Zenit News - English

Syndicate content
The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 31 min 5 sec ago

Vatican Christmas Services Schedule

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 9:18 AM

SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S BIRTH
24 December 2017

Angelus – 12:00
Midnight Mass
 – 21:30

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S BIRTH
25 December 2017

“Urbi et Orbi” Blessing – 12:00

 

FEAST OF ST STEPHEN PROTOMARTYR
26 December 2017

Angelus – 12:00

 

WEDNESDAY
27 December 2017

General Audience – 10:00

 

SUNDAY
31 December 2017

Angelus – 12:00
First Vespers and Te Deum – 17:00

 

SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
1st January 2018

Holy Mass – 10:00
Angelus – 12:00

 

WEDNESDAY
3 January 2018

General Audience – 10:00

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIFANY OF THE LORD
6 January 2018

Holy Mass – 10:00
Angelus – 12:00

 

FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
7 January 2018

Holy Mass and Baptism of Children – 9:30
Angelus – 12:00

Pope Prays for Peace, Relief for Those Suffering

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 9:02 AM

Pope Francis on December 14, 2017, prayed for peace and for populations suffering in on-going conflicts. His remarks came after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“In our prayerful awaiting of the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we invoke the gift of peace for the whole world, especially for the populations that suffer most because of on-going conflicts,” the Holy Father said. “I renew, in particular, my appeal so that, on the occasion of holy Christmas, kidnapped persons – priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – are released and are able to return to their homes. Let us pray for them.”

 

JF

Philippines: Pope Prays for People of Mindanao

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 8:54 AM

Pope Francis on December 14, 2017, assured the population of the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines that his prayers are with them.

His remarks came after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Hundreds are feared dead in the storm that struck the island starting December 22.

“I also wish to assure my prayer to the population of the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines, affected by a storm that has caused numerous victims and destructions,” the Holy Father said. “May the merciful God receive the souls of the deceased and comfort all those suffering because of this calamity. Let us pray for these people.”

 

JF

Pope Francis on Promise and Response

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 8:44 AM

Pope Francis stressed the contrast at the Annunciation between the promise of the angel and the response of Mary.  His comments came before the December 24, 2017, praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“This contrast is manifested in the dimension and the content of the expressions of the two protagonists,” the Holy Father said.  In the Angel’s case, his proclamation is long and detailed.  However, Mary’s response is brief:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38).

Mary’s response “makes us understand that Mary is truly humble and doesn’t want to show off,” the Pope explained. “She acknowledges being little before God and is happy to be so. At the same time, she is aware that the realization of God’s plan depends on her answer, and that therefore she is called to adhere to it with her whole self.”

This humble attitude “corresponds perfectly” to the attitude of Jesus when he enters the world.  The Pope continued: “He wants to become the Servant of the Lord, to put himself at the service of humanity to fulfill the Father’s plan…Our Lady reveals herself a perfect collaborator of God’s plan, and she reveals herself also a disciple of her Son”

* * *

The Pope’s Address Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this Sunday, immediately preceding Christmas, we hear the Gospel of the Annunciation (Cf. Luke 1:26-38). In this evangelical passage, we note a contrast between the Angel’s promises and Mary’s response. This contrast is manifested in the dimension and the content of the expressions of the two protagonists. The Angel says to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (vv. 30-33). It’s a long revelation, which opens unheard of prospects. The child that will be born of this humble girl of Nazareth will be called Son of the Most High: it’s not possible to conceive a higher dignity than this. And, after Mary’s question, with which she asked for explanations, the Angel’s revelation becomes even more detailed and astonishing.

Instead, Mary’s response is a brief phrase, which doesn’t speak of glory, doesn’t speak of privilege, but only of willingness and service: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). The content is also different. Mary doesn’t exalt herself in face of the prospect of becoming, in fact, the Mother of the Messiah, but remains modest and expresses her own adherence to the Lord’s plan. Mary doesn’t boast. She is humble, modest. She remains as ever.

This contrast is significant. It makes us understand that Mary is truly humble and doesn’t want to show off. She acknowledges being little before God and is happy to be so. At the same time, she is aware that the realization of God’s plan depends on her answer, and that therefore she is called to adhere to it with her whole self.

In this circumstance, Mary appears with an attitude that corresponds perfectly to that of the Son of God when He comes into the world: He wants to become the Servant of the Lord, to put himself at the service of humanity to fulfill the Father’s plan.  Mary says: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”; and, entering the world, the Son of God says: “Lo, I have come to do thy will” (Hebrews 10:7.9). Mary’s attitude fully reflects this statement of the Son of God, who becomes also Son of Mary. Thus Our Lady reveals herself a perfect collaborator of God’s plan, and she reveals herself also a disciple of her Son, and in the Magnificat she is able to proclaim that God has “exalted those of low degree” (Luke 1:52), because with her humble and generous response she obtained a lofty joy and also a lofty glory.

While we admire our Mother for her response to God’s call and mission, let us ask her to help each one of us to accept God’s plan in our life with sincere humility and courageous generosity.

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

  © Libreria Editrice Vatican

 

Angelus Address: On the Gospel of the Annunciation

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 8:27 AM

 

VATICAN CITY, DECEMBER 24, 2017 (Zenit.org).- Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this Sunday, immediately preceding Christmas, we hear the Gospel of the Annunciation (Cf. Luke 1:26-38). In this evangelical passage, we note a contrast between the Angel’s promises and Mary’s response. This contrast is manifested in the dimension and the content of the expressions of the two protagonists. The Angel says to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (vv. 30-33). It’s a long revelation, which opens unheard of prospects. The child that will be born of this humble girl of Nazareth will be called Son of the Most High: it’s not possible to conceive a higher dignity than this. And, after Mary’s question, with which she asked for explanations, the Angel’s revelation becomes even more detailed and astonishing.

Instead, Mary’s response is a brief phrase, which doesn’t speak of glory, doesn’t speak of privilege, but only of willingness and service: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). The content is also different. Mary doesn’t exalt herself in face of the prospect of becoming, in fact, the Mother of the Messiah, but remains modest and expresses her own adherence to the Lord’s plan. Mary doesn’t boast. She is humble, modest. She remains as ever.

This contrast is significant. It makes us understand that Mary is truly humble and doesn’t want to show off. She acknowledges being little before God and is happy to be so. At the same time, she is aware that the realization of God’s plan depends on her answer, and that therefore she is called to adhere to it with her whole self.

In this circumstance, Mary appears with an attitude that corresponds perfectly to that of the Son of God when He comes into the world: He wants to become the Servant of the Lord, to put himself at the service of humanity to fulfill the Father’s plan.  Mary says: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”; and, entering the world, the Son of God says: “Lo, I have come to do thy will” (Hebrews 10:7.9). Mary’s attitude fully reflects this statement of the Son of God, who becomes also Son of Mary. Thus Our Lady reveals herself a perfect collaborator of God’s plan, and she reveals herself also a disciple of her Son, and in the Magnificat she is able to proclaim that God has “exalted those of low degree” (Luke 1:52), because with her humble and generous response she obtained a lofty joy and also a lofty glory.

While we admire our Mother for her response to God’s call and mission, let us ask her to help each one of us to accept God’s plan in our life with sincere humility and courageous generosity.

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

  

After the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our prayerful awaiting of the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we invoke the gift of peace for the whole world, especially for the populations that suffer most because of on-going conflicts. I renew, in particular, my appeal so that, on the occasion of holy Christmas, kidnapped persons – priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – are released and are able to return to their homes. Let us pray for them.

I also wish to assure my prayer to the population of the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines, affected by a storm that has caused numerous victims and destructions. May the merciful God receive the souls of the deceased and comfort all those suffering because of this calamity. Let us pray for these people.

I greet you all affectionately, Roman faithful and pilgrims from various countries, families, parish groups and Associations.

In these hours that separate us from Christmas, find a moment to stop in silence and in prayer before the Crib, to adore in your heart the mystery of the true Christmas, that of Jesus, who comes close to us with love, humility and tenderness.

And, in those moments, remember also to pray for me. Thank you! Have a Happy Sunday and a good lunch! Goodbye!

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

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

 

JF

 

‘The Future Has An Ancient Face”: Vatican Museums’ Conference

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 3:00 PM

The Conference entitled “The Future Has An Ancient Face,” marking the end of the restoration works of the “Loggia del Nicchione,” which overlooks the cones courtyard of the Belvedere Palace at the Vatican, was held on December 19, 2017 in the Conference Hall of the Holy See, stated a press release of UNESCO’s  Friends of the Holy See.

The Conference was the occasion to review the five centuries of the Belvedere Palace’s history. Barbara Jatta, Directress of the Vatican Museums, and Vitale Zanchettin, in charge of the Superintendency Office of the Architectonic Goods of the Vatican Museums, were present.

Modified in the course of the centuries, the Belvedere Palace is occupied to a great extent by papal collections of the Vatican Museums.

“After 20 years of research and three years of works, the highest terrace of the Palace has rediscovered the splendor of its first hours, reported a press release. Thanks to the work of the Office of the Superintendency and by a traditional restoration process with lime and natural pigments, this look-out post, which overlooks the city of Rome, changes colors according to the sun’s orientation.”

In the beginning, the Belvedere Palace was only a pavilion given to Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492). Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and Renaissance architect Donatio Bramante undertook the works of modernization and enlargement of the Belvedere Palace in order to connect it to the Apostolic Palace by a system of courtyards and terraces.

Like the whole of the architectural patrimony of Vatican City, the Belvedere Palace has been registered as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1984.

 

JF

New US Ambassador to Holy See Presents Credential Letters to Pope Francis

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 1:07 PM

New Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich,  has presented her credential letters to Pope Francis, the Vatican stated this morning.

In doing so, the ambassador officially assumed the duties of United States Ambassador to the Holy See. Following the encounter with the Pope, Ambassador Gingrich met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Ambassador Gingrich is the former President and CEO of Gingrich Productions. She is the author of the “Ellis the Elephant” children’s American history series and co-author of “Rediscovering God in America.” Ms. Gingrich is also a producer of several historical documentary films. She previously served as a congressional aide in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the President of The Gingrich Foundation, and as a member of the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the ambassador looks forward to working with the Holy See to defend human rights, advance religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and to seek peaceful solutions to crises around the world.

From Nazareth to Bethlehem: the 2017th Christmas

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 11:52 AM

1) Christmas Eve.

This year, the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on December 24th. After the testimony of John the Baptist (Third Sunday of Advent), the liturgy of the Word of this fourth Sunday offers us the testimony of Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who has devoutly kept in her heart the great things that the Lord had done to her.

Let us make our eyes full of the hope that nourished the patient waiting of John the Baptist and Mary’s maternal waiting so to sing with her the hymn of praise for God who “helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, as he had promised to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his descendants forever “(Lk 1: 45-55).

On the eve of Christmas, the liturgy leads us to Nazareth where the first “Hail Mary” was said and the Word became flesh, and offers us the Gospel of the Annunciation. Let us contemplate this evangelical fact – addressed to us by St. Luke, who probably heard it told by Mary herself- and  let’s  make ours the “yes”, the “fiat” (in Latin), the “Amen” (in Hebrew) of this young woman. In this way, we could also make true the words of the Angel Gabriel: “Do not be afraid … you will conceive … you will give birth to the Son of God and you will name him Jesus”.

The event of the Annunciation clearly tells us that Mary is the immediate, temporal as well as biological and affective, theological and biblical channel through which welcome Jesus this Christmas and forever. In fact, “does it profit us that Christ was once born of Mary in Bethlehem if he is not born also by faith in our soul?” (Origen). Therefore, “moved by the goodness of God who in Christ manifests his love for man” (Pope Francis) we welcome the Savior.

A great amazement full of emotion takes possession of us if we contemplate the miracle of God, who takes on a human body by dwelling in a mother’s womb, and the miracle that “a womb of flesh was able to bring fire, and the flame lived in the delicate body without burning it “(Saint Ephraim, the Syrian) but burned our sins.

 

2) Christmas and the Nativity.

Now, from Nazareth, which means “garden” and where the flower of Christ was born, let’s go to Bethlehem, which means “house of bread” and will host the One who will become for us the Bread of life.

In Bethlehem was born the One who, in the sign of the broken bread, would have left the memorial of his Passover. The adoration of the Child Jesus in this Holy Night continues in the Eucharistic adoration. We adore the Lord, made flesh to save our flesh, made living Bread to give life to every human being. We recognize, as our only God, this fragile Child who lies helplessly in the manger. “At the fullness of time, you became man among men to unite the end to the beginning, that is, man to God” (cf. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., IV, 20, 4). In the Son of the Virgin, “wrapped in swaddling clothes” and laid “in a manger” (Lk 2:12), we recognize and adore “the Bread descended from heaven” (Jn 6, 41.51), the Redeemer came to earth to give life to the world.

Today, we are not only given to listen but also to see the Word of God, as long as we go “to Bethlehem and look at this Word, that the Lord has done and showed us”. (Blessed Guerric d’Igny)

Let us therefore go to the grotto of Bethlehem and contemplate this unthinkable miracle, which for many is still unbelievable: “God, who measures the sky with the width of his hand, lies in a manger as large as a hand’s width; He, who contains the sea in the hollow of his hand, experienced his birth in a cave. The sky is full of his glory and the manger is full of his splendor (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Hymn for the Birth of Christ, 1).

If we read carefully the Gospel of the Nativity, as St. Luke proposes it, we can recreate the scene of the nativity in the mind and in the heart. Imagine a cave also used as a stable, a poor occasional housing, chosen by the two pilgrims, Mary and Joseph, to host the birth of the One who is the center of the world and humanity: a mature event that fulfills the times. Let us allow our eyes to be drawn by the night, the cold, poverty, and loneliness and then, suddenly, by the opening of the sky and the extraordinary announcement of the angels, and by the arrival of the shepherds. With our imagination, we can reconstruct the details and transform the scene into a pastoral familiar landscape for an enchanting story. We all become children, and we enjoy an enchanted moment that makes us dream. This is beautiful but it is simplistic because Christ is born in a cave. When the shepherds arrived there, what did they see?

A child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger as the Angels had announced them. It is the wonder of Christmas: to be proclaimed Lord, the Prince of Peace, Messiah and Savior is a child who has, as a throne, a manger and, as a royal palace, a cave. The total simplicity of the first nativity is amazing.  The most marvelous detail is the absence of any wonderful touch in the cave. The shepherds are wrapped up and frightened by the glory of God, but the sign they receive from the Angels is simple: “You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger”. Actually, when they come to Bethlehem they see nothing but “a child lying in the manger”. Let’s ask to see the miracle of Christmas in the “banality” of everyday life and seriously predict what an anonymous wrote centuries ago: “Our body is the living Nativity in places where we are called to live and work; our legs, like those of the animals that warmed Jesus on the night of His Christmas; our womb, like that of Mary who welcomed and raised Jesus; our arms like those of Joseph who cradled, lifted, embraced Jesus and worked for Him;  our voice, like that of the angels to praise the Word made flesh; our eyes, like the ones of all those who saw him in the manger at night; our ears, like those of the shepherds who listened -astounded- to the angelic song coming from the sky; our intelligence, like that of the Three Wise Men who followed the star to the “house” of Jesus, the cave; our heart as the manger that welcomed the Eternal who became small and poor like one of us “.

So let’s go to the manger to become more and more a living Nativity that reveals Man and God. The man who we are not yet but who we are called to be, and the God who cannot manifest himself but in a humble but transparent humanity that lets go through itself this Love that is only Love.

If we go to the nativity, it is because Christmas is the center of the universal history. It is in relation to Christmas that all the centuries are counted.

If we go to the nativity, it is because in the birth of Christ there is our birth, our dignity, our greatness and our freedom.

If we go to the nativity, it is because there God reveals himself no longer as a master who dominates us and claims rights over us, but as a sweet Love, who wants to hide in us and does not stop waiting for us because “the only thing” that He can always do is to love us.

The only logical answer to this Love is to love Him. The Christians are those who believed and believe in this Love born among us and for us. The Christians are called by Love to love. This is the vocation that Christmas offers and every year renews.

This vocation to Love is lived in a special way by the consecrated Virgins. If the Christian life is a journey and a progressive assimilation to the life of the Lord Jesus, so it is, in a special way, the life of these women who joyfully consecrated themselves to Christ with loving trust and total abandonment. The consecrated virgins testify to us that Christ is a gift to which we respond by giving ourselves and making of our heart the manger from where He opens his arms to the world. Christmas is not an emotion, but a vocation to always be chastely with him. The Son of God who incarnates himself, becomes one of us and calls us to believe with our heart, to proclaim with our lips (see Rom 10: 9-10) and to confirm with the works that God’s covenant is in our flesh consecrated by the virginal offering. In this way, men, seeing our good works, give glory to our Father who is in heaven (see Mt 5:16) in Jesus Christ our Lord (see Liturgy). Being consecrated virgins means being a sign of God’s fidelity and a place where the donated life of Christ generates life here on earth and for eternity.

The Virgins consecrated in the world, and we with them, are called to be the cradle of the true Adam where the whole world is born in divine communion. “I therefore expect that the ‘spirituality of communion’, indicated by St. John Paul II, becomes reality and that you are at the forefront in grasping the ‘great challenge facing us’ in this new millennium: making the Church the home and school of communion “(Pope Francis, Letter on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, November 2014).

 

Servicemembers at Victory Base Complex , Iraq, attend the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 24, 2008.ÊU.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric J. Glassey

Patristic reading

Saint Leo, the Great (390 – 461)

Sermo 32

 All Share in the Joy of Christmas.

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin. Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, “no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon earth1 .” Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body. And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result2 , she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honor that she is soon to be the Mother of God3. For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin.

II. The Mystery of the Incarnation is a Fitting Theme for Joy Both to Angels and to Men.

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God,the Son of God who “in the beginning was with God,” through whom “all things were made” and “without” whom “was nothing made4 ,” with the purpose of delivering man from eternal death, became man: so bending Himself to take on Him our humility without decrease in His own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which He is equal to God the Father, and join both natures together by such a compact that the lower should not be swallowed up in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its new associate.5 Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt, belonging to our condition, inviolable naturewas united with possible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, SO that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the others.

Rightly, therefore, did the birth of our Salvation impart no corruption to the Virgin’s purity, because the bearing of the Truth was the keeping of honor. Such then beloved was the nativity which became the Power of God and the Wisdom of God even Christ, whereby He might be one with us in manhood and surpass us in Godhead. For unless He were true God, He would not bring us a remedy, unless He were true Man, He would not give us an example. Therefore the exulting angel’s song when the Lord was born is this, “Glory to God in the Highest,” and their message, “peace on earth to men of good will7 .” For they see that the heavenly Jerusalem is being built up out of all the nations of the world: and over that indescribable work of the Divine love, how ought the humbleness of men to rejoice, when the joy of the lofty angels is so great?

III. Christians Then Must Live Worthily of Christ Their Head.

Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit8 , Who “for His great mercy, wherewith He has loved us,” has had pity on us: and “when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together in Christ9 ,” that we might be inHim a new creation and a new production. Let us put off then the old man with his deeds: and having obtained a share in the birth of Christ let us renounce the works of the flesh. Christian, acknowledge thy dignity and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct. Remember the Head and the Body of which thou art a member. Recollect that thou wert rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God’s light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism thou weft made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from thee by base acts, and subject thyself once more to the devil’s thraldom: because thy purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge thee in truth Who ransomed thee in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

1  Jb 19,4,
Effectus: the older editions read affatus (sc. the utterances of the angel).
Dei genetrix (qeotovko”): in opposing Eutyches, Leo is careful not to fall into Nestorianism. Bright’s note 3 should be read on this passage and esp. his quotation from Bp. Pearson (note 2 on art. 3) absit ut quisquam S. Mariam Divinoe gratioe privilegiis et speciali gloria fraudare conetur.
4  Jn 1,1-3.
5 “Without-other” repeated in almost the same words in Letter XXVIII. chap. 3.
6 “Without-other” repeated in almost the same words in Letter XXVIII. chap. 3.
7  Lc 2,14.
8 Bingham observes (b. 14,c. 2s 1), that Leo here uses, though in a catholic sense, that form of doxology which had become associated with Arianism. He could well afford to do as S. Athanasius had done, who ascribes glory to the Father “through the Son” at the conclusion of four treatises. Bright.
9  Ep 2,4-5.
 

 

 

Pope to Struggling Couples: ‘Accept Help, Save the Family’

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 11:48 AM

 

‘Accept help, save the family’ . . . pleaded Pope Francis to couples in difficulty, during the Christmas greetings to the Vatican’s employees on December 21, 2017.

In the course of this meeting in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father gave an off-the-cuff address in which he recalled marital difficulties: “I would like to say sincerely: when I know that one of your families is going through a crisis and that the children are anguished . . . I suffer,” he confided, urging: “Allow yourselves to be helped . . . please, save the families!”

“I know that it’s not easy, that there are personality problems, psychological problems,” recognized the Pontiff, “there are numerous problems in a marriage . . . but try to ask for help in time . . . so that the children won’t suffer.” “I know that among you, there are separated persons . . . and I suffer with you,” he said.

In his impromptu address, Pope Francis exhorted those present to “take care of the family . . . the family! It’s the greatest treasure because God created us as family.”

“The family is the image of God, man and woman, fruitful. Multiply, have children, go ahead!”

He called on them to resolve conjugal problems without involving the children “because when parents quarrel, the children suffer, suffer.” It’s advice that I give you: never, never quarrel in front of the children, because they don’t understand,” he added.

Fr. Cantalamessa: Christ at the Center of Time

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 11:18 AM

The birth of Christ changed the concept of time, as He became the “central point’ of time, but the fundamental question for each person: “Is Christ also the center of my life?

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the pontifical household, asked this during the second Advent sermon of this season on December 22, 2017. He spoke to in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia.

“The question to start with is simple: Is Christ also the center of my life, of my small personal history? Of my time? Fr. Cantalamessa asked. “Does he occupy in it a central place only in theory or also in fact?”

He explained that in the lives of most people, there is an event that divides life into a “before” and an “after.” Examples: marriage for married couples; ordination for priests; professions for religious.

For the world, the event was the appearance of Christ.  It even changed how we express time because Christ is at the center of time.

“He is present in the Old Testament as figure, he is present in the New Testament as event, and he is present in the age of the Church as sacrament,” Fr. Cantalamessa said. “The figure announces, anticipates, and prepares for the event, while the sacrament celebrates it, makes it present, actualizes it, and in a certain sense continues it.”

Father invited all Christians “everywhere, at this very moment”[!], to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day”

He stressed that this invitation is intended for everyone. And he concluded by reminding listeners that the Church will focus attention on youth in the coming year, especially through the Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” in preparation for World Youth Day.

“Let us help them fill their youth with Christ, and we will have given them the most beautiful gift,” he proclaimed.

Pope’s Words to Vatican Employees & Their Families

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 10:05 AM

At midday Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 the Holy Father Francis met in Paul VI Hall with dependents of the Holy See and of Vatican City State, with their respective families, for Christmas greetings.

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the Audience.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Address

Good morning! First of all I want to thank, to thank each one of you for the work you do inside here.

Each one has his work, knows it . . . There are also work teams in the Vatican . . . This work is what makes this “train” function, which is the Vatican, the Holy See, which seems so heavy, so great, with so many problems, so many things . . . And each one of you gives his best to do this work. I am conscious that without your work . . . one of you was telling me that he has worked here for 43 years — how many memories! – without your work , things wouldn’t go well, and this means that the work of the Church wouldn’t go well; so much work couldn’t be done for the preaching of the Gospel, to help so many people, the sick, the schools, so many things . . . You are part of this “chain” that carries forward the Church’s work.

The first word I would like to say to you is work, but not to say to you: work more; get on with it! No, no, to say thank you. Thank you. However, there is a problem when speaking of work in the Vatican. One of you ladies came in and pointing to a youth said: “Help the temporary workers.” The other day I had a meeting with Cardinal Marx, who is the President of the Council of the Economy, and with Monsignor Ferme, the Secretary, and I said: ”I don’t want illegal work in the Vatican.” I apologize if this still exists. The famous article 11, which is a valid article for a test, but a test of one or two years, not more. Just as I’ve said that no one must be left without work, that is, fire one, unless there is another job outside for his convenience, or that there is an agreement that is suitable for the person, so I say: we must work inside here so that there is no temporary work or workers. It’s also a problem of conscience for me, because we can’ teach the Social Doctrine of the Church and then do these things that aren’t right. It’s understood that a person must be tested for a certain time, tested for a year, perhaps two, but stop there – nothing illegal. This is my intention; you help me. Help also the superiors, those that depend on the Governorate, the Cardinal, the Secretary, help to solve these problems of the Holy See: temporary jobs that still exist.

Hence, the first word is work, to thank, talk of temporary work and also, one last thing: work is your path of holiness, of happiness, of growth. Today perhaps the worst curse is not to have work. And so many people — you surely must know so many –, don’t have work. Because work gives us dignity, and the security of work gives us dignity. I don’t want to give names, but you will find it in the newspapers. Today I saw, in a newspaper, these two problems, of two important firms, here in Italy, which are at risk, and to save the life, one must “rationalize” – that’s the word – the work and fire 3-4 thousand people. This is awful, very awful, because dignity is lost. And this is a problem not only here, of the Vatican, of Italy or of Europe: it’s a global problem. It’s a problem that depends on many factors in the world. To keep one’s work and to have dignity, to take the bread home: “I take it because I earn it. Not because I pass by Caritas to get it, no. I earn it.” This is dignity. So is work. Thank you, Help superiors to put an end to irregular work situations, and keep your job because it’s your dignity. I would say, keep your job, but do it well. This is important!

The second word that comes to mind to say to you is: family. I would like to say to you sincerely: when I know that one of your families is in crisis, that there are children who are anguished because they see that the family has . . . a problem, I suffer. But allow yourselves to be helped. I wanted the Secretary General of the Governorate to be Bishop so that he would have this pastoral dimension. Please, save the families. I know it’s not easy, that there are personality problems, psychological problems, problems . . . so many problems in a marriage. However, try to ask for help in time, to safeguard the families. I know that among you there are some who are separated; I know it and I suffer, I suffer with you . . . life has gone that way. However, I would also like to help you in this; allow yourselves to be helped. If something has happened, at least don’t let the children suffer, because when parents quarrel, the children suffer, they suffer. And I’ll give you some advice: never quarrel in front of the children –never, because they don’t understand. Take care of the family. And for this you have here Monsignor Verges and also the chaplains. They will tell you where to go to get help. The family: this is the great jewel, because God has created us family. Marriage is the image of God, man and woman, fruitful: “multiply,” have children; go ahead. I was happy today when I saw many, many children here. It’s a family. Take care of the family, is the second word that comes to mind.

The third word that comes to mind – perhaps one of you would like to say to me: “But put and end to it with this!” is a recurrent word: gossip. Perhaps I’m mistaken . . . there is no gossiping in the Vatican . . . perhaps, I don’t know . . . One of you said to me, one of you workers, one day when I preached about gossip, and he had come to Mass with his wife, he said to me: “Father, if one doesn’t gossip in the Vatican, one remains isolated.” Heavy, heavy! You heard what I say about gossiping: the gossiper is a terrorist, because he does as the terrorists: he throws the bomb, goes away, the bomb explodes and hurts so many others, with the tongue, does that bomb. Please, don’t engage in terrorism! Don’t engage in the terrorism of gossip. This is the third word that comes to me.

However, someone might say to me: “Father, give us advice, what can we do not to gossip? ”Bite your tongue! It will surely swell, but you will have done good not to gossip. Gossip, also, by some persons who should give example and don’t, they don’t give it.

And here <is> the fourth word I would like to say to you: forgiveness. “Forgiveness and “sorry,” because we don’t always give good example; we – I speak of the “clerical fauna” – we [he smiles] don’t always give good example. There are mistakes in life that we clerics make, sins, injustices, or sometimes we treat people badly, <are> somewhat neurotic, injustices . . . Forgiveness for all these bad examples. We must ask for forgiveness I also ask for forgiveness, because sometimes “I fly off the handle’ [he laughs] [I lose my patience] . . .

Dear collaborators, brothers and sisters. Here are the words, the four words that came from my heart: work, family, gossip, forgiveness.

And the last word is the Christmas greeting: Happy Christmas! — but a Happy Christmas in the heart, in the family, also in the conscience. Don’t be afraid, you too, to ask for forgiveness if your conscience reproaches you something; look for a good confessor and do a thorough cleaning! They say the best confessor is the deaf priest [he laughs]: he doesn’t make you feel ashamed! However, without <their> being deaf, there are so many merciful <confessors>, so many who listen to you and forgive you: “Go ahead!” Christmas is a good opportunity to make peace also within ourselves. We are all sinners, all. Yesterday I made my Christmas confession: the confessor came . . . and it did me good. We must all go to confession.

I wish you a Happy Christmas, of joy but that joy that comes from within. And I don’t want to forget the sick, who perhaps are in your family, who suffer, and I send them also a blessing. Thank you so much. We guard work, so that it’s just; we take care of the family, we curb the tongue and, please, forgive us for the bad examples, and let’s do a thorough cleansing of the heart this Christmas, to be in peace and happy.

And before I go, I would like to give you a Blessing, to you, to your families, to all. Thank you so much for your help.

Let’s pray a Hail Mary to Our Lady: “Hail Mary . . .”
[Blessing] And pray for me; don’t forget!

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

SPECIAL: 2nd Advent Sermon From Fr. Cantalamessa

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 8:43 AM

Today, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household, gave the the second Advent sermon of this season.

Here is a translation of the text:

__

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap

Second Sermon for Advent 2017

 

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap

“CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOR EVER”

(Heb 13:8)

The Omnipresence of Christ in Time

  1. Christ and Time

After having meditated last time on the place Christ occupies in the cosmos, I would like to dedicate this second reflection to the place Christ occupies in human history: after first considering his presence in space, we will now consider his presence in time.

At Mass on Christmas Eve in St Peter’s Basilica, the ancient chant of the Kalends drawn from the Roman Martyrology has been reinstated since Vatican II. In it the birth of Christ is placed at the end of a series of dates that situate it in time. Here are some of its statements:

When ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world…,

in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt,

around the thousandth year since David was anointed King. . . ,

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad,

in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome,

in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,

the whole world being at peace, JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man.

This relative approach to calculating time, starting with a beginning and referring to different events, was bound to change radically with Christ’s coming, even though that did not happen immediately or all at once. Oscar Cullman, in his famous study Christ and Time, explained in a very clear way what this change in the human way of calculating time meant.

We no longer begin with a starting point (the creation of the world, the exodus from Egypt, the founding of Rome, etc.) followed by a numbering that goes forward into an unlimited future. We now start with a central point, the birth of Christ, and calculate the time before it in descending order—five centuries, four centuries, one century before Christ—and in an ascending order for the time that follows: one century, two centuries, or two millennia after Christ. In a few days we will celebrate the 2017th anniversary of that event.

This way of calculating time, as I said, did not come about immediately or in the same way. Starting with Dionysius Exiguus (Dionysius the Humble) in 525, people began to calculate years starting from the birth of Christ instead of the founding of Rome. However, only in the seventeenth century (it seems with the theologian Denis Pétau called Petavius) was the custom established of counting the time prior to Christ according to the years that preceded his coming. We now have the general custom in English of using the formula “Before Christ” (abbreviated as B.C.) and “Anno Domini” (“the year of the Lord,” abbreviated as A.D.), meaning “after Christ.” Whatever abbreviations are used in different languages, dates now represent “before Christ” and “after Christ.”

For some time now the custom has spread, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world and in international relations, of avoiding this wording that is no longer acceptable, for understandable reasons, to people belonging to other religions or to no religion. Instead of speaking of “the Christian era” or “the year of the Lord,” people prefer to speak of the “Current Era” or the “the Common Era.” “Before Christ was born” (B.C.) has now been substituted by “Before the Common Era” (BCE), and “the year of the Lord” (A.D) has been substituted by “the Common Era” (CE). The wording has changed but not the essence since the manner of calculating the years and time has stayed the same.

Oscar Cullman has clarified the innovation of this new chronology introduced by Christianity. Time does not proceed in cycles that are repeated, as in the thinking of Greek philosophy and, among the moderns, of Friedrich Nietzsche. Rather, it moves forward in a linear fashion, starting from an unspecified moment (that we are unable to date precisely), namely, the creation of the world, toward a point that is equally unspecified and unforeseeable, which is the parousia. Christ is at the center of the line, the One to whom all things before him point and to whom all things point backward after him. Defining himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” of history (Rev 21:6), the Risen One assures us that not only will he gather together into himself the beginning and the end but also that he himself is that unspecified beginning and unforeseeable end, the author of creation and its consummation.

At the time, Cullman’s position met with a strong, hostile reaction from representatives of the dialectical theology that was dominant then: Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and their disciples. Their theology tended to de-historicize the Kerygma, reducing it to an existentialist “summons to decision.” Consequently they showed a marked lack of interest for the “Jesus of history” in favor of the so-called “Christ of faith.” However, the revived interest in “salvation history” in theology after the Council and the rekindled interest in the Jesus of history in biblical scholarship (the so-called “new quest for the historical Jesus”) have confirmed the validity of Cullman’s insight.

One achievement of dialectical theology has remained intact: God is completely other with respect to the world, history, and time. There is an “infinite and irreducible qualitative difference” between them. When it comes to Christ, however, alongside the certainty of an infinite difference, there must always be the affirmation of an equally great “infinite” similarity. This is the core of the definition of Chalcedon, expressed by the two adverbs “inconfuse, indivise,” without confusion and without separation. We must say of Christ in an eminent way that he is “in the world” but not “of it.” He is in history and time, but he transcends history and time.

  1. Christ: Figure, Event, Sacrament

Let us now attempt to give more precise content to the assertion of Christ’s omnipresence in history and time. It is not an abstract and uniform presence. It occurs in a differentiated way in the different phases of salvation history. Christ “is the same yesterday and today and for ever”(Heb 13: 8), but not in the same modality. He is present in the Old Testament as figure, he is present in the New Testament as event, and he is present in the age of the Church as sacrament. The figure announces, anticipates, and prepares for the event, while the sacrament celebrates it, makes it present, actualizes it, and in a certain sense continues it. This is the sense in which the liturgy has us say at Christmas, “Hodie Christus natus est, hodie Salvator apparuit” (“Today Christ is born; today the Savior has appeared”).

St. Paul consistently asserts that in the Old Testament all things—events and personages—refer to Christ: everything is a “type,” a prophecy, or an “allegory” of him. But that conviction goes back to the Jesus of the Gospels who applies to himself so many words and events of the Old Testament. According to Luke, the Risen One on the way to Emmaus with the two disciples does exactly that: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Christian tradition has coined some brief formulas to express this truth of faith, for example, that the law was “pregnant” with Christ. The liturgy of the Church lives by this conviction in practice and reads every page of the Old Testament in reference to Christ.

To say, secondly, that Christ is present in the New Testament as “event” means affirming the unique and unrepeatable character of the historical events concerning the Person of Jesus and in particular the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection. The event is that which occurs semel, “once for all” (Heb 9:26-28), and as such is not repeatable since it is enclosed in space and time.

Finally, to say that Christ is present in the Church as “sacrament” is an affirmation that the salvation he accomplished becomes operative in history through the signs he instituted. The word “sacrament” is understood here in its fuller meaning to include the seven sacraments but also the Word of God and in fact the whole Church as a “universal sacrament of salvation.” Thanks to the sacraments, the semel becomes quotiescunque, the “one single time” becomes “as often as,” as Paul asserts at the Lord’s Supper: “For as often as [quotiescunque] you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).  

When we speak of Christ’s presence in salvation history as figure, event, and sacrament, we need to avoid the error of Joachim of Fiore (or at least the error attributed to him) of dividing all of human history into three ages: the age of the Father, which would be the Old Testament; the age of the Son, which would be the New Testament; and the age of the Holy Spirit, which would be the Church age. Not only would this be contrary to the doctrine of the Trinity (who always act jointly in their works ad extra) but also contrary to christological doctrine. Christ as event is not one of the three moments or phases of history but the center of history, the One to whom the time before him points and from whom the meaning of time after him derives. He is the hinge that both unites and distinguishes the two time periods. This is the truth expressed in the new chronology that divides time into “before Christ” and “after Christ.”

  1. The Encounter That Changes Life

And now, as usual, we will go from the macrocosm to the microcosm, from universal history to personal history, that is, from theology to life. The observation that Christ, even in the universal custom of dating events, is recognized as the center and the linchpin of time, the barycenter of history, should not be a reason for pride and triumphalism for a Christian but an occasion for a sober examination of conscience.

The question to start with is simple: Is Christ also the center of my life, of my small personal history? Of my time? Does he occupy in it a central place only in theory or also in fact? In the lives of the majority of people, there is an event that divides life in two and creates a “before” and an “after.” For married people this is usually marriage, and they divide their lives into “before I was married” and “after I was married.” For priests it is their ordination: before ordination and after ordination; for religious it is their religious profession.

St. Paul also divides his life into two parts, but the dividing line is neither marriage nor ordination. He writes to the Philippians, “I was . . .  I was . . . ,” and what follows is a list of all his claims and guarantees of holiness (circumcision, being a Jew, observing the law, being blameless). But all of a sudden, all of this goes from being a gain to being a loss for him; his claims for boasting become rubbish (see Phil 3:5-7). Why? “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). His dramatic encounter with Christ created in the apostle’s life a personal kind of “before Christ” and “after Christ.”

For most of us, this dividing line is more difficult to specify: everything is fluid, watered down in time, and marked by so-called “rites of passage”: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders or Marriage, and so many others events. Fortunately for us, such an event is not a fruit that is exclusive to sacraments; in fact the sacraments may very well not represent any true “passage” from the existential point of view. The personal encounter with Christ is an event that can take place at any moment in life. In this regard the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium says,

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment [!], to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” (n. 3)

In an anonymous Easter homily from the fourth century, in the year 387 to be exact, the bishop makes a surprisingly modern affirmation—almost an existentialist affirmation before the word existed. He says,

For every man, the beginning of life is when Christ was immolated for him. However, Christ is immolated for him at the moment he recognizes the grace and becomes conscious of the life procured for him by that immolation.”

As we approach Christmas we can apply to Christ’s birth what this author says about his death.

“For every man, the beginning of life is when Christ was born for him. However, Christ is born for him at the moment he recognizes thet grace and becomes conscious of the life procured for him by that birth.”

This is an idea that has run through, one could say, the whole history of Christian spirituality beginning with Origen and including St. Augustine, St. Bernard, Luther, and others. The question is this: “What good does it do me if Christ was born at one time in Bethlehem if he is not born in my heart again by faith?” In this sense every Christmas, including the one for this year, could be the first real Christmas of our lives.

An atheistic philosopher described in a famous passage the moment in which a person discovers the existence of things, that they exist in reality and not just in his mind:

I was in the park just now. The roots of the chestnut tree were sunk in the ground just under my bench. I couldn’t remember it was a root any more. The words had vanished and with them the significance of things, their methods of use, and the feeble points of reference which men have traced on their surface. . . . Then I had this vision. It left me breathless. Never, until these last few days, had I understood the meaning of “existence.” I was like the others, like the ones walking along the seashore, all dressed in their spring finery. I said, like them, “The ocean is green, that white speck up there is a seagull,” but I didn’t feel that it existed or that the seagull was “an existing seagull”; usually existence hides itself. It is there, around us, in us, it is us, you can’t say two words without mentioning it, but you can never touch it. . . . And then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself.    

Something analogous happens when someone who has repeated the name of Jesus innumerable times, knows almost everything about him, and has celebrated numerous Masses discovers one day that Jesus is not a liturgical and sacramental memory from the past; he is not a collection of doctrines and dogmas and a topic for study. He is not, in brief, a personage but a living, existing person, even if he invisible to the eye. Suddenly, Christ is born in him; a qualitative leap forward in his relationship with Christ has occurred.

This is what the great converts experience at the moment in which—through an encounter, a word, a revelation from on high—a great light is unexpectedly turned on inside of them. They too are “left breathless” and have exclaimed, “So God exists after all! It’s really true!” This happened, for example, to Paul Claudel when he entered the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris out of curiosity on Christmas day in 1886. Hearing the Magnificat being sung, he had “the heart-rending experience of innocence, of the eternal infancy of God,” and exclaimed, ‘Yes, it’s true, it’s really true! God exists. He is here. He is someone, a personal being like I am! He loves me. He is calling me.” He later wrote about this event, “In an instant my heart was touched and I believed.”

Let us take a step forward. Christ, as we have seen, is not only the center or the barycenter of human history, the one who, with his coming, creates a “before” and an “after” in the passage of time; he is also the one who fills every instant of that time. He is “the fullness,” the pleroma (Col 1:19) in the active sense that he also fills salvation history with himself: first as figure, then as event, and now as sacrament.

What does all of this mean when carried over to the personal level? It means that Christ should fill my time as well. We should fill as many moments of our life with Jesus as we can. It is not an impossible plan. It does not mean thinking about Jesus all of the time but “noticing” his presence, abandoning ourselves to his will, telling him quickly, “I love you!” every time we have the opportunity (or better the inspiration!) to recollect ourselves.

Modern technology offers us an analogy that can help us understand what all this means: connecting to the Internet. When I am traveling and far from home for a long time, I have experienced what it means to fiddle for a long time trying to connect to the Internet, whether using cables or wireless, and then finally, as I was about to give up, suddenly the liberating Google display appears on my screen. Before that I felt cut off from the outside world and unable to receive email, to search for some information, or to communicate with the people in my community, and now suddenly the whole world is open wide to me. I am connected.

But what is this connection in comparison to what happens when one is “connected” in faith to the risen and living Jesus? In the first case the poor, tragic world of human beings is open before you; in the second case the world of God opens before you because Christ is the door; he is the way that leads into the Trinity and into the infinite.

The reflection on “Christ and Time” that I have tried to present can bring about an important inner healing for the majority of us: a healing from the unfruitful regret about our  lost “blissful youth,” a liberation from that ingrained mentality that leads us to see old age only as a loss and a disease but not also as a grace. In front of God the best time of life is not the time that is the most full of possibility and activity but the time that is most full of Christ because this time belongs already to eternity.  

The coming year will see youth as the focus of the Church’s attention with the Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” in preparation for World Youth Day. Let us help them fill their youth with Christ, and we will have given them the most beautiful gift.

We end by recalling how the event of eternity entering time is proclaimed in a simple yet magnificent way at the Midnight Mass at Christmas:

In the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,

the whole world being at peace, JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, . . .  was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man.

Around the feast of Christmas of the year 1308, addressing her spiritual sons gathered around her deathbed, the great mystic Angela of Foligno exclaimed, “The Word was made flesh!” And, after a long delay, as if coming from another world, she added, “Oh, every creature is found wanting! Oh, the intelligence of the angels is likewise not enough!” They asked her: “How are creatures found wanting, and for what is the intelligence of angels not enough?” She responded: “To comprehend!” And she was right.  

Holy Father, Venerable Fathers, brothers and sisters, Merry Christmas to all of you!

____________________

English translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson

Christ at the Center

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 11:31 PM
SPECIAL: 2nd Advent Sermon From Fr. Cantalamessa

‘Christ is the same today, tomorrow, and forever’

Fr. Cantalamessa: Christ at the Center of Time

‘Is Christ also the center of my life, of my small personal history?’

Pope’s Words to Vatican Employees & Their Families

‘What can we do not to gossip? ”Bite your tongue! It will surely swell, but you will have done good’

Pope to Struggling Couples: ‘Accept Help, Save the Family’

Telling Vatican Employees He Knows Some Are Separated, He Says He Suffers With Them

From Nazareth to Bethlehem: the 2017th Christmas

With the wish to understand that the Crib is the place where man can meet true and lasting life.

New US Ambassador to Holy See Presents Credential Letters to Pope Francis

Ambassador Callista Gingrich Officially Assumes Ambassador Duties

‘The Future Has An Ancient Face”: Vatican Museums’ Conference

For the End of the Restoration Works of the “Loggia del Nicchione”

Pope’s Panettonis for Prisoners

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 5:20 PM

Nobody wants to be in prison — especially at Christmas — but Pope Francis is sending a greeting to inmates of Rebibbia prison in Rome, in the form of 350 panettoni cakes. The cakes are an Italian holiday tradition enjoyed not only in Italy but by persons of Italian descent around the world.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, Italian authorities are addressing the needs of the hungry by working to make sure surplus bread it distributed to persons in need.

JF

Vatican Employees Enjoy Time with the Pope

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 5:02 PM

Pope Francis appears to be a popular boss.  At least that is the impression anyone would get from the cheering crowds of Vatican employees and their families who gathered December 21, 2017, in Paul VI Hall to hear a Christmas greeting from their CEO.

In largely information remarks, the Holy Father thanked the employees for their work, which he said is often difficult.  He said that they are what makes the “train” that is the Vatican run.

 

JF

Holy See Supports Jerusalem’s Historical Status Quo

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 4:48 PM

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations called for the maintaining of the status quo of Jerusalem, noting that the city is the “spiritual capital” to millions of believers from the three monotheistic religions must be respected and guaranteed.

The comments came in an intervention December 21, 2017, during the Thirty-Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which was called to address the situation in Jerusalem.

The Holy See called for dialogue toward a peaceful resolution that respects the nature of Jerusalem, in accordance with the relevant UN Resolutions.

The statement follows.

Statement of the Delegation of the Holy See
Thirty-Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Tenth Emergency Special Session
of the United Nations General Assembly
21 December 2017

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See wishes to express its appreciation to the Member States for their commitment to averting new rounds of violence and to promoting dialogue and negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the peace process and the question of Jerusalem. At the same time, it wishes to recall the obligation of all Nations to respect the historical status quo of the Holy City, in accordance with the relevant UN Resolutions.

The unique identity of Jerusalem, which is of universal interest, consists in its particular nature as a Holy City, most sacred to the three monotheistic religions and a symbol for millions of believers worldwide who consider it their “spiritual capital”. Its significance goes beyond the question of borders and this reality should be considered a priority in every negotiation for a political solution.

The Holy See calls for a peaceful resolution that respects the nature of Jerusalem, its sacredness and universal value, and reiterates that only an internationally guaranteed status can preserve its unique character and be an assurance of dialogue and reconciliation for peace in the region.

Thank you, Mr. President.
Copyright © 2017 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

Pope Francis Calls Curia to Adopt External View

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 12:01 PM

Pope Francis called on the Roman Curia to look to the outside world as a fundamental factor in the curial reform he initiated in the past years.  His comments came on December 21, 2017, in audience the cardinals and superiors of the Roman Curia for the presentation of Christmas greetings.

The Holy Father noted that he has already talked of the Roman Curia ad intra (how the Church works internally).    But he now focused on the Curia ad extra, “on its relationship with the nations, with the Particular Churches, with the Oriental Churches, with ecumenical dialogue, with Judaism, with Islam and other religions – in other words, with the outside world.”

He admitted that reform is not easy, referring to “the amusing yet pointed remark of Archbishop Frédéric-François-Xavier de Mérode: ‘Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush’. Francis said this “points to the patience, tenacity, and sensitivity needed to attain that goal.”

Diaconal Primacy

The Pope referred to comments in a recent meeting with the Fathers and Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches when he discussed the ministerial, Petrine and curial finality of service. “I used the expression ‘diaconal primacy’, which immediately calls to mind the image of the Servus servorum Dei, so beloved of Saint Gregory the Great…A similar diaconal attitude should characterize all those who in various ways work in the context of the Roman Curia.  For the Curia, as the Code of Canon Law also states, “performs its function”, in the name and with the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, “for the good and service of the Churches” (can. 360; cf. CCEO, can. 46).

“Another ancient text adds that deacons are called to be, as it were, the eyes of the Bishop,” Francis recalled. “The eye sees in order to transmit images to the mind, helping it to take decisions and to give direction for the good of the whole body.

“The relationship that these images suggest is that of communion in filial obedience for the service of God’s holy people.  There can be doubt, then, that such must be also the relationship that exists between all those who work in the Roman Curia.  From the Dicastery heads and superiors to the officials and all others.  Communion with Peter reinforces and reinvigorates communion between all the members.”

Diplomacy

The Pope also stressed the fundamental role of the Vatican in diplomacy.  He reminded his audience that the Holy See must be a “builder of bridges, peace, and dialogue between nations.” He continued: “As it is a diplomacy at the service of humanity and the human person, of outstretched hand and open door, it seeks to listen, to understand, to help, to support and to intervene quickly and respectfully in any situation, for the sake of narrowing distances and building trust.  Its only interest is to remain free of all worldly or material self-interest.”

He affirmed that the Holy See cooperates with all people and nations of good will, working to protect “our common home” selfishness and war.

The Holy Father reminded the group that, “The Roman Curia thus has as its point of reference not only the Bishop of Rome, from whom it receives its authority but also the particular Churches and their Pastors throughout the world, for whose good it functions and acts.”

In a subtle reference from his devotion to “Mary Undoer of Knots,” Francis said: “The work of the Curia in this area is aimed at fostering encounter with our brothers and sisters, untying the knots of misunderstanding and hostility, and counteracting prejudices and the fear of the other, all of which have prevented us from seeing the richness in diversity and the depth of the Mystery of Christ and of the Church.  For that mystery is always greater than any human words can express.”

Read the entire talk here

Pope’s Morning Homily: Rise and Rejoice

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 8:18 AM
Rise and rejoice, for the Lord walks with you. According to VaticanNews, Pope Francis gave this reminder today, Dec. 21, 2017, during his daily morning Mass in his residence Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the day’s reading and Gospel which both speak of the joy which comes from within, and particularly that which comes from being forgiven. In the homily, the Pontiff discussed three types of joy. The first, he said, is the joy of being forgiven. “The Lord has removed the judgment against you.” And so we are called to rejoice, and not to live a tepid life, precisely because we have been forgiven.” To illustrate, Francis told the story of a philosopher who criticized Christians.

“He said he was an agnostic or an atheist, I’m not sure, but he criticized Christians, and said this, ‘But those people – the Christians – say they have a redeemer. I will believe it, I will believe in the redeemer when they have the look of the redeemed, joyful for being redeemed.’ But if you have the face of one at a wake, how can they believe that you are redeemed? That your sins have been forgiven? This is the first point, the first message of today’s liturgy: You are forgiven, each one of us is forgiven.”

Being joyful because the Lord “walks with us,” Francis said, is the second aspect, noting this has been clear since He called Abraham.

In the midst of our daily lives–including our trials, difficulties, and joys–the Pope said we should take time to speak with Him Who is “by our side.”

True joy’s third aspect, the Holy Father explained, involves not allowing ourselves to be dispaired over that which does not go our way.

“That pessimism is not Christian. It is rooted in not knowing that one is forgiven, rooted in never feeling the caresses of God. And the Gospel, we could say, makes us see this joy: ‘Joyful Mary rose up and went in haste…’ Joy brings us in haste, always, because the grace of the Holy Spirit does not recognize slowness, it doesn’t recognize it… The Holy Spirit always goes in haste, always pushes us: going forward, forward, forward, like the wind in the sails, on the boat.”

Francis then recalled the joy that made the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leap when she welcomed Mary.

“This is the joy that the Church tells us about: please, we are joyful Christians, we make every effort to show that we believe we are redeemed, that the Lord has forgiven us everything, and if we sometimes slip up, He will also forgive us, because He is the God of forgiveness; that the Lord is in the midst of us; and that we will not allow ourselves to throw up our arms in despair. This is the message for today: ‘Rise up!’ This is the call of Jesus to the sick: ‘Rise up, cry out with joy, rejoice, be glad and exult with all your heart!’”

Pope Francis concluded saying, God wants to help us and heal us, so remember to rise and rejoice.

FEATURE: ‘Pope Francis, I Give You a Drawing’

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 6:21 AM

One can already see the talent of the unknown Mexican child who drew the Pope against the backdrop of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe. Other small artists, on the other hand, still need to refine their skills and techniques. Francis, however, especially appreciates the spirit with which thousands of children give him his drawings, handing them directly to him by hand, when they have the precious opportunity, or sending them in the mail.

“But what are you doing with all these drawings? Where do you put them?” once asked the Pope his Jesuit confrere, Father Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civiltà Cattolica. The Pope then looked at him for a few moments, then replied: “you take care of them!”, but  saying don’t keep them locked in a drawer. The wish was that this gift of children to the Pope may again become, if possible, a gift for other children.

Thus, the idea was born of exposing 100 of them to Palidoro, not far from Rome, in the famous Bambin Gesù pediatric hospital, owned by the Vatican. The exhibition, entitled “Dear Pope Francis, I am giving you a drawing”, was inaugurated on Tuesday Dec. 19, 2017, with the intervention of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. “I was also able to see that these drawings express a great affection, a great love for Pope Francis,” he declared.

“It is a precious treasure that communicates the world seen by children: it makes us feel and see the world from the point of view of children. And supporting the action of the Bambin Gesù means enlarging the boundaries of solidarity,” he added.

In fact, the hospital has just started a fundraising campaign to face the costs of receiving and caring for children who come from all over the world because they lack health care in their countries. In the last two years, there have been about 100 small “humanitarian” patients admitted to Bambin Gesù from countries like Albania, Benin, Belarus, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Myanmar, Moldova, Syria, Ukraine, at a cost of about 2 million Euro.

Bambin Gesù is the largest pediatric hospital in Europe, a center of excellence recognized worldwide for the treatment of many diseases. Thirteen percent of patients usually come from outside Italy. With the help of associations and hotels, the hospital offers free accommodation for families coming from outside Rome, for 93,000 nights every year.

Now, anyone making a donation to the hospital will receive a digital copy of one of the designs given to the Pope as a token of gratitude. The original designs will be given to benefactors who have given a special commitment to the children of Bambin Gesù.

Courtesy of Bambin Gesù Press Office

The subjects of the hundred drawings are very different from each other. There is one, done by a German child, where Francis holding the world on his shoulders, like the Greek mythological figure, Atlas. Casey, an American, drew a child swimming in the sea, with a question addressed to the Pope at the top: “Do you like swimming? If not, what do you do in the summer? “

Many other children have instead depicted war scenes, migrants fleeing the sea in boats, suffering often suffered on their own skin by the small, innocent designers. Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro observed: “There is a certain ‘rawness’, if you will, in their way of representing the world, there is nothing too childish. We basically also see how the Pope is seen as a person capable of lending a hand to this world. Children try to project their image of the Pope, but they also try to convey the world. And this affects the viewer a lot.

“It is a way of understanding how children perceive reality, especially in those places, in those situations that appeal to all of us so that we can act, we can make the world a better place.”

The exhibition will remain open until mid-February 2018. It has been designed by the “Studio Azzurro” Company. The exhibition also includes some screens with a video animation of other drawings. There is Arturo, Italian, who asks the Pope to convince US President Donald Trump not to start the Third World War, “because we want to live in peace,” he wrote. “The best wishes for the Christmas that comes are the invitation to make this wounded land a world worth living,” says Father Spadaro.

According to Mariella Enoc, president of the Bambino Gesù Hospital, “The drawings of these children remind us that everyone is a citizen not only of his own country, but of the world. It is a particularly important message for the Pope’s hospital, which wants to be, with the help of everyone, a place of care open to all children, especially those who need it most.”

Here are photos of the Inauguration ->

Here is a gallery of selected designs of “CARO PAPA” ->

 

 

Pope Francis’ Address to Roman Curia

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 6:06 AM

At 10:30 this morning, Dec. 21, 2017, Pope Francis received in audience the cardinals and superiors of the Roman Curia for the presentation of Christmas greetings.

Here is the official Vatican News translation of the Pope’s address:

***
Christmas is the feast of faith in the Son of God who became man in order to restore us to our filial dignity, lost through sin and disobedience.  Christmas is the feast of faith in hearts that become a manger to receive him and souls that allow God to make a shoot of hope, charity and faith sprout from the stump of their poverty.

Today is once again a moment for exchanging Christmas greetings and for wishing a holy and joyful Christmas and a happy New Year to you and your co-workers, to the Papal Representatives, to all those persons who serve in the Curia, and to all your dear ones.  May this Christmas open our eyes so that we can abandon what is superfluous, false, malicious and sham, and to see what is essential, true, good and authentic.  My best wishes indeed!

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have already spoken of the Roman Curia ad intra.  This year I would like to share with you some reflections on the Curia ad extra, that is, on its relationship with the nations, with the Particular Churches, with the Oriental Churches, with ecumenical dialogue, with Judaism, with Islam and other religions – in other words, with the outside world.

My reflections are based of course on the fundamental canonical principles of the Curia and on its own history, but also on the personal vision that I have sought to share with you in my addresses of recent years, within the context of the reform currently under way.

Speaking of reform, I think of the amusing yet pointed remark of Archbishop Frédéric-François-Xavier de Mérode: “Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush”.[1]  His mot points to the patience, tenacity and sensitivity needed to attain that goal.  For the Curia is an ancient, complex and venerable institution made up of people of different cultures, languages and mindsets, and bound, intrinsically and from the outset, to the primatial office of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, that is, to the “sacred” office willed by Christ the Lord for the good of the entire Church (ad bonum totius corporis).[2]

The universal nature of the Curia’s service thus wells up and flows out from the catholicity of the Petrine ministry.  A Curia closed in on itself would betray its own raison d’être and plunge into self-referentiality and ultimately destroy itself.  The Church, is by her very nature projected ad extra, and only to the extent that she remains linked to the Petrine ministry, the service of God’s word and the preaching of the Gospel.  That Good News is that God is Emmanuel, who is born among us and becomes one of us in order to show to all his visceral closeness, his limitless love and his divine desire that all men and women be saved and come to enjoy the blessings of heaven (cf. 1 Tim 2:4).  He is the God who makes his sun rise on the good and evil alike (cf. Mt 5:45); the God who came not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt20:28); the God who establishes the Church to be in the world but not of the world, and to be an instrument of salvation and service.

Recently, in greeting the Fathers and Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches,[3]  and reflecting on this ministerial, petrine and curial finality of service, I used the expression diaconal primacy, which immediately calls to mind the image of the Servus servorum Dei, so beloved of Saint Gregory the Great.  This definition, in its Christological dimension, is above all the expression of a firm desire to imitate Christ, who took on the form of a servant (cf. Phil2:7).  Benedict XVI, in this regard, has said that on the lips of Gregory this phrase was “no mere pious formula, but a true manifestation of his way of living and acting.  Gregory was deeply moved by the humility of God, who in Christ made himself our servant, who washed and continues to wash our dirty feet”.[4]

A similar diaconal attitude should characterize all those who in various ways work in the context of the Roman Curia.  For the Curia, as the Code of Canon Law also states, “performs its function”, in the name and with the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, “for the good and service of the Churches” (can. 360; cf. CCEO, can. 46).

diaconal primacy “with regard to the Pope”,[5] and consequently diaconal as well, is the work which is carried out within the Roman Curia ad intra and outside of it, ad extra.  This theme of a ministerial and curial diaconia reminds me of a phrase in the ancient Didascalia Apostolorum, which states that “the deacon must be the ear and the mouth of the Bishop, his heart and his soul”.[6]  For this agreement between the two is linked to communion, harmony and peace in the Church, inasmuch as “the deacon is the guardian of service in the Church”.[7]  I do not believe that it is by chance that the ear is the organ of hearing but also of balance; and that the mouth is the organ of both taste and speech.

Another ancient text adds that deacons are called to be, as it were, the eyes of the Bishop.[8]  The eye sees in order to transmit images to the mind, helping it to take decisions and to give direction for the good of the whole body.

The relationship that these images suggest is that of communion in filial obedience for the service of God’s holy people.  There can be doubt, then, that such must be also the relationship that exists between all those who work in the Roman Curia.  From the Dicastery heads and superiors to the officials and all others.  Communion with Peter reinforces and reinvigorates communion between all the members.

Seen in this light, my appeal to the senses of the human body helps us have a sense of extroversion, of attention to what is outside.  In the human body, the senses are our first connection to the world ad extra; they are like a bridge towards that world; they enable us to relate to it.  The senses help us to grasp reality and at the same time to situate ourselves in reality.  Not by chance did Saint Ignatius appeal to the senses for the contemplation of the mysteries of Christ and truth.[9]

This is very important for rising above that unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques that in fact represent – for all their self-justification and good intentions – a cancer leading to a self-centredness that also seeps into ecclesiastical bodies, and in particular those working in them.  When this happens, we lose the joy of the Gospel, the joy of sharing Christ and of fellowship with him; we lose the generous spirit of our consecration (cf. Acts 20:35 and 2 Cor 9:7).

Here let me allude to another danger: those who betray the trust put in them and profiteer from the Church’s motherhood.  I am speaking of persons carefully selected to give a greater vigour to the body and to the reform, but – failing to understand the lofty nature of their responsibility – let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory.  Then, when they are quietly sidelined, they wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system, of a “Pope kept in the dark”, of the “old guard”…, rather than reciting a mea culpa.  Alongside these, there are others who are still working there, to whom all the time in the world is given to get back on the right track, in the hope that they find in the Church’s patience an opportunity for conversion and not for personal advantage.  Of course, this is in no way to overlook the vast majority of faithful persons working there with praiseworthy commitment, fidelity, competence, dedication and great sanctity.

To return to the image of the body, it is fitting to note that these “institutional senses”, to which we can in some way compare the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, must operate in a way befitting their nature and purpose: in the name and with the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, and always for the good and the service of the Churches.[10]  Within the Church, they are called to be like faithful, sensitive antennae: sending and receiving.

Antennae that “send”, inasmuch as they are capable of faithfully transmitting the will of the Pope and the Superiors.  For those working in the Holy See, the word “fidelity”[11] is particularly important, “since they spend so much of their energy, their time and their daily ministry in the service of the Successor of Peter.  This entails a serious responsibility but also a special gift, which as time goes by should lead to a relationship of closeness to the Pope, a closeness marked by interior trust, a natural idem sentire, which is expressed precisely by the word ‘faithfulness’”.[12]

Antennae too that “receive”.  This involves grasping the aspirations, the questions, the pleas, the joys and the sorrows of the Churches and the world, and transmitting them to the Bishop of Rome in order to enable him to carry out more effectively his task and his mission as “the lasting and visible source and foundation of unity both of faith and of communion”.[13]  By this receptivity, which is more important than their preceptive role, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia enter generously into that process of hearing and synodality of which I have previously spoken.[14]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have used the expression “diaconal primacy” and the images of the body, the senses and antennae to make clear that, in order to reach the places where the Spirit speaks to the Churches (history) and to achieve the aim of our work (salus animarum), it is necessary, indeed indispensable, to practice discernment of the signs of the times,[15] communion in service, charity in truth, docility to the Holy Spirit and trusting obedience to Superiors.

Here perhaps it is helpful to mention that the names of the different Dicasteries and Offices of the Roman Curia indicate the very realities that they are called to promote.  Their work, if we think about it, is of fundamental importance for the entire Church and, I would say, for the whole world.

Since the work of the Curia is quite extensive, I would limit myself this time to speaking in general of the Curia ad extra, that is, of  certain basic aspects from which it will not be difficult, in the near future, to set forth and examine more deeply the Curia’s other areas of activity.

The Curia and its relations with the nations:

In this area, a fundamental role is played by Vatican diplomacy, as the sincere and constant effort to make the Holy See a builder of bridges, peace and dialogue between nations.  As it is a diplomacy at the service of humanity and the human person, of outstretched hand and open door, it seeks to listen, to understand, to help, to support and to intervene quickly and respectfully in any situation, for the sake of narrowing distances and building trust.  Its only interest is to remain free of all worldly or material self-interest.

The Holy See is thus present on the world scene to cooperate with all peoples and nations of good will.  It strives to reaffirm the importance of protecting “our common home” from all destructive forms of selfishness, to state that wars lead only to death and destruction, to draw from the past the lessons needed to help us live better in the present, and to build a solid and secure future for future generations.

Meetings with Heads of State and with various Delegations, together with the Apostolic Journeys, are its means and its goal.

For this reason, the Third Section of the Secretariat of State has been established.  It is meant to show the concern and closeness of the Pope and of the Superiors of the Secretariat of State for diplomatic personnel and for the men and women religious and lay people serving in the Nunciatures.  The Third Section will deal with issues involving persons working in the diplomatic service of the Holy See or preparing for this service, in close cooperation with the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States.[16]

This particular concern is based on the two-fold dimension of the service carried out by diplomatic personnel: as pastors and diplomats, in the service of the particular Churches and of the nations where they work.

The Curia and the particular Churches:

The relationship between the Curia and Dioceses and Eparchies is of paramount importance.  In the Roman Curia these find whatever help and support they may need.  This relationship is grounded in cooperation and trust, and never on superiority or conflict.  The basis of this relationship is set forth in the conciliar Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, which explains at length that the work of the Curia is carried out “for the good of the Churches and in service of the sacred pastors”.[17]

The Roman Curia thus has as its point of reference not only the Bishop of Rome, from whom it receives its authority, but also the particular Churches and their Pastors throughout the world, for whose good it functions and acts.

In the first of these yearly encounters, I spoke of this characteristic of “service to the Pope and to the Bishops, to the universal Church, to the particular Churches and to the entire world”.  I pointed out that: “in the Roman Curia, one learns – in a special way, “one breathes in” – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of the universal and the particular”.  And I went on to say: “I think that this is one of the finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome”.[18]

The Visits ad Limina Apostolorum, in this sense, represent a great opportunity for encounter, dialogue and mutual enrichment.  I have preferred, when meeting with Bishops, to have an open and sincere conversation that remains private and goes beyond the formalities of protocol and the customary exchange of speeches and recommendations.  Dialogue between the bishops and the various Dicasteries is also important.  In the course of the Visits ad Liminathat resumed this year, the Bishops told me that they were received well and listened to by all the Dicasteries.  This makes me very happy.

Here allow me, at this particular moment of the Church’s life, to draw our attention to the forthcoming Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which has as its theme Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.  To call upon the Curia, the bishops and the entire Church to give particular attention to young people does not mean considering them alone.  It also means focusing on a critical theme for a combination of relationships and pressing issues, such as intergenerational relationships, the family, pastoral work, social life, and so forth.  The Preparatory Document makes this clear in its Introduction: “The Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today.  By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world.  As in the days of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-21) and Jeremiah (cf. Jer 1:4-10), young people know how to discern the signs of our times, indicated by the Spirit.  Listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow”.[19]

The Curia and the Oriental Churches:

The unity and the communion that prevail in the relationship of the Church of Rome and the Oriental Churches present a concrete example of richness in diversity for the whole Church.  In fidelity to their own bi-millennial traditions and in ecclesiastica communio, they experience and realize the priestly prayer of Jesus (cf. Jn 17).[20]

In this regard, at my last meeting with the Patriarchs and Heads of the Oriental Churches, I spoke of the “diaconal primacy” and likewise stressed the importance of further study and review of the sensitive question of the election of new Bishops and Eparchs.   This must correspond, on the one hand, to the autonomy of the Oriental Churches and, at the same time, to their spirit of evangelical responsibility and desire to strengthen constantly their unity with the Catholic Church.  “Everything should be done with the thorough application of that authentic synodal praxis which distinguishes the Oriental Churches”.[21]  The election of each bishop must reflect and strengthen unity and communion between the Successors of Peter and the entire College of Bishops.[22]

The relationship between Rome and the East is one of mutual spiritual and liturgical enrichment.  Indeed, the Church of Rome would not be truly catholic without the priceless riches of the Oriental Churches and lacking the heroic testimony of so many of our Oriental brothers and sisters who purify the Church by accepting martyrdom and offering their lives so as not to deny Christ.[23]

The Curia and ecumenical dialogue

There are also areas to which the Catholic Church, especially after the Second Vatican Council, is particularly committed.  Among these is Christian unity, which is “an essential requirement of our faith, a requirement that flows from the depth of our being believers in Jesus Christ”.[24]  It involves a “journey”, yet, as was also stated by my predecessors, it is an irreversible journey and not a going back.  “Unity is made by walking, in order to recall that when we walk together, that is, when we meet as brothers, we pray together, we collaborate together in the proclamation of the Gospel, and in the service to the least, we are already united. All the theological and ecclesiological differences that still divide Christians will only be surmounted along this path, although today we do not know how and when [it will happen], but that it will happen according to what the Holy Spirit will suggest for the good of the Church”.[25]

The work of the Curia in this area is aimed at fostering encounter with our brothers and sisters, untying the knots of misunderstanding and hostility, and counteracting prejudices and the fear of the other, all of which have prevented us from seeing the richness in diversity and the depth of the Mystery of Christ and of the Church.  For that mystery is always greater than any human words can express.

The meetings between Popes, Patriarchs and Heads of the different Churches and Communities have always filled me with joy and gratitude.

The Curia, Judaism, Islam and other religions:

The relationship of the Roman Curia to other religions is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the need for dialogue.  “For the only alternative to the civility of encounter is the incivility of conflict”.[26]  Dialogue is grounded in three fundamental lines of approach: “The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.  The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, because true dialogue cannot be built on ambiguity or a willingness to sacrifice some good for the sake of pleasing others. The courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all. Sincerity of intentions, because dialogue, as an authentic expression of our humanity, is not a strategy for achieving specific goals, but rather a path to truth, one that deserves to be undertaken patiently, in order to transform competition into cooperation”.[27]

My meetings with religious leaders during the various Apostolic Visits and here in the Vatican, are a concrete proof of this.

These are only some aspects, important but not comprehensive, of the work of the Curia ad extra.  They are aspects linked to the theme of “diaconal primacy”, “institutional senses”, and of “faithful antennae that transmit and receive”.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I began our meeting by speaking of Christmas as the Feast of Faith.  I would like to conclude, though, by pointing out that Christmas reminds us that a faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith.  A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow.  A faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned.  A faith that does not rouse us is a faith that needs to be roused.  A faith that does not shake us is a faith that needs to be shaken.  Indeed, a faith which is only intellectual or lukewarm is only a notion of faith.  It can become real once it touches our heart, our soul, our spirit and our whole being.  Once it allows God to be born and reborn in the manger of our heart.  Once we let the star of Bethlehem guide us to the place where the Son of God lies, not among Kings and riches, but among the poor and humble.

As Angelus Silesius wrote in The Cherubinic Wanderer: “It depends solely on you.  Ah, if only your heart could become a manger, then God would once again become a child on this earth”.[28]

With these reflections, I renew my personal best wishes for Christmas for you and your dear ones.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Cf. GIUSEPPE DALLA TORRE, Sopra una storia della Gendarmeria Pontificia, 19 October 2017.

[2] “In order to ensure that the people of God would have pastors and would enjoy continual growth, Christ the Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices whose aim is the good of the whole body” (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 18).

[3] Cf. Greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops, 9 October 2017.

[4] Catechesis, General Audience of 4 June 2008.

[5] Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Plenary Meeting of the Sacred College of Cardinals, 21 November 1985, 4.

[6] 2, 44: Funk, 138-166.  Cf. W. RORDORF, Liturgie et eschatologie, in Augustinianum 18 (1978), 153-161; ID., Que savons-nous des lieux de culte chrétiens de l’époque pré-constantinienne?, in L’Orient Syrien 9 (1964), 39-60.

[7] Cf. Meeting with Priests and Consecrated Men and Women, Milan Cathedral, 25 March 2017.

[8] “As for the Church’s deacons, let them serve as the eyes of the bishop, looking all around and investigating the actions of each in the Church, in case anyone is about to sin.  In this way, admonished beforehand by the presider, perhaps that person will not commit [his or her sin]”(Letter of Clement to James, 12: Rehm 14-15, in I Ministeri nella Chiesa Antica. Testi patristici dei primi tre secoli a cura di Enrico Cattaneo, Edizione Paolina, 1997, 696).

[9] Cf. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, No. 121: “The fifth contemplation will be to apply the five senses the first and the second contemplation”.

[10] In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Saint Jerome makes a curious comparison between the five bodily senses and the virgins of the Gospel parable, who become foolish when they no longer act in accordance with their assigned purpose (Comm. in Mt XXV: PL 26, 184).

[11] The concept of fidelity is quite demanding and eloquent, since it also brings out time involved in living out the commitment assumed; it refers to a virtue which, as Benedict XVI noted, “expresses the unique bond existing between the Pope and his direct collaborators, both in the Roman Curia and in the Papal Representations”.  Address to the Community of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, 11 June 2012.

[12] Ibid.

[13] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 18.

[14] “A synodal Church is a Church which listens, which realizes that ‘listening is more than simply hearing’.  It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn.  The faithful people, the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other and listening to the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17), in order to know what “he says to the Churches” (Rev 2:7).  Address for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015.

[15] Cf. Lk 12:54-59; Mt 16:1-4; SECOND VATICAN ECUCMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 11: “The people of God believes that it is led by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the whole world.  Impelled by that faith, they try to discern the true signs of God’s presence and purpose in the events, the needs and the desires that it shares with the rest of humanity today.  For faith casts a new light on everything and makes known the full ideal which God has set for humanity, thus guiding the mind towards solutions that are fully human”.

[16] Cf. Papal Letter, 18 October 2017; Communiqué of the Secretariat of State, 21 November 2017.

[17] Christus Dominus, 9.

[18] Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2013; cf. PAUL VI, Homily for his Eightieth Birthday, 16 October 1977: “I have loved Rome, and have constantly sought to reflect on and understand its transcendent mystery, certainly without being able to penetrate it and experience it fully.  Yet I have always been, and still am, passionately concerned to understand how and why ‘Christ is Roman’ (DANTE ALIGHIERI, Divine Comedy, Purg. XXXII, 201)…  Whether the “sense of being Roman” comes from being a native citizen of this fateful City, or from long residence here, or an experience of its hospitality, that sense, that “Roman consciousness”, has the power to grant those capable of imbibing it a sense of universal humanism” (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XV [1977], 1957).

[19] SYNOD OF BISHOPS, FIFTEENTH ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, Introduction.

[20] On the one hand, the unity that responds to the gift of the Spirit finds natural and full expression in “indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome” (BENEDICT XVI, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 40).  On the other hand, being inserted in the communion of the entire Body of Christ makes us conscious of the duty to strengthen union and solidarity within the various Patriarchal Synods themselves, and to “recognize the need to consult one another in matters of great importance for the Church prior to taking a unified collegial action” (ibid.).

[21] Meeting with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Oriental Catholic Churches, 21 November 2013.

[22] Together with the Heads and Fathers, and the Oriental Archbishops and Bishops, in communion with the Pope, with the Curia and among themselves, all of us are called “always to seek righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11), and to adopt a modest manner of life in imitation of Christ, who became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9)… [to] transparency in the administration of temporal goods, and [to] understanding in every weakness and need”.  Meeting with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Oriental Catholic Churches, 21 November 2013.

[23] “We see great numbers of our Christian brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches experiencing dramatic persecutions and an ever more troubling diaspora” (Homily for the Centenary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Basilica of Saint Mary Major, 12 October 2017.  “No one can turn a blind eye to this situation” (Message for the Centenary of the Foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, 12 October 2017).

[24] Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, 10 November 2016

[25] Ibid.

[26] Address to Participants at the International Peace Conference, Al-Azhar Conference Centre, Cairo, 28 April 2017.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Edizione Paolina, 1989, 170 [234-235]: “Es mangelt nur an dir: Ach, könnte nur dein Herz zu einer Krippe werden, Gott würde noch einmal ein Kind auf dieser Erden”.

[Original Text: Italian] [VaticanNews-provided translation]