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LITURGY Q & A: Prayer Over the People

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 7:27 AM

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.


Q: I noticed in the missal for the days of Lent there is included after the Prayer after Communion, a Prayer over the People. On weekdays this is optional, according to the rubric there. Is one to assume for the Sundays of Lent the Prayer over the People is to be said, that is, obligatory? I knew this innovation of sorts was to be included in the new missal. But now I see how it is in the missal and want to be certain that I and other curious celebrants are prepared to use it. They are lovely texts! – E.F., Morristown, New Jersey

A: They are indeed lovely texts, and it was a noble intuition that has restored them to the missal.

As our reader mentions, an optional prayer over the people is offered for each weekday. On Sundays there is also such a prayer but lacking the rubric “for optional use.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the following about solemn blessings and prayers over the people:

“166. On certain days and occasions this blessing, in accordance with the rubrics, is expanded and expressed by a Prayer over the People or another more solemn formula.

“185. If a Prayer over the People or a formula of Solemn Blessing is used, the Deacon says, Bow down for the blessing. After the Priest’s blessing, the Deacon, with hands joined and facing the people, dismisses the people, saying, Ite, missa est (Go forth, the Mass is ended).”

The missal also has a section following immediately after the order of Mass containing solemn blessings and prayers over the people for specific times and seasons of the year. Some special feasts and celebrations have proper solemn blessings. The overarching rule is that these may be used “at the discretion of the priest at the end of the celebration of Mass, or of a Liturgy of the Word, or of the Office, or of the Sacraments.”

It is to be noted that the missal does not contain any solemn blessing for Lent in the section containing solemn blessings, although there is one for the “Passion of the Lord.”

Therefore, I would say that since the general rule leaves the use of the prayers to the priest’s discretion, the absence of an indication that they are optional on Sundays does not translate into an obligation to use them.

It would indicate, however, a strong encouragement to use them every Sunday. Likewise, the fact that they are printed for each day of Lent also motivates their daily use.

According to eminent scholars the tradition of these orations has its roots as far back as the third century. The deacon’s invitation to the people to bow the head for the blessing is also very ancient, even though the present Latin formula does not appear before the year 800.

One characteristic of these formulas is that the personal object of these blessings is not usually designated as “us” but rather as “your people,” “your servants,” “your faithful,” “those who bow before your majesty,” “those who make supplication to you,” “those who call upon you.” Another characteristic is that the spiritual graces sought in the prayer are sought not in a general way as in other prayers but for the indefinite future with phrases such as “always,” “perpetual protection,” “constantly,” etc.

What is not fully understood is why these prayers became reserved to the Lenten season in the Roman liturgy, since many of the ancient sources contain similar prayers for all seasons of the year. Perhaps it is because Lent and the Easter triduum have usually retained the older traditions.

When the first edition of the revised missal was published in 1970, it restored the possibility of prayers over the people throughout the year as witnessed by the earlier sources of the Roman rite. But it did so in an appendix and at the cost of eliminating the tradition of specific daily prayers for Lent.

The third typical edition has happily restored the daily Lenten prayers while still offering a wide selection of possibilities for other liturgical seasons.

I believe that this is one example where a return to tradition has proved beneficial for the liturgy in its present form.

* * *

Follow-up: Masses on Saturday Evenings

With respect to our February 7 column on the Saturday celebration of Sunday Mass, a reader from Malta asked: “Please refer to your reply on the obligation of Sunday Mass and how to spend the day on Sunday. My wife and daughter work as nurses on a shift basis, and on some Sundays they are obliged to work. I am sure that they are excused in respect to the Sunday obligation. My difficulty is the following. Why does the Catechism of the Catholic Church not mention the situation of those that are required to work on Sunday, at least in that part which you referred to in your reply?”

I did not refer to this aspect in my reply, as the main thrust of the question was elsewhere. The questions addressed by our reader are treated in Canons 1247 and 1248 in the Code of Canon Law.

Canon 1247 states the obligation to assist at Mass on Sundays, while No. 1248 Subsection 2 says that if assistance at Mass is impossible due to the lack of a minister, or for some other grave cause, then it is recommended that the faithful assist at the Liturgy of the Word if this is celebrated in the parish church.

The sense of canon law is clear. Assistance at Mass is obligatory, except for a “grave cause.” The use of the expression “grave cause” indicates that the obligation is a very serious one. For obligations that admit more readily to exceptions, canon law usually uses expressions such as “a just cause.”

These norms apply the canonical and moral principle “ad impossibilia nemo tenetur” (nobody is obliged to do the impossible): When an objective impossibility exists, then the consequent obligation disappears. For this reason the Church recommends, but does not oblige, that Catholics sanctify Sunday in some other way, such as assisting at a Communion service, following a televised Mass, or praying at home.

An objective impossibility need not always be a dramatic situation. Examples of objective impossibility could be age, illness, the need to care for a sick relation, or seasonal variations which make leaving home a hazardous task. Catholics involved in necessary Sunday occupations such as police, medical personnel and flight attendants are also exempt while on duty.

It is not always easy to judge what is objective, as conditions vary from person to person. However, Catholics should not be too light in assessing their difficulties and should be willing to make reasonable sacrifices to assist at Mass.

Therefore, in the case of our reader’s wife and daughter, whenever they are on a Sunday shift at the hospital they can be considered as being exempt from the obligation if the shift objectively impedes assistance at any Sunday Mass.

They should, if possible, attend a Saturday evening Mass, or at least strive to sanctify the Sunday in some other way.

* * *

Readers may send questions to zenit.liturgy@gmail.com. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

Santa Marta: A Question on Judging from the Holy Father

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 12:27 PM

When you are sitting in a meeting or at a meal, how much time do you spend judging others?

Pope Francis posed this question during his February 26, 2018, homily at Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.  It was his first morning mass at Santa Marta since returning from spiritual exercises February 23, from Casa ‘Gesù Divin Maestro’ (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome.

“Do not judge and you will not be judged.” Pope Francis repeated Jesus’ invitation from the Gospel of Luke (6:36-38), reported Vatican News.  He went on to remind the congregation that no one will escape God’s judgment – and all will be judged “both personally and universally.”

He recommended an examination of conscience to determine how much time is spent judging others. And he reminded those present that “Judging others is terrible because the Lord is the only judge.”

Pope Appoints Protocol Head of Secretariat of State

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 12:01 PM

Pope Francis on February 26, 2018, appointed the Rev. José Avelino Bettencourt, head of Protocol of the Secretariat of State, as titular archbishop of Cittanova, with the office of apostolic nuncio.

Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt

Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt was born in the Azores, Portugal, on May 23, 1962.

He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1993.

He was incardinated in Ottawa, Canada.

He graduated in canon law.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on July 1, 1999; he worked for the apostolic nunciature of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

He was appointed as head of Protocol of the Secretariat of State, on November 14, 2012.

He knows English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.



Nuncio Named for South Korea and Mongolia

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 11:46 AM

Pope Francis on February 26, 2018, appointed Rev. Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, prelate secretary general of the Secretariat for Economic Affairs, as apostolic nuncio in South Korea and in Mongolia, assigning him the titular see of Amantea, with the dignity of archbishop.

Archbishop Alfred Xuereb

Archbishop Alfred Xuereb was born in Gozo, Malta on October 14, 1958.

He was ordained a priest on May 26, 1984, and incarnated in Gozo.

After obtaining a degree in theology he began his administrative service at the Secretariat of the Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in September 1991.

He was transferred to the General Affairs Section of the Secretariat of State on 1 September 1995; to the Prefecture of the Papal Household in November 2000 and to the General Affairs Section of the Secretariat of State (the Special Secretariat of Benedict XVI) on September 11, 2007 and to the Special Secretariat of Pope Francis on March 15, 2013.

He was appointed as delegate for the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Institute for the Works of Religion and for the Pontifical Commission for study and guidance on the organization of the economic-administrative structure of the Holy See on 28 November 2013.

He was appointed as prelate secretary general of the Secretariat for Economic Affairs on March 3, 2014.

He knows Italian, English, German, Portuguese and French.



Philippines: Pope Appoints Bishop of Tandag

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 11:30 AM

The Holy Father on February 26, 2018,  appointed as bishop of Tandag, Philippines, Rev. Raul B. Dael of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, currently episcopal vicar for the clergy.

Bishop Raul B. Dael

Bishop Raul B. Dael was born in Jasa-an, Misamis Oriental, in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, on October 10, 1966. After high school and courses in philosophy at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, he studied theology at the Saint John Vianney Seminary of Theology in the same city. Subsequently, between 1997 and 2000, he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila University. In the years 2003-2009 he studied spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on June 7, 1993.

In the years 1993-1995, he was parish vicar at the Metropolitan Cathedral and, between 1995 and 1997, parish administrator of the parish of St. Peter the Apostle of Sugbongcon, Misamis Oriental. Between 1997 and 2000, he completed his studies for the licentiate in theology. Between 2000 and 2003 he was professor and director for spiritual and pastoral formation at the Saint John Vianney Seminary of Theology in Cagayan de Oro.

Returning home after studies in Rome, he taught as a teacher of pastoral theology at the same seminar, also directing programs for spiritual and pastoral formation.

In 2016 he was appointed as vicar for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.



FEATURE: Welcome to a Winter Wonderland of Snow in Rome & the Vatican

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 9:27 AM

Since the end of last week, there was speculation …. There is a possibility that the snow that has been hitting other parts of Italy could arrive in Rome. However, those here–who love and miss seeing snow–would not get their hopes up, afraid to be disappointed if it would not arrive (including me, from New York, who misses seeing snow for years and was dreaming of when I could again). While others dreaded the thought, thinking of how the city would shut down and pure chaos would takeover. 

This would mark the first snowfall in six years.

Whether happy or not, it came this morning. Romans and foreigners here in the city were woken up to a beautiful white wonderland … and some slush and slipping.

Children were throwing snowballs around St. Peter’s Square, on stairs in their neighborhoods. Winter boots and snow pants on, for those who may have had ski apparel in their closets, otherwise, unprepared sneakers and not heavy enough clothes.

Many mothers could be seen trying to coach their toddlers on how to walk in the snow.

In the cafes, you saw some even opting for hot cocoa, rather than a coffee, and there was much commotion! Others were saying how the beauty of the white blanketing the scenery made them feel the urge to put back up their Christmas Trees and Nativity Scenes.

As well as being careful on the sidewalks and streets, one must watch for Romans and Italians stopping in the middle of the street suddenly to take pictures of the historic snow.

Despite the chaos which has been brought, Zenit has been enjoying this historic moment and wanted to share with you some scenes around Rome and the Vatican of this rare snowfall.


Photos by Zenit Vatican Correspondent – Deborah Castellano Lubov



Pakistan: Asia Bibi’s Family Meets the Pope

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 8:28 AM

On February 24, 2018, Pope Francis met in private, for some 40 minutes, with Asia Bibi’s family — the Pakistani Christian sentenced to death –, with her husband, Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, one of their daughters.

The Pontiff also received Rebecca Bitrus of Nigeria, victim of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

For this meeting, which took place on the occasion of the International Day of Protest against the Persecution of Christians, organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN); the Director of ACN in Italy, Alessandro Monteduro, accompanied them. Speaking into the microphone of “Vatican Media,” Monteduro described the meeting as “extraordinary,” adding that it was focused on “the faith.” ”We prayed with the Holy Father . . . each one of us in our own language,” he specified.

Monteduro continued, “one of the “most beautiful moments” was when ”before leaving for Rome on February 17, Eisham (Asia Bibi’s daughter) met her mother in prison . . . and she said to her: ‘You know, mother, I’m going to Rome. I will also meet with the Pope.” Asia answered her: ‘If you meet with the Pope, embrace him on my behalf.’ “We were parties to that, to the kiss Eisham gave the Holy Father, and which he returned with affection, offering a testimony of closeness, of faith <and> of solidarity.”

Referring to the atmosphere during the meeting, the Director confided: “The intensity, the emotion of the meeting was truly strong . . . No one hid his emotion.”

During the conversations, Pope Francis referred to Asia and Rebecca as “women martyrs,” said Monteduro, “magnificent women martyrs, example for a civilization that fears suffering.”

Christian Asia Bibi — Asia Noreen — has been detained in the Multan prison in Pakistan since June 2009. She was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death,  in the first instance, in November 2010, a sentence confirmed by the High Court of Lahore on October 16, 2014. An appeal has been made to the Supreme Court, and presidential grace has been requested.

Two years ago, on April 15, 2015, Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband, and one of their daughters, as well as lawyer Joseph Nadeem, attended Pope Francis’ General Audience. On greeting them, at the end of the Audience, Pope Francis said he prayed for Asia Bibi “and for all Christians that are suffering.”

‘What Is Jesus Saying to Me Today?’

