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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 27 min 10 sec ago

Children — Pray with Jesus!

48 min 40 sec ago
On Bambinelli Sunday, Pope Gives Children Advice for Praying in Front of Baby Jesus

A Week Ahead of Christmas, Francis Also Warns Against Taking Jesus Out of Christmas

On Bambinelli Sunday, Pope Gives Children Advice for Praying in Front of Baby Jesus

A Week Ahead of Christmas, Francis Also Warns Against Taking Jesus Out of Christmas

During Angelus, Pope Appeals for Nuns Kidnapped in Nigeria to Be Returned Home

On Sunday, Also Marking His 81st Birthday, Francis Also Thanks Faithful for Singing Happy Birthday

Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday

And More on Pre-recorded Music

Angelus Address: On Gaudete Sunday

We “Prepare for the Coming of the Lord by Assuming Three Attitudes: Constant Joy, Persevering Prayer and Constant Thanksgiving”

‘Walk in Holiness, Don’t Be Discouraged’ Cardinal Bertello Tells New Legionary Priests

Urges 33 Legionary Priests Ordained in Rome Today to Let Mary Accompany Them by the Hand

Pope Welcomes Italian Catholic Action Youth Pope Meets with Italian Press Groups

Offer Everyone Version of Facts Conforming as Close as Possible to Reality

 

On Bambinelli Sunday, Pope Gives Children Advice for Praying in Front of Baby Jesus

4 hours 29 min ago
In order to help faithful and little ones prepare for the true meaning of Christmas, Pope Francis has given faithful,  and little ones, advice, during today’s Angelus. Today, Gaudete Sunday, is the traditional Bambinelli Sunday, when children from across Italy bring their figurines of the Baby Jesus for a blessing at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. In his address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis  reminded faithful that the past Sundays, the liturgy has stressed what it means to put oneself in an attitude of vigilance, and what it entails concretely to prepare the way of the Lord. However, in this Third Sunday of Advent, called the “Sunday of joy,” the Pope noted, “the liturgy invites us to receive the spirit with which all this happens, that is, exactly, joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, persevering prayer and constant thanksgiving.” The first attitude that St. Paul calls for is constant joy: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

“It means to remain always in joy, even when things don’t go according to our desires, and when there are anxieties, difficulties and sufferings, Francis said, noting, “Jesus came on earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can communicate, and to give joy.”

The second attitude, he continued, requires–as St. Paul said–praying constantly.

“Through prayer, we can enter a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not purchased, it can’t be bought, it comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason of our happiness. And the more we are rooted in Christ, the closer we are to Jesus, the more we rediscover interior serenity, even in the midst of daily contradictions.”

The third attitude pointed out is constant thanksgiving, namely, grateful love in our relationship with God. “In fact, He is very generous with us, and we are invited to be grateful always for His benefits, His merciful love, His patience and kindness, thus living in incessant gratitude.”

Joy, prayer and gratitude, the Holy Father said, are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas genuinely.

“Let us all say it together: joy, prayer and gratitude [the people in the Square repeat it] Once again! [They repeat it].  In this last stretch of the Season of Advent, we entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is the “cause of our joy,” not only because she generated Jesus, but because she sends us continually to Him.”

After the midday prayer, the Pope affectionately greeted the children that have come for the blessing of the “Baby Jesus’s.”

The Pontiff gave them the following advice: “When you pray at home, before the Crib with members of your family, let yourselves be drawn by the tenderness of Baby Jesus, born poor and frail in our midst, to give us His love.”

Francis said this is the ‘true Christmas.’

“If we take Jesus away, what remains of Christmas? An empty celebration. Don’t take Jesus away from Christmas! Jesus is the center of Christmas; Jesus is the true Christmas! Understood?”

Pope Francis, as usual, concluded wishing those present a good Sunday and good lunch, and asking those present to pray for him. *** On ZENIT’s Web page: Full Angelus Address: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-gaudete-sunday/

Pope’s Greeting to Children Assisted by Santa Marta’s Pediatric Dispensary

5 hours 30 min ago

At 10:30 this morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in Paul VI Hall, the children assisted by “Saint Martha’s” Pediatric Dispensary.

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s impromptu greeting to the volunteers, the parents and all the children present.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Greeting

Good morning! Children’s joy . . . Children’s joy is a treasure — joyful children . . . And we must do everything we can so that they continue to be joyful, because joy is like good earth. A joyful soul is like a good earth, which makes life grow well, with good fruits. And that’s why this celebration is being held: the closeness of Christmas is always sought to gather us to hold this celebration for them.

Listen well. First thing: preserve children’s joy. Don’t sadden children. When children see that there are problems at home, that the parents quarrel, they suffer. Don’t sadden the children. They must always grow with joy. Are you joyful? [‘Yes!”] I don’t believe you: yes or no? [“Yes!”] Very good, this is joy.

The second thing, for children to grow well: make them talk with the grandparents – the two extremes of life, because the grandparents have memory, have roots, and it will be the grandparents that give roots to the children. Please, may they not be uprooted children, without the memory of a people, without the memory of the faith, without the memory of so many beautiful things that have made history, without the memory of values. And who will help children to do this? The grandparents. They must talk with the grandparents, with the elderly. Do you talk with your grandparents? [“Yes!”] Are you certain? [“Yes!”] To ask for a candy? [“No!”] No? Tell me . . . Sometimes, often the grandparent have gone, isn’t that so? However, there are other elderly persons that are as grandparents. Always talk with the elderly. I’ll ask you a question, answer carefully: are grandparents, the elderly , boring? [“No . . . Yes”] You . . . [“They give us a lot of gifts”] One is interested: they give us many gifts! They’re not boring; they are good. Tell me . . . [“They love us very much”]. They love us very much. May children learn to talk with the elderly, to talk with their grandparents.

And the third advice I give you: teach them to talk with God. May they learn to pray, to say what they feel in their heart.

It’s joy, to talk with the grandparents, with the elderly, and to talk with God. Agreed? Do all agree?” You also, do you agree? I wish you a good day, with much celebration. And eat the four meters of pizza: eat them well, which will do you good — make you grow. And go ahead! Thank you, thank you!

And now we all pray to Our Lady to give us her blessing: Hail Mary . . .

[Blessing]

And pray for me!

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

Pope Francis Celebrates 81st Birthday With Children and Pizza

5 hours 38 min ago

At 10:30 this morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in Paul VI Hall, the children assisted by “Saint Martha’s” Paediatric Dispensary.

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s impromptu greeting to the volunteers, the parents and all the children present.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Greeting

Good morning! Children’s joy . . . Children’s joy is a treasure — joyful children . . . And we must do everything we can so that they continue to be joyful, because joy is like good earth. A joyful soul is like a good earth, which makes life grow well, with good fruits. And that’s why this celebration is being held: the closeness of Christmas is always sought to gather us to hold this celebration for them.

Listen well. First thing: preserve children’s joy. Don’t sadden children. When children see that there are problems at home, that the parents quarrel, they suffer. Don’t sadden the children. They must always grow with joy. Are you joyful? [‘Yes!”] I don’t believe you: yes or no? [“Yes!”] Very good, this is joy.

The second thing, for children to grow well: make them talk with the grandparents – the two extremes of life, because the grandparents have memory, have roots, and it will be the grandparents that give roots to the children. Please, may they not be uprooted children, without the memory of a people, without the memory of the faith, without the memory of so many beautiful things that have made history, without the memory of values. And who will help children to do this? The grandparents. They must talk with the grandparents, with the elderly. Do you talk with your grandparents? [“Yes!”] Are you certain? [“Yes!”] To ask for a candy? [“No!”] No? Tell me . . . Sometimes, often the grandparent have gone, isn’t that so? However, there are other elderly persons that are as grandparents. Always talk with the elderly. I’ll ask you a question, answer carefully: are grandparents, the elderly , boring? [“No . . . Yes”] You . . . [“They give us a lot of gifts”] One is interested: they give us many gifts! They’re not boring; they are good. Tell me . . . [“They love us very much”]. They love us very much. May children learn to talk with the elderly, to talk with their grandparents.

And the third advice I give you: teach them to talk with God. May they learn to pray, to say what they feel in their heart.

It’s joy, to talk with the grandparents, with the elderly, and to talk with God. Agreed? Do all agree?” You also, do you agree? I wish you a good day, with much celebration. And eat the four meters of pizza: eat them well, which will do you good — make you grow. And go ahead! Thank you, thank you!

And now we all pray to Our Lady to give us her blessing: Hail Mary . . .

[Blessing]

And pray for me!

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

During Angelus, Pope Appeals for Nuns Kidnapped in Nigeria to Be Returned Home

6 hours 33 min ago

“I join the heartfelt appeal of the Bishops of Nigeria for the release of the six sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, kidnapped about a month ago from their convent at Iguoriakhi,” Pope Francis has said, appealing: “I pray insistently for them and for all other persons that find themselves in this painful condition: on the occasion of Christmas, may they be able to return finally to their homes.”

Pope Francis made the appeal for the African nuns’ return this morning during his Angelus address today, one week before Christmas, inviting the faithful to join him in saying a Hail Mary.

