Wisdom of Pope Francis

Vatican Radio, April 12, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters: During this Holy Week, our continuing catechesis on Christian hope looks to the mystery of the Cross. Unlike worldly hopes, which fail to bring lasting satisfaction, our Christian hope is grounded in God’s eternal love, revealed in the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial death and his rising to new life.

Jesus, in speaking of his imminent passion and death, uses the image of the seed that must fall to the ground and die, in order to bear fruit. His saving death and resurrection show that the self-giving love that is God’s very life can transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, apparent defeat into eternal victory. The Cross of Christ is thus the source of that unfailing hope which gives meaning and direction to our lives. Beyond the shadow of the Cross, we glimpse the glory to which we are called.

As we celebrate these holy days leading to Easter, may we contemplate in the crucified Lord the source of our lasting hope and the inspiration for our efforts to live in imitation of his undying love.

Pray and take action to protect the environment

In an innovation that surprised many church-watchers and upset some traditionalists, Pope Francis said that prayer and action to protect the environment should be added to the venerable seven corporal works of mercy

and the seven spiritual works of mercy

drawn from the Gospels and Christian tradition. "We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness," Francis wrote. "But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces." "Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world's poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact."

Vatican City, March 3, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News).

True fasting is helping your neighbor; while false fasting mixes religiosity with dirty deals and the bribes of vanity. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday, March 3, 2017.

The readings of the day speak about fasting; that is, the Pope explained, "about the penance that we are called to do in this time of Lent," in order to draw closer to the Lord. God delights in the "contrite heart," the Psalm says, "the heart of one who feels himself a sinner, who knows he is a sinner." In the first Reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God rebukes the false religiosity of the hypocrites who fast, while at the same time carrying out their own pursuits, oppressing their workers, "striking with wicked claw": on the one hand, doing penance, while on the other being unjust, making "dirty deals." The Lord calls us, instead, to a true fast, where we are attentive to our neighbor:

  • "‘This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.’*

"Let us think on these words, let us think in our own hearts, how do we fast, pray, give alms? And it would help us to think about how we would feel about a man who, after a meal that cost 200 euros, for example, returns home and sees someone hungry, and doesn’t look at him and keeps walking. It would do us good to think about that."

*Vatican City, Feb 15, 2017 / 04:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- *

Continuing his catechesis on the theme of hope from earlier weeks, Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during the general audience reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which the saint speaks of boasting "in hope of the glory of God."

"So our greatest pride is to have as a Father a God who has no favorites, who does not exclude anyone, but who opens his home to all human beings, beginning with the last and the distant, because as his children we learn to console and support each other," he said.

"And then … we are at peace with ourselves, we are at peace in the family, in our community, at work and with the people we meet every day on our way," he said. The peace the Lord offers us "should not be understood as the absence of worries, disappointments, failures and the causes of suffering." If this were true, then our peace would be very short-lived, he said, adding that "the peace that comes from faith is instead a gift ... it is the grace to experience that God loves us" and there is always a guarantee that "he does not leave us alone even for a moment of our lives." It is the knowledge of the security of God’s love for us that helps us to bear suffering patiently, even in the most difficult moments, because "the mercy and goodness of the Lord are the greatest of all things and nothing will tear us from his hands."

Excerpted from article by Hannah Brockhaus

*Vatican City, February 1, 2017 *

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christian hope isn't about believing in something that may or may not come true, like hoping tomorrow's weather will be pleasant, Pope Francis said. "Christian hope is the expectation of something that already has been fulfilled and that certainly will be attained for each one of us," that is, knowing Christ died and is truly risen so that all of humanity may gain salvation and live together with God, the pope said Feb. 1 during his weekly general audience. Continuing a series of talks on Christian hope, the pope looked at St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:4-11) and what it teaches about the Christian belief in life after death. Christian hope … is belief in "a sure reality" because it is rooted in the real event of Christ's resurrection and his promise of eternal life with him. Everyone needs to learn to live each day … "in expectation of gazing at the Lord, of finding the Lord," he said. At the end of his main audience talk, the pope greeted members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which seeks to act upon the pope's encyclical "Laudato Si'" and address climate change. He thanked them for their dedication to "taking care of our common home during this time of serious social-environmental crisis." He encouraged them to continue to expand and strengthen their networks "so that local churches may respond with determination to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

--Adapted from Pope-Audience-Resurrection, CNS Feb. 1. 2017

Vatican City, December 19, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)

Young Catholics can be a force for joy and peace, Pope Francis told an audience with Catholic Action on Monday. "Proclaiming to all the love and tenderness of Jesus, you become apostles of the joy of the Gospel. And joy is contagious."
Reflecting on the Nativity of Jesus Christ, he said: "The birth of Jesus is announced as a great joy, originating from the discovery that God loves us and, through the birth of Jesus, made Himself close to us to save us. We are beloved by God. What a wonderful thing!"

Adapted from Catholic News Agency

Vatican City, December 4, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)

… the condition to experiencing God’s kingdom - both on earth and in heaven - is conversion.

"(B)e converted every day, one step forward every day," Pope Francis said.

He encouraged the faithful to convert and prepare the way of the Lord in their hearts by examining their consciences and leaving behind the "convenient but misleading ... idols of this world: success at all costs, the power at the expense of the weak, the thirst for wealth, pleasure at any price."

"Christmas is a day of great joy, also exterior, but is primarily a religious event for which spiritual preparation is needed," Pope Francis said.

"In this Advent season, let us be guided by the exhortation of John the Baptist: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’"

--Vatican City, October 5, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)

*Pope: Church's mission is to attract people to Christ, not proselytize *

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are called to follow the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, who helped draw people to Jesus by way of attraction, not by proselytizing, Pope Francis said. She was a reminder that an authentic witness is proclaimed through a union with Christ "in prayer, adoration and in concrete charity, which is serving Jesus, who is present in the least of our brothers and sisters," he said Oct. 5 during his weekly general audience.

Among the estimated 25,000 in St. Peter's Square were 33 former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp, whom he greeted after the audience and posed for pictures. Addressing the former prisoners and Polish pilgrims present, he said the day's feast of St. Faustina Kowalska "reminded the world that God is rich in mercy and that his love is more powerful than death, than sin and every evil."

--Vatican City, Sep 14, 2016 / 10:30 am (CNA/EWTN News)

Pope Francis reflected on the passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

"The invitation is in the imperative form: 'come to me,' 'take my yoke,' 'learn from me,'" Francis said.
"Dear brothers and sisters, for us there are moments of fatigue and disappointment. Then let us remember these words of the Lord, who gives us so much consolation and helps us to understand if we are putting our powers at the service of good," he said.

Vatican City, Aug 10, 2016 / 12:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis gave this reflection at the end of his General Audience in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall Aug. 10.

"Each of us must respond to the gift of mercy in our hearts by getting up and putting mercy into action," Pope Francis said Wednesday.

Speaking about a bishop who had in his cathedral one Holy Door of mercy for entering and one for exiting, Pope Francis said: "Let us also do the same with the journey that goes from the heart to the hands."

Pope Francis reflected on the pain of the mother of the young boy who died in Luke 7. At the word of Christ, the dead boy sat up and began to speak. "What Jesus did is therefore not only an action of salvation destined to the widow and her son, or a gesture of kindness limited to that town," he said. "Today, too, the Church recognizes a visit from God."

"Mercy, both in Jesus and in us, is a journey that starts from the heart to get to the hands. What does this mean? Jesus looks at you, heals you with his mercy, tells you: ‘Get up!’, And your heart is new," Pope Francis concluded.

--Adapted from the Catholic News Service.

Wisdom of Pope Francis

"The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is an auspicious occasion for promoting worldwide ever more evolved forms of respect for the life and dignity of each person. It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal. Today I would encourage all to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also for the improvement of prison conditions, so that they fully respect the human dignity of those incarcerated. ‘Rendering justice’ does not mean seeking punishment for its own sake, but ensuring that the basic purpose of all punishment is the rehabilitation of the offender. The question must be dealt with within the larger framework of a system of penal justice open to the possibility of the guilty party’s reinsertion in society. There is no fitting punishment without hope! Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment."