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 8:22 AM

“What is Jesus saying to me today?” That was the question Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask themselves, on celebrating Mass in the Roman parish of Saint Gelasius I, Pope, in the afternoon of Sunday, February 25, 2018.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the Gospel of the Transfiguration, which prepared the disciples for the “scandal of the cross,” showing them that He would be in glory after the Passion. The disciples imagined a “triumphant” Messiah, but “Jesus triumphed by humiliation, by the humiliation of the cross,” stressed the Pontiff.

God “always prepares us, in one way or another, for trials. He “gives us the strength to go through moments of trial and overcome them,” affirmed the Holy Father. “Jesus doesn’t leave us alone in the trials of life . . . never.”

Francis noted that in the Gospel the Father urges to “Listen to Him.” “There is not a moment in life that one can live fully without “listening to Jesus,” both in beautiful as well as in hard moments,” he stressed. “Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel, in the Liturgy . . . or in our heart. Ask yourselves in daily life, “What is Jesus saying to me today? . . . He tells us what we must do — always.”

On his arrival at the parish, the Pope met with children and young people, as well as their families, in the sports area decorated with hundreds of white and yellow balloons, the colours of the Vatican. Joking about the rainy weather, he added: “Life is somewhat like this afternoon, because at times there is sun, but at others clouds, rain and bad weather arrive.”

“What must a Christian do?” he asked. He must continue with courage, in good times and bad times. However, there will be storms in life . . . go on! Jesus leads us.” The Pontiff left this recommendation to the children and the young people: “Always take Jesus’ hand.”

Embers under the Ashes

The Holy Father then met with the elderly and the sick in the parish’s theater: he greeted them one by one and exchanged words with them. “I would like to thank you for what you do for the world and for what you do for the Church,” he said.

“One might ask oneself the question: “But what do I do for the world? I don’t go to the United Nations, I don’t go to meetings . . . I’m here, at home,” continued the Pope. And he encouraged them to be “embers.” “Your are the embers, the embers of the world under the ashes. Under difficulties, under wars, there are these embers, embers of faith, embers of hope, embers of hidden joy. Please, protect the embers, those that you have in your heart, by your witness.”

Despite the present problems and those to come, it’s about “being conscious that one has a mission, in the world and in the Church: to make that hidden fire live, the fire of a life.”

Before the Mass, the Pope met in private with poor persons supported by the local Caritas, as well as two young Gambians, one 18 the other 25, received by the parish, and he heard the Confession of some faithful in the sacristy.

23rd Meeting of Council of Cardinals In Progress

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 8:20 AM

The 23rd meeting of the Council of Cardinals is taking place in the Vatican. The C9, as the group is commonly called, is studying the plans for reforming the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” on the Roman Curia.

The meeting began this morning and concludes on Wednesday.

The Council of Cardinals consists of the following nine prelates: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (not present, in Australia); Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.

Enough Indifference!

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 3:13 PM
FEATURE: Card. Parolin to Zenit: Enough Indifference Toward Those Suffering for Their Faith!

Colosseum Bathed in Red Light to Remember World’s Persecuted Christians, Initiative of Aid to the Church in Need

Pope Francis: Preparing for the Test

Remarks Before Angelus on Importance of Transfiguration

Pope to Artists: Your Gifts a Responsibility and a Mission

Audience with Members of the “Diaconie de la Beauté” Movement

Angelus Address: On the Transfiguration of Christ

Jesus’ Transfiguration Is An Anticipated Paschal Apparition

Pope Francis Urges Peace in Syria

Cites Recent Violence in Eastern Ghouta

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Pope Receives Presidency

Collegial Presidency also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Pope Receives Presidency

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 1:49 PM

Pope Francis on February 24, 2018, received in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the collegial Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, composed of the current Chair Dragan Čović, Mladen Ivanić, and Bakir Izetbegović, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the discussions, which took place in a cordial atmosphere, according to the Vatican Press Office, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the parties renewed their commitment to continuing on the path of constructive bilateral collaboration and to strengthening dialogue and interreligious understanding.

Attention then turned to the current domestic context, marked by various challenges of an economic and social nature, and to the urgency of promoting initiatives to guarantee a future to the new generations. Mention was also made of the need to pursue the path of reform in a concerted way, also with a view to the integration of the country in the European Union, and to guarantee effective equality between the constituent peoples, favoring peaceful co-existence and a climate of reconciliation between all members of society. Finally, the parties focused on several political issues, including the importance of cooperation between the States of the Region.



Pope to Artists: Your Gifts a Responsibility and a Mission

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 1:39 PM

Pope Francis on February 24, 2018, reminded artists that, “The gifts you have received are for each one of you a responsibility and a mission.”

His comments came in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he received the members of the “Diaconie de la Beauté” Movement in Rome on the occasion of the Symposium organized to commemorate the feast of Beato Angelico.

The movement was founded in 2012, to be a service to give back artists to the Church and to bring the Church to artists. Several hundred artists are already participating to put back the sacred meaning at the heart of art.

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:


Address of the Holy Father

Dear friends,

I welcome you on the occasion of the Symposium you have organized in Rome to commemorate the feast of Blessed Fra Angelico. I thank the Archbishop Robert Le Gall for the words he addressed to me on your behalf. Through you, I wish to express my cordial greeting to all artists who endeavor to make beauty shine, with their talents and their passion, as well as those people in a condition of fragility who are rehabilitated thanks to their experience of beauty in art.

As the saint, Pope John Paul II wrote in his Letter to artists, “The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense, it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of ‘artistic talent’. And, certainly, this too is a talent which ought to be made to bear fruit, in keeping with the sense of the Gospel parable of the talents (cf. Mt 25:14-30)” (4 April 1999, 3). This conviction illuminates the vision and the dynamic proper to the “Diaconie de la Beauté”, which has its roots precisely here in Rome, from the time of the Synod on the new evangelization, in October 2012. Together with you, I give thanks to the Lord for the journey that has been made and for the variety of your talents, which He calls you to develop in the service of your neighbor and for the whole of humanity.

The gifts you have received are for each one of you a responsibility and a mission. Indeed, you are required to work without letting yourselves be dominated by the search for a vain glory or easy popularity, and even less so by the often mean calculations of purely personal profit. In a world in which technology is often interpreted as the main resource for interpreting existence (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 110), you are called, through your talents and drawing from the sources of Christian spirituality, to propose “an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and [to encourage] a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption” (ibid., 222), and to serve creation and the protection of “oases of beauty” in our cities, too often “concrete jungles” without a soul.

Therefore I invite you to develop your talents to contribute to an ecological conversion that recognizes the eminent dignity of every person, his special value, his creativity, and capacity to promote the common good. May your search for beauty in what you create be inspired by the desire to serve the beauty of the quality of life of people, of their harmony with the environment, of encounter and mutual help (cf ibid, 150). So, I encourage you, in this “Diaconate of Beauty”, to promote a culture of encounter, of building bridges between people, between populations, in a world in which many walls are still raised out of fear of others. Take care also to witness, in the expression of your art, that believing in Jesus Christ and following Him “is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and a profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties”(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 167). The Church relies on you to make the ineffable Beauty of God’s love perceptible and to enable every person to discover the beauty of being loved by God, to be filled with His love, to live on it and to bear witness to it in attention to others, especially those who are excluded, wounded and rejected in our societies.

While I entrust you to the Lord, through the intercession of Blessed Fra Angelico, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of the “Diaconie de la Beauté”.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican



Pope Francis Urges Peace in Syria

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 10:28 AM

Pope Francis on February 25, 2018, called for an immediate end to the violence in Syria, especially where the war has intensified in eastern Ghouta.

His appeal came after praying the Sunday Angelus with crowds of the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.  He noted that February has been one of the most violent in the seven years of the conflict.

“In these days my thought often goes to beloved and martyred Syria, where the war has intensified, especially in eastern Ghouta,” the Holy Father lamented. “This month of February has been one of the most violent in seven years of conflict: hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women and elderly.

“Hospitals have been hit; people can’t procure for themselves something to eat . . .  Brothers and sisters, all this is inhuman. Evil can’t be combated with another evil, and war is an evil.  Therefore, I make my heartfelt appeal for violence to cease immediately, for access to be given to humanitarian aid – food and medicine – and for the wounded and sick to be evacuated. Let us pray together to God for this to happen immediately.”

Pope Francis: Preparing for the Test

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 10:17 AM

By showing the three disciples a preview of his glory, Jesus prepared them to better accept the pass that lay ahead, and thereby “prepares them for the test,” proclaimed Pope Francis. He spoke before the February 25, 2018, reciting of the Angelus in St. Peter Square, explaining the day’s gospel from Mark in the Transfiguration.

He reminded the faithful gathered in the square that the Transfiguration occurred just six days after Jesus had told the disciples that he would be rejected, killed and rise from the dead. They had expected something very different.

“This announcement put Peter and the whole group of the disciples in crisis, who rejected the idea that Jesus would be rejected by the leaders of the people and then killed,” the Holy Father explained. “They, in fact, awaited a powerful, strong, dominating Messiah, instead Jesus presents Himself as the meek, as the humble Servant of God and Servant of men, who must give His life in sacrifice, passing through the way of persecution, of suffering and of death.”

The Pope continued by explaining that the Transfiguration helped the disciples face the Passion “in a positive way, without being overwhelmed. And Jesus thus prepares them for the test.”

The Holy Father pointed out that the Transfiguration helps us, as well as the disciples.  It shows that Christ’s Passion is a “mystery of suffering, but it’s especially a gift of infinite love on Jesus’ part.”

“The event of Jesus, who is transfigured on the mountain, makes us also understand better His Resurrection,” Francis said. “To understand the mystery of the cross it’s necessary to know in anticipation that He that that suffers and is glorified is not only a man but the Son of God, who has saved us, with His faithful love to death.”


Angelus Address: On the Transfiguration of Christ

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 9:55 AM

VATICAN CITY, FEBRUARY 25, 2018 (Zenit.org).- 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!

Today’s Gospel, second Sunday of Lent, invites us to contemplate the Transfiguration of Christ (Cf. Mark 9:2-10). This episode is linked to what happened six days before when Jesus revealed to His disciples that at Jerusalem He would “suffer much and be rejected by the Elders, the Heads of the priests and scribes, be killed and, after three days, resurrect” (Mark 8:31). This announcement put Peter and the whole group of the disciples in crisis, who rejected the idea that Jesus would be rejected by the leaders of the people and then killed. They, in fact, awaited a powerful, strong, dominating Messiah, instead, Jesus presents Himself as the meek, as the humble Servant of God and Servant of men, who must give His life in sacrifice, passing through the way of persecution, of suffering and of death. However, how could one follow a Master and Messiah, whose earthly fortune would end in such a way? The answer comes, in fact, from the Transfiguration. What is Jesus’ Transfiguration? It’s an anticipated paschal apparition.

Jesus took with Him three disciples: Peter, James and John and “led them up a high mountain “ (Mark 9:2); and there He showed them His glory for a moment, the glory of the Son of God. So this event of the Transfiguration enables the disciples to face the Passion of Jesus in a positive way, without being overwhelmed. And Jesus thus prepares them for the test. The Transfiguration helps the disciples, and also us, to understand that Christ’s Passion is a mystery of suffering, but it’s especially a gift of infinite love on Jesus’ part. The event of Jesus, who is transfigured on the mountain, makes us also understand better His Resurrection. To understand the mystery of the cross it’s necessary to know in anticipation that He that that suffers and is glorified is not only a man but the Son of God, who has saved us, with His faithful love to death. Thus the Father renews His Messianic declaration on the Son, already made on the banks of the Jordan after the Baptism, and He exhorts: “listen to Him!” (v. 7). The disciples are called to follow the Master with confidence and hope, despite His death; Jesus’ divinity must manifest itself precisely on the cross, precisely in His dying “in that way,” so much so that the evangelist Mark puts on the centurion’s mouth the profession of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39).

We now turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, the human creature transfigured interiorly by the grace of Christ. We entrust ourselves confidentially to her maternal help, to continue the Lenten journey with faith and generosity.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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


After the Angelus

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days my thought often goes to beloved and martyred Syria, where the war has intensified, especially in eastern Ghouta. This month of February has been one of the most violent in seven years of conflict: hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women and elderly. Hospitals have been hit; people can’t procure for themselves <something> to eat . . .  Brothers and sisters, all this is inhuman. Evil can’t be combated with another evil, and war is an evil.  Therefore, I make my heartfelt appeal for violence to cease immediately, for access to be given to humanitarian aid – food and medicine – and for the wounded and sick to be evacuated. Let us pray together to God for this to happen immediately.

[Pause of silence] Hail Mary . . .

A warm greeting goes to all of you, pilgrims of Rome, of Italy and of different countries, particularly those who have come from Spis in Slovakia.

I greet the representatives of the diocesan television station of Prato with their Bishop, the young people of the orchestra of Oppido Mamertina and the scouts of Genoa. I greet the Confirmation candidates and the youngsters of the profession of faith from Serravalle, Scrivia, Verdellino, Zingonia, Lodi, Renate and Verduggio.

I greet the group that has come on the occasion of the “Day for Rare Diseases,” with encouragement to the Associations that work in this field. Thank you. Thank you for what you do.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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



FEATURE: Card. Parolin to Zenit: Enough Indifference Toward Those Suffering for Their Faith!

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 8:37 AM

“There are millions of people in the world who are suffering for their faith, and we pretend as though it were nothing,” the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, denounced to Zenit on Saturday, February 24, in front of the Colosseum illuminated in red.

Even if historians cannot definitively say whether the most famous monument had Christians martyred there, the effect of those mighty walls all dyed red, the color of the blood of the martyrs, yesterday and today, was evocative.

“A very touching event, because it moved us with situations of great pain, great suffering and also great faith, with the intent to shake us out of indifference,” was how Cardinal Parolin described it to Zenit.

Among the hundreds of millions of people who still suffer discrimination or, worse, persecution because of their religious faith, the most numerous are undoubtedly Christians. To them, the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need has dedicated the gesture of illuminating with red light simultaneously, three symbolic places of ancient and modern Christian martyrdom, connected to each other via Skype: the Colosseum in Rome; the Maronite cathedral of St. Elias, in Aleppo, Syria, whose roof was destroyed by bombings; the Chaldean church of St. Paul in Mosul, Iraq, where on December 24, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldean Catholics, Louis Raphael I Sako, celebrated the first Mass after liberation from the Isis.

But the catalog of countries hostile to religious freedom and in particular to Christians, drafted each year by “Aid to the Church in Need”, goes far beyond Syria and Iraq. There is Pakistan, from where Ashiq and Eisham, arrived in Rome. They are respectively the husband and fifth and last daughter of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death in 2009 for alleged offenses to the prophet Muhammad. Asia’s only ‘crime’ was that she drank water from the same glass as some Muslim women.

Now she is in prison, in isolation. Only a 15-minute meeting is allowed each month for Ashiq and his five children. The last time her children saw her outside the prison she had tied to her neck a belt, ‘like a dog,’ stripped and bleeding, Eisham said, bursting into tears.

Another of the testimonies offered to the public while the Colosseum lit up red is that of Rebecca Bitros, 28, a Nigerian, kidnapped by the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram, who raped and tortured her only because she is Christian, before she managed to free herself, two years later. Then she gave birth to the son of one of her jailers.

When the militia of Boko Haram assaulted her village, she preferred to surrender herself to them along with her two children, allowing her husband to escape, otherwise he certainly would have been killed. From the years passed in prison, she remembers the rosary she had with her that she recited, the constant threats of the terrorists, the continuous beatings, the killing of one of her two sons thrown into a river, trying to force her to deny her faith and embrace Islam.

Both Rebecca and the relatives of Asia Bibi had been received on Saturday morning by Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“I think of your mother very often and I pray for her,” the Pope told Eisham. For Pope Francis, Asia Bibi and Rebecca are two “martyrs,” he said during the meeting which lasted 40 minutes, compared to the 15 initially planned in the dense agenda of the Pope, as reported by the director of Aid to the Church in Need, Alessandro Monteduro.

Today’s Christian martyrs are “victims of the propagation of a mentality that does not make room for others, which prefers to suppress rather than integrate them, in order to not put in question their own convictions,” said Cardinal Parolin in his speech: “Only by returning to God, the source of the dignity of every human being, can we become peacemakers and reunite societies broken up by hatred and violence.”

At the event under the Colosseum was also the president of the European Parliament, Italian Antonio Tajani, to affirm that “Europe must continue to make its voice heard. We must not lower our guard because the less we talk, the more the freedom of Christians in the world is trampled. It is a question of freedom, of defending the values ​​of our identity as Europeans. We must neither be resigned in the face of these acts, but neither must we renounce acting against them.”

For the general secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, “The blood of the new martyrs is a condemnation of the superficiality with which we live the faith, too often reduced to appearance, to ceremonies that are not binding, containing pious but irrelevant words. It is sad to see the intermittent compassion of some humanitarian agencies, according to whom, there is violence to condemn, while others can be ignored.”

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary and international president of “Aid to the Church in Need, gave the last address, in which he urged for an overthrowing of “the walls of death, starting with that of our indifference; we cannot fail to hear the cry of all the ‘Abels’ of the world ascending to God.”

“Aid to the Church in Need” has already promoted other similar events by illuminating in red, famous monuments such as the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Parliament and the Cathedral of Westminster in London, Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre in Paris and finally the Cathedral of Manila.

According to a report by this Pontifical Foundation on “persecuted and forgotten” Christians between 2015 and 2017, the persecution of Christians today is more serious than in any other historical period. The report speaks of persecution in Egypt, Iran and India and of the extreme degree of persecution in Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Sudan.

Pope: The Church Must Open Without Fear

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 5:46 PM

Before returning to the Vatican on Friday, February 23, 2018, Pope Francis thanked Fr. José Tolentino Mendon, who preached the meditations during the February 18-23 spiritual exercises for the Holy Father and curia. Fr.Tolentino is a Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian and vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon.

The “thank you” to conclude the week was recorded on video and released on February 23 by the Vatican. In his remarks, Pope Francis stressed that the Church must open without fear.

Catholic Civilization Creators

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 3:12 PM
INTERVIEW: How Catholic Priests Helped Build ‒ and Can Help Rebuild ‒ Western Civilization

Fr. William J. Slattery Tells Zenit About a Lenten Resource to Deepen Catholics’ Understanding of Priests’ Contributions to World

The Question That Brought the Pope to Tears

A Visit with Romanian Young People and Children Aided by the NGO ‘FDP Protagonists in Education’

Father Cantalamessa’s 1st Lent Homily 2018

‘Do not be conformed to this world’

Pope Francis Grateful for Spiritual Exercises

Thanks Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, Preacher of the Spiritual Exercises

Pope’s Spiritual Exercises: Beatitudes of Thirst, Thirst of Periphery

Holy Father Returns to Vatican after Final Retreat Meditation

Archbishop Follo on the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration of Christ transfigures the human gaze making it capable of seeing the presence of God in the flesh of the Crucifix.

Video View of the Pope on Spiritual Exercises

Insight into the Spiritual Exercises held February 18-23, 2018

“Clericus Cup”: 12th Edition of the Clergy’s Soccer Championship

For the First Time, a Priest Will be the Referee

Pope Sends Condolences for Victims of Tragic Road Accident in Peru

Reported 44 Killed Near Arequipa

Chile: Hospitalized, Monsignor Scicluna Is Grateful for the Support

The Investigation of Bishop Barros Continues

On the Holy Father’s Message for World Youth Day

Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life on the Message of Pope Francis for the 33rd World Youth Day (2018)


Archbishop Follo on the Transfiguration

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:09 PM

Roman Rite – Second Sunday of Lent – Year B – February 25, 2018
Gen 22.1-2.9.10-13.15-18; Ps 116; Rom. 8, 31-34; Mk 9, 2-10

Ambrosian Rite
Dt 5, 1-2. 6-21; Ps 19; Eph 4, 1-7; Jn 4, 5-42
Sunday of the Samaritan – Second Sunday of Lent

1) Temptation and Transfiguration.

On the first Sunday of Lent, we have contemplated Christ overcoming the test of hunger. It was not just a corporal hunger. Like every human being Jesus had three hungers:

  1. hunger for life that tempts man to have and to acquire a disproportionate quantity of material goods. This is why the devil asked him to turn stones into bread;
  2. hunger for human relationships that can be friendship or power. The devil tempts Christ to satisfy this hunger by offering him power;
  3. hunger for omnipotence. This hunger pushes us to stifle the desire of God and the yearning for boundless infinity and freedom inducing the temptation to design one’s own existence according to the human criteria of ease, success, power and appearance, and to yield to the worship of the Liar (the devil) instead of to the adoration of the true providential Love.

The Messiah defeated the temptation of these three hungers using, as a criterion of discernment, the fidelity to the project of God to which he fully adhered and of which He is the Word made flesh to redeem us.

Let us imitate the example of Christ “using” the Word of God as the instrument available to understand the will of God and to overcome the temptation of the three hungers: the hunger of life, the hunger of love and power, and the hunger of relationships and of God. “When you are caught by the pangs of hunger – and we can also add of temptation – let the Word of God become your bread of life, let Christ be your Bread of Life” (St. Augustine of Hippo)

From the desert – the place of test, of rebellion and where the tempter and accuser lives (First Sunday of Lent) – let’s go to the mountain of the Transfiguration, the place of God’s manifestation, his revelation, and his holiness. This is the path that the second Sunday of Lent opens before us.

Today, from the desert, which recalls that human life is an exodus and a return home that passes through the desert, the place of trial and encounter with God, we arrive at Mount Tabor, the place of transfiguration. There, the shining truth of Christ is revealed to allow those who follow him to arrive at Easter not in spite of the Cross but through the Cross.

Jesus, in fact, tells us: “If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). He tells us that, to arrive with him to the light and joy of the resurrection and to the victory of life, love, and good, we too must take the cross every day, as a beautiful page of the Imitation of Christ exhorts “Take therefore your cross and follow Jesus; thus you will enter into eternal life. He preceded you carrying his cross (Jn 19:17) and died for you so that you too may carry your cross and wish to be crucified. In fact, if you will be dead with him, with him and like him you will live. If you have been a companion in suffering, you will also be his companion in glory “(L. 2, paragraph 12, No. 2).

Therefore, let us meditate together the facts presented by these two Sundays because they anticipate the paschal mystery. The struggle of Jesus with the tempter anticipates the great final duel of the Passion, while the light of his Transfigured Body anticipates the glory of the Resurrection. On the one hand, we see Jesus fully man who shares with us even temptation. On the other, we contemplate him as Son of God who deifies our humanity.

2) Exodus of Transfiguration.

Today, the exodus, the path of liberation that we are called to fulfill, is the one of contemplation. Through contemplation, prayer becomes gaze, and our heart, which is the “center” of our soul, opens up to the light of Christ’s love.

In this way, we can understand the journey that the liturgy of this Sunday indicates to us: that of a pilgrim who carries out the exodus that leads him to the Promised Land: eternal Life with Christ.

It is a journey full of nostalgia, precariousness, and weakness, but also full of the hope of those who have the heart wounded by the beloved. It is full of light because “the ‘brightness’ that characterizes the extraordinary event of the Transfiguration, symbolizes its purpose: to illuminate the minds and hearts of the disciples so that they can clearly understand who their Master is. It is a flash of light that suddenly opens itself on the mystery of Jesus, and illuminates his whole person and his whole life “(Pope Francis).

It is true that to follow the Lord is to be crucified with Him. It is true that at every step the wounds of pain pierce our heart. Evil is true, sin is true, death is true. But the Transfiguration of everything is also true, and the beauty that surpasses and gives meaning to everything is true: “In the passion of Christ … the experience of beauty receives a new depth, a new realism. The One who is “Beauty in himself “ let himself be struck on his face, covered with spits, crowned with thorns … But in that disfigured face appears the authentic extreme Beauty of the Love that loves” to the end ” showing itself stronger than any lie and violence.

An example of how to grasp this transfigured beauty comes to us from the consecrated virgins. In a special way, these women testify to three specific aspects of the Christian.

The first is to give themselves in complete abandonment to Christ because they lovingly trust his Love, “who does not hesitate to undress from external beauty to announce the Truth of Beauty” (Joseph Ratzinger). With their consecrated virginity, these women announce precisely the crucified beauty, the transfigured beauty, his beauty which is our true beauty.

The second is that of witnessing, in their life lived as a virgin, the need to descend from the Mount to return to the evangelizing mission of the Lord, a mission that passes through the Cross and proclaims the Resurrection that is nothing else but the Transfiguration made eternal in the Humanity of the Lord.

The third is to show that listening is the main dimension of the disciple of Christ. Today’s Gospel tells: “This is my beloved Son: listen to him!” (Mk 9: 7).

In a world that has the habit of speaking so many words (it would be better saying: to chat), these women are constantly listening to the Word and, following the example of the Virgin Mary, become “virgins of listening and mothers of the Word”.

The Father asks each of us to be a listener of the Word, whose words are words of life because, through the Cross, they purify from every dead work and unite to God and to the brothers.

This Word needs a place (our heart). It needs to go deep in it and to die there like a seed, to put root, to grow, to sprout and to resist the storms and bad weather like a house built on the Rock.