After the dramatic appeal, Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square of how grateful he was for those present singing him happy birthday, as today marked the Pontiff’s 81st birthday.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-gaudete-sunday/

Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday

6 hours 42 min ago

From ZENIT’s Archives

***

ROME, DEC. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: I have always observed that the priest wore a rose or pink vestment on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. Last year, around this time, our pastor informed us that such a practice was abandoned and, as such, there were no longer any pink vestments nor pink candles during Advent (and that there was a move away from considering Advent a penitential season). But, lo and behold, a visiting priest wore them on the following Sunday, and, when asked, insisted that the practice was never changed. — R.L., Frederick,Maryland

A: Our reader from Maryland (and others) have asked questions regarding the use of rose-colored vestments on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. The essential norms dealing with the use of liturgical colors are found in the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 346.

“As to the color of sacred vestments, the traditional usage is to be retained: namely,” a. White is used in the Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons; also on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (1 November) and of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (24 June); and on the Feasts of Saint John the Evangelist (27 December), of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), and of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January).

“b. Red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and on Good Friday, on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord’s Passion, on the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.

“c. Green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.

“d. Violet or purple is used in Advent and of Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead (cf. below).

“e. Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

“f. Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).

“g. On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.

“h. Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

To this we may add the observation of the instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” Nos. 121 and 127.

[121.] “The purpose of a variety of color of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.” On the other hand, the variety of offices in the celebration of the Eucharist is shown outwardly by the diversity of sacred vestments. In fact, these “sacred vestments should also contribute to the beauty of the sacred action itself.”

[127.] “A special faculty is given in the liturgical books for using sacred vestments that are festive or more noble on more solemn occasions, even if they are not of the color of the day. However, this faculty, which is specifically intended in reference to vestments made many years ago, with a view to preserving the Church’s patrimony, is improperly extended toinnovations by which forms and colors are adopted according to the inclination of private individuals, with disregard for traditional practice, while the real sense of this norm is lost to the detriment of the tradition. On the occasion of a feastday, sacred vestments of a gold or silver color can be substituted as appropriate for others of various colors, but not for purple or black.”

From all this it is clear that the custom of using rose-colored vestments on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays is to be maintained whenever possible.

If a parish lacks rose vestments then the usual violet is used.

The names Gaudete and Laetare comes from the traditional entrance antiphon, or introit, sung at these Masses.

Both terms may be broadly translated as “rejoice” or “delight” and refer to the importance of the theme of Christian joy, even in the midst of a penitential season, which is reflected in the formulas and readings of both these Masses.

With respect to liturgical colors, a bishops’ conference, above all in mission territories, may seek the Holy See’s approval to adopt other colors if the symbolism of the traditional colors would be misunderstood.

In some Asian countries, for example, white is the traditional color of mourning and does not have the festive connotations prevalent in Western society. In such cases the bishops may propose the traditional festive colors of the culture.

While blue is not an official liturgical color, some countries, such as Spain, and some Marian shrines have the privilege of using blue-colored vestments on Marian feasts such as the Immaculate Conception. These are vestments made of blue-colored fabric and not just white or silver vestments with blue trimmings or blue Marian motifs, which may be used everywhere.

Historically it appears that all sacred vestments were white until about the seventh century. Around the time of Pope Innocent III (died 1216) we had four principal colors (red, white, black and green) and three secondary colors (yellow, rose and purple). But a common criterion for the use of the various colors is not found until around 1550, when the present usage became standard.

As “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” No. 121, says above, the purpose of using different colors is to express the specific character of the various mysteries. The use of the diverse colors is both pedagogical and symbolic of the various liturgical feasts and seasons.

Thus, white, the symbol of light and purity, and gold and silver are festive colors. Red expresses both the fire of the Holy Spirit and the blood of the Passion and of martyrdom. Green is the symbolic color of hope and serenity.

Violet, recalling somberness and penance, has also largely replaced black for funerals although this latter color may still be used. Rose, which has never enjoyed frequent use, serves as a reminder, by using an unusual color, that we are halfway through a penitential season.

* * *

Follow-up: Pre-recorded Music

As a corollary to our column regarding the use of pre-recorded music at Mass (Nov. 23) a reader from Taiwan asked about the legitimacy of pre-set accompaniment to live singing, a possibility offered by many modern organs.

Simultaneously, a correspondent from Wisconsin reminded me of the 1958 instruction “De Musica Sacra” issued by the Congregation of Rites, which states: “Finally, only those musical instruments which are played by the personal action of the artist may be admitted to the sacred liturgy, and not those which are operated automatically or mechanically.”

This document followed Pope Pius XII’s 1955 encyclical, “Musicae Sacrae,” in which he insisted that liturgical music be “true art,” if it is to be a genuine act of worship and praise of God.

Although these documents precede the Second Vatican Council, there is practically nothing in the conciliar or post-conciliar documents which would contradict the principles enunciated or invalidate their general normative value.

Indeed the council’s insistence that choir and musicians form part of the liturgical assembly would even strengthen the presumption against the use of mechanical music.

There may be exceptions, as we saw in the case of children’s Masses, but any general permission to use recorded or automatically produced music would require the express approval of the corresponding bishop or episcopal conference.

According to the above documents it is preferable to sing without musical accompaniment than resort to artificial means.

A Nigerian correspondent requested if, due to the dearth of musically literate parishioners, it were possible to hire professional musicians to play the organ or other instruments even if they are non-Catholic.

Paid musicians are actually quite common, especially in cathedrals and large churches.

The principle, however, is that, even if paid, the musicians should form part of the assembly, and hence be practicing Catholics.

There may be circumstances when this is not possible and a parish must recur to the services of non-Catholic professionals in order to support the liturgical participation of the faithful.

In such cases great care must be taken to ensure that the musician understands the sacred nature of the music to be played and to avoid musical virtuosities and other elements that smack of public concert performances.

The latter criterion, needless to say, is also valid for Catholic musicians.

They should likewise always be in a supportive role with respect to the choir and the rest of the assembly. For the purpose of good liturgical music is to foster the active participation of the assembly, at times through joining in the song and at times by meditatively listening to the music while uniting heart and soul to God.

As far as I know, there is no recent official document which would forbid the use of non-Catholic musicians in the above-mentioned circumstances or on very special occasions, provided the use is limited and the music played is genuinely Catholic.

In 1988 I remember participating at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger but attended by the Holy Father, in which Rome’s German community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the pontificate with a thanksgiving Mass accompanied by a major German orchestra and choir that sang Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis.”

Certainly not all of the musicians were Catholic, but the Mass and the Music certainly were.

* * *

Readers may send questions to news@zenit.org. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country.

Angelus Address: On Gaudete Sunday

6 hours 44 min ago

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

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the past Sundays, the liturgy has stressed what it means to put oneself in an attitude of vigilance, and what it entails concretely to prepare the way of the Lord. In this Third Sunday of Advent, called “Sunday of joy,” the liturgy invites us to receive the spirit with which all this happens, that is, exactly, joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes. Listen carefully: three attitudes: first, constant joy; second, persevering prayer and third, constant thanksgiving — constant joy, persevering prayer and constant thanksgiving.  

The first attitude, constant joy: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), says the Apostle. It means to remain always in joy, even when things don’t go according to our desires; however, there is that profound joy, which is peace: which is also joy, it’s inside. And peace is a joy “at the ground level,” but it’s a joy. Anxieties, difficulties and sufferings run through the life of each one, we all know them; and so often the reality that surrounds us seems to be inhospitable and arid, like the desert in which John the Baptist’s voice resounds, as today’s Gospel recalls (Cf. John 1:23). In fact, however, the Baptist’s words reveal that our joy rests on a certainty that this desert is inhabited: “among you stands one whom you do not know” (v. 26). It is Jesus, the One sent by the Father who is coming, as Isaiah stresses, “to bring good tidings to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (61:1-2). These words, which Jesus will make his own in Nazareth’s synagogue (Cf. Luke 4:16-19), clarify that His mission in the world consists in the liberation from sin and from the personal and social slaveries that it causes. He came on earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can communicate, and, therefore, to give joy.  

The joy that characterizes the expectation of the Messiah is based on persevering prayer: this is the second attitude. Saint Paul says: “pray constantly” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Through prayer, we can enter a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not purchased, it can’t be bought, it comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason of our happiness. And the more we are rooted in Christ, the closer we are to Jesus, the more we rediscover interior serenity, even in the midst of daily contradictions. Therefore, having encountered Jesus, a Christian can’t be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and a herald of joy — a joy to be shared with others, a contagious joy that renders less exhausting the path of life.

The third attitude pointed out by Paul is constant thanksgiving, namely, grateful love in our relationship with God. In fact, He is very generous with us, and we are invited to be grateful always for His benefits, His merciful love, His patience and kindness, thus living in incessant gratitude.

Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas genuinely – joy, prayer and gratitude. Let us all say it together: joy, prayer and gratitude [the people in the Square repeat it] Once again! [They repeat it].  In this last stretch of the Season of Advent, we entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is the “cause of our joy,” not only because she generated Jesus, but because she sends us continually to Him.

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

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, [the youngsters of Rome sing “Happy Birthday to you”] Thank you so much, thank you so much!

I unite myself to the heartfelt appeal of the Bishops of Nigeria for the release of the six Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, kidnapped about a month ago from their convent at Iguoriakhi. I pray insistently for them and for all other persons that find themselves in this painful condition: on the occasion of Christmas, may they be able to return finally to their homes: Hail Mary . . .

I greet all of you, families, parish groups and Associations, who have come from Rome, from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the “Lobitos” group of Portugal and that of the Bolivian pilgrims. I greet the faithful of Salamanca and of Pernumia, Padua.

And now I greet affectionately the children that have come for the blessing of the “Baby Jesus’s,” organized by the Roman Oratories Center. What I can read from here is beautiful: the Oratory is in fact for each one of us. “There is always a place for you,” says the sign. There is always a place for you! When you pray at home, before the Crib with members of your family, let yourselves be drawn by the tenderness of Baby Jesus, born poor and frail in our midst, to give us His love. This is the true Christmas. If we take Jesus away, what remains of Christmas? An empty celebration. Don’t take Jesus away from Christmas! Jesus is the center of Christmas; Jesus is the true Christmas! Understood?

Therefore, I wish you all a good Sunday and a good journey towards Jesus’ Christmas. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.

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

Gospel for 3rd Sunday of Advent

6 hours 48 min ago

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”

as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Pope Meets with Italian Press Groups

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 5:31 PM

“You have a task, or rather a mission, among the most important in today’s world: to inform correctly, to offer everyone a version of the facts conforming as closely as possible to reality,” Pope Francis told representatives of smaller Italian news outlets on December 16, 2017. “You are called to make complex problems accessible to a wide audience, so as to enable a mediation between the knowledge available to specialists and the concrete possibility of its broad dissemination.”

The Pope’s comments came during an audience in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace with members of the Italian Periodical Press Union (USPI) and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies (FISC), 16.12.2017

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

Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you, representatives of around three thousand newspapers published or transmitted, both in paper and in digital form, medium and small publishing companies and non-profit organizations and associations, and I thank Don Giorgio Zucchelli for the kind words he addressed to me on your behalf.

You have a task, or rather a mission, among the most important in today’s world: to inform correctly, to offer everyone a version of the facts conforming as closely as possible to reality. You are called to make complex problems accessible to a wide audience, so as to enable a mediation between the knowledge available to specialists and the concrete possibility of its broad dissemination.

Your voice, free and responsible, is fundamental for the growth of any society that wishes to be called democratic, so that the continuous exchange of ideas and a profitable debate based on real and correctly reported data can be guaranteed.

In our time, often dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism to the detriment of precision and completeness, by the calculated overheating of emotion rather than thoughtful reflection, there is an urgent need for reliable information, with verified data and news, which does not aim to amaze and excite, but rather to make readers develop a healthy critical sense, enabling them to ask themselves appropriate questions and reach justified conclusions.

In this way you one avoids being constantly at the mercy of easy slogans or of extemporaneous information campaigns, which reveal the intention to manipulate reality, opinions, and people themselves, often producing a useless “media outcry”.

Small media companies and publishing houses can more easily respond to these needs. They are subject, by their very nature, to healthy limits that help them to generate less massified information, less exposed to the pressure of fashions, as transient as they are intrusive. In fact, it is genetically more linked to its territorial base of reference, closer to the daily life of communities, more anchored to the facts in their essentiality and concreteness. It is a journalism closely connected to local dynamics, to the problems arising from the work of the various categories, to the interests and sensibilities of intermediate groups, which do not easily find channels to be able to adequately express themselves.

Also part of this logic are the diocesan weeklies enrolled in the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies (FISC), whose 50th anniversary is celebrated in these days. These can be useful instruments of evangelization, a space where diocesan life can validly be expressed and where the various ecclesial components can easily dialogue and communicate. Working in the diocesan weekly means to “feel” in a special way alongside the local Church, to live close to the people of cities and towns, and above all to interpret events in the light of the Gospel and of the teaching of the Church. These elements are the “compass of their particular way of carrying out journalism, of telling news and expressing opinions.

The diocesan weeklies, integrated with the new forms of digital communication, therefore remain precious and effective instruments, necessitating renewed commitment on the part of pastors, and of the entire Christian community and the benevolent attention of the public authorities.

There is an urgent need for news communicated with serenity, precision and completeness, with a calm language, so as to favor a fruitful reflection; carefully weighted and clear words, which reject the inflation of allusive, strident and ambiguous speech.

It is important that, methodically and with patience, criteria of judgment and information be offered so that the public is able to understand and discern, and is not stunned and disoriented.

Society also needs the right to information to be scrupulously respected, together with that of the dignity of every single human person involved in the information process, so that no one runs the risk of being damaged in the absence of real and circumstantial indications of responsibility. We must not fall prey to the “sins of communication”: disinformation – that is, giving just one side of the argument – slander, which is sensationalistic, or defamation, looking for outdated and old things, and bringing them to light today; they are very grave sins, which damage the heart of the journalist and harm people.

For all these reasons it is therefore desirable that commitment by all in ensuring the existence and vitality of these periodicals is not lacking, and that the employment and dignity of remuneration for all those who work in this field are protected.

At the end of this meeting, I would like to encourage all of you, members of the USPI and the FISC, to continue your work with commitment and trust; and I invite civil society and its institutions to do everything possible to ensure that the media and small publishing industry can carry out its indispensable task, to preside over an authentic pluralism and to give voice to the wealth of the various local communities and their territories.

To those of you present here, and your families, as well as all those who offer their service in your agencies, I impart my blessing and offer my wishes for Christmas, which is now close. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

 

JF

Pope Welcomes Italian Catholic Action Youth

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 3:27 PM

Pope Francis on December 16, 2017, received in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace a delegation of young people from Italian Catholic Action Youth (A.C.R.), for the exchange of Christmas wishes.

The following is Pope Francis’ address to those present:

Address of the Holy Father

Dear boys and girls,

Once again this year, representing the Catholic Action Youth from all over Italy, you have come to bring Christmas wishes to the Pope. For me these are particularly joyful wishes, which you have decided to accompany with the fruits of your solidarity initiatives in aid of the poor and of the most disadvantaged people. I offer my heartfelt thanks for your gesture!

I am grateful also because, in this happy circumstance, you have updated me on your activities and initiatives, which demonstrate the vitality of Catholic Action Youth. In this regard, I would like to tell you that I greatly appreciate the meetings you have held this year – the 150th from the foundation of Catholic Action – to get to know better and to be closer to the “grandparents” of the Association. This is beautiful and important, because the elderly are the historical memory of every community, and hand down the heritage of wisdom and faith to be listened to, cherished and valued.

In your training program, with the slogan Pronti a scattare, “Ready to shoot”, through the metaphor of photography you endeavor to focus on the decisive moments in the life of Jesus, to try to look more closely at Him, your greatest and most faithful friend. Looking at the life and mission of Jesus, we understand that God is Love. Therefore, be good “photographers”, both of what Jesus did and of the reality that surrounds you, with attentive and vigilant eyes. Very often there are forgotten people: nobody looks at them, nobody wants to see them. They are the poorest, the weakest, relegated to the margins of society because they are considered a problem. Instead, they are the image of the rejected Child Jesus, Who did not find acceptance in the city of Bethlehem; they are the living flesh of suffering and crucified Jesus. So, this can be one of your tasks; first of all, ask yourself: to whom do I pay more attention? Only the strongest, those who are more successful at school, in games? To whom do I pay little attention? Who have I pretended not to see? Looking the other way … Here are your “peripheries”: try to aim at the companions and the people that no-one ever sees, and dare to take the first step towards them, give them some of your time, a smile, a gesture of tenderness.

Dear children, be friends and witnesses of Jesus, Who came to Bethlehem in our midst. In this feast of the Holy Christmas that is near, you are called to make Him increasingly known among your friends, in the cities, in the parishes and in your families. Thank you again for your visit. I bless you with affection, together with your loved ones, with the educators, the assistants and all the friends of the A.C.R. Do not forget to pray for me. Merry Christmas!

Now I will give you my blessing. First, let us pray to Our Lady, all together. Hail, Mary

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

 

JF

 

‘Walk in Holiness, Don’t Be Discouraged’ Cardinal Bertello Tells New Legionary Priests

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 2:30 PM
Walk in holiness, trusting in God to help you, and never be discouraged for what you feel you lack. This was the message of Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, when ordaining 33 Legionaries of Christ priests in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome this afternoon, Dec. 16, 2017, in Rome. At least 3,000 persons were present, including friends and family of the newly ordained priests. Recalling in his homily that he had served as Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Cardinal Bertello reminded those present that he remembered that he was struck by the profoundness of the faith of the Legionaries of Christ, and their works. The Head of the Vatican City State also reminded the new priests of Pope Francis’ recent words to priests in Bangladesh, namely to live with joy, in all the circumstances. Another piece of advice from the Supreme Pontiff, which Cardinal Bertello remembered, came from Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, namely to give God’s mercy and to live according to the Gospel. “Tell everyone that God doesn’t abandon us,” he stressed. Priests, the prelate noted, are to help, console, and defend others, and to participate in social works. They must always be preaching the Word of God, he underscored, noting that what they do should ‘increase’ Christ, and ‘diminish’ themselves. Faced with difficult moments, Cardinal Bertello reminded, ‘Remember, the Lord will operate in you and through you.” “Don’t allow yourselves to be discouraged by what you lack,” he said, “for the Lord will fill your hearts with the comforting joy of the Holy Spirit.” Reminding the 33 new Legionary priests to “conform your lives to the Mystery of the Cross of Christ,” Cardinal Bertello prayed: “May Mary take you by the hand and accompany you in every moment of your life in serving Jesus and His Holy Church.” The 33 new priests come from 11 countries: Italy (1), Slovakia (1), Brazil (5), Canada (1), El
Salvador (2), Venezuela (3), Spain (1), Colombia (1), Mexico (13), the Philippines (1) and the
United States (4). All of them obtained their degrees in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical
Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. The time of study and preparation also included a period of
pastoral internship, in the field of education, missions, youth work, family ministry or formation
of high school seminarians. Among the new priests is Father John Klein, LC, from the United States, who studied music
production at Middle Tennessee State University and has put out two albums, Love is Brave and
Fearless. Father Leonardo Pérez-Castilla, from Venezuela, who studied four years of Economics
at the Andrés Bello Catholic University before joining the Legion of Christ. Father Miguel Subirachs. LC, of Spain, comments: “From the time I was little I wanted to be a
missionary. I was particularly struck when volunteers or missionaries came to the school and
spoke of their experiences. I dreamed of doing something great for others. The call of Jesus,
‘Come and follow me!’ has resounded down through the centuries and continues to resonate in
the lives of many young people. It is a call to live life to the fullest, closer to him and configured
with him. Being a priest is not something natural, it is supernatural. We should not try to
understand it perfectly because it is a question of Love.” Father Stefano Panizzolo, LC, an Italian, entered the Legion of Christ after obtaining his degree
in architecture in Venice. Father Michael Baggot, from the United States, was an agnostic who
was baptized, confirmed and received his First Communion in the Catholic Church in 2003 at the
Easter Vigil. Father Antonio Lemos, LC, originally from Brazil, studied law at the Federal University of
Paraná for four years. Father Manuel Cervantes, a Mexican, spent a year as Regnum Christi
Mission Corps volunteer in Padua, Italy, before joining the Legion of Christ.
Father Luis Lorenzo, LC, is the first Legionary priest from the Philippines.
The stories of the new priests can be found on the website for the priestly ordinations 2017.

The Legion of Christ, a religious congregation within the Catholic Church, has a presence in 22 countries. It currently has 4 bishops, 954 priests, and 836 religious in formation, according to data from December 31, 2014.

Papal Preacher’s First Advent Sermon 2017

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 2:59 PM

Father Raniero Cantalamessa ofmcap, gave the first of two scheduled reflections to the Pope and Roman Curia on December 15, 2017. The text follows:

 

Father Raniero Cantalamessa ofmcap

First Advent Sermon 2017

“All things were created through him and for him”

Christ and Creation

The meditations for Advent this year (there are only two because of the calendar) propose to put the divine-human person of Christ back at the center of the two great components that together constitute “reality,” that is, the cosmos and history, space and time, creation and humanity. We need to recognize that despite a lot of talk about him, Christ is marginalized in our culture. He is completely absent—and for more than understandable reasons—from the three main dialogues in which faith is engaged in our contemporary world: the dialogues between faith and science, faith and philosophy, and the interreligious dialogue.

My ultimate purpose, however, is not theoretical but practical. The issue above all is putting Christ back at the center of our personal lives and our vision of the world and at the center of the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Christmas is the most propitious season for such a reflection, since this is the time when we recall the moment when the Word became flesh, entering physically into creation and history, into space and time.

  1. The Earth Was Void

In this first meditation, let us reflect on the first part of the announced themes, the relationship between Christ and the cosmos. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (Gen 1:1-2). A medieval author, the English abbot Alexander Neckam (1157-1217), commented on these initial verses of the Bible this way:

The earth was void because the Word had not yet become flesh.

Our earth was void because the fullness of grace and truth did not yet dwell in it.

It was void because it had not yet been made fixed and stable through a union with divinity.

Our earthly dwelling was void because the fullness of time had not yet come.

“And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The “true light that enlightens every man” who comes into the world had in fact not yet come.[1]

I believe the relationship between creation and the Incarnation could not be expressed in a more biblical and more inspiring way than in reading the beginning of Genesis and of John’s Gospel in counterpoint just the way this author does. The encyclical Laudato si’ devotes a paragraph to this theme that, given its brevity, we can read in its entirety:

In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16). The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy. (n. 99)

The issue is what place the Person of Christ occupies in relation to the universe as a whole. This task is more urgent today than ever. The French philosopher Maurice Blondel wrote to a friend,

Our world has expanded through the social and natural sciences. Our world cannot remain true to Catholicism and be content with a mediocre explanation, a limited outlook which represents Christ as an accident of history, isolating Him in the Cosmos as if He were an episode without proper time and place. One cannot represent Him as in intruder, an alien in the crushing and hostile immensity of the universe.[2]

The biblical texts that our faith rests on concerning the cosmic role of Christ are those of Paul and John quoted in the encyclical. It is worthwhile to recall them here in full. In chronological order, the first is Colossians 1:15-17:

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The other text is John 1:3 and 10:

All things were made through him [the Word], and without him was not anything made that was made. . . . He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

Despite the striking consonance of these texts, it is possible to distinguish a difference in emphasis between them that would have great importance in the future development of theology. For John the hinge that unites creation and redemption is the moment in which “the Word became made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:13); for Paul it is instead the moment of the cross. For John it is the Incarnation while for Paul it is the paschal mystery. The text in Colossians in fact goes on to say,

For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col 1:19-20)

Patristic reflection, under the pressure of heresies, valued almost only one aspect of these two affirmations: what they tell us about the Person of Christ and the salvation he accomplished for human beings. The Fathers said little or nothing of what Paul and John affirm about its cosmic significance, that is, about the significance of Christ for the rest of creation.

Against the Arians, these texts served to affirm the divinity and the pre-existence of Christ. The Son of God cannot be a creature, Athanasius argued, since he is the Creator of everything. However, the cosmic significance of the Logos in creation is not given proportionate equivalence to his significance for redemption. The only text that lends itself to a development of this issue—Romans 8:19-22, in which creation groans and suffer as if in childbirth—was never, as far as I know, the starting point for any extensive reflection by the Fathers of the Church.

As to the “why” of the Incarnation, the answer from St. Athanasius (De incarnatione) to St. Anselm of Canterbury (Cur Deus homo) was essentially what is said in the creed: “Propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis” (“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven”). The perspective for the relationship between Christ and humanity is anthropological: it does not include the relationship between Christ and the cosmos, except incidentally. The latter topic emerges only during the polemic against the Gnostics and Manicheans who contrasted creation and redemption as the work of two different gods and held that matter and the cosmos were intrinsically alien to God and incapable of being saved.

At a certain point in the development of faith, another answer was proposed in the Middle Ages as to “why God became man.” The question was “Can the coming of Christ, who is ‘the creator of the whole creation’ (see Col 1:15), be entirely tied to the sin of human beings that took place after creation?”

Blessed Duns Scotus took a decisive step in this direction, releasing the Incarnation from its basic link to sin. The reason for the Incarnation, he says, is that God wanted someone extrinsic to himself who could love him perfectly in a way that was worthy of him.[3] Christ is wanted for himself as the only one capable of loving the Father—and being loved by him—with an infinite love worthy of God. The Son of God would have become incarnate even if Adam had not sinned because he is the very crown of creation, God’s supreme handiwork. Man’s sin determined the manner of the Incarnation, conferring on it the character of redemption from sin, but it did not determine the fact of the Incarnation itself. The Incarnation has a transcendent reason, not a circumstantial one.

  1. The Cosmic Vision of Teilhard de Chardin

Scotus was the first to attempt to give a precise meaning to the biblical affirmation that “all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16). But we certainly cannot yet speak with Scotus of any actual impact of Christ on all of creation. This is only possible if we jump centuries ahead from Scotus to our time, to Teilhard de Chardin. According to Blondel, Teilhard de Chardin was concerned, in a culture dominated by the idea of evolution, to avoid having Christ end up being seen as an “accident of history, isolated from the rest of the Cosmos.”

Utilizing his indisputable scientific knowledge, Teilhard de Chardin sees a parallel between the evolution of the world (cosmogenesis) and the progressive formation of the total Christ (Christogenesis). Christ is not only not extraneous to the evolution of the cosmos but mysteriously guides it from within, and at the moment of the Parousia he will constitute its final fulfillment and transformation, the “Omega Point” as Teilhard calls it.

He deduces from these premises a whole new positive vision of the relationship between Christianity and earthly reality. For the first time in the history of Christian thinking, a believer composes a “Hymn to Matter” and a Hymn of the Universe.[4] An outburst of optimism rippled through a vast sector of Christianity to the point of making its influence felt in a document of the Second Vatican Council, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes). It is a reevaluation of earthly activities, and first of all of human labor. The works that a Christian does have value in and of themselves as improving the world and not merely for the pious intention with which a Christian does them.

Teilhard de Chardin is particularly inspired when he applies his vision to the sacrament of the Eucharist. Through the work and daily life of the believer, the Eucharist extends its action throughout the entire cosmos. Every Eucharist becomes a “Mass on the World”:[5]

When through the mouth of the priest he says, Hoc est corpus meum” [“This is my body”], these words extend beyond the morsel of bread over which they are said: they give birth to the whole mystical body of Christ. The effect of the priestly act extends beyond the consecrated host to the cosmos itself.[6]

I do not believe, however, that we can define this cosmic spirituality as an ecological spirituality in the current meaning of the word. For Teilhard, the evolutionary idea of progress, of the ascent of creation toward forms that are always more complex and diversified, still predominates while a concern for the preservation of creation is not present, unless indirectly. In his time, people had not yet become clearly aware of the danger that development—especially industrial development—can pose for creation, or at least for the small part of it that is home to humanity.

Biblical faith agrees with Teilhard de Chardin on the fact that Christ is the Omega Point of history, if by Omega Point we mean the One who at the end will subject all things to himself and hand them over to the Father (see 1 Cor 15:28), the One who will inaugurate “the new heavens and the new earth” and will pronounce final judgement on the world and history (see Mt 25:31ff). The same risen Christ calls himself in Revelation “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last” (Rev 22:12).

However, the faith does not justify Teilhard de Chardin’s idea that the final act of history will be a “crowning” of evolution that has reached its apogee. According to the vision dominant in the whole Bible, the final act could be its very opposite, that is, an abrupt interruption of history, a crisis, a judgment, the moment of separating the wheat from the chaff (see Mt 13:24ff). The Second Letter of Peter says that Christians are “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!” (2 Pet 3:12). This is the vision that has characterized the Church’s perspective, as we see in the initial words of the “Dies irae”: “Dies irae dies illa solvet saeclum in favilla” (“That day of wrath, that dreadful day /Shall heaven and earth in ashes lay”). It will be an end to evil in terms of the present world rather than an apogee of the good.[7]

This weakness in Teilhard de Chardin’s vision is due to a lacuna that has been pointed out even by scholars who admire his thinking.[8] He did not succeed in integrating into his vision, in an organic and convincing way, the negative dimension of sin; consequently he did not integrate Paul’s dramatic vision in which the reconciliation and recapitulation of all things in Christ occur in the cross and in his death.

  1. The Spirit of Christ

Is there anything, then, that allows us to escape the danger of making Christ, as Blondel said, “an intruder, an alien in the crushing and hostile immensity of the universe”? In other words, does Christ have something to say about the burning issue of ecology and the preservation of creation, or does all this unfold in complete independence of him, like an issue that, if anything, concerns theology but not Christology?

The lack of a clear answer to this question by theologians is due, like so many other lacuna, I believe, to the scant attention paid to the Holy Spirit and his relationship to the risen Christ. Paul writes, “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45). The apostle goes so far as to say, with a formula that is very succinct, “the Lord . . . is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:17), to emphasize that the risen Lord now acts in the world through his “operational arm,” which is the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s mention of creation that is suffering the pains of childbirth is made in the context of his discussion on the diverse operations of the Holy Spirit. He sees a continuity between the groaning of creation and that of believers: “not only creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly” (Rom 8:23).

The Holy Spirit is the mysterious force that propels creation toward its fulfillment. The Second Vatican Council, speaking of evolution in the social order, affirms that “God’s Spirit, Who with a marvelous providence directs the unfolding of time and renews the face of the earth, is not absent from this development” (Gaudium et spes, n. 26). What the council affirms about the social order applies to all spheres, including the cosmos. Every selfless effort and every advance in the stewardship of creation is through the work of the Holy Spirit. He, who is “the principle of the creation of things,”[9] is also the principle of its evolution over time. This is nothing but the continuation of creation.

What does the Holy Spirit bring that is specific and “personal” to creation and to the evolution of the cosmos? He is not at the origin, so to speak, but at the end of creation and of redemption, just as he is not at the origin but at the end of the trinitarian process. St. Basil writes, “In creation, the Father is the first cause, the one from whom all things come; the Son is the efficient cause, the one through whom all things are made; and the Holy Spirit is the perfecting cause.”[10]

From the initial words of the Bible (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”), one can deduce that the creative action of the Spirit is at the origin of the perfecting of creation. We could say he is not so much the one who transitions the world from nothing to existence as much as the one who makes formless beings into formed and perfected beings, even if we must always keep in mind that every action of God performed outside of himself is always a joint work of the whole Trinity.

In other words, the Holy Spirit is the one who, by his nature, aims to make creation transition from chaos to cosmos, to make the world something beautiful, something ordered and clean, according to the meaning of its Latin name “mundus. St. Ambrose observed,

When the Spirit began to move upon the water, the creation was still without beauty. However, after creation underwent the working of the Spirit, it gained all the splendor of beauty that made it shine like a “world (mundus).”[11]

An anonymous author from the second century sees this marvel repeat itself, in a striking parallel, in the new creation brought about through the Passover of Christ. What the “Spirit of God” did at the time of creation, the “Spirit of Christ” now does in redemption. He writes,

The world would have been dissolved in confusion and fear at the passion if the great Jesus had not expired saying: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46). The whole universe trembled and quaked with fear, and everything was in a state of agitation, but when the Divine Spirit rose again the universe returned to life and regained its vitality. [12]

  1. How Christ Acts in Creation

One question remains that is the most relevant of all in terms of ecology: Does Christ have something to say about the practical issues that the ecological challenge sets before humanity and the Church? In what sense can we say that Christ, working through his Spirit, is the key element for a healthy and realistic Christian ecology?

I believe that, yes, Christ plays a decisive role even in the concrete problems of the preservation of creation, but he functions in an indirect way by operating in human beings and—through them—on creation. He does that through his gospel that the Holy Spirit “recalls” to believers and makes alive and operative in history until the end of the world (see Jn 16:13). This takes place just the way it did at the beginning of creation: God creates the world and entrusts its guardianship and stewardship to human beings. The Eucharistic Prayer IV says it this way:

You formed man in your own image

and entrusted the whole world to his care,

so that in serving you alone, the Creator,

he might have dominion over all creatures.

The innovation brought by Christ in this area is that he has revealed the true meaning of the word “dominion” the way it is understood by God, as service. Jesus says in the Gospel,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28)

All the reasons that theologians have tried to give for the Incarnation, to the question of “why God became man,” are shattered before the force of this declaration: “I came to serve and give my life for many.” It is now a question of applying this new understanding of dominion to our relationship with creation as well, as being served by it, yes, but also of serving it, that is, respecting it, defending it, and protecting it from any exploitation.

Christ acts in creation the way he acts in the social sphere, namely, according to his precept about love for one’s neighbor. In relationship to space, which we would call its synchronic sense, our “neighbor” refers to people who we are living near to here and now. In relationship to time, in its diachronic sense, our “neighbors” are those who will come after us, starting with today’s children and youth from whom we are taking away the possibility of living on a habitable planet without having to go around wearing masks to breathe or having to “found colonies on other planets.” As for all of these neighbors in time and space, Jesus said, “You did it to me. . . . You did it not to me” (Mt 25:40, 45).

Like everything else, care for creation is also played out on two levels: the global level and the local level. A modern saying exhorts us to “Think globally, but act locally.” This means that the changeover needs to start with the individual, with each of us. Francis of Assisi used to say to his brothers, “I have never been a thief in the matter of alms, and obtained or used more than I needed. I have always accepted less than my needs, lest other poor folk should be cheated of their share; for to act otherwise would be theft.”[13]

Today that rule could have an application that is more useful than ever for the earth’s future. We too should propose to ourselves not to be thieves of resources, using more than we need and taking them away from those who will come after us. To begin with, those of us who are accustomed to work with paper could try not to contribute to the enormous and thoughtless waste of this raw material, leaving Mother Earth with fewer and fewer trees.

Christmas provides a powerful reminder to this restraint and frugality in the use of things. Our very Creator gave us an example of this when, in becoming man, he was content to be born in a stable. Let us recall these two simple and profound verses from the song “You Came Down from the Stars” by St. Alphonsus Maria dei Ligouri: “For you, the Creator of the world, / No clothes and fire, O my Lord.”

All of us, believers and non-believers, are called to strive for the ideal of restraint and respect for creation, but we Christians should do it for an additional and transcendent reason. If the heavenly Father has made “all things through him and for him,” we too should try to do all things “through Christ and for Christ,” that is, with his grace and for his glory.

______________

English translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson

[1] Alexander Neckam, De naturis rerum, 1, 2, ed. Thomas Wright (1863; repr., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 12ff.

[2] Maurice Blondel, “First Paper to Auguste Valensin,” in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Maurice Blondel, Correspondence (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967), 23.

[3] Duns Scotus, Reportatio Parisiensis,” III, 7, 4, in Opus Parisiense, eds. Charles Balic et al. (Rome: Vatican City 1950), 13-15; see also Opera omnia, XXIII (Paris: L. Vives, 1894), 303.

[4] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn to Matter,” in Hymn of the Universe, trans. Gerald Vann (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), 65-70. See also “My Universe” (1924) in Science and Christ (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 37-85.

[5] Teilhard de Chardin, “The Mass on the World,” in Hymn of the Universe, 9-32.

[6] Ibid., qtd. in the “Introduction to ‘Mass on the World,’” 6. For similar ideas, see How I Believe (1923), trans. René Hague (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).

[7] This is Augustine’s thesis who sees the end as “the separation of good and evil, the destruction (conflagratio) of the world and its rebirth”: cf.  The City of God, XX, 30,5.

[8] See Christopher F. Mooney, Teilhard de Chardin and the Mystery of Christ (New York: Image Books, 1968),

[9] Thomas Aquinas, On the Truth of the Catholic Faith (Summa contra gentiles), IV, 20, 2, trans. Charles J. O’Neil (New York: Hanover House, 1955-57), 628.

[10] St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, XVI, 38 (PG 32, 136).

[11] St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, II, 33.

[12] Anonymous Quartodeciman of the second century [Pseudo-Hippolytus], “Homily on the Holy Pascha,” in Dragoş Andrei Giulea, Pre-Nicene Christology in Paschal Contexts (Boston: Brill, 2014), 115; see also SCh 27 1950.

