be understood if not in the Spirit.

A new look at the world

As I said, the Magnificat is made up of two parts. What changes between the first and the second parts is not the language used, neither is it the tone. From this point of view, the canticle is an uninterrupted flow with no breaks; the verbs continue to be in the past tense narrating what God has done or, better still, what he “has started to do.” Only the background of God’s action has changed; from what he did “in her” we pass to what he did for the world and for history. The effects of the definitive manifestation of God and how it reflects on humanity and history are dealt with.

Here we have a second characteristic of evangelical wis­dom, that of uniting sobriety in the way of looking at the world to the inebriation that contact with God gives, in con­ciliating the greatest rapture and abandonment to God with the greatest critical realism towards history and man. In the second part of the Magnificat, after exulting in God, Mary turns her penetrating gaze on what is happening in the world.

Using a series of powerful aoristic verbs, from verse 51 on, Mary describes a pulling down and a radical reversal of men’s positions: he pulled down—he raised; he filled— he sent empty away. An unexpected and irreversible turn of things because it is God’s work and God never changes or goes back on his word as man does. In this changeover, two different groups emerge; on the one hand the proud- powerful-rich, on the other the humble-hungry. It is im­portant to understand this reversal and where it started if we are not to misunderstand the whole canticle and with it the evangelical beatitudes which are anticipated here in almost the same words.

Let us look at history: what actually happened when the event Mary sang of started to be fulfilled? Was there perhaps an external social revolution through which the rich were suddenly impoverished and the hungry filled with good things? Was there, perhaps, a more just distribution of riches among the social classes? No, not really. Were the powerful really pulled down from their thrones and the humble raised high? No. Herod continued to be called “the Great” and Mary and Joseph had to flee into Egypt because of him.

If what was expected was a visible, social change, history has taught us that this was not to be the case, where then did this reversal take place (because it did take place)? It took place in the faith! The kingdom of God manifested itself bringing about a silent but radical revolution. It is as if something had suddenly been discovered which caused an unexpected devaluation. The rich are like those who have amassed great wealth but who, on waking one morning, find themselves miserably poor because a hundred percent devaluation had taken place overnight. On the contrary, the poor and the hungry are favored because they are ready to accept this new situation and do not fear the change it will bring about: their hearts are ready.

As I have mentioned, the reversal of things Mary sings of is similar to that proclaimed by Jesus in the Beatitudes and in the parable of the rich man. Mary speaks of richness and poverty starting from God; once again she speaks Coram Deo; God, not man, is her mea­sure. She establishes the “definitive” eschatological prin­ciple. To say therefore that we are dealing with a reversal “in faith” does not mean that it is any the less real and radi­cal, or serious; it is infinitely more so. This is not a pattern created by the waves on the sand which the next wave will wash away. It is an eternal richness and an equally eternal poverty.

The Magnificat,  school of evangelization

Commenting on the Annunciation, St. Irenaeus says that “Mary, full of exultation, prophetically exclaimed in the name of the Church: My soul magnifies the Lord.“[3] Mary is like the soloist who starts a tune that must then be taken up by the choir. This explains the expres­sion “Mary, model of the Church” (typus Ecclesiae), used by the Fathers and acknowledged by Vatican Council II (LG 63). To say that Mary is “the model of the Church” means that she is the personification of the Church, the percept­ible representation of a spiritual reality; it means that she is the model of the Church in the sense that the idea of the Church is perfectly realized first of all in her person and at the same time she is its principal member, its root and its heart.

But what meaning does “Church” have here and in the place of which Church does Irenaeus say Mary sang the Magnificat? Not in the place of the nominal Church, but of the real Church, that is, not of the Church in the abstract, but of the actual Church, of the persons and souls who make up the Church. The Magnificat is not only to be recited but to be lived. Each one of us should make it our own; it is “our” canticle. When we say: “My soul magnifies the Lord,” the “my” should have a direct reference. St. Am­brose wrote: “May Mary’s soul be in you to exult in God. . . . If it is true that one only is the Mother of Christ according to the flesh, all souls generate Christ in the faith because each believer accepts in himself the Word of God.”[4]

In the light of these principles let us now try to apply Mary’s canticle to ourselves, to the Church and soul, to learn what we must do to “be like” Mary not only in words but also in deeds.