For it to be heard, this Word needs attention, but also silence. Inner and outer silence are necessary for this word to be heard. This is a particularly difficult point for us in our time. In fact, ours is an age in which meditation is not encouraged; on the contrary, sometimes, one gets the impression that there is a fear of detaching himself, even for a moment, from the river of words and images that mark and fill the days.

The secluded life of the consecrated virgins shows how important it is to educate ourselves to the value of silence because with it we accept the Word of God in our personal and ecclesial life, valuing meditation and inner calm. Without silence one does not hear, one does not listen, one does not receive the Word and what it says. This observation of St. Augustine is always valid: Verba crescente, verba deficiunt – “When the Word of God grows, the words of man become less” (cf. Sermo 288: PL 38.1307; Sermo 120.2: PL38 , 677)

Patristic reading

Golden Chain

on Mark 9:14-29

Theophylact: After He had shewn His glory in the mount to the three disciples, He returns to the other disciples, who had not come up with Him into the mount; wherefore it is said, “And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude about them, and the Scribes questioning with them.”
For the Pharisees, catching the opportunity of the hour when Christ was not present, came up to them, to try to draw them over to themselves.

Pseudo-Jerome: But there is no peace for man under the sun; envy is ever slaying the little ones, and lightning strike the tops of the great mountains. Of all those who run to the Church, some of the multitudes come in faith to learn, others, as the Scribes, with envy and pride.

It goes on, “And straightway all the people, when they beheld Jesus, were greatly amazed, and feared.”

Bede, in Marc., 3, 38: In all cases, the difference between the mind of the Scribes and of the people ought to be observed; for the Scribes are never said to have shewn any devotion, faith, humility, and reverence, but as soon as the Lord was come, the whole multitude was greatly amazed and feared, and ran up to Him, and saluted Him; wherefore there follows, “And running to Him, saluted Him.”

Theophylact: For the multitude was glad to see Him, so that they saluted Him from afar, as He was coming to them; but some suppose that His countenance had become more beautiful from His transfiguration and that this induced the crowd to salute Him.

Pseudo-Jerome: Now it was the people, and not the disciples, who on seeing Him were amazed and feared, for there is no fear in love; fear belongs to servants, amazement to fools. (p. 174)
It goes on: “And He asked them, What question ye with them?”

Why does the Lord put this question? That confession may produce salvation, and the murmuring of our hearts may be appeased by religious works.

Bede: The question, indeed, which was raised may, if I am not deceived, have been this, wherefore they, who were the disciples of the Saviour, were unable to heal the demoniac, who was placed in the midst, which may be gathered from the following words; “And one of the multitude answered and said, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away.”

Chrys.: The Scriptures declare that this man was weak in faith, for Christ says, “O faithless generation:” and He adds, “If thou canst believe.”
But although his want of faith was the cause of their not casting out the devil, he nevertheless accuses the disciples.
Wherefore it is added, “And I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; but they could not.”

Now observe his folly; in praying to Jesus in the midst of the crowd, he accuses the disciples, wherefore the Lord before the multitude so much the more accuses him, and not only aims the accusation at himself, but also extends it to all the Jews; for it is probable that many of those present had been offended, and had held wrong thoughts concerning His disciples.

Wherefore there follows, “He answereth them and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” By which He shewed both that He desired death, and that it was a burden to Him to converse with them.

Bede: So far, however, is He from being angry with the person, though He reproved the sin, that He immediately added, “Bring him unto Me; and they brought him unto Him. And when He saw him, straightway the spirit tare him, and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”

Chrys.: But this the Lord permitted for the sake of the father of the boy, that when he saw the devil vexing his child, he might be brought on to believe that the miracle was to be wrought.

Theophylact: He also permits the child to be vexed, that in this way we might know the devil’s wickedness, who would have killed him, had he not been (p. 175) assisted by the Lord.

It goes on: “And He asked his father, How long is it ago since this come unto him? And he said, Of a child; and ofttimes it has cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him.”

Bede: Let Julian (ed. note: Julian was bishop of Eclanum in Campania; he was well known to St. Augustine, who before his fall speaks of him with great affection. On refusing, however, to agree to Pope Zosimus’ condemnation of Pelagius, he was deposed, and expelled from Italy. He wrote a great deal against St. Augustine, by whom he was refuted in works now extant. The opinion specially referred to in the text was, that Adam would have died, even though he had remained innocent, and therefore that death and sickness are not the consequences of original sin. He died in Sicily in great poverty, about A.D. 453.) blush, who dares to say that all men are born in the flesh without the infection of sin, as though they were innocent in all respects, just as Adam was when he was created.

For what was there in the boy, that he should be troubled from infancy with a cruel devil if he were not held at all by the chain of original sin? since it is evident that he could not yet have had any sin of his own.

Gloss.: Now he expresses in the words of his petition his want of faith; for that is the reason why he adds, “But if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”

For in that he says, “If thou canst do anything,” he shews that he doubts His power, because he had seen that the disciples of Christ had failed in curing him; but he says, “have compassion on us,” to shew the misery of the sons, who suffered, and the father, who suffered with him.

It goes on: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Pseudo-Jerome: This saying, “If thou canst,” is a proof of the freedom of the will. Again, all things are possible to him that believeth, which evidently means all those things which are prayed for with tears in the name of Jesus, that is, of salvation.

Bede: The answer of the Lord was suited to the petition; for the man said, “If thou canst do any thing, help us;” and to this, the Lord answered, “If thou canst believe.” On the other hand, the leper who cried out, with faith, “Lord, if Thou will, Thou canst make me clean,” (Mt 8,2) received an answer according to his faith, “I will be thou clean.”

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: His meaning is; such a plenitude of virtue is there in Me, that not only can I do this, but I will make others to have that power; wherefore if thou canst believe as thou oughtest to do, thou (p. 176) shalt be able to cure not only him, but many more. In this way then, He endeavored to bring back to the faith, the man who as yet speaks unfaithfully.

There follows, “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

But if he had already believed, saying, “I believe,” how is it that he adds, “help thou mine unbelief?” We must say then that faith is manifold, that one sort of faith is elementary, another perfect; but this man, being but a beginner in believing, prayed the Saviour to add to his virtue what was wanting.