--Pope Francis Address to those attending the Sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty In Oslo, June 21-23, 2016

Marriage Is for Life, Pope Francis Says

Because most people today do not understand that sacramental marriage really is a bond that binds them to each other for life, many marriages today can be considered invalid, Pope Francis said. Raising a point he has raised before, and one also raised by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis insisted on June 16 that the validity of a marriage implies that a couple understands that sacramental marriage is a bond that truly binds them to another for their entire lives.

"We are living in a culture of the provisional," he told participants in the Diocese of Rome's annual pastoral conference. The idea of commitments being temporary "occurs everywhere, even in priestly and religious life. The provisional. And for this reason a large majority of sacramental marriages are null. They say 'yes, for my whole life,' but they do not know what they are saying because they have a different culture," he said.

Attitudes toward marriage are influenced strongly by social expectations. Pope Francis told participants that when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he banned "shotgun weddings" from Catholic parishes because the strong social pressure to marry placed on a couple expecting a baby could mean they were not fully free to pledge themselves to each other for life through the sacrament. It was important, he said, that the couples were not abandoned, but were assisted by the church. Many of them, he said, "after two or three years would marry. I would watch them enter the church -- dad, mom and the child holding their hands. They knew well what they were doing."

"The crisis of marriage is because people do not know what the sacrament is, the beauty of the sacrament; they do not know that it is indissoluble, that it is for one's entire life," he said. "It's difficult."

Adapted from Cindy Wooden - Catholic News Service Jun 17 2016

The Feast of Corpus Christi

In Pope Francis’s homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi he notes, "when Christ tells his disciples to ‘give them something to eat yourselves,’ he is indicating that while he is the one who blesses and breaks the bread, providing enough to feed the entire hungry crowd, it is the disciples who offer the loaves and fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had."
The Pope then pointed to how the pieces of bread, once broken "by the holy and venerable hands" of Jesus, were then placed into "the poor hands of the disciples," who distributed them to the people. In distributing the bread to the hungry crowd, the disciples are able to share in Christ’s own action, giving the people something to eat.
"Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all."

*Sunday, May 29, 2016 *

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy,
we now turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus had taught the great commandment of love for God and neighbour.
In reply to the question: "Who is my neighbour?", he recounts the story of the priest and the levite
who pass by a man in need at the side of the road. Their religiosity is ultimately inauthentic,
for it does not find expression in service to others. Love, the Lord tells us, is never abstract or distant;
it "sees" and it responds. The compassion shown by the Samaritan is an image of the infinite mercy of God,
who always sees our needs and draws near to us in love. The command to love God and neighbour, then,
is supremely practical; it entails caring for others even to the point of personal sacrifice.
By the end of the parable, we see that the "neighbour" is not so much the man in need,
but rather the one who responded to that need with compassion. Jesus tells all of us to be neighbours in this sense:
"Go and do likewise". He himself is the model of the Good Samaritan;
by imitating his love and compassion, we show ourselves truly to be his followers.

--Wednesday Audience, April 27, 2016 Vatican News Service

The New Testament "is truly the 'Gospel of mercy' because Jesus is mercy," Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
At every moment in his life, Jesus showed love to everyone: a love that is "pure, free and absolute," the pope said.
Jesus began his mission of mercy with his baptism in the Jordan River, waiting in line "with the sinners, he wasn't ashamed, he was there with everyone, with the sinners, to get baptized." He could have begun his public ministry with lots of fanfare, "in the splendor of the temple," to the "blast of trumpets" or "in the garments of a judge," but he didn't. Instead he chose to be with the people, taking on "the human condition, spurred by solidarity and compassion."
-- Wednesday Audience, April 6, 2016

"Dear Brothers and Sisters: The Sacred Scriptures present God as infinite mercy, but also as perfect justice. When we think of justice, we think of its legal administration, which seeks retribution and exacts a penalty. Such legal justice does not conquer evil, but simply stems its tide…. [But] This is God’s justice. He does not seek our condemnation, but our salvation. By making us see the wrong we have done, the Father helps us to recognize our need for his mercy revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s justice is his mercy. As God’s children, may we be open to his divine mercy, and readily and generously share it with our brothers and sisters."
--From the Wednesday audience with Pope Francis, February 3, 2016