[13] Mirror of Perfection, 12, trans. Leo Shirley-Price, in St. Francis of Assisi: Writings and Early Biographies, ed. Marion A. Habig (Quincy, Il: Franciscan Press, 1991), 1139; see FF 1695.

 

JF

Canada: New Bishop of MacKenzie-Fort Smith

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 2:25 PM

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of the diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith, Canada, Rev. Fr. Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R., currently parish priest of “Our Lady of Victory”, Inuvik, North West Territories.

Father Jon Hansen was born in Edmonton and raised in Grande Prairie, AB. After high school, he attended the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and completed a diploma in Building Construction Engineering following his father’s footsteps into the construction industry. Returning for further studies he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Alberta. At the same time, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists, professing religious vows in 1998.

Studying in Toronto, at the University of St. Michael’s college, he graduated with a Masters of Divinity in 2003. After a Diaconal appointment in Sudbury, ON in 2004, he was ordained to the Priesthood in Grande Prairie by Archbishop Arthé Guimond. He served as an associate pastor in Redemptorist parishes in St. John’s, NL and in Toronto, ON where he was the director of the “Out of the Cold” a program which provides food and shelter to the homeless of the inner city. In 2007 he became the Director of Formation for Redemptorist students. In 2009 he became pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Saskatoon, SK and was there for 6 years during which time he served on the Diocesan Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Bishop’s Council of Priests as well as working closely with the Diocesan Offices of Migration and Justice & Peace.

In 2015, with the approval of his Redemptorist province, he accepted an appointment from Bishop Mark Hagemoen to serve as Pastor of Our Lady of Victory parish in Inuvik as well as to care for the missions of Tsiigehtchic, Tuktoyaktuk, and Paulatuk, all located in the diocese of Mackenzie-Ft. Smith.

Pope Francis named him the seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie -Fort Smith (Yellowknife, NWT), to succeed Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen, who had been named Bishop of Saskatoon. The dates of Father Hansen’s episcopal ordination and installation are yet to be announced.

 

JF

 

Vatican Responds to Australia Abuse Report

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 2:08 PM

The Vatican issued a statement December 15, 2017, in response to the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia, saying the report “is the result of the Commission’s thorough efforts over the past several years, and deserves to be studied seriously.”

The Commission released the report December 15, 2017.  It includes 189 recommendations, including more extensive psychological testing for candidates for the priesthood the making celibacy optional.

“The Holy See remains committed to being close to the Catholic Church in Australia – lay faithful, religious, and clergy alike – as they listen to and accompany victims and survivors in an effort to bring about healing and justice,” said the Vatican statement.

In his recent meeting with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Pope Francis said the Church is called to be a place of compassion, especially for those who have suffered, and reaffirmed that the Church is committed to safe environments for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.

“The scandal of sexual abuse is truly a terrible ruin for the whole of humanity, and which affects so many vulnerable children, young people and adults in all countries and in all societies,” the Holy Father said in the text of his message to participants in the September 21, 2017, meeting. He went on to state that abuse has been “a very painful experience for the Church,” noting that “We feel shame for the abuses committed by sacred ministers, who should be the most worthy of trust”

The Holy Father’s September 21, 2017, Text

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I give you a warm welcome at the beginning of this Plenary Assembly. In particular, I would like to thank Cardinal O’Malley for his kind greeting while expressing to you at the same time my sincere appreciation for the reflections that in your name, Mr Hermengild Makoro and Mr. Bill Kilgallon have presented. They have expressed very well the role I thought for the Commission when I formed it three years ago, a service that I hope will continue to be of great help in the coming years for the Pope, the Holy See, the Bishops and the Major Superiors of the whole world.

Gathered here today, I wish to share with you the profound pain I feel in my soul for the situation of abused children, as I have already had the occasion to do recently on several occasions. The scandal of sexual abuse is truly a terrible ruin for the whole of humanity, and which affects so many vulnerable children, young people and adults in all countries and in all societies. It has also been a very painful experience for the Church.  We feel shame for the abuses committed by sacred ministers, who should be the most worthy of trust, but we have also experienced a call, which we are sure comes directly from Our Lord Jesus Christ, to take up the mission of the Church for the protection of all vulnerable minors and adults.

Permit me to say with all clarity that sexual abuse is a horrible sin, completely opposed and in contradiction to what Christ and the Church teach us. I have had the privilege, here in Rome, to listen to the stories that victims and survivors of abuses have wished to share. In those meetings, they shared openly the effects that sexual abuse has caused in their lives and in that of their families. I know that you have also had the blessed occasion to take part in similar meetings, and that <such meetings> continue to nourish your personal commitment to do everything possible to combat this evil and to eliminate this ruin from among us.

Therefore, I reiterate once again today that the Church will respond, at all levels, with the implementation of the firmest measures to all those that have betrayed their calling and have abused God’s children. The disciplinary measures that the particular Churches have adopted must be applied to all those that work in the Church’s institutions. However, the primordial responsibility is that of the Bishops, priests and Religious, of those who received from the Lord the vocation to offer their lives to service, including the vigilant protection of all vulnerable children, young people and adults.  For this reason, the Church will apply irrevocably at all levels the principle of “zero tolerance” for the sexual abuse of minors.

The Motu Proprio As Loving Mother, promulgated on the basis of a proposal of your Commission and in reference to the principle of responsibility in the Church, addresses the cases of diocesan Bishops, Eparchs and Major Superiors of Religious Institutes that, due to negligence, have engaged in or omitted acts that were able to cause grave harm to others, whether it is physical persons or a community as a whole (Cf. Article 1).

Over the last three years, the Commission has emphasized constantly the most important principles that guide the Church’s efforts to protect all vulnerable minors and adults. Thus it has fulfilled the mission that I entrusted to it as “consultative function at the service of the Holy Father,” offering its experience “in order to promote the responsibility of the particular Churches in the protection of all vulnerable minors and adults” (Statute, Article 1).

I was filled with joy to learn that many particular Churches have adopted your recommendation for a Day of Prayer, and for dialogue with the victims and survivors of abuses, as well as with representatives of the victims’ organizations. They shared with us how these meetings have been a profound experience of grace worldwide, and I sincerely hope that all the particular Churches will benefit from them.

It is also encouraging to know how many Episcopal Conferences and Conferences of Major Superiors have sought your advice in regard to the Guidelines for the protection of vulnerable minors and adults. Your collaboration in sharing the best practices is truly valuable, especially for those Churches that have fewer resources for this crucial work of protection. I would like to encourage you to continue your collaboration in this work with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, so that these practices are enculturated in the different Churches worldwide.

Finally, I would like to praise with special emphasis the numerous opportunities of apprenticeship, education and formation that you have offered in so many particular Churches worldwide and also here in Rome, in the different Dicasteries of the Holy See, in the course for new Bishops and in various international congresses. I’m pleased with the news that the presentation that Cardinal O’Malley and Mrs Marie Collins — one of your founding members –, made last week to the new Bishops was received so favorably. These educational programs offer the type of resources that will enable the Dioceses, Religious Institutes and all Catholic institutions, to adopt and implement the most effective materials for this work.

The Church is called to be a place of mercy and compassion, especially for those who have suffered. For all of us, the Catholic Church continues to be a field hospital that accompanies us in our spiritual itinerary. It’s the place where we can sit with others, listen to them and share with them our struggles and our faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ. I am fully confident that the Commission will continue to be a place where we can listen with interest to the voices of the victims and the survivors, because we have much to learn from them and from their personal stories of courage and perseverance.

Permit me to thank you once again for your efforts and advice over these three years. I entrust you to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother who remains close to us throughout our lives. I give you all and our dear ones the Apostolic Blessing, and I ask you to continue praying for me.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Spanish]  [Zenit’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 

Christmas Artists

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 1:48 PM
Pope’s Address to Artists of ‘Christmas in the Vatican’ Concert

‘Christmas is a warm, widely appreciated feast, able to warm the coldest hearts, to remove the barriers of indifference to one’s neighbor, to encourage openness to the other and free giving’

Advent Question: How Much is Christ in Your Life?

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa Talks to Pope and Curia

Pope Receives President Morales of Bolivia in Vatican

President and Argentine Pontiff Discussed Contribution of Church in Latin American Country

Christmas Can Warm the Coldest Hearts & Overcome Barriers of Indifference

Pope Speaks About ‘Proper’ Meaning of Christmas to Artists of ‘Christmas in the Vatican’ Concert

Chile and Peru Await Pope Francis

Apostolic Journey from January 15- 22, 2018

Vatican Responds to Australia Abuse Report

‘The Holy See Remains Committed to Being Close to the Catholic Church in Australia.’

John the Baptist: Witness of Light and Joy

Third Sunday of Advent “Gaudete Sunday” – Year B – December 17th, 2017

Papal Preacher’s First Advent Sermon 2017

‘All Things Were Created Through Him and for Him’

Canada: New Bishop of MacKenzie-Fort Smith

Pope Appoints Fr. Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R., of “Our Lady of Victory”, Inuvik, North West Territories.

John the Baptist: Witness of Light and Joy

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 1:10 PM

Roman Rite

Third Sunday of Advent “Gaudete Sunday” – Year B – December 17th, 2017

Is 61.1-2A.10-11; Ps Lk1:46-48; 1 Thes 5: 16-24; Jn 1,6-8.19-28

Ambrosian Rite

Is 62.10-63.3b; Ps 72; Phil 4,4-9; Lk 1: 26-38a

Sunday of the Incarnation or of the Divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

  1) Witness of the light.

Advent is a time of waiting, hope and preparation for the visit of the Lord. That is why today the liturgy of the Church makes us ask for the grace of this visit, which brings us light and dissolves darkness. Darkness scares the heart, but light gives joy. To welcome the visit of the light that is Christ, on this third Sunday of Advent the Church offers us the figure of John the Baptist. He is not the Light, but he is his witness.

Today’s Gospel presents many elements that characterize the testimony of the Baptist. I’d like to underline some of them.

First of all, John is fully aware that his whole life is totally related to Christ. Faced with those who questioned him about his identity, John insists in saying who he is not: he is not the light, he is “a lamp that burns and shines” (Jn 5:35). He is not the bridegroom, he is “the friend of the bridegroom” (Jn 3:29). He is not the Truth, he is the witness of the truth. He is not the Word, he is the voice. Certainly, a life that seems to be founded on a denial leaves us amazed and perplexed, but it is a denial necessary to make room for Jesus.

To the question “Who is this man, who is John the Baptist?” his answer is of a surprising humility. He is not the Messiah, he is not the light. He is not Elijah back on earth, nor the great expected prophet. He is the precursor, a simple witness totally subordinate and minor in relation to the One he is announcing; a voice in the desert. Also today, in the spiritual desert of this secularized world, we need voices that simply announce to us: “God is there, always near even if he seems absent”.

In this paradoxical negative definition of his identity and in this realistic attitude of humility, John finds himself: he is a voice in the desert and a witness of light. This touches us in the heart because, in this world with much darkness and many obscurities we are all called to be witnesses of light.

Advent invites us to this mission: to be witnesses that the light is there and to bring it into our time and into the world that proclaims the absence of God.

It must be kept in mind, however, that we can only be witnesses if we bring light into ourselves, and if we are not only sure that the light is there but that we have seen even a small light. This light reaches the eyes of the heart in the Church, in the Word of God, in the celebration of the Sacraments, in the Sacrament of Confession with the forgiveness we receive, and in the celebration of Mass where the Lord gives himself in our hands and hearts. In this way, we become also witnesses of charity.

Each of us is “a man sent by God”, a small prophet sent among his own and in the world. If our heart, like a lamp, welcomes the light of Christ and looks at reality in the light of Christ and in the light that is Christ, we will be witnesses not so much of the commands or of the punishments but of the merciful judgment of God and of the light of the Redeemer. He binds the wounds of the wounded hearts and goes in search of all the prisoners to get them out of the darkness of a heart imprisoned by sin, and to put them back in the sun of his truth and love.

2) Witnesses of joy.

The third Sunday of Advent is called Sunday “of joy”1 and reminds us that, even in the midst of many doubts and difficulties, joy exists because God exists, has come to visit us and comes to be with us always.

The joy of an encounter that is renewed with the celebration of Christmas is not reducible to an emotion.

The joy of the gospel (as Pope Francis recalls in Evangelii Gaudium) is not a fragile and short smile that appears on the face for a few moments and then fades away. It is not even the sentimental euphoria that is renewed every year during the Christmas holidays but that does not change life.

The joy of the nascent Christ is the one announced by Isaiah and Paul (first and second reading), who become echoes to announce the Joy similar to the simple joy of the newly married at the wedding party, or to the one of the earth that receives the seed to make it sprout. A joy that looks forward to what will be, not to what has already happened. A joy that does not only contemplate the Child in the humble cave of Bethlehem, but the One who will come again in glory and will fill our life with eternity.

For this reason, we need the example of John the Baptist, or, as defined by the fourth evangelist, of the “Witness”. This Witness – who rejoices hearing the voice of the Bridegroom – is the one who precedes in order to always look further ahead. With his word and his life, John looks ahead and invites us to look forward to be like him witnesses of the truth, the charity and joy of Christ.

Joy implies love. Rightly, we have always seen a link between love and happiness: those who marry think that the day of the wedding is the most beautiful day of their life. Indeed, also in human love man finds his completeness and, in his natural perfection, he finds precisely the fulfillment of his desires and the response of nature to his needs, not only of the soul but also of the body. Everything finds its fulfillment in this spousal union that is nothing but the fruit of love. Love and joy seem to get along. Joy is the fruit of love, which is the gift by oneself to the other. Those who are not free from selfishness do not possess true and lasting joy.

If we want to possess joy, we must therefore free us from ourselves. Here is the first experience. We must overcome every selfishness that withdraws us into ourselves and makes all things converge to us.

If joy involves love, it demands victory over selfishness and implies forgetfulness of oneself. No one who withdraws in himself can possess true joy. It is in the pure gift of self that the soul finds joy. However, the gift of self implies sacrifice. It is therefore not true that the sacrifice is contrary to joy.

It is not true that death to oneself is really the end of joy: indeed, it is the door that opens to infinite bliss and the fullness of peace because it is also the door of love.

Death to oneself, a source of joy, is witnessed in a special way by the consecrated Virgins. Pope Francis teaches: “ That the old saying will always be true: ”Where there are religious, there is joy”. These women testify that God is able to fill their hearts and make them happy, without having to look for happiness elsewhere.” We can apply to the consecrated life the words of Benedict XVI which I cited in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but by attraction” (No. 14). The consecrated life will not flourish as a result of brilliant vocation programs, but because the young people we meet find us attractive, because they see us as men and women who are happy! Similarly, the apostolic effectiveness of consecrated life does not depend on the efficiency of its methods. It depends on the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.”(Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter to all consecrated people on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, November 21th, 2014).

This third Sunday of Advent reminds us that the true center is Christ. The consecrated virgins bear witness to how much Christ loved above all things is a source of joy.

  A joy given, ready, immense, at heart’s reach. A joy to be accepted, to be invaded and transformed by so to become new.

It will be the opportunity to put in front of God all our life, to put again God before all our life with love, with trust, and with the awareness that just when we are in the darkness of sin, crisis, and discouragement, there is someone who makes us fix our heart in the morning of the rising light that brings joy.

 

Patristic reading

Saint John Chrysostom  (344/354 – 407)

Homily XVI on

Jn 1,19


“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?”

[1.] A Dreadful thing is envy, beloved, a dreadful thing and a pernicious, to the enviers, not to the envied. For it harms and wastes them first, like some mortal venom deeply seated in their souls; and if by chance it injure its objects, the harm it does is small and trifling, and such as brings greater gain than loss. Indeed not in the case of envy only, but in every other, it is not he that has suffered, but he that has done the wrong, who receives injury. For had not this been so, Paul would not have enjoined the disciples rather to endure wrong than to inflict it, when he says, “Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1Co 6,7). Well he knew, that destruction ever follows, not the injured party, but the injuring. All this I have said, by reason of the envy of the Jews. Because those who had flocked from the cities to John, and had condemned their own sins, and caused themselves to be baptized, repenting as it were after Baptism, send to ask him, “Who art thou?” Of a truth they were the offspring of vipers, serpents, and even worse if possible than this. O evil and adulterous and perverse generation, after having been baptized, do ye then become vainly curious, and question about the Baptist? What folly can be greater than this of yours? How was it that ye came forth? that ye confessed your sins, that ye ran to the Baptist? How was it that you asked him what you must do? when in all this you were acting unreasonably, since you knew not the principle and purpose of his coming. Yet of this the blessed Jn said nothing, nor does he charge or reproach them with it, but answers them with all gentleness.

It is worth while to learn why he did thus. It was, that their wickedness might be manifest and plain to all men. Often did Jn testify of Christ to the Jews, and when he baptized them he continually made mention of Him to his company, and said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh One after me who is mightier than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Mt 3,11). With regard to him they were affected by a human feeling; for, tremblingly attentive1 to the opinion of the world, and looking to “the outward appearance” (2Co 10,7), they deemed it an unworthy thing that he should be subject to Christ. Since there were many things that pointed out Jn for an illustrious person. In the first place, his distinguished and noble descent; for he was the son of a chief priest. Then his conversation, his austere mode of life, his contempt of all human things; for despising dress and table, and house and food itself, he had passed his former time in the desert. In the case of Christ all was the contrary of this. His family was mean, (as they often objected to Him, saying, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James and Joses?”) (Mt 13,55); and that which was supposed to be His country was held in such evil repute, that even Nathanael said, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (c. 1,46). His mode of living was ordinary, and His garments not better than those of the many. For He was not girt with a leathern girdle, nor was His raiment of hair, nor did He eat honey and locusts. But He fared like all others, and was present at the feasts of wicked men and publicans, that He might draw them to Him. Which thing the Jews not understanding reproached Him with, as He also saith Himself, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (Mt 11,19). When then John continually sent them from himself to Jesus, who seemed to them a meaner person, being ashamed and vexed at this, and wishing rather to have him for their teacher, they did not dare to say so plainly, but send to him, thinking by their flattery to induce him to confess that he was the Christ. They do not therefore send to him mean men, as in the case of Christ, for when they wished to lay hold on Him, they sent servants, and then Herodians, and the like, but in this instance, “priests and Levites,” and not merely “priests,” but those “from Jerusalem,” that is, the more honorable; for the Evangelist did not notice this without a cause. And they send to ask, “Who art thou?” Yet the manner of his birth was well known to all, so that all said, “What manner of child shall this be?” (Lc 1,66); and the report had gone forth into all the hill country. And afterwards when he came to Jordan, all the cities were set on the wing, and came to him from Jerusalem, and from all Judaea, to be baptized. Why then do they2 now ask? Not because they did not know him, (how could that be, when he had been made manifest in so many ways?) but because they wished to bring him to do that which I have mentioned.

[2.] Hear then how this blessed person answered to the intention with which they asked the question, not to the question itself. When they said, “Who art thou?” he did not at once give them what would have been the direct answer, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” But what did he? He removed the suspicion they had formed; for, saith the Evangelist, being asked, “Who art thou?”

Jn 1,20. “He confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.”

Observe the wisdom of the Evangelist. He mentions this for the third time, to set forth the excellency of the Baptist, and their wickedness and folly. And Lc also says, that when the multitudes supposed him to be the Christ, he again removes their suspicion.3 This is the part of an honest servant, not only not to take to himself his master’s honor, but also to reject it4 when given to him by the many. But the multitudes arrived at this supposition from simplicity and ignorance; these questioned him from an ill intention, which I have mentioned, expecting, as I said, to draw him over to their purpose by their flattery. Had they not expected this, they would not have proceeded immediately to another question, but would have been angry with him for having given them an answer foreign to their enquiry, and would have said, “Why, did we suppose that? did we come to ask thee that?” But now as taken and detected in the fact, they proceed to another question, and say,

Jn 1,21. “What then? art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.”

For they expected that Elias also would come, as Christ declares; for when His disciples enquired, “How then do the scribes say that Elias must first come?” (Mt 17,10) He replied, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” Then they ask, “Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” (Mt 17,10). Yet surely he was a prophet. Wherefore then doth he deny it? Because again he looks to the intention of his questioners. For they expected that some especial prophet should come, because Moses said, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet of thy brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye harken.” (Dt 18,15). Now this was Christ. Wherefore they do not say, “Art thou a prophet?” meaning thereby one of the ordinary prophets; but the expression, “Art thou the prophet?” with the addition of the article, means, “Art thou that Prophet who was foretold by Moses?” and therefore he denied not that he was a prophet, but that he was “that Prophet.”

Jn 1,22. “Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?”

Observe them pressing him more vehemently, urging him, repeating their questions, and not desisting; while he first kindly removes false opinions concerning himself, and then sets before them one which is true. For, saith he,

Jn 1,23. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”

When he had spoken some high and lofty words concerning Christ, as if (replying) to their opinion, he immediately betook himself to the Prophet to draw from thence confirmation of his assertion.

Jn 1,24-25. “And [saith the Evangelist] they who were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, neither Elias, neither that Prophet?”

Seest thou not without reason I said that they wished to bring him to this? and the reason why they did not at first say so was, lest they should be detected by all men. And then when he said, “I am not the Christ,” they, being desirous to conceal what they were plotting5 within, go on to “Elias,” and “that Prophet.” But when he said that he was not one of these either, after that, in their perplexity, they cast aside the mask, and without any disguise show clearly their treacherous intention, saying, “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ?” And then again, wishing to throw some obscurity over the thing,6 they add the others also, “Elias,” and “that Prophet.” For when they were not able to trip a him by their flattery, they thought that by an accusation they could compel him7 to say the thing that was not.

What folly, what insolence, what ill-timed officiousness! Ye were sent to learn who and whence he might be, not to8 lay down laws for him also. This too was the conduct of men who would compel him to confess himself to be the Christ. Still not even now is he angry, nor does he, as might have been expected, say to them anything of this sort, “Do you give orders and make laws for me?” but again shows great gentleness towards them.

Jn 1,26-27. “I,” saith he, “baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”

1 This marks the passage from the first, mainly austere and penitential, part of Advent to the second part dominated by the expectation of the near salvation. The title comes from the words “rejoice” (gaudete) that can be heard at the beginning of Mass: “Always rejoice in the Lord, I repeat it, rejoice, the Lord is near” (Philippians 4, 4-5). But the theme of joy also pervades the rest of the liturgy of the word. In the first reading we hear the cry of the prophet: “I fully rejoice in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God”. The Responsorial Psalm is the Magnificat of Mary, intercalated by the refrain: “My soul rejoices in my God”. Finally, the second reading begins with the words of Paul: “Brothers, be always happy”.

Christmas Can Warm the Coldest Hearts & Overcome Barriers of Indifference

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 12:35 PM

Christmas can warm the coldest hearts and remove the barriers of indifference.

This morning, Dec. 15, 2017, Pope Francis gave this reminder to those performing in and organizing the ‘Christmas in the Vatican’ Concert. The concert will be held on Saturday, December 16, in Paul VI Hall, under the direction of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The proceeds will go to the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation and to the Don Bosco in the World Foundation.

Upon his arrival in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis was received with a Christmas song interpreted by the artists, including children of the Little Choir of Piazza Vittorio and the choristers of the Art Voice Academy and the Hallelujah Gospel Singers. 

Francis began expressing his appreciation for the participation of all those present in the event, particularly since, he stressed, the proceeds will go to finance two projects to help children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and young people of Argentina.

“Christmas — we know — is a warm, widely celebrated feast, able to warm the coldest hearts, to remove the barriers of indifference to one’s neighbor, to encourage openness to the other and free giving.”

“Therefore, there is need also today to spread the message of peace and fraternity proper of Christmas; there is need to represent this event by expressing the genuine sentiments that animate it.”

Art, the Holy Father pointed out, is a formidable means to open the doors of the mind and of the heart to the true meaning of Christmas. “The creativity and genius of the artists, with their works, also with music and singing,” Francis said, “succeed in reaching the most intimate registers of the conscience.”

“Art enters precisely in the depth of the conscience,” he said.

The Pontiff also expressed his wish that the concert may be an occasion to sow tenderness –” this word so forgotten today!”

“Violence,” “war” . . . no, no, tenderness – to sow tenderness, peace and hospitality, which spring from the Bethlehem cave.”

Pope Francis concluded, renewing to each of them his gratitude, wishing them a joyful and peaceful Christmas, and reminding them to pray for him.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-artists-of-christmas-in-the-vatican-concert/

 

Chile and Peru Await Pope Francis

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 12:34 PM

Pope Francis will begin the New Year with a trip to Chile and Peru (January 15-22, 2018). Both countries are busy preparing for the Holy Father’s visit.

Monsignor Santiago Silva Retamales, Military Bishop of Chile and President of the Episcopal Conference <Cech>, explained to SIR agency that the preparation has an organizational part and a spiritual part. Chile is awaiting Pope Francis with “enormous affection,” “as a brother coming among brothers, to illumine our way,” said the Bishop.

The “Pope Francis Visit National Commission,” which is entrusted with the organization of the visit, informed the faithful on the security measures and on logistical issues. The Commission stressed that all, regardless of their origin or religion, are welcome at the meetings with Pope Francis, states a press release published on the Website of the Episcopal Conference of Chile. It also stresses that the tickets are free.

A special surprise is being prepared in Peru to welcome the Pontiff: a video of some two-minutes duration on the beauties of the country. The population is waiting for Pope Francis with joy in every region. The preparations are underway and all are full of hope and strength, is the video’s message, which ends with the affirmation” “United by Hope.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

 

JF

Advent Question: How Much is Christ in Your Life?

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 11:59 AM

The Pope and Roman Curia started hearing some challenging questions on December 15, 2017, with the start of the Advent reflections by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Papal Household Preacher.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Father Cantalamessa said the theme of this year’s sermons is “Everything was made through Him and in view of Him” (Colossians 1:16).  And the fundamental question to be asked and reflected upon:  “How much room does Jesus have today in the life of a Christian and of men?”

Father Cantalamessa chose the theme in the hope of bringing to light the relevance that faith has in fields that might at first glance appear to be “independent” of faith, he said in the interview.  Examples include the environment and ecology.

He pointed out that no one (at least not people of faith) believe today that there is real conflict between faith and science.  But he warned, “that Christ is absent in the dialogue of faith with science.”

“One must take note that, despite the constant talk there is of Christ in Theology – and in the secular culture, in films, and in novels – He is absent in the three most challenging dialogues of the moment,” Father Cantalamessa explained. “I have noted that there is no talk of Him in the dialogue with science, but there is not even talk of Him in the dialogue with Philosophy, which is concerned with metaphysical concepts and not with historical personalities, and least of all, for obvious reasons, in the dialogue between religions.”

He went on to advise that making Christ central in life requires a true definition of “neighbors.” They aren’t just the people living next door, that are in a “space” near us, but who will come after us, who are neighbors in “time.”

St. Francis will play a role in the discussion, he noted.  He believed he should not take more from than the earth that he needed.

“We must decide not to be thieves of earthly resources – energy, food, water, trees, paper – using them more than necessary, or wasting them, because this means taking them away from those coming after us,” Father Cantalamessa told the newspaper.

 

Pope Receives President Morales of Bolivia in Vatican

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 11:28 AM

This morning, Dec. 15, 2017, Pope Francis received in audience the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Juan Evo Morales Ayma.

According to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions with the president whose country the Argentine Pontiff visited in July 2015, along with Ecuador and Paraguay, were cordial.

“Appreciation,” the statement said, “was expressed for the contribution the Church has given and continues to ensure in favor of the human, social and cultural progress of the population of the country, and mention was made of the updating of the framework of agreements between the Holy See and Bolivia.”

It also noted that various themes of common interest were evoked. While no specific common themes were mentioned this year, during last year’s encounter, the Vatican statement referenced ‘education, healthcare and assistance to the poor.’

After meeting with the Holy Father, the president met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.