Bede: For no man at once reaches to the highest point, but in holy living, a man begins with the least things that he may reach the great; for the beginning of virtue is different from the progress and the perfection of it. Because then faith mounts up through the secret inspiration of grace, by the steps of its own merits, (ed. note: This sentence of Bede may be considered to be an exposition of our Lord’s words: “for he that hath not from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” The connection between grace and merit, as used by the Fathers, may be illustrated from St. Thomas, their faithful disciple. He defines a meritorious operation to be one the reward of which is beyond the nature of the worker; so that merit implies the infusion of a supernatural habit, that is, of grace, not only as its effect, but as its formal cause. Summa 1 Q62, Art 4) he who had not yet believed perfectly was at once a believer and an unbeliever.

Pseudo-Jerome: By this also we are taught that our faith is tottering if it lean not on the stay of the help of God. But faith by its tears receives the accomplishment of its wishes.

Wherefore it continues, “When Jesus saw that the multitude came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee come out of him, and enter no more into him.”

Theophylact: The reason that He rebuked the foul spirit, when He saw the crowd running together, was that He did not wish to cure him before the multitude, that He might give us a lesson to avoid ostentation.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: And His rebuking him, and saying, “I charge thee,” is a proof of Divine power. Again, in that He says not only, “come out of him,” but also “enter no more into him,” He shews that the evil spirit was ready to enter again, because the man was weak in faith, but was prevented by the commend of the Lord.
It goes on, “And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him; and he was as one dead, insomuch that (p. 177) many said, He is dead.”

For the devil was not able to inflict death upon him because the true Life was come.

Bede: But him, whom the unholy spirit made like unto death, the holy Saviour saved by the touch of His hold hand; wherefore it goes on, “But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose.”

Thus as the Lord had shewn Himself to be very God by the power of healing, so He shewed that He had the very nature of our flesh, by the manner of His human touch. The Manichaean (ed. note: “Their fundamental maxim of the intrinsic evil of matter and the degraded state of mind, which their speculations on the birth after the flesh brought with it involved the denial of the Incarnation of our Lord and, as a consequence, of the reality of His whole life.” (Note a, upon St. Augustine‘s Confessions, Oxf. Tr. p. 325)) indeed madly denies that He was truly clothed in flesh; He Himself, however, by raising, cleansing, enlightening so many afflicted persons by His touch, condemned his heresy before its birth.

It goes on: “And when He came into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out?”

Chrys.: They feared that perchance they had lost the grace conferred upon them; for they had already received power over unclean spirits.

It goes on: “And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.”

Theophylact: That is, the whole class of lunatics, or simply, of all persons possessed with devils. Both the man to be cured, and he who cures him, should fast; for a real prayer is offered up, when fasting is joined with prayer when he who prays is sober and not heavy with food.

Bede: Again, in a mystical sense, on high the Lord unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to His disciples, but below He rebukes the multitude for their sins of unfaithfulness, and expels devils from those who are vexed by them. Those who are still carnal and foolish, He strengthens, teaches, punishes, whilst He more freely instructs the perfect concerning the things of eternity.

Theophylact: Again, this devil is deaf and dumb; deaf, because he does not choose to hear the words of God; dumb, because he is unable to teach others their duty.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, a sinner foameth forth folly, gnasheth with anger, pineth away in sloth. But the evil spirit tears him, when coming to salvation, and in like manner those whom he would drag into his maw (p. 178) he tears asunder by terrors and losses, as he did Job.

Bede: For oftentimes when we try to turn to God after sin, our old enemy attacks us with new and greater snares, which he does, either to instill into us a hatred of virtue or to avenge the injury of his expulsion.

Greg., Mor. x., 30: But he who is freed from the power of the evil spirit is thought to be dead; for whosoever has already subdued earthly desires, puts to death within himself his carnal mode of life, and appears to the world as a dead man, and many look upon him as dead; for they who know not how to live after the Spirit, think that he who does not follow after carnal pleasures is altogether dead.

Pseudo-Jerome: Further, in his being vexed from his infancy, the Gentile people is signified, from the very birth of whom the vain worship of idols arose, so that they in their folly sacrificed their children to devils. And for this reason, it is said that “it cast him into the fire and into the water;” for some of the Gentiles worshipped fire, others water.

Bede: Or by this demoniac are signified those who are bound by the guilt of original sin, and coming into the world as criminals, are to be saved by grace; and by fire is meant the heat of anger, by water, the pleasures of the flesh, which melt the soul by their sweetness.

But He did not rebuke the boy, who suffered violence, but the devil, who inflicted it, because he who desires to amend a sinner, ought, whilst he exterminates his vice by rebuking and cursing it, to love and cherish the man.

Pseudo-Jerome: Again, the Lord applies to the evil spirit what he had inflicted on the man, calling him a “deaf and dumb spirit,” because he never will hear and speak what the penitent sinner can speak and hear. But the devil, quitting a man, never returns, if the man keep his heart with the keys of humility and charity, and hold possession of the gate of freedom (ed. note: of “fastness”.). The man who was healed became as one dead, for it is said to those who are healed, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Theophylact: Again, when Jesus, that is, the word of the Gospel, takes hold of the hand, that is, of our powers of action, then shall we be freed from the devil. And observe that God first helps us, then it is required of us that we do good; for which reason, it is said that Jesus “raised him;” in which is shewn the aid of God, and that “he arose,” in which is declared the zeal of man.

Bede: Further, (p. 179) our Lord, while teaching the Apostles how the worst devil is to be expelled, gives all of us rules for our life; that is, He would have us know that all the more grievous attacks of evil spirits or of men are to be overcome by fastings and prayers; and again, that the anger of the Lord, when it is kindled for vengeance on our crimes, can be appeased by this remedy alone.

But fasting, in general, is not only abstinence from food, but also from all carnal delights, yea, from all vicious passions. In like manner, prayer taken generally consists not only in the words by which we call upon the Divine mercy but also in all those things which we do with the devotedness of faith in obedience to our Maker, as the Apostle testifies, when he says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1Th 5,17) Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, the folly which is connected with the softness of the flesh, is healed by fasting; anger and laziness are healed by prayer. Each would have its own medicine, which must be applied to it; that which is used for the heel will not cure the eye; by fasting, the passions of the body, by prayer, the plagues of the soul, are healed.



Video View of the Pope on Spiritual Exercises

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:51 PM

A brief video released February 23, 2018, by the Vatican Press Office gives a view into the Holy Father on Spiritual Exercises:

Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, 2018, Pope Francis departed the Vatican to participate in his annual Lenten Spiritual Exercises at Casa ‘Gesù Divin Maestro’ (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome. Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.

Fr. José Tolentino Mendon, who led the meditations, is a Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian and vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon.