Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Pope Francis writes to new cardinals

Dear Brother,

On the day in which your designation is made public to be part of the College of Cardinals, I wish to express to you a cordial greeting together with the assurance of my closeness and my prayer. I hope that, as associate of the Church of Rome, clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus (cf. Romans 13:14), you will be able to help me, with fraternal effectiveness, in my service to the universal Church.

The Cardinalate does not signify a promotion, or an honor, or a decoration. It is simply a service that calls for enlarging one’s vision and widening one’s heart. And, although it seems a paradox, this ability to look far ahead and to love more universally with greater intensity can only be acquired by following the same way of the Lord: the way of abasement and humility, taking the form of a servant (cf. Philippians 2;5-8). Therefore, I ask you, please, to receive this designation with a simple and humble heart. And, although you must do so with joy and gladness, do it in such a way that this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness, from any celebration that is foreign to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.

Farewell, then, until next February 20, in which we will begin two days of reflection on the family. I remain at your disposition and, please, I ask you to pray and to have others pray for me.

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you.



From the Vatican
January 12, 2014

Wow! What a letter to read! Imagine receiving such a letter if you were nominated to the cardinalate in the Catholic Church. The papal letter is brief, direct, and an unexpected fraternal gesture expressing clear hopes (expectations?) for the men entering into the College of Cardinals. I hope not only the cardinals listen to what the Holy Father has to say, but the rest of us, too. What is said to the new cardinals is said to all the faithful!

Symbolic of the new form service for Christ and the Church is the adoption of the color red, expressed most often as “the red hat” (seen above) and the reception of a new ring. These are classic signs to the deeper reality of love and service. The wearing of the color red, the donning of the biretta (hat) and the wearing of the cardinal’s ring is a clear sign of willing to die for the Church, and to be of service to the Church at all costs. You might say that being a cardinal is all-consuming in all forms of service that others (deacon, priest, bishop & faithful lay person) may not have: the prayers for the new cardinal at the time of the consistory have a clear element of martyrdom in them. The martyrdom of a cardinal –which hasn’t happened in a while– ought to be a spark for new life in the Paschal Mystery.

One of the striking lines in the Pope’s letter is enlarging one’s vision and widening one’s heart. Other parts of the letter that we ought to note is how the cardinal relates to the person of the bishop of Rome: in a personalistic way. Moreover, Francis asks the new cardinals to celebrate with joy yet in a sober manner that is not triumphalistic keeping in mind what the Scriptures reveal.

Baptism gives us new hope

On January 8, 2014, Pope Francis began a new series of Catecheses (teaching) on the seven sacraments for his Wednesday General Audiences. In the coming weeks he’ll explore for us these seven saving moments in a Chrsitian’s life. Given that today’s feast in the Novus Ordo Mass, the Baptism of the Lord, I think it is appropriate to give for our consideration what the Holy Father developed for us with regard to our Catholic sacramentality.

It would be good if pastors, the DREs and the faith formation coordinators collate what the last three popes said about the sacraments, and what meaning they have for us today. Certainly this can be done in a booklet form for the sacraments most administered in parishes.

The first teaching is on Baptism, one three sacraments of initiation. Francis gives perspective when he notes that what we understand a sacrament to be has as its historic and coherence the sense that sacraments are grace-filled signs making Jesus Christ’s saving authority and power present in concrete ways. Just like love being concrete, so too, sacraments are concrete actions of the Holy Spirit.

What do we believe about baptism, as a consequence of our Liturgy? Baptism:

  • “gives us new birth in Christ,
  • makes us sharers in the mystery of his death and resurrection,
  • grants the forgiveness of sin,
  • and, brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of his Church.”

Moreover, “baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ.” Baptism makes us different persons, our life of faith is not the same as a Jew or a Muslim.

In the papal address the Pope gives us some homework. Do you know when your baptism was performed, by whom, and where? That is, when were you brought into communio with God?

The Pope says,

1. Baptism is the sacrament in which our faith is founded upon and which engages us as living members in Christ and in His Church. Together with the Eucharist and Confirmation, they form the so-called “Christian Initiation”, which constitutes as a single, great sacramental event that configures us to the Lord and makes of us a living sign of His presence and His love.

But a question may arise in us: is Baptism truly necessary to live as Christians and to follow Jesus? Isn’t it basically a simple rite, a formal act of the Church to give a name to a boy or a girl? It is a question that may come to us. In this context, it is illuminating what the Apostle Paul writes: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6,3-4). Therefore, it is not a formality! It is an act that profoundly touches our existence. A baptized child and a non-baptized child is not the same! A baptized person and a non-baptized person is not the same! With Baptism we come immersed in that inexhaustible source of life that is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and death, but in the communion with God and with the brothers.

