Tag Archives: Pope Francis

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

Pope’s Christmas greetings to Roman Curia

color armsThe Holy Father meets with the Roman Curia typically on the Third Saturday of Advent in the Clementine Hall. In the past the papal address was longer and had a slightly different tone and content. Francis’ talk this year is spiritual with with a tone of fraternal correction aiming at a more substantive pastoral ministry for the of the person, and that of others. What the pope said to the curia is applicable to all. It ought to be attended to by all of us.

The Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas.  They are days marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the creche…  It is in this climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the Superiors and Officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the service of the Church.  I greet all of you with affection.  Allow me to extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!

While our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to one another.  In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of service, and to each of you individually.  I thank you for the work which you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you display; and for your effort I know it is not always easy – to work together in the office, both to listen to and challenge one another, and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts, in a spirit of mutual respect.

In a particular way, I want to express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and approaching retirement.  As priests and bishops, we know full well that we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not least to devote ourselves a little more fully to prayer and the care of souls, starting with our own!  So a very special and heartfelt “thank you” goes to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world.  This is something truly admirable.  I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons…  We need them today, too!  People who work with competence, precision and self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties.  Here I would like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people notice are the ones that are missing!    Besides, I would also risk overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of charity.  But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.

They are also an example, and their example and their witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to emphasize: professionalism and service.

Professionalism, by which I mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things…  This is a basic requisite for working in the Curia.  Naturally, professionalism is something which develops, and is in part acquired; but I think that, precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good foundation from the outset.

The second hallmark is service: service to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to the particular Churches.  In the Roman Curia, one learns – in a special way, “one breathes in” – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of the universal and the particular.  I think that this is one of the finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: “to sense” the Church in this way.  When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity.  Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives.  Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customshouse, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.

To these two qualities of professionalism and service, I would also like to add a third, which is holiness of life.  We know very well that, in the hierarchy of values, this is the most important.  Indeed, it is basic for the quality of our work, our service.  Here I would like to say that in the Roman Curia there have been, and still are, saints.  I have said this publicly on more than one occasion, as a way of thanking the Lord.  Holiness means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers.  It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s people.  For priests, this is indispensable.

Holiness, in the Curia, also means conscientious objection.  Yes, conscientious objection to gossip!  We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection, but perhaps we too need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip.  So let us all be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching!  For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final stretch of the road to Bethlehem.  We would do well to meditate on Saint Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady.  Let us think about him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the Baby Jesus.  This can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church!   So let us experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint Joseph.  This will benefit all of us!

I thank you most heartily for your work and especially for your prayers.  Truly I feel “borne aloft” by your prayers and I ask you to continue to support me in this way.  I too remember you before the Lord, and I impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas filled with light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones.  Happy Christmas!

Prayer to end hunger on December 10

Pope Francis has called for people around the world to pray together at noon their local time on Dec. 10 for an end to hunger.
Can we throughout the USA to join the Holy Father’s call to respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable by praying and working to end hunger?
The global wave of prayer will begin at noon on the Island of Samoa and will progress around the world in each time zone until it reaches the island again some 24 hours and more than 164 countries later.
The prayer vigil marks the beginning of a yearlong, anti-hunger campaign called “One Human Family, Food For All,” which is being organized by Caritas, the international Catholic relief organization, and Catholic Relief Services. This is a concrete way to see our faith in Jesus Christ in action.
More information and resources can be found at www.crs.org.
Let us be in communio, that is, be united in voice, heart and mind, with the Catholic community around the globe to end the scandal of world hunger. Pope Francis’ call to prayer has also resonated with other religious leaders, and people from many faith traditions are expected to participate.
Please consider praying the following prayer at noon on Dec. 10.
O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all Creation so that we might care for the Earth and be nourished with its bounty.
You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us your Law of Love.
Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family.
Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food—even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.
We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family.
Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world’s citizens, to find just and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.
Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgment, we can proclaim ourselves as “One Human Family” with “Food for All.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Pope calls for prayer for kidnapped Syrian nuns

As a follow-up to a blog I made the other day, “Islamist rebels control Monastery of St Thecla, Maaloula, Syria,” there is this call for spiritual closeness, prayer, for the plight of the Syrian nuns and some lay collaborators by Pope Francis.

Read the brief note here. Listen to the brief  Vatican Radio report is here.

Here is the perspective of Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo (Audo is the bishop for the Chaldeans).

A few other reports have been filed on AsiaNews.it: here and here.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for the nuns and all Christians in Syria.
Saint Ephrem the Syrian, pray for us.

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.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory