Tag: Pope Francis

Post – Synodal Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTUS VIVIT of The Holy Father FRANCIS To Young People And To The Entire People Of God [Chapter 1]. 

Post – Synodal Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTUS VIVIT of The Holy Father FRANCIS To Young People And To The Entire People Of God [Chapter 1]. 

…continued

CHAPTER ONE

What does the word of God have to say about young people?

5. Let us draw upon some of the richness of the sacred Scriptures, since they often speak of young people and of how the Lord draws near to encounter them.

In the Old Testament.

6. In an age when young people were not highly regarded, some texts show that God sees them differently. Joseph, for example, was one of the youngest of his family (cf. Gen 37:2-3), yet God showed him great things in dreams and when about twenty years old he outshone all his brothers in important affairs (cf. Gen 37-47).

7. In Gideon, we see the frankness of young people, who are not used to sugar-coating reality. When told that the Lord was with him, he responded: “But if the Lord is with us, why then have all these things happened to us?” (Jg 6:13). God was not offended by that reproach, but went on to order him: “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel!” (Jg 6:14).

8. Samuel was still a young boy, yet the Lord spoke to him. Thanks to the advice of an adult, he opened his heart to hear God’s call: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9-10). As a result, he became a great prophet who intervened at critical moments in the history of his country. King Saul was also young when the Lord called him to undertake his mission (cf. 1 Sam 9:2).

9. King David was chosen while still a boy. When the prophet Samuel was seeking the future king of Israel, a man offered as candidates his sons who were older and more experienced. Yet the prophet said that the chosen one was the young David, who was out tending the flock (cf. 1 Sam 16:6-13), for “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (v. 7). The glory of youth is in the heart, more than in physical strength or the impression given to others.

10. Solomon, when he had to succeed his father, felt lost and told God: “I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act” (1 Kg 3:7). Yet the audacity of youth moved him to ask God for wisdom and he devoted himself to his mission. Something similar happened to the prophet Jeremiah, called despite his youth to rouse his people. In his fear, he said: “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” (Jer 1:6). But the Lord told him not to say that (cf. Jer 1:7), and added: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8). The devotion of the prophet Jeremiah to his mission shows what can happen when the brashness of youth is joined to the power of God.

11. A Jewish servant girl of the foreign commander Naaman intervened with faith and helped him to be cured of his illness (cf. 2 Kg 5:2-6). The young Ruth was a model of generosity in remaining beside her mother-in-law who had fallen on hard times (cf. Ru 1:1-18), yet she also showed boldness in getting ahead in life (cf. Ru 4:1-17).

In the New Testament.

12. One of Jesus’ parables (cf. Lk 15:11-32) relates that a “younger” son wanted to leave his father’s home for a distant land (cf. vv. 12.13). Yet his thoughts of independence turned into dissolution and excess (cf. v. 13), and he came to experience the bitterness of loneliness and poverty (cf. vv. 14-16). Nonetheless, he found the strength to make a new start (cf. vv. 17-19) and determined to get up and return home (cf. v. 20). Young hearts are naturally ready to change, to turn back, get up and learn from life. How could anyone fail to support that son in this new resolution? Yet his older brother already had a heart grown old; he let himself be possessed by greed, selfishness and envy (Lk 15:28-30). Jesus praises the young sinner who returned to the right path over the brother who considered himself faithful, yet lacked the spirit of love and mercy.

13. Jesus, himself eternally young, wants to give us hearts that are ever young. God’s word asks us to “cast out the old leaven that you may be fresh dough” (1 Cor 5:7). Saint Paul invites us to strip ourselves of the “old self” and to put on a “young” self (Col 3:9-10).[1] In explaining what it means to put on that youthfulness “which is being renewed” (v. 10), he mentions “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another” (Col 3:12-13). In a word, true youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old. And so he concludes: “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).

14. Let us also keep in mind that Jesus had no use for adults who looked down on the young or lorded it over them. On the contrary, he insisted that “the greatest among you must become like the youngest” (Lk 22:26). For him age did not establish privileges, and being young did not imply lesser worth or dignity.

15. The word of God says that young people should be treated “as brothers” (1 Tim 5:1), and warns parents not to “provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21). Young people are not meant to become discouraged; they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better. That is why I constantly urge young people not to let themselves be robbed of hope; to each of them I repeat: “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Tim 4:12).

16. Nonetheless, young people are also urged “to accept the authority of those who are older” (1 Pet 5:5). The Bible never ceases to insist that profound respect be shown to the elderly, since they have a wealth of experience; they have known success and failure, life’s joys and afflictions, its dreams and disappointments. In the silence of their heart, they have a store of experiences that can teach us not to make mistakes or be taken in by false promises. An ancient sage asks us to respect certain limits and to master our impulses: “Urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Tit 2.6). It is unhelpful to buy into the cult of youth or foolishly to dismiss others simply because they are older or from another generation. Jesus tells us that the wise are able to bring forth from their store things both new and old (cf. Mt 13:52). A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others.

17. In the Gospel of Mark, we find a man who, listening to Jesus speak of the commandments, says, “All these I have observed from my youth” (10:20). The Psalmist had already said the same thing: “You, O Lord, are my hope; my trust, O Lord, from my youth… from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds” (Ps 71:5.17). We should never repent of spending our youth being good, opening our heart to the Lord, and living differently. None of this takes away from our youth but instead strengthens and renews it: “Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps 103:5). For this reason, Saint Augustine could lament: “Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient, ever new! Late have I loved you!”[2] Yet that rich man, who had been faithful to God in his youth, allowed the passing years to rob his dreams; he preferred to remain attached to his riches (cf. Mk 10:22).

18. On the other hand, in the Gospel of Matthew we find a young man (cf. 19:20.22) who approaches Jesus and asks if there is more that he can do (v. 20); in this, he demonstrates that youthful openness of spirit which seeks new horizons and great challenges. Yet his spirit was not really that young, for he had already become attached to riches and comforts. He said he wanted something more, but when Jesus asked him to be generous and distribute his goods, he realized that he could not let go of everything he had. In the end, “hearing these words, the young man went away sad” (v. 22). He had given up his youth.

19. The Gospel also speaks about a group of wise young women, who were ready and waiting, while others were distracted and slumbering (cf. Mt 25:1-13). We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life. In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future. Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness.

20. If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once he stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of his resurrection he urges you: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14).

21. To be sure, many other passages of the word of God can shed light on this stage of your life. We will take up some of them in the following chapters…to be continued. 

10 Warnings from Pope Francis about the Devil

10 Warnings from Pope Francis about the Devil

One of the greatest tricks of the Devil is convincing people he doesn’t exist.

Starting with his very first homily as the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has always reminded believers that the Devil is real, that we must be on guard, and that our only hope against him is in Jesus Christ.

Here are 10 of Pope Francis’ most direct quotes on the matter:

1) “The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Probably some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”

2) “When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.”

3) “The Devil attacks the family so much. That demon does not love it and seeks to destroy it. May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to attack it.”

4) “It is enough to open a newspaper and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice ‘God is stronger.’ Do you believe this, that God is stronger?”

5) “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do anything with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”

6) “Either you are with me, says the Lord or you are against me… Jesus came to give us the freedom from the devil’s manipulation.  On this note, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”

7) “Note well how Jesus responds to temptation: He doesn’t dialogue with Satan, as Eve did in the terrestrial Paradise. Jesus knows well that one can’t communicate with Satan because he is so cunning. For this reason, rather than communicating, as Eve did, Jesus decides to take refuge in the Word of God and to respond with the power of this Word. Let us remind ourselves of this in the time of temptation…: not arguing with Satan, but defending ourselves with the Word of God. And this will save us.”

8) “We too have to guard the faith, guard it against darkness. Many times, moreover, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as saint Paul, says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light.”

9) “Behind every rumor there is jealousy and envy. And gossip divides the community, damages the community. Rumors are the weapons of the devil.”

10) “Let us always recall that the Enemy wants to keep us separated from God and therefore instills disappointment in our hearts when we do not see our apostolic commitment instantly rewarded. Every day the devil sows the seeds of pessimism and strifes in our hearts. Let us open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to sow seeds of hope and confidence.”

3 Marian Reads To Assist You Grow in Love for Mary

3 Marian Reads To Assist You Grow in Love for Mary

How do you feel about Mary, the Mother of God? While as Catholics we honour her as the Queen of Heaven and the Mother of God, the greatest of all the saints, I have known many Catholics who struggle to love our Blessed Mother.

Maybe Mary is a difficult subject for you, and you feel that this is one part of the Catholic faith you’re finding it hard to grasp. On the other hand, maybe you wouldn’t be without her, or maybe you’re struggling with a constant barrage of questions about Catholic devotion to her. However warm or cold your devotion currently is, here’s a selection of CTS titles to help you grow closer to the Mother of God.

1. Our Lady Untier of Knots

You’ll be in good company with this devotion, as one person with a particular love for it is Pope Francis himself. This devotion involves praying to Mary to untie some of the many “knots” in our lives particularly a predicament where we can’t see the answer and need God’s guidance. Mary, as the Mother of God, can untie the knots for us.

In this short booklet, we understand a brief history of this devotion – what is it and how did it start? It also includes the main prayers to Our Lady Untier of Knots and the novena itself.

2. 33 Day Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

This popular devotion started with St Louis de Montfort, who had a great devotion to Mary. He believed strongly that people needed to turn to Christ’s Mother in order to find the way to Christ himself. To that end, he advocated a consecration to Jesus through Mary.

This booklet makes the devotion much more clear, by combining extracts from St Louis de Montfort with meditations, Scripture readings, and actions for each of the 33 days. Throughout the 33 days, anyone making this consecration is required to say certain prayers, all of which are helpfully included at the back of this booklet. The consecration should be finished on a Marian feast day, and this booklet helpfully lists those at the back of the book, along with a start date 33 days beforehand.

3. The Rosary With Pope Francis

Whether you already pray the rosary daily or would like to pray it more often, you might find it helpful under the guidance of this particularly Marian Pope.

As well as including a simple guide on how to pray the rosary, this booklet is loaded with scripture passage for every mystery of the Rosary, each accompanied by a reflection taken from the teachings of Pope Francis. The booklet also has sections on indulgences for saying the Rosary, in addition to Marian prayers written by Pope Francis.

Is It a Sin to Disobey Your Conscience?

Is It a Sin to Disobey Your Conscience?

How much are we meant to follow our conscience in making moral decisions? In a 2013 interview, Pope Francis  asserted that “there is sin, even for those who have no faith, when conscience is not followed. Listening to and obeying conscience means deciding in the face of what is understood to be good or evil.”

This led to no small amount of confusion, likely because many of us grew up hearing about conscience as a sort of “get-out-of-sin-free” card. If we could justify our action (however objectively morally evil it might be) as “following our conscience,” we couldn’t be maltreated.

So is Pope Francis right? Yes… but not in the way many people may assume.

Sometimes orthodox Catholics squirm when they hear “conscience” being talked about. Too often it’s invoked to claim that we can hold (and teach) error without any implications.

For instance, the case of the once-prominent Irish priest Tony Flannery, CSsR, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests. Fr. Flannery ran afoul of the Church by denying core elements of Catholic teaching—including not only the usual moral issues but the doctrine of the Trinity and even his own status as a priest, by declaring that the priesthood wasn’t instituted by Christ. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Church ordered him either to change his views or stop showing himself publicly as a Catholic priest.

A religion blogger for the Huffington Post was scandalized by this, and asked rhetorically, “How contradictory can the Church be? Firstly, the Church teaches people, and priests, to follow their conscience. When they do, they are threatened.” Fittingly, Fr. Flannery’s autobiography is called A Question of Conscience.

Did that blogger have a point? Is it hypocrisy for the Church to preach respect for conscience while at the same time ensuring that its priests promote only Catholic teaching?

One of the major problems in this whole conversation about conscience is that people don’t comprehend the term, and hardly anyone really bothers to define it.

Let’s start with what conscience isn’t. Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver puts the matter well: “Catholics today… have come to comprehend conscience as listening to their own voice, rather than listening to the voice of God as he has revealed himself in Scripture and in Tradition.” So conscience is not reducible simply to following your “inner voice.”

St. Thomas Aquinas defines conscience as “nothing else than the application of knowledge to some action,” and explores the ways that conscience

  • witnesses (when we “recognize that we have done or not done something”),
  • incites or binds (when “we judge that something should be done or not done”), and
  • excuses, accuses, and/or torments us (when “we judge that something done is well done or ill done”).

In the immortal words of Boston, this means that conscience is “more than a feeling.” , it’s more like, “Based on what you know, what’s the right or wrong course of action in this context?”

This is a crucial distinction. If you have been practicing a habitual sin for years, you may feel totally comfortable with it. In as much as it contradicts the law of God written in your heart, you may have learned a way to justify it in your mind, or just out of sheer repetition your conscience may no longer feel pricked when you do it. But once you come to understand that the Church teaches it’s immoral, and that this teaching is guided by the Holy Spirit, you’ve got more knowledge to apply to the act.

This is why the Church speaks of the need to “form” our conscience (see the Catechism 1783-1785). The more good and true knowledge our conscience has, the more it’s able to guide our feelings and keep them honest, the better it works.

So, the principle “follow your conscience” doesn’t mean that what we feel inside determines what’s “right” for us. But if you comprehend what conscience does mean, you can see why Pope Francis is right: we ought to always follow our conscience. Generally speaking, there are two reasons why:

  1. We often make moral judgments with the lights available to us. If you grab your roommate’s $20 bill from the kitchen counter, innocently and reasonably trusting it’s yours, you’re not guilty of theft.
  2. It’s always wrong to try to do something evil. To do something “against conscience” means to do something that you believe is morally wrong. And that is always wrong. If you’re trying to steal from your roommate, you’re sinning, even if the $20 bill you swiped turns out to have been yours in the first place. A priest I know gives the example of people who decide to skip Mass on Ash Wednesday, (falsely) believing it to be a holy day of obligation. There’s no actual obligation to go on Ash Wednesday, but if you thought there was and intentionally skipped, that’s a sin. As Pope Francis makes it clear, even an atheist knows it’s wrong to intend to do something wicked, whether or not the thing in question actually is wicked.

The Church also can (and does) teach all of us never to stop forming our conscience more rightly in submission to the truths of revelation and reason of which it is the divinely guided teacher. Then we can be sure that the inner voice of conscience is equally the voice of God.

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