2. Many of us do not have the slightest memory of the celebration of this Sacrament, obviously, if we were baptized shortly after birth. I have asked this question two or three times here in the Square. Who here knows the date of their Baptism? Raise your hand! Who knows? Few, eh! Very few. It is important! It is important to know what day you were immersed in that current of salvation of Jesus! Permit me to give you a piece of advice. More than an advice, a homework for today: Today at home search for, ask for the date of your Baptism. And thus you may truly know well that beautiful date of your Baptism. Will you do it? [People: Yes!] I don’t hear enthusiasm. Will you do it? [People: Yes!] Yes! Because it is to know a happy date! Our Baptism! But the risk is to lose the memory of that which the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift that we have received. We end up considering it as only an event that happened in the past – and not even by our own will, but that of our parents -, that no longer has any effect in our present. We must awaken the memory of our Baptism. Awaken the memory of Baptism. We are called to live our Baptism every day as an actual reality in our existence. If we follow Jesus and remain in the Church, despite our limitations, our weaknesses and our sins, it is precisely by the Sacrament through which we become new creatures and we are reinvested by Christ.  It is in virtue of Baptism, in fact, that, free from original sin, we are grafted into the relationship of Jesus with God the Father; that we are bearers of a new hope because Baptism gives us this new hope! The hope of going on the path of salvation for the rest of our life. And nothing and no one can extinguish this hope, because hope does not deceive. Remember this. The hope in the Lord never deceives us. Thanks to Baptism, we are capable of forgiving and to love even those who offend us and hurt us, that we can recognize in the last ones and in the poor the face of the Lord who visits us and comes close to us and with this Baptism helps us to recognize in the face of the needy, in those suffering, even in our neighbor, the face of Jesus. It is a grace of this strength of Baptism.

3. One last important element and I’ll ask a question. Can a person baptize himself? [People: No!] I can’t hear your! [People: No!] Are you sure? [People: Yes!] One cannot baptize himself/herself!  No one can baptize themselves! No one! We can ask for it, desire it, but we always have need for someone to confer this Sacrament in the name of the Lord. Baptism is a gift that is given in a context of solicitude and fraternal sharing. Always in history, one baptizes another, and another. It is a chain, a chain of grace. But I cannot baptize myself. I must ask another for Baptism. It is an act of brotherhood, an act of filiation to the Church. In its celebration we can recognize the most genuine features of the Church, which as a mother continues to generate new children in Christ, in the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit. Let us now ask the Lord with our whole heart to be able to experience evermore, in daily life, the grace that we have received with Baptism. That in meeting us, our brothers may encounter true children of God, true brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, true members of the Church. And don’t forget your homework for today, which is, to search, to ask, for the date of your Baptism. And as one knows their date of birth, so must they also know the date of Baptism because it is a feast day!

New Cardinals by Pope Francis

TempestaAs was previously announced, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, I will have the joy of holding a Consistory, during which I will name 16 new Cardinals, who, coming from 12 countries from every part of the world, represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Churches throughout the world. The following day [February 23] I will preside at a solemn concelebration with the new Cardinals, while on February 20 and 21 I will hold a Consistory with all the Cardinals to reflect on the theme of the family.

Here are the names of the new Cardinals:

1. Pietro Parolin, Titular Archbishop of Acquapendente, Secretary of State
2. Lorenzo Baldisseri, Titular Archbishop of Diocleziana, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
3. Gerhard Ludwig Műller, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Regensburg, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
4. Beniamino Stella, Titular Archbishop of Midila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
5. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (Great Britain).
6. Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua).
7. Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec (Canada).
8. Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
9. Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist., Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
10. Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy).
11. Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
12. Andrew Yeom Soo jung, Archbishop of Seoul (Korea).
13. Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago del Cile (Chile).
14. Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
15. Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines).
16. Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes (Haïti).

Together with them, I will join to the Members of the College of Cardinals three Archbishops emeriti distinguished for their service to the Holy See and to the Church.

They are:

1. Loris Francesco Capovilla, Titular Archbishop of Mesembria.
2. Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, C.M.F., Archbishop emeritus of Pamplona.
3. Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop emeritus of Castries.

Holy Name of Jesus with Pope Francis

IHS at the GesuThe Mass for the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast day for the Society of Jesus, was offered today by Pope Francis in the Church of Jesus. Today the Church reminds us “to let the center of … [our] heart be occupied by Christ.”

Gathering for prayer was an opportunity for the Holy Father to gather with his religious community in Rome to give God thanks for the many blessings received, and to give thanks for the new Jesuit saint Peter Faber (Pierre Favre). Several bishops and priests concelebrated the Mass: Cardinal Angelo Amato (Saints); Cardinal Agostino Vallini (vicar general of Rome); Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ (CDF secretary); Bishop Yves Boivineau of Annecy, France, in whose diocese Faber was born, and the vicar general Father Alain Fournier-Bidoz; and the Jesuit superior general Father Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, with seven younger Jesuit priests.

Peter Faber was canonized and thereby added to the long list of Jesuit saints by Pope Francis on 17 December 2013. Faber was the first companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the first priest of the Society and is known as “the second Jesuit.” Faber is also known for his competency in giving the Spiritual Exercises. The tombs of Saint Ignatius and Saint Peter Faber are located in the Church of Jesus. This is the second time since being elected the bishop of Rome that Francis has offered Mass with the Jesuits at the Jesus Church.

In his homily Francis said,

We heard Saint Paul tell us: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7). We, Jesuits, want to be conferred the name of Jesus, militate under the standard of his Cross, and this means: to have the same sentiments of Christ. It means to think like Him, love like Him, see like Him, walk like Him. It means to do what He did and with his same sentiments, with the sentiments of his Heart.

The heart of Christ is the heart of a God who, out of love, “emptied” himself. Every one of us Jesuits who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself. We are called to this abasement: to be of the “emptied.” To be men that do not live centered on themselves because the center of the Society is Christ and his Church. And God is the Deus semper maior, the God who always surprises us. And if the God of surprises is not at the center, the Society becomes disoriented. Because of this, to be a Jesuit means to be a person of incomplete thought, of open thought: because one always thinks looking at the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us. And this is the restlessness of our void, this holy and beautiful restlessness!

However, because we are sinners, we can ask ourselves if our heart has kept the restlessness of the search or if, instead, it has atrophied; if our heart is always in tension: a heart that does not settle down, a heart that does not shut itself in on itself, but which beats the rhythm of a journey to undertake together with all the faithful people of God. It is necessary to seek God to find Him, and to find him in order to seek Him again and forever. Only this restlessness gives peace to the heart of a Jesuit, a restlessness that is also apostolic, which must not make us grow tired of proclaiming the Kerygma, of evangelizing with courage. It is the restlessness that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without restlessness we are sterile.

This is the restlessness that Peter Favre [Faber] had, man of great desires, another Daniel. Favre was a “modest, sensible man of profound interior life and gifted with the gift of close relations of friendship with persons of all sorts” (Benedict XVI, Address to Jesuits, April 22, 2006). However, he was also a restless, uncertain and never satisfied spirit. Under the guidance of Saint Ignatius he learned to unite his restless but also gentle — I would say exquisite –, sensibility with the capacity to take decisions. He was a man of great desires; he took charge of his desires, he acknowledged them. In fact for Favre, it was precisely when difficult things were proposed that his true spirit was manifested which moved him to action (cf. Memoriale, 301). Authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we should ask ourselves: do we also have great visions and dash? Are we also daring? Does our dream fly high? Does zeal devour us (cf. Psalm 69:10)? Or are we mediocre and content with our laboratory apostolic programs? Let us remember always: the strength of the Church does not lie in herself and in her organizational capacity, but is hidden in the profound waters of God. And these waters agitate our desires and desires enlarge the heart. It is what Saint Augustine says: pray to desire and desire to enlarge the heart. In fact it was in his desires that Favre could discern God’s voice. Without desires one goes nowhere and it is because of this that we must offer our desires to the Lord. Stated in the Constitutions is that “one’s neighbor his helped with desires presented to God our Lord” (Constitutions, 638).

Favre had the real and profound desire to “be dilated in God”: he was completely centered on God, and because of this he could go, in the spirit of obedience, often also on foot, everywhere in Europe to speak to all with gentleness, and to proclaim the Gospel. The thought comes to me of the temptation, which perhaps we might have and that so many have, of connecting the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial blows of condemnation. No, the Gospel is proclaimed with gentleness, with fraternity, with love. Favre’s familiarity with God led him to understand that interior experience and apostolic life always go together. In his Memoriale he wrote that the first movement of the heart must be that ofdesiring what is essential and original, that is, that the first place be left to the perfect solicitude of finding God our Lord” (Memoriale, 63). Favre demonstrates the desire “to let Christ occupy the center of the heart” (Memoriale, 68). Only if one is centered on God is it possible to go to the fringes of the world! And Favre traveled ceaselessly also on the geographic frontiers, so much so that it was said of him: “It seems that he was born not to stay put in any place” (MI, Epistolae I, 362). Favre was devoured by the intense desire to communicate the Lord. If we do not have his same desire, then we need to pause in prayer and, with silent fervor, ask the Lord, through the intercession of our brother Peter, that he fascinate us again: that fascination of the Lord that led Peter to all his apostolic “lunacies.”

We are men in tension; we are also contradictory and inconsistent men, sinners, all. But men who want to walk under the gaze of Jesus. We are little, we are sinners, but we want to militate under the standard of the Cross of the Society conferred with the name of Jesus. We who are egoistic want, however, to live an agitated life of great desires. We renew now our oblation to the Eternal Lord of the universe so that with the help of his glorious Mother we may want, desire and live the sentiments of Christ who emptied himself. As Saint Peter Favre wrote, “We never seek in this life a name that is not connected with that of Jesus” (Memoriale, 205). And we pray to Our Lady to be messengers with her Son.

A Vatican Radio report can be heard here.

Hope springs from a stable of Bethlehem

Francis kisses baby JesusTo you, dear brothers and sisters, gathered from throughout the world in this Square, and to all those from different countries who join us through the communications media, I offer my cordial best wishes for a merry Christmas!

On this day illumined by the Gospel hope which springs from the humble stable of Bethlehem, I invoke the Christmas gift of joy and peace upon all: upon children and the elderly, upon young people and families, the poor and the marginalized. May Jesus, who was born for us, console all those afflicted by illness and suffering; may he sustain those who devote themselves to serving our brothers and sisters who are most in need. Happy Christmas to all!

Pope Francis’ English message for Christmas 2013

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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