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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 28 min 47 sec ago

Pope Francis Venerates Body of St. Padre Pio

35 min 41 sec ago

Pope Francis on March 17, 2018, visited the early remains of St. Padre Pio as part of his visit to Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with Saint Padre Pio.

The Holy Father visited the Shrine of Saint Mary of Graces where he was received by the provincial Minister of the Capuchins, Fr. Maurizio Placentino, the guardian Fr. Carlo Laborde, and the rector, Fr. Francis Dileo. In the Shrine the Pope greeted the religious Community of the Capuchins and venerated the body of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and the Crucifix of the Stigmata, leaving as a gift a stole for the Exposition; he subsequently met with and greeted those Friars who were sick, before finally proceeding to the Saint’s room.

Pope Visits House of Relief of Suffering Hospital

1 hour 33 min ago

It was a poignant moment that included blessing patients and, yes, greeting a few clowns.

Pope Francis made a stop at the House of Relief of Suffering Hospital on March 17, 2018, part of his visit to Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with Saint Padre Pio.

From the square in front of the hospital, Pope Francis greeted and blessed the patients. He then visited the 21 young in-patients in the Pediatric Oncology Ward, on the third floor, and the private Hospital School, finally greeting the “Clowntherapy” volunteers.

Padre Pio set up the “cathedral of charity” known as the “House for the Relief of Suffering”, according to the hospital’s website. San Giovanni Rotondo had no hospital facilities as such. Thus Padre Pio had great pleasure when the premises of the former St. Clare’s convent were turned into a small nursing home. “Saint Francis’ civil Hospital” was opened on 25 January 1925 and comprised two wards with seven beds each, as well as two rooms where the poor could be nursed free of charge. However, following major damage caused by an earthquake in 1938, the nursery home was closed down thirteen years later and its premises were subsequently refurbished and used as a kindergarten.

Yet Padre Pio’s idea of charity outlived the destruction caused by the earthquake: on the evening of 9 January 1940, the friar came up with the idea for a “House for the Relief of Suffering”. Padre Pio’s children in faith promptly joined in on the idea and the first stone of what was to become the “cathedral of charity” was laid at the end of the war, on 16h May 1947.

The wards were opened on 26 July 1954 and the blood bank was established on 5 November. The entire complex was officially opened on 5 May 1956 with a live transmission of the blessing by Pope Pious XII.

Padre Pio himself presented the “child of Providence ” to the crowd with these words: “A seed has been sown in the ground which the Lord God shall warm with the rays of His love … What you see before you is only the earliest stage of this undertaking … one stage of our journey through life has been completed. Let us not lose momentum. Let us answer God’s call for the sake of goodness, with all us doing our duty: I myself through the unending prayers of a humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ; you through the burning desire to hold the whole of suffering humanity close to your breast, to present it through me to the grace of our Heavenly Father.”


Pope Francis Asks: ‘Do We Christians Pray Enough?’

2 hours 6 min ago

“We can ask ourselves: do we Christians pray enough?” That was a key question Pope Francis posed in his March 17, 2018, homily in San Giovanni Rotondo. The Holy Father visited that day the Italian towns of Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with Saint Padre Pio.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina receiving the stigmata, as well as the 50th anniversary of his death. St. Pio was born in Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887, and died on September 23, 1968, at his Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.

In his homily, the Holy Father focused on three words: prayer, smallness, wisdom.

He first noted that Jesus frequently prayer, often withdrawing to a place of solitude. The prayer was spontaneous, but not “optional.” And because of the example Jesus set, the disciples perceived the importance of prayer and asked him how to pray.

“Jesus in the Gospel also shows us how to pray. First of all, he says: ‘I praise you, Father’; He does not begin by saying, ‘I need this and that’, but, ‘I praise you’. One does not know the Father without opening oneself to praise, without devoting time to Him alone, without adoring.

“How we have forgotten the prayer of adoration, the prayer of praise! We must resume this.”

Pope Francis next moved to “smallness”.

“In the Gospel, Jesus praises the Father because He revealed the mysteries of His Kingdom to the little ones,” the Pope recalls. “Who are these little ones, who know how to receive the secrets of God? The little ones are those who are in need of the great, who are not self-sufficient, who do not think that they need only themselves.

“The little are those who have a humble and open heart, poor and needy, who are aware of the need to pray, to entrust themselves and to let themselves be accompanied. The heart of these little ones is like an antenna: it captures the signal from God, immediately, they understand immediately.”

Finally, the Holy Father talks of “wisdom”.

“True wisdom does not lie in having great qualities and true strength is not in power,” stressed the Pope. “Those who show themselves to be strong and those who respond to evil with evil are not wise. The only wise and invincible weapon is charity inspired by faith because it has the power to disarm the forces of evil.

“Saint Pio fought evil throughout his life and fought it wisely, like the Lord: with humility, with obedience, with the cross, offering pain for love.”



Holy Father Reminds Pietrelcina of St. Padre Pio’s Struggles

2 hours 45 min ago

“I am glad to be in this town, where Francesco Forgione was born and began his long and fruitful human and spiritual life,” Pope Francis told the crowds after his arrival March 17, 2018, in Pietrelcina, the birthplace of the man who would become St. Padre Pio.

“In this community, he tempered his humanity, he learned to pray and to recognize in the poor the flesh of the Lord, so that he grew in following Christ and requested to be admitted to the Friars Minor Capuchin, becoming in this way Brother Pio of Pietrelcina,” the Pope said.  “He loved the Church, he loved the Church with all her problems, with all her difficulties, with all her sins.”

The Holy Father recalled the period when St. Pio returned to his hometown to recover his health, noting that he never denied his hometown nor his origins. It was a simpler time.

“At that time there were no antibiotics and diseases were treated by returning to one’s hometown, to one’s mother, to eat things that are good for you, to breathe the air well and to pray,” the Pope reminded the crowd. “This is what he did, like any other man, like a peasant. This was his nobility…in that time he resided in the town of his birth for health reasons.”

The Holy Father continued with his reminder that those were hard times for St. Pio. He was “greatly tormented inwardly” and “feared to fall prey to sin.”

That threat of sin was the result of the assault of the Devil, Pope Francis continued.  And he asked the crowd and bishops present if the devil exists?  The crowd said “yes”.

“In those terrible moments, Father Pio drew vital lymph from the continuous prayer and the trust he was able to place in the Lord: ‘All the ugly ghosts – so he said – that the devil is introducing into my mind disappear when I trustfully abandon myself to the arms of Jesus’. Here there is all theology! You have a problem, you are sad, you are sick: abandon yourself to the arms of Jesus. And this is what he did.”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the faithful of Pietrelcina and of the diocese of Benevento, to imitate St. Pio, who is among “the most beautiful and luminous figures of your people”.   By imitating his “heroic example and his virtues, may you also become instruments of God’s love, of Jesus’ love for the weakest.”


Pope Francis Homily at Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo (Full Text)

3 hours 31 min ago

On March 17, 2018, at around 9.30, the helicopter carrying the Holy Father Francis, coming from Pietrelcina, landed in the “Antonio Massa” sports field of San Giovanni Rotondo.

Upon arrival, the Pope was welcomed by the archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, H.E. Msgr. Michele Castoro, and by the mayor, Dr. Costanzo Cascavilla.

Before leaving the sports field, the Holy Father blessed a plaque regarding the “Journey” of the pilgrims to the Shrine of Saint Michael, which the mayor wishes to insert in the Via Francigena. He then transferred by car to the House of Relief of SufferingHospital; from the square in front of the hospital, Pope Francis greeted and blessed the patients.

At 10.00 the Pope arrived at the “John Paul II” Hospital where he was received by Dr. Domenico Crupi, director general of the House of Relief of Suffering. He then visited the 21 young in-patients in the Paediatric Oncohaematology Ward, on the third floor, and the private Hospital School, also founded by Father Pio, finally greeting the “Clowntherapy” volunteers.

At the end of the visit, the Holy Father visited the Shrine of Saint Mary of Graces where he was received by the provincial Minister of the Capuchins, Fr. Maurizio Placentino, the guardian Fr. Carlo Laborde, and the rector, Fr. Francis Dileo. In the Shrine the Pope greeted the religious Community of the Capuchins and venerated the body of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and the Crucifix of the Stigmata, leaving as a gift a stole for the Exposition; he subsequently met with and greeted those Friars who were sick, before finally proceeding to the Saint’s room.

At 11.30, on the parvis of the Church of Saint Pio, the Eucharistic Celebration took place. At the end, after the greeting of the archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, H.E. Msgr. Michele Castoro, Pope Francis greeted some of the authorities present and a representation of faithful.

At the end, the Holy Father transferred by car to the “Antonio Massa” sports field of San Giovanni Rotondo, from where he departed at 13.00 to return to Rome. The helicopter carrying the Pope is expected to land at the Vatican heliport at 14.00.

The following is the homily the Pope pronounced during the Mass:


Homily of the Holy Father

From the biblical Readings we have heard, I would like to draw three words: prayer, smallness, wisdom.

Prayer. Today’s Gospel presents us Jesus Who prays. From His heart, these words flow: “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Mt 11: 25). Prayer comes from Jesus spontaneously, but it was not optional: he frequently retreated to deserted places to pray (cf. Mk 1: 35); dialogue with the Father was in first place. And the disciples discovered in this way, naturally, how important prayer was so that one day they asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11: 1). If we want to imitate Jesus, let us too begin where he started from, that is, from prayer.

We can ask ourselves: do we Christians pray enough? Often, in the moment of prayer, many excuses come to mind, many urgent things to do… At times, then, we set prayer aside because we are caught up in an activism that becomes inconclusive when we forget “what is better” (Lk 10: 42), when one forgets that without Him we cannot do anything (cf. Jn 15: 5), and in this way we abandon prayer. Saint Pio, fifty years after he went to heaven, helps us because he wished to leave us the legacy of prayer. He recommended, “Pray a lot, my children, pray always, never tiring” (Words to the Second International Congress of Prayer Groups, 5 May 1966).

Jesus in the Gospel also shows us how to pray. First of all, he says: “I praise you, Father”; He does not begin by saying, “I need this and that”, but, “I praise you”. One does not know the Father without opening oneself to praise, without devoting time to Him alone, without adoring. How we have forgotten the prayer of adoration, the prayer of praise! We must resume this. Each one of us can ask: how do I worship? When do I worship? When do I praise God? Resume the prayer of adoration and praise. It is the personal context, face to face, staying in silence before the Lord, the secret to entering ever more into communion with Him. Prayer can be born as a request, even for an urgent intervention, but it matures in prayer and adoration. Mature prayer. It then becomes truly personal, as for Jesus, who then engages freely in dialogue with the Father: “Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do” (Mt 11: 26). And the, in free and trustful dialogue, prayer takes on all of life and takes it before God.

And then we ask ourselves: do our prayers resemble that of Jesus, or are they reduced to occasional emergency calls? “I need this”, and so I pray straight away. And when you are not in need, what do you do? Or do we intend them as tranquilizers to take in regular doses, to have a little relief from stress? No, prayer is an act of love, of staying with God and taking to Him the life of the world: it is an indispensable work of spiritual mercy. And if we do not entrust our brothers and situations to the Lord, who will? Who will intercede, who will take care to knock on the heart of God to open the door to humanity in need? For this, Father Pio left us the prayer groups. He said to them, “It is prayer, this joined force of all good souls, that moves the world, that renews consciences … that heals the sick, that sanctifies work, that raises healthcare, that gives moral strength … that spreads God’s smile and blessing on every languor and weakness (ibid). Let us safeguard these words, and ask ourselves again: do I pray? And when I pray, do I know how to praise, do I know how to worship, do I know how to take my life, and that of all people, to God?

Second word: smallness. In the Gospel, Jesus praises the Father because He revealed the mysteries of His Kingdom to the little ones. Who are these little ones, who know how to receive the secrets of God? The little ones are those who are in need of the great, who are not self-sufficient, who do not think that they need only themselves. The little are those who have a humble and open heart, poor and needy, who are aware of the need to pray, to entrust themselves and to let themselves be accompanied. The heart of these little ones is like an antenna: it captures the signal from God, immediately, they understand immediately. Because God seeks contact with all, but those who make themselves great create enormous interference, and the desire for God does not arrive when one is full of oneself, there is no room for God. This is why He prefers the little ones, He reveals Himself to them, and the way to encounter Him is that of stooping low, of shrinking inwardly, of acknowledging oneself as in need. The mystery of Jesus Christ is a mystery of smallness: He lowered Himself, He annihilated Himself. The mystery of Jesus, as we see in the Host at every Mass, is a mystery of smallness, of humble love, and can be grasped only by becoming small and frequenting the little ones.

And now we can ask ourselves: do we know how to look for God where He is? Here there is a special shrine where He is present because there are many little ones preferred by Him. Saint Pio called it “a temple of prayer and science”, where all are called to be “reserves of love” for others (Address for the First Anniversary of the Inauguration, 5 May 1957): it is the House of Relief of Suffering. In the sick one finds Jesus, and in the loving care of those tending to the wounds of the neighbor, there is the way to meet Jesus. Those who take care of the little ones are on the side of God and defeat the culture of waste, which, on the contrary, prefers the powerful and deems the poor useless. Those who prefer the little ones proclaim a prophecy of life against the prophets of death of all time, even today, who discard people, discard children, the elderly, because they are not needed. As a child, at school, they taught us the history of the Spartans. I was always struck by what the teacher told us, that when a baby with malformations was born, they took him to the top of the mountain and threw him down so that these little ones would not exist. We children said: “But what cruelty!”. Brothers and sisters, we do the same, with more cruelty, with more science. What is not needed, what is not productive must be discarded. This is the culture of waste: the little ones are not wanted today. And this is why Jesus is set aside.

Finally the third word, wisdom. In the first Reading, God says: “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom and let not the mighty man boast of his might” (Jer 9: 23). True wisdom does not lie in having great qualities and true strength is not in power. Those who show themselves to be strong and those who respond to evil with evil are not wise. The only wise and invincible weapon is charity inspired by faith, because it has the power to disarm the forces of evil. Saint Pio fought evil throughout his life and fought it wisely, like the Lord: with humility, with obedience, with the cross, offering pain for love. And everyone admired him, but few do likewise. Many speak well, but how many imitate? Many are willing to put a “like” on the page of the great saints, but who does as they do? Because the Christian life is not a “like”, it is a “gift” to me. Life is perfumed when it is offered as a gift; it becomes insipid when it is kept for oneself.

And in the first Reading God also explains where to draw the wisdom of life: “Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me” (v. 23). To know Him, that is to meet Him, as God Who saves and forgives: this is the way of wisdom. In the Gospel, Jesus reaffirms: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” (Mt 11:28). Which of us can feel excluded from the invitation? Who can say, “I do not need it”? Saint Pio offered his life and innumerable sufferings to enable his brothers to meet the Lord. And the decisive way of meeting Him was Confession, the sacrament of Reconciliation. There, a wise life begins and starts over, loved and forgiven; there begins the healing of the heart. Father Pio was an apostle of the confessional. Today too he invites us there; and he says to us: “Where are you going? To Jesus or to your sadness? Where do you return? To He Who saves you or, in to your defeats, your regrets, your sins? Come, come, the Lord is waiting for you. Take courage, there is no reason so grave as to exclude you from His mercy”.

The prayer groups, the sick of the House of Relief, the confessional: three visible signs that remind us of three valuable legacies: prayer, smallness and the wisdom of life. Let us ask for the grace to cultivate them every day.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Pope Francis Address to Faithful in Pietrelcina (Full Text)

3 hours 50 min ago

Holy Father Francis left early on March 17, 2018, by helicopter from the Vatican heliport destined for Pietrelcina, in the diocese of Benevento, and to San Giovanni Rotondo, in the diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, on the centenary of the apparition of the permanent stigmata and the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

Upon arrival, at around 8.00, in the square adjacent to the Liturgical Hall of Piana Romana, the Pope was received by the archbishop of Benevento, H.E. Msgr. Felice Accrocca, and by the mayor of Pietrelcina, Mr. Domenico Masone.

The Holy Father paused briefly in prayer in the Saint Francis Chapel before the elm of the stigmata. Then, at 8.15, in the square in front of the Liturgical Hall, the Pope met with the faithful.

After greetings from the archbishop, Pope Francis gave his address.

At the end, the Holy Father greeted the Capuchin Community and a representation of faithful.

Then, at around 9.00, he left from Piana Romana to transfer to San Giovanni Rotondo.

The following is the Pope’s address to the faithful:

Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I am glad to be in this town, where Francesco Forgione was born and began his long and fruitful human and spiritual life. In this community he tempered his humanity, he learned to pray and to recognize in the poor the flesh of the Lord, so that he grew in following Christ and requested to be admitted to the Friars Minor Capuchin, becoming in this way Brother Pio of Pietrelcina. Here he began to experience the maternity of the Church, to whom he was always a devoted son. He loved the Church, he loved the Church with all her problems, with all her difficulties, with all her sins. Because we are all sinners, we are ashamed, but the Spirit of God has convoked us in this Church which is holy. And he loved the holy Church and her sons, sinners, all of them. This was Saint Pio. Here he meditated with intensity on the mystery of God Who loved us to the extent of giving Himself for us (cf. Gal 2: 20). Recollecting with esteem and affection this holy disciple of Saint Francis, I cordially greet all of you, his countrymen; your parish priest; and the mayor, along with the Pastor of the diocese, Msgr. Felice Accrocca, the Capuchin community and all those of you who wished to be present.

We find ourselves today on the same land where Father Pio dwelt in September 1911, to “breath a little healthier air”. At that time there were no antibiotics and diseases were treated by returning to one’s hometown, to one’s mother, to eat things that are good for you, to breathe the air well and to pray. This is what he did, like any other man, like a peasant. This was his nobility. He never denied his hometown, he never denied his origins, he never denied is family. Indeed, in that time he resided in the town of his birth for health reasons. That was not, for him, an easy time: he was greatly tormented inwardly and feared to fall prey to sin, feeling he was under assault by the devil. And this did not give him peace because he was restless. But do you believe that the devil exists? … You are not so convinced? … I will tell the bishop to do some catechesis … Does the devil exist or not? [they answer: “Yes!”]. And he goes, he goes everywhere, he gets inside us, he moves us, he torments us, he deceives us. And he [Father Pio] was afraid that the devil would assail him, would drive him to sin. He spoke with few people, either by letter or in the town: only to the Archpriest Don Salvatore Pannullo did he manifest “almost all” his “intent to have some enlightenment” (Letter 57, in Epistolary I, p.250), because he did not understand, he wanted to clarify what was happening in his soul. He was a good boy!

In those terrible moments, Father Pio drew vital lymph from the continuous prayer and the trust he was able to place in the Lord: “All the ugly ghosts – so he said – that the devil is introducing into my mind disappear when I trustfully abandon myself to the arms of Jesus”. Here there is all theology! You have a problem, you are sad, you are sick: abandon yourself to the arms of Jesus. And this is what he did. He loved Jesus and he trusted in Him. Thus he wrote to the provincial minister, asserting that his heartfelt “attracted by a superior force before joining Him in the morning in the Sacrament”. “And this hunger and thirst, instead of remaining satisfied”, after receiving it, “grows [more] more and more” (Letter 31, in Epistolary I, p. 217). Father Pio immersed himself in prayer to adhere ever better to the divine plans. Through the celebration of Holy Mass, which constituted the heart of his day and the fullness of his spirituality, he reached a high level of union with the Lord. During this period, he received special mystical gifts from above, which preceded the manifestation in his flesh of the signs of the Passion of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters of Pietrelcina and of the diocese of Benevento, you include Saint Pio among the most beautiful and luminous figures of your people. This humble Capuchin friar amazed the world with his life devoted to prayer and patient listening to his brothers, on whose sufferings he poured out the love of Christ as a balm. Imitating his heroic example and his virtues, may you also become instruments of God’s love, of Jesus’ love for the weakest. At the same time, considering his unconditional loyalty to the Church, you will bear witness to communion, because only communion  – that is, always being united, in peace among us, the communion between us – edifies and constructs. A town that quarrels every does not grow, does not build itself up; it scares people. Instead, a town where one seeks peace, where everyone cares for each other – more or less, but they care for each other – they do not wish evil upon each other, this town, even if it is small, grows, grows, grows, it expands and becomes strong. Please, do not waste time, strength, quarreling between yourselves. This does not serve any purpose. It does not make you grow! It does not make you walk onwards. Let us think of a child who cries, cries, cries and does not want to move from his crib, and cries, cries. And when his mother puts him on the floor so that he can start to crawl, he cries, cries … and returns to the crib. I ask you: will that child be able to walk? No, because he is always in the crib! If village quarrels, quarrels, quarrels, will it be able to grow? No. Because all the time, all its strength goes towards quarreling. Please: peace between you, communion between you. And if one of you feels like gossiping about another, bite your tongue. It will do good to your soul, because the tongue will swell up but it will do good, also to the town. Give this witness of communion.

I hope that this territory will be able to draw new life from the teachings of the life of Father Pio in a difficult time like the present, as the population gradually decreases and ages because many young people are forced to go elsewhere to look for work. The internal migration of the young, a problem. Pray to Our Lady to give you the grace that the young may find work here, among you, near to the family, and that they are not compelled to go away and look elsewhere, so that the town declines. The population ages, but this is a treasure, the elderly are a treasure! Please, do not marginalize the elderly. The elderly must not be marginalized, no. The elderly are wisdom. And may the elderly learn to speak with the young and the young learn to speak with the elderly. They have the wisdom of a village, the elderly. When I arrived I had the pleasure of greeting a man of 99 years, and a youngster of 97. Beautiful! These are your wisdom! Speak with them. May they be the protagonists of the growth of this town. May the intercession of your Saint and fellow citizen support the intention of joining forces, so as to offer to the young generations in particular concrete perspectives for a future of hope. Do not miss be lacking in caring attention, full of tenderness, as I said, for the elderly, who are the heritage of our communities. I would like it if the Nobel prize could be awarded once to the elderly who give memory to humanity.

I encourage this land to preserve as a precious treasure the Christian and priestly testimony of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: it is for each one of you an incentive to live your life in fullness, in the style of the Beatitudes and with the works of mercy. May the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate with the title of Madonna della Libera, help you to walk with joy on the path of holiness. And please, pray for me, because I am in need. Thank you!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Holy See Stresses Right to Education for Girls and Boys

03/16/2018 - 10:12pm

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, on March 15, 2018, mentioned Pope Francis’ emphasis on the right to education for girls and boys to make it possible for them to grow as dignified agents of the own development.

His remarks came at z side event during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The event was dedicated to the theme of “The Integral Education of Rural Girls and Women.”

The Sustainable Development Agenda, Archbishop Auza continued, is committed to ensuring by 2030 that all girls and boys — especially the 120 million children with no schooling at all and the 130 million more in very poor quality schools — have access to free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. He said that the Catholic Church is very proud of its Catholic school system that educates 68 million students worldwide every year and the history of educating girls and those on the margins. He added that providing access to schools is not enough; education must help make students smarter, wiser, better and more human.

His statement follows.

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Speakers,
Delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s event on the important topic of the Integral Education of Rural Girls and Women, which the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See is co-sponsoring together with the Catholic Women’s Forum of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Universal Peace Federation and Education Cannot Wait.

When Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015, speaking immediately before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he mentioned three times the importance of education and stressed that this means education for all. To enable men and women to escape from extreme poverty, he said, we must allow and assist them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. “This presupposes and requires,” he underlined, “the right to education — also for girls — excluded in certain places — which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”

The international community, in adopting the 2030 Agenda, committed itself resolutely in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to “eliminate gender disparities in education” and to ensure that by 2030, all girls and boys have access to early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education; to free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education; and to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education. These commitments flowed from the fact that there are 120 million children in the world who have no access to primary or secondary schooling at all, many from rural areas marked by severe poverty or conflict. Another 130 million children go to schools that are of such poor quality that they don’t acquire even the basics of literacy or numeracy. In many places, girls face multiple barriers to entering primary and secondary schools and in one out of every three countries there is still, in primary education, no parity between boys and girls in access
to schooling.

The Catholic Church is very proud that over the course of our 2,000-year history, we have played a major role in bringing education to children who were being totally left behind. In particular, thousands of Catholic women’s religious orders were founded with the explicit purpose and charism to educate girls at a time when none but the richest girls with private tutors received any formal education at all. Many of these religious orders sought to educate in particular girls from poor families and orphans and many of these women religious left their homes and traveled to far away countries in order to found schools in remote, rural villages where schools had never before existed. Today the Catholic Church runs 73,580 kindergarten programs educating more the 7 million children; 96,283 Catholic elementary schools educating 33.5 million girls and boys; 47,415 Catholic second schools educating 24.8 million teens, and Catholic Colleges and Universities give tertiary education and terminal degrees to 2.7 million more. It goes without saying that of these 68 million students — and more than 3o million girls — across the world, many are not Catholic or even Christian. Over the course of my time here at the United Nations and in diplomatic postings elsewhere, many Ambassadors, diplomats and UN officials who are not Christian, both women and men, have told me that they are graduates of Catholic schools and credit much of their success in life to the teachers and classes that they had in those institutions. In all of this, the schools run by the Catholic Church seek not to supplant but to assist parents, who are the first teachers of their children in the irreplaceable school called home.

Providing access, however, to schools and basic education for girls no matter where they live, whether in cities or the remotes hamlets, although essential, is not enough. For girls to grow into flourishing women, much more is needed. Education is far more than instruction. As the Latin word edúcere indicates, it means leading people out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge, from immaturity to true maturity. It’s aimed not just at helping people become smarter but wiser. It involves not just imparting information but formation, assisting the young to seek the truth, come to know it and come to live in accordance with it. Its aim is not just to help them become intelligent adults but genuinely good persons.

Ensuring this type of “integral education” is essential. The consequences of not doing so were described perhaps most famously by Haim Ginott, a Holocaust Survivor who, after being freed, emigrated to the U.S. and became a school teacher, parent educator, child psychologist and psychotherapist. He wrote a letter to teachers in which he said, “I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”

Pope Francis spoke about this genuinely and integrally humanistic education for girls in a 2015 meeting with girls and their teachers from across the world. He said, “Education is, in fact, the indispensable means to enable girls to become active and responsible women, proud and happy. … It is very important today that a woman be adequately appreciated, and that she be able to take up fully the place that corresponds to her…. Here the role of Educational Associations … addressed to girls is absolutely determinant for the future, and your pedagogy must be clear. We are in a world in which are spreading ideologies most contrary to the nature and design of God on the family and on marriage. Therefore, it is a question of educating girls not only to the beauty and grandeur of their vocation as women, in a just and differentiated relation between man and woman, but also to assume important responsibilities… In some countries, where woman is still in a position of inferiority, and even exploited and mistreated, you are certainly called to carry out a notable role of promotion and education.”

We’re all called today to carry out that notable role of promotion and education. That’s what today’s event, within the 62^nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, is about. In the 75 minute window allotted to us, there are only so many aspects about the integral education of rural girls and women that we can cover, but we would like to focus on four areas:

* Mrs. Mary Hasson from the Catholic Women’s Forum is here to speak about a fuller sense of the empowerment of women through education by ensuring that it corresponds to woman’s full dignity as a person in a context in which so many educational structures are geared toward teaching according to male pedagogical frameworks or according to a reductive understanding of who woman is.

* Ms. Amritpal Sandhu from Education Cannot Wait is here to speak about educating girls in emergency circumstances. One of the first things that can happen in conflict situations is that the formal education of the young is put on hold or is stopped altogether. She’ll describe for us that education cannot wait and share with us best practices from her wide experience in ensuring the education of boys and girls in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

* Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is here to describe for us her extraordinary fight for the education of girls and women in refugee camps and in her native Afghanistan and what we can all learn from that experience.

* And Dr. Timothy Rarick from BYU-Idaho is here to speak about the unique education girls receive from their fathers and how involved fathers help make stronger daughters. His talk will highlight one of the most important elements in the educational setting of the home, as dads work with moms to help their daughters and sons grow to maturity so that they might become, in turn, the teachers in domestic academies they themselves may establish afterward.

I thank you for coming this afternoon. I believe that you will find today’s discussion very much worth your time.

Copyright © 2018 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

Archbishop Auza: Need to Protect Rural Women and Girls

03/16/2018 - 9:51pm

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said on March 15, 2018, that human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, something Pope Francis has called a “crime against humanity” and an “atrocious scourge.”

His comments came in his opening statement for a side event during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations in New York. The event was dedicated to the theme of “Preventing Human Trafficking Among Rural Women and Girls.”

Most of the attention on human trafficking has been centered on cities, Archbishop Auza said, where media outlets, government, and NGOs have their headquarters, but trafficking victims come disproportionately from rural villages and towns because of the compounded marginalization that they often endure. Archbishop Auza praised the work of Catholic women religious communities who go to the peripheries of the most remote places to fight the root causes that make women vulnerable and to provide support for survivors but reiterated Pope Francis’ call for all people to get involved in the fight to eliminate modern slavery.

His statement follows.

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Speakers,
Delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s event on Preventing Human Trafficking Among Rural Women and Girls, which the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See is co-sponsoring together with the Arise Foundation and seven different NGOs and associations of Catholic religious sisters who are on the front lines, in rural villages and cities, defending the inherent dignity and human rights of women and girls, rescuing them from modern slavery, rehabilitating them and protecting them from those who would seek to traffic and exploit them.

Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today. Pope Francis, who was elected five years ago today, has called trafficking in persons “an open wound on the body of contemporary society,” a “crime against humanity,” and an “atrocious scourge that is present throughout the world on a broad scale, even as tourism.” He said, “No one likes to acknowledge that in one’s own city, even in one’s own neighborhood, in one’s region or nation, there are new forms of slavery,” but added, “we know that this plagues almost all countries” and therefore “all of society is called to grow in this awareness.”

While human trafficking is happening everywhere, attention on it normally has focused on cities, because that’s where you’ll find the media outlets, the seats of government and the headquarters of large civil society organizations. It’s also where one often finds the majority of those enslaved because that’s where the more concentrated demand is for the commodification of other’s bodies and labor.

But cities are normally not where most trafficking victims come from. They’re disproportionately found in rural villages and towns. Rural women and girls are especially vulnerable to being ensnared by traffickers because they regularly lack access to adequate schooling and health, and are often marginalized, stigmatized and isolated due to poverty, unemployment and the lack of rural infrastructure. Rural girls and women are especially vulnerable to the lies of traffickers who promise them good work, good food, and education in the big cities. Rural girls are also vulnerable simply to running away to the cities believing that that is a way to improve their lives; such girls, however, often find themselves floundering in the unknown environment and very easy prey to traffickers.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon five years ago focused on the vulnerability of rural girls and women when he said that they “make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education, to health, to participation in decision-making.” That’s why it’s unsurprising that the latest Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (2016) found that “many cases of domestic trafficking involve victims who have been moved from poorer areas of the country to richer areas, from rural zones to cities or tourist centers, or from villages to industrial or economic hubs.”

In short, rural women and girls, because of their compounded marginalization, are at a cumulative disadvantage. Their dignity and rights are not adequately respected before they’re trafficked, something that makes them more susceptible to much worse violations of their dignity and rights later.

In today’s event, we hope to focus on preventing human trafficking among this particularly under-protected population. We will listen to the stories of those who have been trafficked as well as to the experience of many who have worked so hard to address their vulnerabilities, rescue them, and rehabilitate them. We will hear in a special way about the work being done by heroic religious sisters in rural areas all over the world, in particular in the Philippines, in India, in England, in indigenous regions of Canada, and among isolated regions of Africa. It’s an opportunity to highlight the work of so many women’s religious communities who, far from the limelight, are going to the existential peripheries to care for the wounds that often don’t come adequately to the attention of the rest of the world.

Pope Francis has repeatedly praised the work of religious congregations like the ones present today for “the enormous and often silent efforts … made for many years … to provide support to victims. These institutes work in very difficult situations, dominated at times by violence, as they work to break the invisible chains binding victims to traffickers and exploiters.” He says that their “courage, patience and perseverance” in the fight against trafficking and in favor of the vulnerable and wounded deserves the appreciation of everyone.

Pope Francis has also stressed, however, that religious women cannot do it alone. “We ought to recognize,” he emphasized, “that we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself. For this reason I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will, and all those near or far, including the highest levels of civil institutions, who witness the scourge of contemporary slavery, not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity. … The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the
new horizons which they disclose.”

None of us, in other words, should feel content to remain on the sidelines. Each of us is called, in one way, or another, to take our position on the field and become part of the worldwide mobilization necessary to eradicate this evil. Today we have a chance to listen to several of the heroines in that fight, whose experience can and ought to guide us and the whole international community.

I thank you once again for coming and am confident you will find today’s event well worth your time.

Copyright © 2018 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

Archbishop Follo: Christ: the Grain of Wheat Sown in the Sky

03/16/2018 - 7:45pm

Roman Rite – Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year B – March 18, 2018
Jer 31.31-34;Ps 51; Eb 5.7-9; Jn 12.20-33

Ambrosian Rite
Dt 6,4a; 26, 5-11; Ps 105; Eph 5.15-20; Jn 11.1-53
Sunday of Lazarus – Fifth of Lent

1) See Christ, grain of wheat.

In the few days that separate us from Easter when we “see” the Risen One, let us continue with the actions that the Church recommends for Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (= mercy). “Fasting is the soul of prayer and mercy is the life of fasting. Let no one divide them because they cannot be separated. He who has only one or not all three together has nothing. Therefore, he who prays must fast. Those who fast must have mercy. Who, in asking, wants to be answered, must answer to those who ask him. Whoever wants to find God’s heart open to him, must not close his heart to those who beg him “(Saint John Chrysostom).

In this way, we too will be able to be humbly and truly “grains of wheat”. This gift of self allows us to see the Messiah, because He manifests God on the Cross. In fact, to the question of the Greeks (that is, the non-Jews) who want to see Jesus, He answers indirectly, indicating where He can be seen. He can be seen in his glory and his glory consists in being lifted up on the Cross. There is the place where the Lord is seen. The accent is not about death, but about life. The Glory of God is not death, but the abundant good fruit.

