Sunday, June 19, 2016

The world needs Christ more than ever, Pope Francis says


by Elise Harris

.- On Sunday Pope Francis said that with a growing sense of emptiness and insecurity gripping the world, Jesus Christ is needed more than ever before, since he alone knows how to answer humanity’s deepest questions.
“The world needs Christ more than ever, needs his salvation and his merciful love,” the Pope said June 19.
“Many people sense a void around and inside of them. Perhaps some of us too,” he said, noting that others “live in restlessness and insecurity because of precariousness and conflict.”
Each person needs to have “adequate responses” to their deepest existential questions, he said, explaining that since “Jesus knows the heart of man like no other,” he is able to heal and to give life and consolation to humanity.
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, which fell on same day as the opening of the June 19-26 Pan Orthodox Council in Crete. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Dialogue, has been tapped to be the Vatican’s observer at the council.
The Pope offered special greetings to the council participants, who also celebrated the solemnity of Pentecost – according to the Julian calendar – the day of the council’s opening.
He asked in pilgrims to unite in prayer “with our brother orthodox, invoking the Holy Spirit so that he assists with his gifts the Patriarchs, archbishops and bishops united in the Council,” and led them in praying Hail Mary.
In his speech before the Angelus, Francis focused on the day’s Gospel from Luke in which Jesus asks his disciples “Who do you say that I am?” – a question that Peter responds to with his declaration that Jesus is “the Christ of God.”
Jesus’ question is being repeated to each one of us today, Francis said, and asked aloud “Who is Jesus for the people of our time? For me, for you, for you, for you. Who is Jesus for each one of us?”
All of us are called “to make Peter’s response our response, professing with joy that Jesus is the Son of God, the eternal Word of the Father who became man to redeem mankind, pouring out upon him the abundance of divine mercy,” he said.
The Pope then pointed to how after Jesus speaks to the apostles, he addresses the entire crowd, telling them that “if one of you wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”
This cross, Francis said, is not a mere “ornamental” or “ideological” cross, but rather consists of the daily sacrifices made for others – including parents, children, friends, relatives and even enemies – out of love.
It also involves the adoption of an attitude of solidarity, especially with the poor, and of commitment to working for justice and peace.
By assuming these attitudes, “you always lose something,” he said, but urged pilgrims to remember Jesus’ advice that “whoever loses their life (for Christ) will find it.”
“Therefore, let us confidently abandon ourselves to him: Jesus, our brother, friend and savior,” Francis said, adding that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, gives us the strength to grow in faith and to act on what we believe, rather than saying one thing and doing another.
He noted that the Virgin Mary “is always close to us and goes before us” on the path of faith, and prayed that all of us would take her hand “when we pass through the most dark and difficult moments.”
After reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted how tomorrow, June 20, marks the U.N.’s World Day of Refugees, which this year holds the theme: “With refugees. We are on the side of those forced to flee.”
Refugees, he said, “are people like everyone else, but from whom war has taken their house, work, relatives and friends.”
“Because of this we wish to be with them: to meet them, to welcome them, to listen to them, to become with them artisans of peace according to the will of God,” Francis said, and wished pilgrims a happy Sunday before asking for their prayers.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Christ the Doctor: Christus Medicus

.- Physician-assisted suicide is part of a “throwaway culture” that offers a “false compassion” and treats a human person as a problem, Pope Francis told medical leaders on Thursday.
“True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing,” the Pope said. He criticized “those who hide behind an alleged compassion to justify and approve the death of a patient.”
“You are well aware of the meaning of the triumph of selfishness, of this ‘throwaway culture’ that rejects and dismisses those who do not comply with certain canons of health, beauty and utility,” he said.

The Pope addressed the managers of the Medical Orders of Spain and Latin America in the Apostolic Palace on June 9.
According to Vatican Radio’s translation, he described compassion as “the just response to the immense value of the sick person.” This response is composed of respect, understanding and tenderness “so that the sacred value of the life of the patient does not disappear or become obscured, but instead shines with greater splendor precisely in suffering and helplessness.”
Compassion is a necessary part of the medical profession, Pope Francis stressed.
“The doctor’s identity and commitment depends not only on scientific knowledge and technical competence, but principally on the attitude of compassion and mercy towards those who suffer in body and spirit. Compassion does not mean pity, it means ‘suffering with’,” he said.
Technological and individualistic culture does not always consider compassion well, he said. It even disdains it and regards it as humiliation.
“Frailty, pain and infirmity are a difficult trial for everyone, including medical staff. They call for patience, for ‘suffering-with.’ Therefore, we must not give in to the functionalist temptation to apply rapid and drastic solutions, moved by false compassion or by mere criteria of efficiency or cost-effectiveness,” he added.

“The dignity of human life is at stake. The dignity of the medical vocation is at stake.”
“Nothing must prevent you from ‘putting more heart into your hands’,” the pontiff told the medical leaders, citing St. Camillo de Lellis.
Pope Francis reflected on the theological aspects of health and medicine. In the biblical tradition, there is a close link between health and salvation.
“The Fathers of the Church used to refer to Christ and His work of salvation with the title ‘Christus Medicus’ (Christ the Doctor),” the Pope explained. “He is the Good Shepherd who cares for the wounded sheep and comforts the sick. He is the Good Samaritan who does not pass by the injured person at the roadside, but rather, moved by compassion, cures and attends to him.”
The Pope added he likes to bless doctors’ hands as a sign to recognize “this compassion that becomes the caress of health.”


Taken from:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jesus, in turning the water into wine ... "transforms the Law of Moses into the Gospel, bringer of joy.”

Pope Francis: Want to celebrate well? Drink wine.

by Elise Harris

.- In an in-depth look at Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, Pope Francis pointed to several key moments in the scene that illuminate our understanding of Christ.
One of these key moments, he said, comes with Mary’s observation that newlywed couple’s resources have depleted, and that at a certain point “they have no wine.”
“How is it possible to celebrate the wedding and have a party if you lack what the prophets indicated was a typical element of the messianic banquet?” the Pope asked.
While water is necessary to live, “wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the feast,” Francis said, noting that “a wedding feast lacking wine embarrasses the newlyweds – imagine finishing the wedding feast drinking tea? It would be an embarrassment!”
“Wine is necessary for the feast,” he said, and pointed to how Jesus, in turning the water into wine, makes “an eloquent sign,” because “he transforms the Law of Moses into the Gospel, bringer of joy.”

Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience. He continued his ongoing catechesis on mercy, turning from Jesus’ parables to his miracles.
However, before beginning his address, the Pope took a moment to greet a group of couples present celebrating 50 years of marriage.
“That's the good wine of the family!” he said of the couples, and told them that “yours is a witness that the newlyweds I'll greet after and the youth must learn. It's a beautiful witness. Thank you for your testimony!”
Francis then turned to the second chapter in the Gospel of John, which recounts the miracle that began Jesus’ public ministry: turning water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana, upon the request of his mother.
This miracle, the Pope said, serves as “an ‘entry point’ in which are engraved the words and expressions that illuminate the entire mystery of Christ and open the hearts of the disciples to the faith.”
In the expression that Jesus was “with his disciples,” it’s made clear that the ones Jesus has called to follow him are now bound together as a community and as a family, he said.
By initiating his public ministry at the wedding at Cana, Jesus both reveals himself as the bridegroom of the People of God who had been announced by the prophets, and also shows “the depth of the relationship which unites us to him: it’s a New Covenant of love.”
Francis said that the foundation of our faith is “an act of mercy with which Jesus has bound us to himself.” The Christian life, then, “is a response to this love, it’s the story of two lovers.”
Another key point in the passage is when Mary, after informing Jesus that the newlywed couple had run out of wine, tells the servants to “do whatever he tells you.”

Pope Francis said “it’s curious” that these are the last words spoken by Mary in the Gospels, and that as such “they are her legacy which she presents to all of us. This is the legacy that she has left us and it’s beautiful!”
He noted how Mary’s expression is similar to another -- ‘What the Lord has said, we will do!’ – which was used by the people of Israel when they received the covenant with God on Mount Sinai.
In the wedding at Cana, a New Covenant is “truly stipulated” and the servants of the Lord, who are “the entire Church,” are entrusted with a new mission, the Pope explained.
This mission, following Mary’s directive to “Do whatever he tells you,” means serving the Lord by listening to his Word and putting it into practice, Francis continued, adding that “it’s the simple but essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus and it’s the program of the Christian life.”
Jesus began his public works at Cana, revealing his glory to his disciples and cementing their belief in him, the Pope observed. Given these facts, “the wedding of Cana is much more than a simple story about Jesus’ first miracle.”
“Like a treasure chest, (Jesus) guards the secret of his person and the purpose for his coming,” Pope Francis said, explaining that it is through this wedding that Jesus binds his disciples to himself “with a new and definitive covenant.”
Francis closed his address by noting how Cana marks the place where Jesus’ disciples become his family and “the faith of the Church is born,” adding that “we are all invited to that wedding, because the new wine will never be lacking!”


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Monday, June 6, 2016

Want to get close to Jesus? Be meek, Pope Francis says

.- Meekness of heart is not foolishness, Pope Francis said Monday, but rather “the capacity to be deep and to understand the greatness of God, and worship Him.”

The Pope reflected during his homily Monday on the Beatitudes as steps that take us towards God.
The Pope’s homily came during the June 6 Mass at the Casa Santa Martha residence, Vatican Radio reports. He reflected on the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.

Pope Francis encouraged reflection on the beatitude, “Blessed are the Meek,” saying that the opposite of meekness “always causes enmities and wars.”
“Jesus says of himself: ‘learn from me for I am meek of heart’, I am humble and gentle at heart. To be meek is a way of being that brings us close to Jesus.”

The beatitudes are “the Lord’s new law for us.” They are “the steps that take us forward in life,” the pontiff said.

The Pope also drew on the Gospel of Luke, which accompanies the Beatitudes with a list of warnings: “Woe to the rich, to the satiated, to those who laugh now, to you when all speak well of you.”

Just as the Beatitudes lead us to heaven, he said, there are three steps that carry us to ruin.

There is attachment to riches, a sin which becomes idolatry. Attachment to riches is “the anti-law” and “the wrong navigator,” though riches are not evil in themselves, he said.

Next, there is vanity, which Pope Francis described as the view that “all must speak well of me, making me feel important, making too much of a fuss… and I am convinced to be in the right.”
The Pope noted the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee and warned against having an attitude that says, “O God I thank you that I am such a good Catholic, not like my neighbor…”

Finally, he denounced pride, rejecting it as “satiation and the laughter that closes one’s heart.”


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Thursday, June 2, 2016


Sacred Heart Jesus Images

The heart has always been seen as the "center" or essence a person ("the heart of the matter," "you are my heart," "take it to heart," etc.) and the wellspring of our emotional lives and love ("you break my heart," "my heart sings," etc.) Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love -- His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life.

Pope Pius XII of blessed memory writes on this topic in his 1956 encyclical, Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion To The Sacred Heart).
The Friday that follows the Second Sunday in Time After Pentecost is the Feast of the Sacred Heart which brings to mind all the attributes of His Divine Heart mentioned above. Many Catholics prepare for this Feast by beginning a Novena to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is the Thursday of the week before. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, we can gain a plenary indulgence by making an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.
From the earliest days of the Church, "Christ's open side and the mystery of blood and water were meditated upon, and the Church was beheld issuing from the side of Jesus, as Eve came forth from the side of Adam. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Through the wound in the side, the wound in the Heart was gradually reached, and the wound in the Heart symbolized the wound of love." (Catholic Encyclopedia)
This general devotion arose first in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries of that time, especially in response to the devotion of St. Gertrude the Great, but specific devotions became popularized when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, had a personal revelation involving a series of visions of Christ as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, "He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart." Christ emphasized to her His love -- and His woundedness caused by Man's indifference to this love.
He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart, that:  
  • He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
  • He will establish peace in their homes.
  • He will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  • He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
  • He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  • Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  • Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
  • Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  • He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and honored.
  • He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  • Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His Heart.
  • In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.