Tag: Pope Francis

Pope To Youths – ‘Don’t Continuously ‘Photoshop’ Your Images, Hiding Behind Masks And Becoming Fake’. 

Pope To Youths – ‘Don’t Continuously ‘Photoshop’ Your Images, Hiding Behind Masks And Becoming Fake’. 

The Pontiff, explains to the young people that smartphones aren’t the only window on the world, and insists that we should leave our own “dark rooms” to go meet with others.

Referring to the upcoming 2018 World Youth Day, celebrated at a local level in dioceses across the globe, Pope Francis encouraged young people to dream, discern, and dialogue with others, so as not to disappear into the darkness of a “closed room in which the only window on the world is a computer and a smartphone.”

This year, the Bishop of Rome uses “the words addressed by God’s messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, to Mary, an ordinary girl from a small village in Galilee. […] The angel, seeing the depths of her heart, says: ‘Do not be afraid!’ God also reads our inmost heart. He knows well the challenges we must confront in life.”


“Open the doors of your life,” the pope insisted. That means sharing time and space with “meaningful relationships, real people, with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life.”


The pope’s message was released February 11, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.


The 2018 WYD is part of the preparation for the international World Youth Day that will take place in Panama in January 2019. It also coincides with the Synod on the subject of Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. Francis says that the Church wants to “receive and, above all, to embrace the precious gift” of young people.

Do not be afraid

“What are your fears?” Francis asks young people. He acknowledges that many are afraid “of not being loved, well-liked or accepted for who [they] are. Today, there are many young people who feel the need to be different from who they really are, in an attempt to adapt to an often artificial and unattainable standard.”


The pope mentions those who “continuously ‘photo-shop’ their images, hiding behind masks and false identities, almost becoming fake selves.”

He also mentions the obsession on social networks for “receiving as many ‘likes’ as possible. Multiple fears and uncertainties emerge from this sense of inadequacy,” he warns.

The pontiff comments that “others fear that they will not be able to find an emotional security and that they will remain alone.” Another common fear of young people, he says, is that, due to the “uncertainty of work,” they fear “not being able to find a satisfactory professional position”.


Indeed, he says, “today a large number of young people are full of fear, both believers and non-believers.”


Discernment

Along these lines, he points out that:

“when doubts and fears flood our hearts, discernment becomes necessary. It allows us to bring order to the confusion of our thoughts and feelings, to act in a just and prudent way”.


Francis proposes identifying our fears with clarity “so as not to find [ourselves] wasting time and energy by being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts.” We must not “be afraid to face [our] fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them.”


The Bible doesn’t deny the reality of fear.

“The Bible does not ignore the human experience of fear nor its many causes. Abraham was afraid (cf. Gen 12:10ff), Jacob was afraid (cf. Gen 31:31; 32:7), and so were Moses (cf. Ex 2:14; 17:4), Peter (cf. Mt 26:69ff) and the Apostles (cf. Mk 4:38-40; Mt 26:56). Jesus himself, albeit in an incomparable way, experienced fear and anguish (cf. Mt 26:37; Lk 22:44).


Faith conquers fear

The pope uses Jesus’ words to explain that we must conquer fear and move forward. “We have to act! Never close yourself in! In the Sacred Scriptures the expression ‘do not be afraid’ is repeated 365 times with different variations, as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year.”


Talk

Francis insists that it is “important to dialogue with and encounter others, our brothers and sisters in the faith who have more experience, for they help us to see better and to choose wisely from the various possibilities.”

“The other is not only a spiritual guide, but also the person who helps us open ourselves to the infinite riches of the life that God has given us,” he adds.


Dream

“It is important,” the Pope continues, “to create spaces in our cities and communities to grow, to dream and to look at new horizons!” We need to enjoy “others’ company and friendship, as well as the pleasure of dreaming together, of walking together.”

“Authentic Christians are not afraid to open themselves to others and share with them their own important spaces, making them spaces of fraternity.”


God calls

Fear leaves us when we understand that God calls us “by name. The angel, God’s messenger, called Mary by name.” Francis emphasizes that this call includes both identity and vocation. “Since the divine call is unique and personal, we need the courage to disentangle ourselves from the pressure of being shaped by conforming patterns, so that our life can truly become an authentic and irreplaceable gift to God, to the Church and to all.”


Courage

“The certainty that God’s grace is with us,” the pope says, gives us “the strength to take courage in the present moment: the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation which God reveals to us; courage to live out our faith without hiding or diminishing it.”

The pope expresses his confidence in young people and in the Church. He invites young men and women to have confidence in the Church as well. As an example, he proposes Mary. “I invite you once again to contemplate Mary’s love: a caring, dynamic and concrete love. A love full of boldness and focused completely on the gift of self.”


Love

“A Church permeated by these Marian qualities,” he explains, “will always be a Church going forth, one that goes beyond her own limits and boundaries to let the grace she has received overflow. If we allow ourselves to be truly touched by Mary’s example, we will live out authentically that charity which urges us to love God above all else and above ourselves, to love those with whom we share our daily life.” We will also be able to “love those who may seem hardly lovable in themselves”.


“It is a love that is service and dedication, above all towards the weakest and poorest, love that transforms our faces and fills us with joy.”


The WYD: for the courageous

At the end of the message, the pope invited young people to accept the challenge of the WYD, which “is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise. Do you accept the challenge?”


For this reason, the pope speaks of the Virgin Mary, who accompanies the Church on its way towards an encounter with young people, especially during the upcoming pastoral events, including the pre-Synod in March and the Synod itself in October of 2018.

POPE FRANCIS 2018 MESSAGE FOR LENT (Feb. 14, 2018, ASH WEDNESDAY)

POPE FRANCIS 2018 MESSAGE FOR LENT (Feb. 14, 2018, ASH WEDNESDAY)

“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in His providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.[1] Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.
With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets

Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.
They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!
False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.
A cold heart
In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice,[2] in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?
More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.[3] All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.
Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing His praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.
Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.[4]

What are we to do?

Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception,[5] and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.

Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God Himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of His children. If through me God helps someone today, will He not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.[6]

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.
One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.

During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”,[7] and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.

From the Vatican, 1 November 2017
Solemnity of All Saints

[1] Roman Missal, Collect for the First Sunday of Lent (Italian).
[2] Inferno XXXIV, 28-29.
[3] “It is curious, but many times we are afraid of consolation, of being comforted. Or rather, we feel more secure in sorrow and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sorrow we feel almost as protagonists. However, in consolation the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” (Angelus, 7 December 2014).
[4] Evangelii Gaudium, 76-109.
[5] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 33.
[6] Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, III.
[7] Roman Missal (Third Edition), Easter Vigil, Lucernarium.

‘Bullying Is The Work Of Satan, Who Has No Compassion’ – Pope Francis 

‘Bullying Is The Work Of Satan, Who Has No Compassion’ – Pope Francis 

Pope Francis remembers a woman from his neighborhood, bullied by the local children.

The Holy Father today in his morning Mass took up the issue of bullying and the mistreatment of those who are weak, saying that this phenomenon is rooted in Original Sin and the work of the devil.

Preaching from the First Reading of today’s liturgy as celebrated in Rome, from 1 Samuel, about how Peninnah scorned and humiliated Hannah on account of her infertility, the pope noted how there are many similar Bible stories, which recount an attitude of scorn and contempt. He mentioned the story of Abraham’s wives, Hagar and Sarah, or Goliath ridiculing David, or how both Job’s and Tobias’ wives belittled their suffering husbands.


“I ask myself: What is within these people? What is it within ourselves that pushes us to mock and mistreat others weaker than ourselves? It is understandable when a person resents someone stronger than them, perhaps as a result of envy … but towards the weak? What makes us do that? It is something habitual, as if I need to ridicule another person in order to feel confident. As if it were a necessity…”


Pope Francis noted that even among children this happens. The Holy Father said that when he was young, there was a woman with a mental illness, Angelina, who lived in his neighborhood. She would walk the streets all day, and people would give her food and clothes. Local children, however, would make fun of her. They would say: “Let’s find Angelina and have some fun.”

Pope Francis lamented this situation, saying “How much evil there is, even in children, that they treat the weak in this way!”

“And today we see it constantly in our schools: the phenomenon of bullying, attacking the weak, because you’re overweight or foreign, or because you’re black… Attacking and attacking… Children and young people, too. It wasn’t just Peninnah, Hagar, or the wives of Tobias and Job: even children. This means there is something within us that makes us act aggressively toward the weak.”


Pope Francis said that psychologists would probably give another explanation of this desire to destroy another because they are weak, but, he said, “I believe it is a consequence of Original Sin. This is the work of Satan.” Satan, he said, has no compassion.

“And so, as when we already have a good desire to do a good act, like an act of charity, we say ‘It’s the Holy Spirit inspiring me to do this.’ And when we realize we harbor within ourselves the desire to attack someone because they are weak, we have no doubt: It is the devil. Because attacking the weak is the work of Satan.”


“Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace of God’s compassion,” Pope Francis concluded. “He is the One who has compassion on us and helps us to move forward.”

Pope Francis Prays For Release of Six Kidnapped Nuns

Pope Francis Prays For Release of Six Kidnapped Nuns

Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for freedom of six Catholic nuns kidnapped about a month ago near Benin City, the Capital of Edo State in Southern Nigeria.

“From the heart, I unite myself to the appeal of the bishops of Nigeria for the liberation of the six Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, kidnapped roughly a month ago from the convent in Iguoriakhi,” the Pope said.

“I pray with insistence for them, and for all the other people who find themselves in this painful situation.

“May they, on the occasion of Christmas, finally return to their homes,” he added as he later led the crowd in praying the Hail Mary for the missing nuns.

The nuns by gunmen on Nov. 13 included three professed sisters – Sister Roseline Isiocha, Sister Aloysius Ajayi and Sister Frances Udi, along with three aspirants ( young women in the process of formation to join the community)

The Conference of Major Superiors in Nigeria, the nation’s main umbrella group for Catholic religious orders, called for setting aside Dec. 2 as a day of prayer for the sisters’ release.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference had in a statement issued last Friday said, “agents of darkness continue to hold our people to ransom through kidnapping, armed robbery and other dehumanizing activities.”

“We are saddened and pained by the continued detention of our daughters, the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, who were kidnapped almost a month ago in their convent in Iguoriakhi, near Benin City.”

“We appeal to those holding them to please heed our appeal and immediately release them,” the bishops said.

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