Christ shows God on the Cross, where he ascended because of His love for us. The Son of God detaches himself from his earthly life so that we can receive heavenly Life. Jesus not only says that he is like a grain of wheat that dies to give life. He spreads His arms on the cross. With the hands nailed and, therefore, open forever in an eternal embrace, Christ welcomes all of us, poor repentant sinners, and gives us the true life full of a joy that never ends. This joy comes from knowing that we are loved by a God

who became man,

who gave his life for us and

who has defeated evil and death.

This joy is to live for love of him. Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus wrote: “Jesus, my joy is to love you!” (P 45, January 21 1897, Op. Compl., Page 708). And St Mary Teresa of Calcutta, echoing the words of Jesus “We are more blessed in giving than in receiving!” (Acts 20:35), said: “Joy is a web of love to capture souls. God loves those who give with joy. And whoever gives joyfully gives more “and produces much fruit.

This fruit is the result of Christ’s yes to the “hour” in which He, the Son of man, must be glorified. For the evangelist St. John “the hour” is the time established by the Father to give us salvation. Since this salvation is given to us by Christ with the total offering of His life on the cross, after having spoken of his coming “hour”, the Messiah adds: ” Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit “(Jn 12: 24-25).

The “hour” of the glorification of Christ, that is of his raising on the cross, is the moment in which he offers himself as a grain of wheat to be “sowed in heaven” to bring heavenly fruits.

The grain “seeded on the ground” produces terrestrial fruits. This sowing really overturns the whole meaning of our life: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.” (ibid.). Christ came so that we have life but, in order to have life – as opposed to what we think and do every day – it is necessary to make it available to God and to give it to God so that He may give it to others. The cross is this giving, like God who gives himself entirely to us, in Christ, on the Cross, and from the Cross.

2) The Cross is the place where Christ shows God.

If, like the Greeks of whom today’s Gospel speaks, we really want to see Jesus, let us look at this Man on the Cross where He manifests his glory. Of course, we need to have pure eyes and a clear heart to “see” the glory of God in Christ who dies. The glory of Jesus consists in being raised on the Cross. There is the place where we see the Lord. Where can we see God? On the Cross. His glory, says the Messiah, is that of the grain of wheat. The glory of a seed is its fruit. He bears fruit just by dying on the Cross.

If it is true that glory is the fullness of light and of the beauty of God revealed in the beauty of creation and of holy creatures, it is equally true that the “hour” of the Cross is the moment in which God reveals himself in the glory of the Son of Man. Jesus explains this with the metaphor of the grain.

What is the glory of the grain of wheat? In itself, a grain of wheat is not very glorious: it is nothing but a grain of wheat that is not even able to satisfy a person’s hunger. But if the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it bears much fruit. The glory of the seed is to bring life and fruit. Jesus teaches that his glory is the Cross because through it, He will give life. In this hour, he gives life to the Father surrendering himself to him as a sacrificed Lamb and gives life to us by transforming the cross from an instrument of death to a bed of life, like that one of a woman in labor.

If the grain does not die, it remains only a grain. This is a natural and necessary law. This law also applies to the Son of Man. It is the law of every man: man dies because he is naturally mortal. But the death on the cross of Jesus is glory because his is not so much a death but the gift of life. Jesus is like a grain of wheat that is consumed and blooms, and a cross where the resurrection is already breathing.

Let us look at the example of consecrated virgins to understand the cross and to welcome and live the love it manifests.

Love lived virginally is a crucified love not because it is a mortified love, but because it is a love “sacrificed”, that is, made sacred by the total gift of oneself to God. Virgin love is that of Christ, who “practiced” a crucified love. Jesus, to love, went into a progressive experience of emptying himself up to the cross. If we want to love as Christians, we must know it and do like him. This way of loving puts the other before me and the Other (God) more than me. The cross is the greatest sign of the greatest love, and virginity is the crucifixion of oneself to give oneself to God and to nail oneself to his love by embracing Christ on the Cross.

The consecrated Virgins are a significant and high example of the fact that the love of God is totalitarian. In fact, we must love the Lord “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength” (cf. Mk 12:30). These women show that the body and heart offered in chastity do not distance the human being from God, but brings him closer to God more than the angels themselves (cf. Eph 1:14). It shows also that the Christian life is a progressive configuration of ourselves to Christ, crucified and risen. In fact, in the way as the love of Christ for us led him to the cross, our love for him imprints his wounds of love in us (Ct 2, 5). Love, in transfiguring, purifies and configures. Dying to oneself in the gift of virginity is not a true death because, as it happened to Christ, the total gift of self-multiplies life.

Virginity is not simply a renunciation. Virginity expands the heart on the measure of the heart of Christ and makes it capable of loving as he loved.

Virginity lived as a crucifixion, is to testify that Love has won through the gift of self.

Virginity lived as a resurrection, is to testify that the Bridegroom is truly present in everyday life and his condescending presence gives full and complete joy (cf. Jn 3: 29).

“The Cross was not given to us to understand it, but to cling to it” (Bonhoeffer). The consecrated Virgins, attracted by Christ who seduced them, cling to his Cross and walk behind Him learning from Him what love is and how to love God and the neighbor.

Consecration, total sacrifice and the perfect holocaust, is the way suggested by the Spirit to relive the mystery of the crucified Christ, come into the world to give his life as a ransom for many (see Mt 20, 28, Mk 10, 45), and to respond to his infinite love.

We have reached the fifth stage of our Lenten journey that, from the desert of temptation as brought us to the mountain of Transfiguration, made us enter the Temple of God that is the House of God and the Gate of Heaven in order to meet, today, the love of our life who offers himself to be looked at. In fact, today, Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Christian exodus that is the painful and luminous way of Love (Via Crucis et Lucis or Via Lucis per Crucem), offers us a pause to make us ask to see Christ, the Beloved who offers to his beloved (to the Church, that is to us) not only his most precious goods but his own life.


  Patristic reading

  Saint Augustine of Hippo
Tractate LII

  on Jn 12:27-36

After the Lord Jesus Christ, in the words of yesterday’s lesson, had exhorted His servants to follow Him, and had predicted His own passion in this way, that unless a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit; and also had stirred up those who wished to follow Him to the kingdom of heaven, to hate their life in this world if their thought was to keep it unto life eternal,-He again toned down His own feelings to our infirmity and says, where our lesson to-day commenced, “Now is my soul1 troubled.” Whence, Lord, was Thy soul troubled? He had, indeed, said a little before, “He that hateth his life [soul] in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Dost thou then love thy life in this world, and is thy soul troubled as the hour approacheth when thou shalt leave this world? Who would dare affirm this of the soul [life] of the Lord? We rather it was whom He transferred unto Himself; He took us into His own person as our Head, and assumed the feelings of His members; and so it was not by any others He was troubled, but, as was said of Him when He raised Lazarus, “He was troubled in Himself.”2 For it behoved the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, just as He has lifted us up to the heights of heaven, to descend with us also into the lowest depths of suffering.

2. I hear Him saying a little before, “The hour cometh that the Son of man should be glorified: if a corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” I hear this also, “He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Nor am I permitted merely to admire, but commanded to imitate, and so, by the words that follow, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be,” I am all on fire to despise the world, and in my sight the whole of this life, however lengthened, becomes only a vapor; in comparisonwith my love for eternal things, all that is temporal has lost its value with me. And now, again, it is my Lord Himself, who by such words has suddenly transported me from the weakness that was mine to the strength that was His, that I hear saying, “Now is my soul troubled.” What does it mean? How biddest Thou my soul follow Thee if I behold Thine own troubled? How shall I endure what is felt to be heavy by strength so great? What is the kind of foundation I can seek if the Rock is giving way? But me-thinks I hear in my own thoughts the Lord giving me an answer, saying, Thou shall follow me the better, because it is to aid thy power of endurance that I thus interpose. Thou hast heard, as addressed to thyself, the voice of my fortitude hear in me the voice of thy infirmity: I supply strength for thy running, and I check not thy hastening, but I transfer to myself thy causes for trembling, and I pave the way for thy marching along. O Lord our Mediator, God above us, man for us, I own Thy mercy For because Thou, who art so great, art troubled through the good will of Thy love, Thou preservest, by the richness of Thy comfort, the many in Thy body who are troubled by the continual experience of their own weakness, from perishing utterly in their despair).

3. In a word, let the man who would follow learn the road by which he must travel. Perhaps an hour of terrible trial has come, and the choice is set before thee either to do iniquity or endure suffering; the weak soul is troubled, on whose behalf the invincible soul [of Jesus] was voluntarily troubled; set then the will of God before thine own. For notice what is immediately subjoined by thy Creator and thy Master, by Him who made thee, and became Himself for thy teaching that which He made; for He who made man was made man, but He remained still the unchangeable God, and transplanted manhood into a better condition. Listen, then, to what He adds to the words, “Now is my soul troubled.” “And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” He has taught thee here what to think of, what to say, on whom to call, in whom to hope, and whose will, as sure and divine, to prefer to thine own, which is human and weak. Imagine Him not, therefore, as losing aught of His own exalted position in wishing thee to rise up out of the depths of thy ruin. For He thought it meet also to be tempted by the devil, by whom otherwise He would never have been tempted, just as, had He not been willing, He would never have suffered; and the answers He gave to the devil are such as thou also oughtest to use in times of temptation.3 And He, indeed, was tempted, but not endangered, that He might show thee, when in danger through temptation, how to answer the tempter, so as not to be carried away by the temptation, but to escape its danger. But when He here said, “Now is my soul troubled;” and also when He says, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death;” and “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” He assumed the infirmity of man, to teach him, when thereby saddened and troubled, to say what follows: “Nevertheless, Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”4 For thus it is that man is turned from the human to the divine, when the will of God is preferred to his own. But to what do the words “Glorify Thy name” refer, but to His own passion and resurrection? For what else can it mean, but that the Father should thus glorify the Son, who in like manner glorifieth His own name in the similar sufferings of His servants? Hence it is recorded of Peter, that for this cause He said concerning him, “Another shall gird thee,and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” because He intended to signify “by what death he should glorify God.”5 Therefore in him, too, did God glorify His name, because thus also does He glorify Christ in His members.

4. “Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying], I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” “I have both glorified it,” before I created the world, “and I will glorify it again,” when He shall rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. It may also be otherwise understood. “I have both glorified it,”-when He was born of the Virgin, when He exercised miraculous powers; when the Magi, guided by a star in the heavens, bowed in adoration before Him; when He was recognized by saints filled with the Holy Spirit; when He was openly proclaimed by the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove, and pointed out by the voice that sounded from heaven; when He was transfigured on the mount; when He wrought many miracles, cured and cleansed multitudes, fed so vast a number with a very few loaves, commanded the winds and the waves, and raised the dead;-“and I will glorify it again;” when He shall rise from the dead; when death shall have no longer dominion over Him; and when He shall be exalted over the heavens as God, and His glory over all the earth.

5. “The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.” He thereby showed that the voice made no intimation to Him of what He already knew, but to those who needed the information. And just as that voice was uttered by God, not on His account, but on that of others, so His soul was troubled, not on His own account, but voluntarily for the sake of others.

6. Look at what follows: “Now,” He says, “is the judgment of the world.” What, then, are we to expect at the end of time? But the judgment that is looked for in the end will be the judging of the living and the dead, the awarding of eternal rewards and punishment. Of what sort, then, is the judgment now? I have already, in former lessons, as far as I could, put you in mind, beloved, that there is a judgment spoken of, not of condemnation, but of discrimination;6 as it is written, “Judge me, O God, and plead [discern, discriminate] my cause against an unholy nation.”7 And many are the judgments of God; as it is said in the psalm. “Thy judgments are a great deep.”8

And the apostle also says, “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments!”9 To such judgments does that spoken of here by the Lord also belong, “Now is the judgment of this world;” while that judgment in the end is reserved, when the living and the dead shall at last be judged. The devil, therefore, had possession of the human race, and held them by the written bond of their sins as criminals amenable to punishment; he ruled in the hearts of unbelievers, and, deceiving and enslaving them, seduced them to forsake the Creator and give worship to the creature; but by faith in Christ, which was confirmed by His death and resurrection, and, by His blood, which was shed for the remission of sins, thousands of believers are delivered from the dominion of the devil, are united to the body of Christ, and under this great head are made by His one Spirit to spring up into new life as His faithful members. This it was that He called the judgment, this righteous separation, this expulsion of the devil from His own redeemed.

7. Attend, in short, to His own words. For just as if we had been inquiring what He meant by saying, “Now is the judgment of the world,” He proceeded to explain it when He says, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” What we have thus heard was the kind of judgment He meant. Not that one, therefore, which is yet to come in the end, when the living and dead shall be judged, some of them set apart on His right hand, and the others on His left; but that judgment by which “the prince of this world shall be cast out.” In what sense, then, was he within, and whither did He. mean that he was to be cast out? Was it this: That he was in the world. and was cast forth beyond its boundaries? For had He been speaking of that judgment which is yet to come in the end, some one’s thoughts might have turned to that eternal fire into which the devil is to be cast with his angels, and all who belong to him;-that is, not naturally, but through moral delinquency; not because he created or begat them, but because he persuaded and kept hold of them: some one, therefore, might have thought that that eternal fire was outside the world, and that this was the meaning of the words, “he shall be cast out.” But as He says, “Now is the judgment of this world,” and in explanation of His meaning, adds, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” we are thereby to understand what is now being done, and not what is to be, so long afterwards, at the last day. The Lord, therefore, foretold what He knew, that after His own passion and glorification, many nations throughout the whole world, in whose hearts the devil was an inmate, would become believers, and the devil, when thus renounced by faith, is cast out.

8. But some one says, Was he then not cast out of the hearts of the patriarchs and prophets, and the righteous of olden time? Certainly he was. How, then, is it said, “Now he shall be cast out”? How else can we think of it, but that what was then done in the case of a very few individuals, was now foretold as speedily to take place in many and mighty nations? Just as also that other saying, “For the Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified,”10 may suggest a similar inquiry, and find a similar solution. For it was not without the Holy Spirit that the prophets predicted the events of the future; nor was it so that the aged Simeon and the widowed Anna knew by the Holy Spirit the infant Lord;11 and that Zacharias and Elisabeth uttered by the Holy Spirit so many predictions concerning Him, when He was not yet born, but only conceived.12 But “the Spirit was not yet given;” that is, with that abundance of spiritual grace which enabled those assembled together to speak in every language,13 and thus announce beforehand in the language of every nation the Church of the future: and so by ’this spiritual grace it was that nations were gathered into congregations, sins were pardoned far and wide, and thousands of thousands were reconciled unto God.

9. But then, says some one, since the devil is thus cast out of the hearts of believers, does he now tempt none of the faithful? Nay, verily, he does not cease to tempt. But it is one thing to reign within, another to assail from without; for in like manner the best fortified city is sometimes attacked by an enemy without being taken. And if some of his arrows are discharged, and reach us, the apostle reminds us how to render them harmless, when he speaks of the breastplate and the shield of faith.14 And if he sometimes wounds us, we have the remedy at hand. For as the combatants are told, “These things I write unto you, that ye sin not:” so those who are wounded have the sequel to listen to, “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins.”15 And what do we pray for when we say, “Forgive us our debts,” but for the healing of our wounds? And what else do we ask, when we say, “Lead us not into temptation,”16 but that he who thus lies in wait for us, or assails us from without, may fail on every side to effect an entrance, and be unable to overcome us either by fraud or force? Nevertheless, whatever engines of war he may erect against us, so long as he has no more a place in the heart that faith inhabits, he is cast out. But “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”17 Presume not, therefore, about yourselves, if you would not have the devil, who has once been cast out, to be recalled within.

10. On the other hand, let us be far from supposing that the devil is called in any such way the prince of the world, as that we should believe him possessed of power to rule over the heaven and the earth. The world is so spoken of in respect of wicked men, who have overspread the whole earth; just as a house is spoken of in respect to its inhabitants, and we accordingly say, It is a good house, or a bad house; not as finding fault with, or approving of, the erection of walls and roofs, but the morals either of the good or the bad within it. In a similar way, therefore, it is said, “The prince of this world;” that is, the prince of all the wicked who inhabit this world. The world is also spoken of in respect to the good, who in like manner have overspread the whole earth; and hence the apostle says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”18 These are they out of whose hearts the prince of this world is ejected.

11. Accordingly, after saying, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” He added, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things19 after me.” And what “all” is that, but those out of which the other is ejected? But He did not say, All men, but “all things;” for all men have not faith.20 And, therefore, He did not allude to the totality of men, but to the creature in its personal integrity, that is, to spirit, and soul, and body; or all that which makes us the intelligent, living, visible, and palpable beings we are. For He who said, “Not a hair of your head shall perish,”21 is He who draweth all things after Him. Or if by “all things” it is men that are to be understood, we can speak of all things that are foreordained to salvation: of all which He declared, when previously speaking of His sheep, that not one of them would be lost.22 And of a certainty all classes of men, both of every language and every age, and all grades of rank, and all diversities of talents, and all the professions of lawful and useful arts, and all else that can be named in accordance with the innumerable differences by which men, save in sin alone, are mutually separated, from the highest to the lowest, and from the king to the beggar, “all,” He says, “will I draw after me;” that He may be their head, and they His members. But this will be, He adds, “if I be lifted up from the earth,” that is, when I am lifted up; for He has no doubt of the future accomplishment of that which He came to fulfill. He here alludes to what He said before: “But if the corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” For what else did He signify by His lifting up, than His suffering on the cross, an explanation which the evangelist himself has not omitted; for he has appended the words, “And this He said signifying what death He should die.”

12. “The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? And who is this Son of man?” It had stuck to their memory that the Lord was constantly calling Himself the Son of man. For, in the passage before us, He does not say, If the Son of man be lifted up from the earth; but had called Himself so before, in the lesson which was read and expounded yesterday, when those Gentiles were announced who desired to see Him: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified” (ver. 23). Retaining this, therefore, in their minds, and understanding what He now said, “When I am lifted up from the earth,” of the death of the cross, they inquired of Him, and said, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” For if it is Christ, He, they say, abideth for ever; and if He abideth for ever, how shall He be lifted up from the earth, that is, how shall He die through the suffering of the cross? For they understood Him to have spoken of what they themselves were meditating to do. And so He did not dissipate for them the obscurity of such words by imparting wisdom, but by stimulating their conscience.

13. “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little23 light is in you.” And by this it is you understand that Christ abideth for ever. “Walk, then, while ye have the light, test darkness come upon you.” Walk, draw near, come to the full understanding that Christ shall both die and shall live for ever; that He shall shed His blood to redeem us, and ascend on high to carry His redeemed along with Him. But darkness will come upon you, if your belief in Christ’s eternity is of such a kind as to refuse to admit in His case the humiliation of death. “And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” So may he stumble on that stone of stumbling and rock of offence which the Lord Himself became to the blinded Jews: just as to those who believed, the stone which the builders despised was made the head of the corner.24 Hence, they thought Christ unworthy of their belief; because in their impiety they treated His dying with contempt, they ridiculed the idea of His being slain: and yet it was the very death of the grain of corn that was to lead to its own multiplication, and the lifting up of one who was drawing all things after Him. “While ye have the light,” He adds, “believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” While you have possession of some truth that you have heard, believe in the truth, that you may be born again in the truth.

14. “These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.” Not from those who had begun to believe and to love Him, nor from those who had come to meet Him with branches of palm trees and songs of praise; but from those who saw and hated Him, for they saw Him not, but only stumbled on that stone in their blindness. But when Jesus hid Himself from those who desired to slay Him (as you need from forgetfulness to be often reminded), He had regard to our human weakness, but derogated not in aught from His own authority.

1 The word anima used here, and frequently elsewhere, and corresponding to the Greek zwhv, denotes “human life,” in reference to its internal principle or substance; and differs from “vita” (Gr). yuchv), as in the words following above, “unto eternal life” (vitam), which expresses rather the general idea of life in its existence, aggregate qualities, and duration. Our English word “soul,” which best corresponds with anima, is, however, more restricted in the idea which it popularly suggests; and hence, as in our English version of the Scriptures, the apparent confusion, which is unavoidable, in translating anima sometimes by “soul” and sometimes by “life.”-Tr.
2 Chap. 11,33: literally, as in margin of English Bible, “He troubled Himself.”
3 Mt 4,1-10
4 Mt 26,38-39
5 Chap. 21,18, 19.
6 Or, discernment, discretio; see Tract. XLIII. sec. 9.
7 Ps 43,1
8 Ps 36,6
9 Rm 11,33
10 Chap. 7,39.
11 Lc 2,25-38.
12 Lc 1,41-45; Lc 1,67-69.
13 Ac 2,4-6.
14 1Th 5,8,
15 1Jn 2,1-2.
16 Mt 6,12-13.
17 Ps 127,1.
18 2Cor 5,19,
19 There are here two readings in the Greek Mss., pavnta” (all men), and pavnta (all things), of which the former seems now the better approved; but the latter is that adopted by Augustin and the Vulgate.-Tr.
20 2Th 3,2.
21 Lc 21,18.
22 Chap. 10,28.
23 Modicum lumen).
24 1P 2,6-8.


Fr. Cantalamessa: The Importance of Obedience to a Christian

03/16/2018 - 12:32pm

Obedience is a key aspect of the Christian Life, according to the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

His discussion of obedience came March 16, 2018, in his fourth Lenten homily, attended by Pope Francis and others in the Vatican.

“Obedience to God is like ‘the center thread that comes down’ that supports a spider’s beautiful web hanging on a hedge, Fr. Cantalamessa explained. “Descending from the top by this thread it produces, the spider constructs a web that is perfect and taut at every corner. Once the spider’s work is finished, this center thread used to construct the web is not removed but remains in place. In fact, the center thread is what holds together all of the spider’s weaving; without it everything collapses. If one of the lateral threads breaks (I tested this once), the spider rushes to quickly repair his web, but if that center thread from on high is broken, then the spider moves on because nothing more can be done.”

The preacher called this obedience the “fundamental” obedience, from which other forms of obedience flow, include obedience to civil authorities. He noted that “obedience fills all of Jesus’ life”. This was true not only in his willingness to die, but in every aspect of his existence.

“The greatness of Jesus’ obedience is objectively measured ‘by the things he suffered’ and subjectively by the love and freedom with which he obeyed,” Father pointed out. “Filial obedience is exemplified to the highest degree in him.”

For the Christian, obedience is practical and necessary, according to Fr. Cantalamessa.  It comes with the grace of baptism and it less about “subjugation” and more about imitating Christ. He went on to describe the way obedience occurs:

“Obedience to God generally happens this way. God suddenly flashes something in your mind or your heart about his will for you: it is an ‘inspiration’ that usually comes from a word from God you heard or read in prayer. You feel yourself ‘challenged’ by that word and that inspiration. You feel that God is ‘asking’ something new from you, and you say ‘yes.’ If it involves a decision that would have practical consequences, you cannot act solely on the basis of your inspiration. You need to put your call in the hands of your superiors or of those who have spiritual authority over you in some way, believing that if it is from God he will make it known to his representatives.”

Father concluded by reminding listeners that “obedience to God is the obedience we can always practice.”  And while demanding orders from civil authorities typically occur only a few times in a life, God offers many occasions for obedience.

The Full Text of the Fourth Lenten Homily

Pakistan: Pope Meets with Bishops on Their ad Limina Visit

03/16/2018 - 11:16am

“Social discrimination,” accusations of blasphemy and concern for minorities were at the heart of the meeting of Pakistan’s Bishops with Pope Francis on Thursday, March 15, 2018, according to “Vatican News.”

This “very friendly” meeting, as “a family that talks of its problems,” took place in the framework of the Pakistani Bishops’ ad Limina Visit to Rome, explained Monsignor Joseph Arshad, President of the local Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, who led the delegation.

The Archbishop confided that the Bishops hope the Pope will visit Pakistan, “if the circumstances permit him,” because “he loves us,” he explained.

In regard to the subject of “social discrimination, Archbishop Arshad explained that it’s a question of marginalization, touching both Christians and Muslims, with an evident split between the rich and the poor.

The President of the Pakistani Episcopal Conference recalled the accusations of blasphemy, notably the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death, who has been in prison for over 3,000 days. Last February 24, Pope Francis met with Asia’s family and, as Aid to the Church in Need reported, she can now pray the Rosary that the Pope gave her and that her husband and daughter brought to her in the Multan prison.

However, observed Archbishop Arshad, accusations of blasphemy aren’t leveled “only” against Christians, but concern the majority of the population. He also spoke of the progress made by the government on the question of the Blasphemy Law.

Another worrying subject is the situation of minorities in Pakistan. The Pope constantly thinks of the country’s Christians, said the Archbishop. He did so particularly days before the seventh anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister of Minorities, who was murdered on March 2, 2011by an Islamist extremist. At present, the High Court of Islamabad has confirmed the obligation of all citizens to communicate their religious membership to obtain identity documents. Following this decision, militants of the Rights of Man expressed their fears for members of minority Confessions.

In regard to the Pakistani Church’s involvement in inter-religious dialogue, Archbishop Arshad stressed that it’s “very important to have good relations with Muslim religious leaders.”

In Pakistan, Christians represent 2% of a population of 185 million inhabitants, who are Muslim in the majority.

‘Don’t Let Yourselves Be Overcome’: Pope’s Video to Christ of Nazareth Home

03/16/2018 - 10:56am

Don’t get tired and don’t let yourselves be overcome sometimes by prophets of doom or by exhaustion, said Pope Francis to the members of Christ of Nazareth Home, whom he congratulated in a video message on the 10th anniversary of its foundation, reported “Vatican News” in Spanish.

“When you are tired, sit down, look at the Virgin and go on,” said the Holy Father to the young people of the Home in Lujan, Argentina.

In the video, the Pontiff focuses on help to young people and the important work done for them so that they have a future. “They say that young people have the future in their hands, and it’s true, but they must be helped so that their hands don’t fall so that they have it in their hands and take it forward. And you do that with young people; you help them so that that future they have in their hands continues going forward,” he added.

The Holy Father also thanked the youngsters for their work of help and solidarity with the neediest. “You are sowing much good in the Homeland,” he said.

Finally, Pope Francis asked them not to forget to pray for him, because, he stressed, “I need it.”

St. Padre Pio: Pope Francis to Be Present in Pietrelcina

03/16/2018 - 8:07am

Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit tomorrow, March 17, 2018 to the Italian towns of Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with Saint Padre Pio.  This is according to a December 19, 2017, statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke.

The year marks the 100th anniversary of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina receiving the stigmata, as well as the 50th anniversary of his death. St. Pio was born in Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887, and died on September 23, 1968, at his Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.

During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis had requested that Padre Pio’s reliquary be present in St. Peter’s Basilica for Ash Wednesday.

St. Pio’s remains were exposed for veneration from February 8-14, 2016.

Pope Francis follows in the footsteps of Pope St. John Paul II, who visited San Giovanni Rotondo on May 23, 1987, and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who traveled there on June 21, 2009.


To watch Pope Francis’ visit, watch here:

Pastoral Visit of the Holy Father to Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo:

Meeting Faithful:

Pastoral Visit to San Giovanni Rotondo: Eucharistic Concelebration:

Father Cantalamessa’s 4th Lenten Homily 2018

03/16/2018 - 7:49am

Here is the fourth Lenten homily given this year by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.


Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap.

Fourth Lent Sermon

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities”

  1. The Center Thread That Comes Down

In outlining the traits, or the virtues, that should shine in the life of those who are reborn in the Spirit, St. Paul, after speaking about charity and humility, now speaks of obedience in chapter 13 of the Letter to the Romans:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Rom 13:1ff)

The rest of this text, in which he speaks of swords and taxes, together with other texts of the New Testament on the same topic (see Tit 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13-15), clearly indicates that the apostle is not speaking about authority in general and about every kind of authority but only about the civil authority of the state. St. Paul is dealing with one particular facet of obedience that was of particularly interest at the moment in which he was writing and perhaps even to the community to which he was writing.

It was the moment in which, in the heart of Palestinian Judaism, the zealots’ revolt against Rome was developing, which ended a few years later in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christianity was born from Judaism; many members of the Christian community in Rome were converted Jews. The question of whether to obey the Roman state or not was indirectly an issue for the Christians as well.

The apostolic Church was facing a decisive choice. St. Paul, like all the rest of the New Testament writers, resolves the issue in the light of Jesus’ attitude and words, especially his words about tribute to Caesar (see Mk 12:17). The kingdom preached by Jesus is “not of this world,” it is not of a national or political nature. It can, therefore, exist under any kind of political regime, accepting its advantages (like Roman citizenship) but also its laws. The problem, in brief, gets resolved in the meaning of obedience to the state.

Obedience to the state is a result and an aspect of a much more important and comprehensive obedience that the apostle calls “obedience to the gospel” (see Rom 10:16). The strict admonition of the apostle shows that paying taxes and fulfilling one’s duty to society in general is not only a civic duty but also a moral and religious duty. It is a requirement of the precept of love of neighbor. The state is not an abstract entity; it is the community of people who comprise it. If I do not pay my taxes, if I spoil the environment, if I break traffic laws, I harm and show disdain for my neighbor. On this point we Italians (and maybe not only us) will need to add some questions to our examinations of conscience.

All of this, as we can see, is very relevant, but we cannot limit our discussion on obedience only to the aspect of obedience to the state. St. Paul indicates the place for the Christian discussion of obedience, but he does not tell us everything that can be said about this virtue only in this text. He is drawing out the consequences here of principles previously presented in the Letter to the Romans and elsewhere, and we need to search for those principles to have a discussion on obedience that is useful and relevant for us today.

We need to discover the “fundamental” obedience, the obedience from which all other kinds of obedience arise, including obedience to the civil authorities. It is an obedience that applies to all of us—supervisors and subordinates, religious and lay—and it is the most important one of all. It regulates and energizes all the other kinds of obedience. It is not the obedience of a human being to others but of a human being to God.

After Vatican II someone wrote, “If there is a problem of obedience today it is not that of docility to the Holy Spirit—to whom everyone claims a willingness to submit—but rather that of submission to a hierarchy, to a law, to an authority in its human expression.” I am convinced that this is the case. But we must begin with obedience to God and to his Spirit precisely to make possible once again concrete obedience to the law and to visible authority.

Obedience to God is like “the center thread that comes down” that supports a spider’s beautiful web hanging on a hedge. Descending from the top by this thread it produces, the spider constructs a web that is perfect and taut at every corner. Once the spider’s work is finished, this center thread used to construct the web is not removed but remains in place. In fact, the center thread is what holds together all of the spider’s weaving; without it everything collapses. If one of the lateral threads breaks (I tested this once), the spider rushes to quickly repair his web, but if that center thread from on high is broken, then the spider moves on because nothing more can be done.

Something analogous happens with the network of obediences in a society, in a religious order, and in the Church. Every one of us lives within a closely woven network of submission to civil authorities and ecclesiastical authorities—in the case of the Church, to the local superior, to the bishop, to the Congregation of the Clergy or of Religious, and to the pope. Obedience to God is the center thread that comes down: everything is built around it, but it cannot be forgotten after the construction of the whole is finished. Otherwise, everything collapses and people no longer understand why they should obey.

  1. The Obedience of Christ

It is relatively simple to discover the nature and origin of Christian obedience: we just need to understand the specific concept of obedience by which Jesus is defined in Scripture as “the Obedient one.” We quickly discover in doing this that the true foundation of Christian obedience is not an idea of obedience but an act of obedience. It is not the abstract principle from Aristotle according to whom “the inferior must submit to the superior” but is instead an event. It is not found in “right reason” but in the kerygma, and its foundation is that Christ “became obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8), and that he “learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb 5:8-9).

The luminous center which sheds light on the whole discussion of obedience in the Letter to the Romans, is Romans 5:19: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Whoever knows the place that justification holds in the Letter to the Romans can understand the place that obedience holds!

Let us seek to understand the nature of this act of obedience on which the new order is based; in other words, let us try to understand what the obedience of Christ is like. As a child, Jesus obeyed his parents; then as an adult he submitted to the Mosaic Law, to the Sanhedrin, and to Pilate. St. Paul, however, is not thinking of any of these kinds of obedience. He is thinking instead of Christ’s obedience to the Father.

Christ’s obedience is considered to be the exact antithesis of Adam’s disobedience: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19; see 1 Cor 15:22). But who did Adam disobey? Certainly not his parents, the state, or laws. He disobeyed God. At the origin of all disobedience is disobedience to God, and at the origin of all obedience is obedience to God.

Obedience fills all of Jesus’ life. While St. Paul and the Letter to the Hebrews highlight the role of obedience in Jesus’s death, St. John and the Synoptic Gospels fill out the picture by highlighting the place of obedience in Jesus’ life, in his daily activity. “My food, “ Jesus says in John’s Gospel, “is to do the will of him who sent me,” and “I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 4:34, 8:29). The life of Jesus is as though guided by a shining path shaped by the words written about him in the Bible. “It is written . . . . It is written . . . .” This is how he overcame the temptations in the desert. Jesus gathers from Scripture the “so must it be” (dei) that governs his whole life.

The greatness of Jesus’ obedience is objectively measured “by the things he suffered” and subjectively by the love and freedom with which he obeyed. Filial obedience is exemplified to the highest degree in him. Even in his most extreme moment, when the Father gives him the cup of his passion to drink, his filial cry never leaves his lips: “Abba! My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” he exclaimed on the cross (see Mt 27:46), but, according to Luke, he quickly adds the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Lk 23:46). On the cross “Jesus abandoned himself to the God who had abandoned him” (whatever this abandonment by the Father means). His obedience unto death is “the rock of our salvation.”

  1. Obedience as Grace: Baptism

In the fifth chapter of the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul presents Christ to us as the head of the obedient in opposition to Adam who was the head of the disobedient. In the next chapter, chapter 6, the apostle reveals the manner in which we enter into the reality of this event: it is through baptism. St. Paul sets forth one principle above all: if you place yourself freely under someone’s jurisdiction you are obliged then to serve and obey them.

Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:16).

Having now established this principle, St. Paul recalls the fact that Christians have actually freely placed themselves under the jurisdiction of Christ on the day they accepted him in baptism as their Lord: “You who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6:17-18). With baptism there came a change of masters, a shift of kingdoms: from sin to righteousness, from disobedience to obedience, from Adam to Christ. The liturgy of baptism has expressed all this in its contrasting declarations: “I renounce – I believe”.

Obedience, then, is something essential in Christian life: it is the practical and necessary implication of the Lordship of Christ. There is no Lordship present if there is no obedience on the part of a human being. In baptism we accepted one Lord, one Kyrios, but an “obedient” Lord, someone who became Lord precisely because of his obedience (see Phil 2:8-11), someone whose Lordship is substantiated, so to speak, by obedience. Obedience here does not point so much to subjugation as it does to resemblance: to obey such a Lord means to become like him, because it is precisely through his obedience unto death that he has obtained the name of Lord, which is above every other name (see Phil 2:8-9).  

We discover from this that before being a virtue, obedience is a gift, before being law, it is grace. The difference between the two is that the law tells us what to do while grace gives us the ability to do what we are commanded. Obedience is above all the work of God in Christ that is then held up as a model for believers so that they in turn can express it in their lives through faithful imitation. In other words, we do not only have the duty to obey, but we also now have the grace to obey!

Christian obedience is rooted, then, in baptism; in baptism all Christians are “dedicated” to obedience, and in a certain sense have made that “vow.” The rediscovery of this fact common to all and founded in baptism meets a vital need for lay people in the Church. Vatican II enunciated the principle of a “universal call to holiness” for the people of God (LG 40). And since there is no holiness without obedience, to say that all the baptized are called to holiness is like saying that all are called to obedience, that there is also a universal call to obedience.  

  1. Obedience as a “Duty”: The Imitation of Christ

In the first part of the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul presents Jesus Christ to us as a gift to be received by faith, while in the second section—the exhortation section—he presents Christ to us as a model to imitate in our lives. These two aspects of salvation are also present within each of the individual virtues or fruits of the Spirit. In every Christian virtue there is an element of mystery and an element of asceticism, one part that is entrusted to grace and one part that is entrusted to human freedom. It is now the moment to consider this second part, our active imitation of the obedience of Christ, obedience as a duty.

As soon as we try to search through the New Testament for what the duty of obedience entails, we make the surprising discovery that obedience is almost always seen as obedience to God. There is of course also mention of all the other forms of obedience—to parents, to masters, to superiors, to civil authorities, “to every human institution” (1 Pet 2:13)—but they are noted much less often and in a much less solemn manner. The noun “obedience” (hupakoè) itself is always used to indicate only obedience to God or, in any event, instances that are connected to God except in one passage from the Letter to Philemon (v. 21) where it refers to obedience to the apostle. St. Paul speaks of obedience to the faith (Rom 1:5, 16:26), obedience to teaching (Rom 6:17), obedience to the gospel (Rom 10:16; 2 Thess 1:8), obedience to truth (Gal 5:7), and obedience to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). We also find the identical language elsewhere in the New Testament (see Acts 6:7; 1 Pet 1:2, 22).

But is it possible and does it make sense today to speak about obedience to God after the new and living will of God, manifested in Christ, has been fully expressed and instituted in a whole series of laws and hierarchies? Is it permissible to think that after all this, there still are “new wills” of God that we might need to receive and fulfill? Yes, most certainly! If the living will of God could be enclosed and objectified thoroughly and definitively in a series of laws, norms, and institutions in an established and definite “order” once and for all, then the Church would end up being a petrified Church.

The rediscovery of the importance of obedience to God is a natural consequence of the rediscovery of the pneumatic dimension—alongside the hierarchical dimension—of the Church and of the primacy of the word of God in it. Obedience to God, in other words, is conceivable only when we affirm, as Vatican II did, that “The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth and which He unified in communion in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits. By the power of the Gospel He makes the Church keep the freshness of youth. Uninterruptedly He renews it and leads it to perfect union with its Spouse” (LG 4).

Only if we believe in a present and specific “Lordship” of the Risen One over the Church, only if we are deeply convinced that today as well, as the Psalm says, “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and does not keep silent” (see Ps 50:1-2), only then are we able to understand the necessity and the importance of obeying God. It calls for an attentive listening to God who speaks in the Church through his Spirit who illuminates the words of Jesus and of the whole Bible, conferring authority on them and making them channels of the living and present will of God for us.

But just as institution and mystery are not set in opposition to each other in the Church but are instead united, so too we must now show that spiritual obedience to God does not deter obedience to visible and institutional authority. On the contrary it renews it, strengthens it, brings it to life to the point that obedience to human beings becomes the criterion to judge if someone is obedient or not and if his or her obedience to God is genuine. There is an analogy between obedience and charity. The first commandment is to love God, but its litmus test is loving our neighbor. St. John writes, “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). The same must be said about obedience: if you do not obey the superior you see, how can you say you obey God whom you do not see?

Obedience to God generally happens this way. God suddenly flashes something in your mind or your heart about his will for you: it is an “inspiration” that usually comes from a word from God you heard or read in prayer. You feel yourself “challenged” by that word and that inspiration. You feel that God is “asking”’ something new from you, and you say “yes.” If it involves a decision that would have practical consequences, you cannot act solely on the basis of your inspiration. You need to put your call in the hands of your superiors or of those who have spiritual authority over you in some way, believing that if it is from God he will make it known to his representatives.

But what do you do when a conflict emerges between the two kinds of obedience, and the human superior asks you to do something different and contrary to what you believe God commanded you? We only need to ask ourselves what Jesus did in such a case. He accepted the external obedience and submitted himself to men; in so doing, however, he did not renounce obedience to the Father but instead fulfilled it. This was in fact just what the Father wanted. Without knowing it and without willing it, at times in good faith and at other times not, people—like Caiaphas, Pilate, and the crowd—become instruments who fulfill God’s will, not their own.

This rule is not absolute, however. I do not speak here of the positive obligation to disobey when the political authority –as in some dictatorial regimes – asks something clearly immoral and criminal. Remaining in the field of religion God’s will and his freedom may require a person—like Peter before the Sanhedrin’s order—to obey God rather than men (see Acts 4:19-20). But whoever starts down this path has to accept, like every true prophet, dying to himself (and often physically) before seeing his word come to pass. In the Catholic Church true prophecy has always been accompanied by obedience to the pope. Father Primo Mazzolari and Lorenzo Milani are some recent examples of that.

Obeying only when what a superior says corresponds exactly to our ideas and our choices is not obeying God but obeying ourselves; it is not doing God’s will but doing our own. If in the case of a difference of opinion, instead of questioning ourselves we immediately question the superior’s discernment and competence, we are no longer people who are obeying but people who are objecting.

  1. An Obedience Always Open to All

Obedience to God is the obedience we can always practice. Obedience to very demanding orders from visible authorities happens only occasionally, perhaps three or four times in one’s life. On the other hand, there are many occasions for obedience to God, and the more one obeys, the more God’s orders multiply, because he knows that this is the best gift he can give, which is what he gave his Son Jesus. When he finds a person resolved to obey, God then takes hold of that life, like someone who takes hold of the helm of a ship or the reins of a carriage. Then God becomes “Lord” in earnest and not just in theory; he becomes the one who “rules,” who “governs,” determining, one could say, the gestures and words of that person moment by moment, the manner in which time is spent—everything.  

I said that obedience to God is something that a person can always give. I need to add that it is also the obedience that all of us can give, whether we are subordinates or superiors. It has often been said that a person needs to know how to obey in order to be able to command. This is not just a common sense principle, it also has a theological rationale. It means that the true source of spiritual authority resides more in obedience than in the title or the office that one holds. Conceiving of authority as obedience means not being satisfied only with authority but aspiring to the authoritativeness that comes from having God behind you and supporting your decision. It means moving closer to the kind of authority that sprang from Christ’s actions and made people ask themselves, “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” (see Mk 1:27).

This is a different kind of authority, with real and effective power, not a nominal one; it is an intrinsic power, not an extrinsic one. When an order is given by a parent or a superior who strives to live in God’s will, who has prayed first and has no personal stake to protect but has in view only the good of the brother or of his own child, then the very authority of God acts as a buttress to that order or decision. If a challenge arises, God tells his representative what he said to Jeremiah one day: “Behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls. . . . They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord” (Jer 1:18-19). St. Ignatius of Antioch gave this wise advice to St. Polycarp, one of his disciples and colleagues in the episcopate: “Let nothing be done without your consent, nor do anything without God’s consent.”

This path of obedience to God has nothing mystical or extraordinary about it per se and is open to all the baptized. It consists in “presenting questions to God” (see Ex 18:19). I can decide on my own to take a trip or not, to accept a job, to go visit someone, to make a purchase, and then once I have decided I can ask God to give me a good outcome. But if I love obedience to God, then I do things differently. First I ask God through the simple means available to all of us—prayer—if it is his will for me to take that trip or that job or to make that visit or that purchase. I will end up deciding to do it or not, but in any case it will now be an act of obedience to God and not my own free initiative.

Normally, I will not hear a voice in my brief prayer, and I will have no explicit answer about doing something—at least it is not necessary to have an answer for my action to involve obedience. In so doing I have in fact submitted the question to God, I have stripped myself of my will, I have renounced deciding on my own, and I have given God the opportunity to intervene in my life as he wishes. Whatever thing I now decide to do, relying on the ordinary criteria of discernment, will be obedience to God. This is how to yield the reins of one’s life to God! This is how God’s will penetrates always more deeply into the fabric of one’s existence, enriching it and making of it “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1).

Let us conclude this time as well with the words of a psalm that allows us to transform the teaching the apostle gave us into prayer. On a day that was full of joy and recognition of the benefits of his God (“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me . . . . He drew me up from the desolate pit” (Ps 40:1-2), the psalmist, in a true state of grace, asks himself how he can respond to so much goodness from the Lord: should he offer burnt offerings and sacrifices? He quickly understands that this is not what God is wanting from him; it is too meager to express what is in his heart. Then comes the insight and revelation: what God wants from him is a generous and solemn decision to fulfil all that God wants from him from now on, to obey him in everything. So he then exclaims,

Behold, I come;

in the roll of the book it is written of me,

I delight to do your will, O my God.

your law is within my heart (Ps 40:7-8)

In coming into the world Jesus made these words his own, saying, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God” (Heb 10:7). Now it’s our turn. All of life can be lived day by day under the banner of these words, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God!” In the morning, at the beginning of the new day, then going to an appointment or a meeting, at beginning of a new task, we can say, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God!”

We do not know what that day, that meeting, that task will hold for us. We know only one thing with certainty: that we want to do God’s will in all these things. We do not know what our future holds, but it is good to walk toward it with these words on our lips: “Behold, I come to do your will, O God!”


English Translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson


Apostolic Tribunal of CDF Finds Guam Archbishop Guilty

03/16/2018 - 7:46am

Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, Archbishop of Agaña, Guam, has been found guilty by the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

This morning, the Congregation issued the following statement: “The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors, brought against the Most Reverend Anthony Sablan Apuron, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Agaña, Guam, has been concluded.”