 Where Mary proclaims the putting down of the powerful and proud, the Magnificat reminds the Church of the essential message it must announce to the world. It teaches the Church to be “prophetic.” The Church lives and practices the Virgin’s canticle when it repeats with Mary: He has put down the mighty from their thrones, the rich he has sent empty away! The Church repeats this with faith, making a distinction between it and all the other an­nouncements it also has the right to make concerning jus­tice, peace, and the social order in so far as it is the qualified interpreter of the natural law and the guardian of Christ’s commandment on fraternal love.

If the two views are distinct, they are not, however, separate and without reciprocal influence. On the contrary, the proclamation of faith of what God has done in the his­tory of salvation (the view of the Magnificat) becomes the best indication of what man in his turn must do in his own personal history, and, rather, of what the Chinch itself must do on account of the charity it must show to the rich, in view of their salvation. More than “an incitement to pull down the powerful from their thrones to exalt those of low degree,” the Magnificat is a healthy warning addressed to the rich and powerful about the tremendous risk they run just as the parable of the rich man will, later on, be in the intentions of Jesus.

The Magnificat is not, therefore, the only way of facing the problem which is very much felt today of wealth and poverty, of hunger and having too much; there are other legitimate ways which come to us from history, and not from faith, and to which Christians rightly give their support and the Church its discernment. But the evangelical way must be proclaimed by the Church always and to all men as its specific mandate and through which it must support the common efforts of all men of goodwill. It is always univer­sally valid and relevant. If by chance a time and place ex­isted in which there was no longer any injustice or social inequality among men, but everyone was rich and satisfied, the Church would still have to proclaim, as Mary did, that God has sent the rich away empty. Actually, it would have to proclaim it with even greater energy. The Magnificat is just as relevant in rich countries as in countries of the Third World.

There are plans and aspects of life which can be grasped only with the help of a special light, the bare eye is not sufficient; we need infra-red or ultra-violet rays. The image this special light gives is very different and surpris­ing to those who are used to seeing the same phenomena in a natural light. Thanks to the word of God, the Church has a different image of the world situation, the only last­ing image, because it is obtained with the light of God and it is the image God himself has. The Church cannot keep this image hidden. It must spread it untiringly, make it known to all men because their eternal destiny is at stake. It is the image that will remain when the “pattern of this world” has passed. At times it must make it known through simple, direct and prophetic words, like those Mary used; in the way, we express things we are intimately and serenely persuaded of. This must be done even at the cost of appear­ing ingenuous and cut off from this world according to the prevailing opinion and spirit of the time.

The Apocalypse gives us an example of this direct and bold prophetic lan­guage in which divine truth is opposed to human opinion: “You say (‘you’ could equally by the individual or a whole society): I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing! not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17).

Think of the well-known story of Andersen in which some swindlers made a king believe that there was some beautiful material which would make those wearing it invisible to the foolish and stupid, and visible only to the wise. First of all the king himself does not see it but he is afraid to say so in case he is considered one of the foolish and all his ministers and his people behave in the same way. So almost completely nude the king parades through the streets and everyone, so as not to betray themselves, pre­tend to admire his beautiful robes until a child’s voice is heard in the crowd: “But the king has got nothing on!”, thus breaking the spell and everyone finally has the cour­age to admit that the famous robes do not exist.

The Church must be like that child’s voice. To a world infatuated with its own prosperity and which considers those who show they do not believe in it, it repeats the words of the Apoca­lypse: “you do not know that you are naked!” This shows us that Mary really “speaks prophetically for the Church” in the Magnificat: starting from God, she was the first to lay “bare” the great poverty of the riches of this world. By itself the Magnificat justifies the title “Star of the evangelization” St. Paul VI attributes to Mary in his “Evangelii nuntiandi”

The Magnificat, school of conversion

However, to limit the part of the Magnificat about the proud and the humble, the rich and the hungry to what the Church and believers must preach to the world would be to misunderstand it completely. We are not just dealing with something that must be preached but which, above all, must be practiced. Mary can proclaim the beatitude of the humble and poor because she herself is humble and poor. The reversal she talks about must take place especially in the heart of whoever says the Magnificat and prays through it. Mary says: God has scattered the proud “in the imagination of their hearts.”

Unexpectedly the subject shifts from outside to inside, from theological discussions in which everyone is right to the thoughts of the heart in which every­one is wrong. The man who lives “for himself,” whose god is his own “self” and not the Lord is a man who has built himself a throne on which he sits dictating laws to others. Now, Mary says, God has put those down from their thrones; he has laid bare their lack of truth and injustice. There is an interior world made up of thoughts, will, desires and passions, which, St. James says, cause the wars and fightings, the injustice and abuse which are among you (cf. Jas 4:1) and while no one tries to change this situation from the root, nothing will really change in the world and if some­thing changes it is only to reproduce, in a short time, the same situation as before.

How closely then are we touched by Mary’s canticle, how deeply it scrutinizes us and how radically it “cuts the roots!” How stupid and incoherent I would be if, every­day, at Vespers, I were to repeat with Mary that God “cast the mighty from their thrones” while in the meantime I con­tinued to hanker after power, a higher place, promotion, a better career and lost my peace of mind if I didn’t suc­ceed; if every day I were to proclaim with Mary that God “sends the rich away empty” and in the meantime, I hankered tirelessly after riches and possessions and ever more refined things; if I were to prefer being empty-handed before God to being empty-handed before the world. How stupid I would be if I were to continue saying with Mary that God “raises the lowly,” that he is near to them while he keeps the proud and rich at a distance, and then did the very opposite. In his commentary to the Magnificat Martin Luther writes,

Every day we see that all men aim too high, at po­sitions of honor, power, wealth, dominion, a more com­fortable life, at anything which gives them importance. And we all like to be friends with such people; we run after them, serve them willingly, share in their greatness. No one wants to look down lower where there is poverty, disgrace, need, affliction, and anguish. Rather, we turn our eyes away from such things. We shun and avoid those who are troubled and abandon them to themselves. No one thinks of help­ing or assisting them or of doing anything to help them be­come something; they must remain of low degree and be despised[5].

Mary says that God does the opposite; he keeps the proud distant and raises to himself the humble and unimportant; he stays more willingly with the needy and hungry who harass him with supplications and requests than with the rich and satisfied who do not need him and ask nothing of him. Thus, with maternal tenderness, Mary exhorts us to imitate God and make his choice ours. She teaches us God’s ways. The Magnificat is truly a wonderful school of evangelical wisdom. A school of continuous con­version.

Through the commun­ion of saints in the Mystical Body, the whole of this immense heritage now adheres to the Magnificat. This is the way it should be recited, in chorus with all the worshippers of the Church. This is the way God takes delight in it. To be part of this chorus which has developed throughout the centu­ries, all we have to do is want to represent to God the sentiments and transport of Mary who was the first to sing it “in the name of the Church,” of the scholars who com­mented on it, of the musicians who set it to music with faith, of the pious and the humble of heart who lived it. Thanks to this wonderful canticle, Mary continues to magnify the Lord for all generations. Her voice, like that of a coryphaeus, supports and carries along with her that of the Church.

A worshipper of the psalter invites us all to join him in say­ing: “Magnify the Lord with me ” (Ps 34:3). Mary repeats the same words to us, her children. If I am allowed to interpret his mind, so does also the Holy Father in the day of his priestly Jubilee: “Magnify the Lord with me!” And we promise to do it.

[1] Cf St. Augustine, Confessions, VII, 16; XI, 9.

[2] St. Bonaventure, Lignum vitae, I, 3.

[3] St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, 10, 2 (SCh 211, p. 118).

[4] Cf St. Ambrose, On the Virgins, I, 31 (PL 16, 208).

[5] Weimar ed., 7, p. 547.

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Fifty Years of Priesthood with Young People: New International Headquarters of Scholas Occurrentes

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 12:20 AM

On Friday, December 13, 2019, at 4:00 pm, Pope Francis will inaugurate the new Roman International Headquarters of the Pontifical Foundation for Education Scholas Occurrentes, stated a press release on Wednesday, December 11.

The event will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pope Francis’ priestly Ordination in the presence of young people, from different parts of the world, taking part in Scholas’ educational programs.

The Pope will be connected, by a videoconference, with the young people and the representatives of Scholas of Haiti and the United States. On this occasion, new social headquarters will be opened in the city of Los Angeles, California.

The event will also launch projects and initiatives that the Pontifical Foundation will carry out next year: among them, a global event scheduled for May 14, 2020, on the theme ”Reconstruct the Global Educational Pact,” carried out in collaboration with Scholas.

 Friday’s meeting will gather sport, art and business personalities, as well as young people taking part in educational programs, which the Foundation carries out throughout the world, particularly in Colombia, Haiti, Israel, Mexico, Mozambique, and Japan. New headquarters were opened in the latter last November 22.

In the course of the event, the new Scholas-Italy premises will be opened in the new International Headquarters of the Saint Callixtus Palace, and the Agreement renewed with the Ministry of Education, of the University and of Research will be announced.

The resumes of the meetings that Scholas has promoted these days at Assisi will also be presented, to reflect on the theme: ”A New Education for  A New Economy.”

Several First Ladies from South American will take part in the initiative of the Alliance of Spouses of Heads of State and Representatives (ALMA) to share with participants the inter-cultural experience of Sholas’ youth.

Under the impetus of Pope Francis, since 2013 Scholas Occurrents works, within the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, with children in difficulty, promoting educational strategies, enabling them to blossom through sport, art, and technology, in keeping with the principle of integral education, which integrates the mind (the head), action (the hands) and the heart.

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Pope Francis Blesses Three Chilean Children Winners of the Competition ‘Together with the Pope’

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 12:16 AM

Three Chilean children — Matilda, Jesus, and Paulina –, winners of the First National Audio-Visual Competition “Together with the Pope, Let Us Transform the World,” greeted the Holy Father personally during the Wednesday General Audience.

At the end of the Audience, held in Paul VI Hall on September 11, the Pontiff blessed the youngsters, who were accompanied by Enrique Astudillo, a journalist in the Archbishopric of Santiago and Coordinator of the Competition, and by the camera operator, Sebastian Fuenzalida.

Matilda Gonzalez, 10 (Santiago de Chile); Jesus Fernandez, 12 (Santiago de Chile) and Paulina Contreras 16 (Punta Arenas), are visiting Rome from December 9-13, to meet the Pope, and to see the Vatican and its surroundings. All their expenses are covered.

The children talked with the Pope for a few seconds and asked him to bless some personal and family items they had with them. A smiling and affectionate Pope Francis blessed them and asked them to pray for him.

The Competition “Together with the Pope”

 The Competition is an initiative of the Apostolic Nunciature, the Episcopal Conference of Chile and the Archdiocese of Santiago.

It consists of a one-minute mobile phone video recording of topics such as faith, solidarity, fraternity, ecology, and the family.

133 videos arrived at platform www.juntosconelpapa.cl form different parts of Chile. The three children mentioned were the winners.

The purpose of the Competition is to make Chilean young people know the Holy Father’s initiatives throughout the world thanks to Saint Peter’s Pence.

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Pope Makes Several Episcopal Appointments

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 12:14 AM

Resignation of archbishop of Juba, South Sudan, and appointment of new metropolitan archbishop

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan, presented by Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, M.C.C.J., at the same time appointing Bishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Torit as archbishop of the same metropolitan see.

Resignation of bishop of Socorro y San Gil, Colombia, and appointment of successor

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Socorro y San Gil, Colombia, presented by Bishop Carlos Germán Mesa Ruiz.

The Pope has appointed as bishop of Socorro y San Gil, Colombia, the Reverend Luis Augusto Campos Flórez, of the clergy of the archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia, currently episcopal vicar of the archdiocesan zone of the Holy Spirit,

The bishop elect was born in Bogotá on 23 August 1958. He completed his philosophical and theological studies at the San José major seminary in Bogotá. He obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and studied for a doctorate in philosophy at the Institut Catholique in Paris.

He was ordained to the priesthood on 8 December 1982, and incardinated in the archdiocese of Bogotá.

He subsequently held the following positions: parish vicar in Soacha, parish administrator of San Francisco de Paula, formator and professor at the San José major seminary in Bogotá, rector of the San José major seminary in Bogotá, parish priest of San Tarcisio and, since 2011, episcopal vicar of the archdiocesan zone of the Holy Spirit.

Resignation of bishop of Impfondo, Republic of the Congo, and appointment of successor

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Impfondo, Republic of the Congo, presented by Bishop Jean Gardin, C.S.Sp.

The Pope has appointed the Reverend Daniel Nzika, of the clergy of Ouesso, currently vicar general, as bishop of the same diocese.

The bishop-elect was born in Ouesso on 16 February 1971. He attended the minor seminary of Makoua (1992-1995), hosted by the Community of the Beatitudes of Blagnac. He studied philosophy and theology at the Catholic University of Toulouse (1995-2000). He was ordained a priest on 9 December 2000.

Since priestly ordination he has held the following roles: parish vicar in the Saint Michel in Pokola (2000-2002); parish priest and spiritual director of the preparatory seminary (2003-2010); and parish priest of the Saint Pierre Claver Cathedral of Ouesso (2010-2012), and vicar general of the diocese (2010-2012). From 2012 to 2015 he carried out his studies for a licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Institut Catholique d’Angers; and has served as vicar general again since 2016.

Appointment of bishop of Kafanchan, Nigeria

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of the diocese of Kafanchan, Nigeria, the Reverend Julius Yakubu Kundi, of the clergy of Zaria, formerly parish priest of Saint John in Muchia.

The Reverend Julius Yakubu Kundi was born on 15 February 1968 in Danladi, in the present diocese of Zariah. After his primary and secondary school studies, he studied at Kafanchan Teachers’ College (1985-1987). After becoming a seminarian, he completed his philosophical studies at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Makurdi (1988-1991) and his theological studies at Saint Augustine’s Major Seminary in Jos (1992-1996). Later he studied at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (2003-2006), obtaining a licentiate in moral theology. He was ordained a priest on 14 June 1997 for the clergy of Kaduna. With the erection of the diocese of Zaria on 5 December 2000, he opted for the new diocese.

Since ordination he has held the following positions: parish vicar of Saint Andrew in Kakuri, archdiocese of Kaduna (1997-1998); parish priest of Saint Paul in the diocese of Jalingo, as priest fidei donum (1998-2003); higher studies in Port Harcourt (2003-2006); parish priest of Saint Enda in Bassawa Zaria (2006-2007); vice-rector of Saint Joseph’s minor seminary in Bassawa Zaria (2006-2007); administrator of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Zaria (2007-2010); treasurer of the diocese of Zaria (2007-2010); vicar general of the diocese of Zaria (2009-2010); vice-rector and formator in the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna (2010-2014); acting rector of the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna (2014-2016); acting chaplain of the Zaria Police Corps (2016-2017); parish priest of Saint John in Muchia (2017-2018); and since 2018, parish vicar of Our Lady of the Lake parish in Lake Havasu City, diocese of Phoenix, United States of America (for one sabbatical year).

Appointment of bishop of Ibarra, Ecuador

The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Segundo René Coba Galarza, military ordinary of Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra, Ecuador.

Bishop Segundo René Coba Galarza was born in Quito on 26 September 1957 and was ordained a priest on 3 July 1982 for the archdiocese of Quito. At the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador he obtained a licentiate in pastoral theology.

During his priestly ministry he has served as pastor, vicar general and executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Clergy and Consecrated Life of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador.

On 11 August 2006 he was elected titular bishop of Vegesela in Byzacena and auxiliary of Quito, and on 18 June 2014 he was appointed as military ordinary for Ecuador. He is currently secretary general of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference.

Appointment of auxiliary of Huari, Peru

The Holy Father has appointed as titular bishop of Isola and auxiliary of the diocese of Huari, Peru, the Reverend Giorgio Barbetta, of the clergy of the diocese of Gubbio, Italy, fidei donum in the diocese of Huari and rector of the Señor de Pomallucay Seminary.

The bishop-elect was born on 1 September 1971 in the province of Sondrio, Italy, and was ordained a priest on 20 September 1998, after his formation in the Pius XI Pontifical Regional Seminary of Assisi, and was incardinated in the diocese of Gubbio.

Since ordination, he has served as parish priest of Scheggia and Pascelupo in the diocese of Gubbio, Italy (1998-2000); parish priest of Piscobamba, diocese of Huari, Peru (2001-2002); and collaborator in the parish of Shilla, diocese of Huari, Peru (2003-2007).

Since 2007 he has served as rector of the Señor de Pomallucay diocesan seminary of Huari.

Appointment of auxiliary of the diocese of Ełk, Poland

The Holy Father has appointed as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Ełk, Poland, the Reverend Fr. Adrian Józef Galbas, S.A.C., currently provincial of the province of Poznań of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, assigning him the titular see of Naisso

The bishop-elect was born on 26 January 1968 in Bytom, in the archdiocese of Katowice. In 1987 he was admitted to the novitiate of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. He later studied at the major seminary of the same Society in Ołtarzew, and on 10 September 1993 he gave his religious vows in Zakopane. He was ordained a priest on 7 May 1994 in Ołtarzew, for the Society of the Catholic Apostolate.

Since priestly ordination he has held the following offices: vicar in the parish of Saint Michael the Archangel in Łódź (1994-1995); student at the “John Paul II” Catholic University in Lublin, where he obtained a licentiate in pastoral theology (1995-1997); prefect of discipline at the major seminary of the Pallottines in Ołtarzew (1998-2002); provincial counsellor of the province of Poznań (2002-2005); secretary for the apostolate in the same province (2002-2003); parish priest of Saint Lawrence in Poznań (2003-2011) and at the same time confessor in the archdiocesan seminary of Poznań and in the seminary of the Resurrectionists in the same city.

In 2012 he was awarded a doctorate in spiritual theology from the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. Since 2011, he has served as provincial of the province of Poznań of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate.

He speaks German, Italian, English, Spanish and Russian.

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Archbishop Follo: True Joy not from Things but from Encounter with Christ

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 12:13 AM

Roman Rite
Third Sunday of Advent – Year A – “Gaudete” Sunday, December 15, 2019
Is 35.1-6.8.10;Ps 146; Jas 5: 7-10; Mt 11.2-11
The Sunday of Joy

Ambrosian Rite
5th Sunday of Advent
Mi 5.1. Ml 3.1-5a.6-7b; Gal 3.23-28; Jn 1.6-8.15-18
John the Baptist, the Witness of Truth and Love.

1) The joy of a near meeting.

On this third Sunday, also called Sunday of Joy and hope for the imminent coming of the Redeemer, the liturgy invites us to rejoice because the prophecies are coming true: the Messiah who is about to be born is truly the announced Son of God. Christmas is near and Christ, source of love and joy, is born to save us and make us live in truth, love, and peace.

The “gospel”, that is “good and happy news”, is an announcement of joy for all the people. The Church is not a refuge for sad people, the Church is the house of joy because it is the house of charity. Even those who are sad find in it joy, true joy, the joy of being loved.

Pope Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium: ” The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life”.

Of course, that of the Gospel is not just any joy. The joy of the gospel finds its reason in knowing that we are welcomed and loved by God. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us today, God is the one who comes to save us and gives help especially to those who are wounded of heart. His coming among us strengthens, gives courage, makes exult and flourish the desert and the steppe that is our life when it becomes arid. This true joy also remains during trials because it is not a superficial joy but descends into the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in Him. True joy does not come from things, from having, no! It is born from the encounter and the relationship with others; it is born from feeling accepted, understood and loved and from accepting, understanding and loving. This not for the sake of a moment, but because the other is a person. “Joy comes from the gratuitousness of an encounter” (Pope Francis)

2)The joy of the gift of charity

The aim of Advent is to prepare the Christians for Christmas because Jesus comes where He is waited, desired and loved.

This waiting that must be lived with” vigilance” and” discernment” (see the previous Sundays of Advent) and must be done with” joy” because the coming of the God of Everlasting Joy is imminent.

With Christmas approaching, this Sunday’s liturgy invites us to joy. The images and the descriptions of the first reading engage all (and us as well) in the waiting for something beautiful done by the Lord, who is the leading character and intervenes in history to become the Way that his people can and must follow to return home.

God never leaves us alone, delivers us from fear, anxiety, and doubts enters our history, comes to our home carrying peace and becomes a safe journey for our steps. Men’s life is healed by Him: the blinds see, the mutes speak, the desert blooms and “the road will be called holy” (see the first reading Is 35:8).

In this we find the key to understand Christmas: Christmas is hope and joy. Imitate our children who wait for the gifts with joyful hope. They are the symbol of the waiting that is satisfied and fills with joy: it is the joy that comes from the knowledge to be loved because Christ is given to us.

This gift allows us to understand that joy is not just human and terrestrial, it is a spiritual one as we are remembered by the antiphony of the Introit of today’s liturgy: Gaudete in Domino (let’s rejoice in the Lord). If we rejoice in the Lord, we’ll find true joy. There is a spiritual joy that has as object the love not for created things, but for God. This spiritual joy comes not from us, but from the Holy Spirit. This level of joy is a supernatural one, deep and lasting. Spiritual joy depends on God’s love and divine charity. This kind of joy is not fragile like human joy, but it is strong, sure, always reliable and steadfast.

The liturgy of the 3rd Sunday of Advent in the Roman Rite offers us the possibility to experiment with supernatural joy. How? Saint Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord because the Lord is near.” As we experiment joy when we are with the loved one, we can rejoice now because in two week’s time the “beloved of my heart” will come, as the spouse in the Song of Songs proclaims. He will exit as a bridegroom from the thalamus, the bridal chamber, and will come to live among us.

There is another reason for spiritual joy: our participation to divine goodness. No participation would be possible if God did not take the initiative building a bridge to fill the abyss that separates man from God.  In the Incarnation, the Son of God took upon our human nature to allow us to participate in his life of divine charity, now and forever.  This is the reason for the greatest joy: the Beloved of our heart is near; he comes to live with us and allows us to be with him now and for eternity.

It is beautiful indeed when there is human joy, but sometimes it is accompanied by sadness too. Lord’s joy lasts forever.

3) Precursor and martyr of Joy

True joy, the one of the heart, and the one which lasts, forever is the encounter with the Lord. John the Baptist has come to the complete and everlasting encounter with the Lord through the great love of martyrdom. For this reason, the liturgy of the 3rd Sunday of Advent proposes the figure and the example of the Precursor of Love.

When Jesus went on the banks of the Jordan River to be baptized, this man who had voluntarily exiled himself to the desert where he could hear the Voice of the Word, recognized Him and said: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” He was full of joy because his Friend had arrived. In prison, the involuntary desert where he has been confined, John wants to know if Jesus is the long-awaited Friend and asks his disciple to enquire by Christ: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus says to them in reply “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” And the Baptist, the one that in his mother’s womb had jumped with joy for the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb, the one who went ahead (Precursor) of Christ to prepare the road for the Way, didn’t take offense at Him, accepted martyrdom and became the first martyr(= the first witness) of the charity of the Redeemer. As in the reading from Isaiah, Jesus tells about something that is happening or has already happened: the blinds that see, the mutes that speak and the sick people that are healed are the sign that the kingdom of God is already among us and not something that has still to come. It is a fact that is present. In the darkness of a prison, John the Baptist saw the Light, and his death was the dramatic crevice through which he could come into Light.

We are called to participate in this event with the perseverance that comforts the heart. In the second reading taken from Saint James’ letter, we found the invitation to be of the same mood as the farmer that doesn’t look at what he is doing but why he does it. The farmer is confident that the seed that has been buried and looked after with perseverance will bear fruit when the time comes. We too must wait for the right time and take care with the perspective of a good greater but not immediate and get ready for it.

In his prison, John the Baptist got a proof of faith that purified him and took him closer to God’s heart. Inspired by God, he had announced the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah had indeed come into the world. However, God had reserved a space for novelty and freedom that John did not know; in fact, the Messiah was not precisely as John was expecting. That is why John asks, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we wait for someone else?”. Jesus’ answer creates a new space for John’s faith “the poor have the good news proclaimed to them and blessed be the one who takes no offense at me.” John did not take offense at him but bent his head, gave it up because God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts (“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” Isaiah 55:8), and believed.

Those who start their journey in search of God are in for some surprise: God will never be as they expect him to be. This is the reason why God can be met only in the humility of faith, letting us be guided by Him along roads that we cannot imagine. This was for John and this is for us. He was a martyr who lived in joy because he was sure of the presence of the Redeemer in his and his people’s life.

The consecrated Virgins – through their vocation to virginity – are called to a martyrdom (testimony) that is like the one of the Precursors who knew how to become small to let Christ grow (see Jh 3; 30). Their complete belonging to Christ through undivided love testifies that life is happy and fecund (see Rite of the Consecration of the Virgins) when all our being, body and soul, is at the service of the love that nothing wants for him and that donates all in joy. With spousal attitude, they remain caste beside Christ and with him, they live the passion to attract to the truth their brothers and sisters in humanity.