“The Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of five judges, has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam. The sentence remains subject to possible appeal.

“In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution,” the statement concludes.

On the website of the Archdiocese of Agaña the following is published: “Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, while continuing to hold the title of Archbishop of Agaña, no longer holds the faculties, rights or obligations pertaining to the Archbishop of Agaña.  Without exception these have been granted to the Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña., Most Reverend Michael J. Byrnes, S.T.D.”

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk: “We Want St. John Paul II to Be Patron of the Polish-Ukrainian Reconciliation”

03/16/2018 - 7:39am

In the seat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference held on March 15, a presentation of the book entitled “Dialogue heals wounds. About God, the Church and the World”, which is an interview book with Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The meeting was attended by cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Metropolitan of Warsaw, and Krzysztof Tomasik, author of the book.

Archbishop Shevchuk is a great promotor of the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation and a friend of Pope Francis. In the interview book he talks for the first time honestly about the past and present of the most numerous Catholic Eastern Church in the world and about the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. According to the Ukrainian hierarch, in Polish-Ukrainian relations there is no crisis in relations between the Churches and nations, but there is a crisis at the political level. “Ukrainians do not know Poles, their pains, aspirations, ambitions, as well as Poles do not know Ukrainians. That is why an exchange and a dialogue is essential. Only by dialoguing with others, we can understand how much we don’t know each other” – said the archbishop during the presentation of the book.

In the book archbishop Shevczuk also talks about St. John Paul II who had a great contribution to the revival of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and who was involved in the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. “Many sentences from the book were inspired by the figure of John Paul II. He was a master of dialogue who was destroying the walls of separation. He was a great apostle of reconciliation, he was a doctor. Inviting to dialogue, he treated the continent, which after World War II was so wounded” – said Archbishop Shevchuk. “That is why we want St. John Paul II to be the patron of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation” – added the hierarch.

In the introduction to the book, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz wrote: “This Church, purified as gold in the melting pot of suffering, is a sign of hope for a free Ukraine, struggling with aggression, bleeding because of the war in the East, but persistently building its future among free and sovereign nations”.

Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference/KAI

Poland: Bishops Conclude Plenary Session

03/15/2018 - 12:16pm

The Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference convened on the 5th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis has just ended

The 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence, the Synod on Youth and WYD, marriage and family, the “Halt Abortion” project, Polish-Jewish relations and the 25thanniversary of the Polish Catholic News Agency (KAI) were the themes of the 378th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Warsaw, which took place on March 13-14.

The Assembly was chaired by Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, with the participation of Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, and representatives of the episcopates from Belarus, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Germany, Scandinavia, Ukraine, Hungary, and Italy.

The Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference was convened on the 5th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to the Holy See. On this occasion, Polish Bishops celebrated the Holy Mass for the Holy Father in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw, which was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, with the participation of representatives of state authorities, the diplomatic corps, and numerous faithful. The Bishops expressed their gratitude to the Holy Father for his constant concern for the Church in Poland, for the canonization of John Paul II, for the visit to Poland, World Youth Days in Cracow and pastoral teaching.

Regarding the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence, it was reflected historically on the role of the Church in the development of the spirituality of Poles and in the cultivating of “Polishness” in the period of national bondage. The Bishops drew attention to the importance of the community of the Catholic Church in preserving national values in times of bondage and appreciated the zealous piety of Poles.

The Bishops also discussed pastoral initiatives related to the Synod on Youth and the state of preparations for World Youth Day in Panama. During the debates, it was also undertaken a deep reflection on the forms of caring for marriage and family in the light of the exhortation Amoris laetitia. While preserving the teaching of the Church, the Bishops drew attention to the necessity of accompanying marriages, both on the path of their sacramental fidelity and in the discernment of their irregular situations. Recalling the necessity of unconditional respect towards every human being in all its moments of life, the Bishops call for immediate legislative work on the civic project “Halt Abortion”.

In connection with the recurring issue of Polish-Jewish relations, the Bishops emphasized the necessity to continue the Polish-Jewish dialogue based on truth, trust and mutual respect, as well as they recalled that all forms of antisemitism are contradictory to the principles of Christian love of one’s neighbor. They also pointed out the heroic attitudes of Poles who, risking their lives, helped persecuted Jews during World War II.

The Polish Bishops’ Conference expressed also gratitude to the Polish Catholic News Agency (KAI) for 25 years of its activity. At the end, the Bishops thanked the priests for their generous service during Lent and wished all believers good experiencing during this time. For the upcoming Easter, they wished that the celebration of the resurrection of Christ would fill everyone with the power of the Holy Spirit.


Pre-Synodal Meeting Purposes Proposed

03/15/2018 - 11:54am

Final preparations are underway for the March 19-24, 2018, Pre-Synodal Meeting in Rome, organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

The Pre-Synodal Meeting will be an important part of the consultation phase before the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme Young people, faith and vocation discernment, scheduled for October 2018.

During a March 15, 2018, press conference at the Press Office of the Holy See, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, reviewed the purposes of the Pre-Synodal Meeting:

  1. This is an event in which the young will be the actors and the protagonists. We will not only talk about “them”, but they will be telling themselves, with their language, their enthusiasm, and their sensitivity. The next Synod of Bishops wants to be, in fact, not only a Synod “on” young people and “for” young people, but also a Synod “of” young people and “with” young people.
  2. A keyword, repeatedly repeated by the Pope, is “listening”. In this Pre-Synodal Meeting we will listen to young people “live”, “live”, to try to better understand their situation: what they think about themselves and adults, how they live their faith and what difficulties they encounter to be Christians, how they plan their lives and what problems they find in discerning their vocation, as they see the Church today and how they would like it, etc.
  3. Among the young people to be listened to, there will be in particular those that come from situations of hardship and from the “existential outskirts”, young people who often do not have the opportunity to be heard to make their situation and their expectations known. Then there will be young non-Catholics, not Christians and non-believers because listening to young people will be realized as much as possible “at 360 degrees”.
  4. The Pre-Synodal Meeting will be an opportunity to put ourselves in step with the young: keeping in mind that the Synod is by definition a “journey made together”, we want to show what it means concretely to walk together with young people, to all young people excluding.
  5. Walking with young people also means identifying specific pastoral paths, which enable the Christian communities to consolidate their youth pastoral projects, adapting them to the needs of today’s young people.
  6. At the Pre-Synodal Meeting, together with the young people, some parents, educators, priests, pastoral workers and experts of the youth world will take part, to listen to those who live next to the young and have the “tools” to read from the inside and in depth. their situation.
  7. In this way we also want to propose a method of intergenerational exchange and collaboration, fostering dialogue between young people and adults, who often struggle to communicate with each other in everyday life.
  8. The Pre-Synodal Meeting intends to arouse participation dynamics based on the encounter between cultures, living conditions, faiths, and disciplines, developing a model that can be repeated in the different ecclesial realities.
  9. We will ask ourselves how to help young people to seek and find the meaning of their life, in the light of the specific vocational perspective that Pope Francis wanted to give to the Synod journey.
  10. Finally, the Pre-Synodal Meeting will come to elaborate a shared document, which will be delivered to the Pope on Sunday 25 March and, together with the other contributions received, will merge into the Instrumentum laboris, the document on which the Synodal Fathers will meet in October.

While the Pre-Synodal Meeting will have about 300 “in-person” participants, youth from around the world can participant via internet.  More information is available on the meeting website.

Pope’s Morning Homily: When God Sees Someone Continuing to Pray for Something, He Is Moved

03/15/2018 - 11:08am

When God sees someone continuing to pray, convinced of God’s power to help, He is moved.

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the readings of the day, as he stressed the great power of prayer and how we are to raise ours to God ‘like children.’

The Jesuit Pope reflected on today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus, which tells of the conversation between the Lord and Moses regarding the apostasy of God’s people.

The two fundamental pillars of prayer, the Pope underlined, are courage and patience. Prayer, he continued, must be raised up to God “in freedom, like children.”

Turning to the reading, the Pope recalled how the prophet tries to dissuade the Lord from acting on his “blazing wrath” against His people, who “had forsaken the glory of the living God to worship a golden calf.”  During Moses’ dialogue with God, he reminds Him of all the good He had done for his people, including bringing them out of slavery in Egypt, and of the faithfulness of Abraham and Isaac.

Moses’ preoccupation and love for God’s people, the Pope noted, is evident. “He is not afraid to tell the truth and does not enter into the ‘deviation game.'”

“God appreciates this,” said Pope Francis. “When God sees a person who continually prays for something, He is moved.”

“No tangents. I am with the people, and I am with You,” the Pope continued, saying: “This is intercessory prayer: a prayer that argues and has the courage to speak directly to the face of the Lord, who is patient. Patience is needed in intercessory prayer.

“We cannot promise someone we will pray for them, pray only an Our Father and a Hail Mary, and then leave it at that,” the Pope said. “No. If you agree to pray for someone else, you must take this [other] path. And patience is needed.”

In daily life, the Holy Father lamented, there are too many people who will sacrifice those that work for them or that they represent for their own interests and to make money.

Scripture, Pope Francis said, is full of good examples of constancy and the capacity to be patient.

“Two things are needed for intercessory prayer: courage, or parrhesia, and patience. If I want the Lord to listen to my requests, I must return, and return again, to knock at the door of God’s heart, since my own heart is committed to this petition! But if my heart is not concerned for this need, or the person for whom I am praying, neither will it be capable of courage and patience.”

The “path of intercessory prayer,”the Pope stressed, means being genuinely concerned for others and “willing to fight, strive, and fast for them.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying: “May the Lord give us this grace: The grace to pray before God in freedom, like children; to pray with insistence; to pray with patience; but, above all, to pray in the knowledge that I am speaking with my Father, who will listen to me. May the Lord help us to advance in this form of intercessory prayer.”


‘The Our Father Is the Best Preparation to Receive Jesus,’ Says Pope

03/15/2018 - 10:13am

The “Our Father” is the prayer for the children of God, Pope Francis reminds, noting: “It’s the best way to prepare ourselves to receive Jesus in Communion.”

The General Audience was held in St. Peter’s Square, on March 14, 2018, the day after the fifth anniversary of Francis’ pontificate. During his catechesis on Wednesday morning, he spoke of the Mass’ Communion Rites and, specifically, of the “Our Father” prayer.

The Holy Father pointed out that, in this prayer to the Lord, we ask Him for “our daily bread,” with particular reference to the “Eucharistic Bread that we need to live as children of God,” and we implore Him to “forgive us our trespasses, and we commit ourselves, at the same time, to forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

“Thus, opening ourselves to God’s forgiveness, we dispose ourselves to live fraternal love,” continued the Pontiff.

“Finally, we ask Him to deliver us from evil, which separates us from Him and divides us from our brothers.”

Expressed with the rite of peace, is our union and mutual love before approaching the Sacrament, clarified the Pope.

The breaking of the Bread, which takes place after the praying of the “Our Father,” is “the gesture that Jesus carried out in the Last Supper, which enabled the disciples to recognize Him after the Resurrection, as in Emmaus, explained His Holiness.

The breaking of the Bread is accompanied by the invocation of the “Lamb of God,” which is the biblical image used by John the Baptist to identify Jesus as “He who takes away the sin of the world.”

Pope Francis concluding, inviting those gathered to ask Mary, in this Lenten journey, “to not fail to look at us with love so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, she makes fruitful our resolutions for greater dedication and generosity in our Christian life.”