Spiritual Reading

Saint Thomas of Aquinas

Summa Theologica part II-II Question # 28


Whether joy is effected in us by charity?


Ojection 1: It would seem that joy is not effected in us by charity. For the absence of

what we love causes sorrow rather than joy. But God, Whom we love by charity, is absent from us, so long as we are in this state of life, since “while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6). Therefore charity causes sorrow in us rather than joy.

Objection 2: Further, it is chiefly through charity that we merit happiness. Now

mourning, which pertains to sorrow, is reckoned among those things whereby we merit

happiness, according to Mat. 5:5: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Therefore sorrow, rather than joy, is an effect of charity.

Objection 3: Further, charity is a virtue distinct from hope, as shown. Now joy is the effect of hope, according to Rom. 12:12: “Rejoicing in hope.” Therefore, it is not the effect of charity. On the contrary, It is written (Rom. 5:5): “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us.” But joy is caused in us by the Holy Ghost according to Rom. 14:17: “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Therefore, charity is a cause of joy.

I answer that, As stated above, when we were treating of the passions, joy and sorrow proceed from love, but in contrary ways. For joy is caused by love, either through the presence of the thing loved, or because the proper good of the thing loved exists and endures in it; and the latter is the case chiefly in the love of benevolence, whereby

a man rejoices in the well-being of his friend, though he be absent. On the other hand sorrow arises from love, either through the absence of the thing loved, or because the loved object to which we wish well, is deprived of its good or afflicted with some evil. Now charity is love of God, Whose good is unchangeable, since He is His goodness, and from the very fact that He is loved, He is in those who love Him by His most excellent effect, according to 1 Jn.4:16: “He that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.” Therefore, spiritual joy, which is about God, is caused by charity.

Reply to Objection 1: So long as we are in the body, we are said to be “absent from the

Lord,” in comparison with that presence whereby He is present to some by the vision of

“sight”; wherefore the Apostle goes on to say (2 Cor. 5:6): “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” Nevertheless, even in this life, He is present to those who love Him, by the indwelling of His grace.

Reply to Objection 2: The mourning that merits happiness, is about those things that

are contrary to happiness. Wherefore it amounts to the same that charity causes this

mourning, and this spiritual joy about God, since to rejoice in a certain good amount to

the same as to grieve for things that are contrary to it.

Reply to Objection 3: There can be spiritual joy about God in two ways. First, when

we rejoice in the Divine good considered in itself; secondly, when we rejoice in the Divine

good as participated by us. The former joy is the better, and proceeds from charity chiefly: while the latter joy proceeds from hope also, whereby we look forward to enjoy the Divine good, although this enjoyment itself, whether perfect or imperfect, is obtained according to the measure of one’s charity.


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Pope Appoints New Bishop of Sioux Falls, US

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 12:13 AM

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Most Reverend Paul J. Swain from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Sioux Falls and has appointed Reverend Donald Edward DeGrood to succeed him. Father DeGrood is a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Father DeGrood was born February 14, 1965, in Fairbault, MN, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on May 31, 1997. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul and attended St. Paul Seminary, where he graduated in 1997. In 2009, he participated in the Institute for Continuing Education at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Assignments after ordination include Parochial Vicar at All Saints Parish in Lakeville (1997-2000); Spiritual Director at Saint John Vianney Seminary (2000-2004); Pastor at Church of St. Peter in Forest Lake (2004-2013); Vicar for Clergy (2013-2017); Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Saint Paul (2013-2015). Since 2017, he has been Pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish in Savage.

Bishop-elect DeGrood has also served on the Archdiocesan Incardination Committee, the Ministerial Review Board, the Ministerial Standards Board, the Pastors Review Board, and the Clergy Review Board. He has also been a member of the ad hoc committees related to the Archdiocesan Clergy Support Initiative (mentoring, continuing education, substance abuse, and addiction, etc.). He presently serves on the board of the Seminaries of Saint Paul.

The Diocese of Sioux Falls is comprised of 35,091 square miles in the state of South Dakota and has a total population of 570,605 of which 110,386 are Catholic.

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