Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Francis: The Pope from the New World

Francis The Pope from the New World


Here’s the response of the Knights of Columbus to a question about obtaining a DVD copy of the Knights of Columbus documentary “Francis: The Pope from the New World.” The film is being finalized for DVD and should be available on Amazon.com and other online outlets by the Christmas.

Check www.PopeFrancisDocumentary.com for updates.

This is an excellent documentary. Well worth giving it as a gift your parish formation program.

Julián Carrón speaks of Pope Francis

Francis Julian 11 Oct 2013Milan, October 16, 2013

Dear friends,

On Friday, October 11th, I had the grace of being received in a private audience by Pope Francis. I experienced in person what we have been seeing for months, every time that he appears in public—the extreme familiarity of his entering into a relationship with the individual, even in the midst of enormous crowds.

Thus I was able to tell him about the journey that we have made in the years since Fr. Giussani’s passing. I emphasized that all of our effort was and is in function of the personalization of faith, as the only condition for being able to live, in daily reality, that newness of life that fascinated us.

At these words, the Pope went immediately to that which constitutes his fundamental concern—that every man, no matter the situation in which he finds himself, can be reached by the Christian announcement, by the mercy and the tenderness of Christ. For this reason, he insisted on the need for witness, that is, the necessity to go to meet the others—in the face of the temptation to close ourselves in defensive positions, incapable of responding to the urgency of the transmission of faith—observing that it will not be the mere “restoration” of past forms that will render Christianity present for the man of today.

I was amazed to read this week, in the Pope’s speech to the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, some of the concerns that had emerged in our dialogue, and I would like to share them with you.

1) First of all, Pope Francis reminds everyone of the fact that “new evangelization” means “to reawaken the life of faith in the hearts and minds of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift from God, but it’s important that we Christians show that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this raises questions, just as it did at the beginning of the Church’s journey: Why do they live like this? What drives them? These are questions that go to the heart of evangelization, which is the witness of faith and charity. What we need, especially now, are credible witnesses who make the Gospel visible with their lives, and also with their words, who reawaken the attraction for Jesus Christ, for the beauty of God… We need Christians who make God’s mercy, His tenderness for every creature, visible to the men of today.”

2) Thus he went on to the second aspect: “The encounter, going to meet the others. New evangelization is a renewed movement toward those who have lost faith and the profound meaning of life. This dynamism is part of Christ’s great mission to bring life into the world, to bring the Father’s love to humanity. The Son of God ‘left’ His divine condition and came to meet us. The Church is within this movement; every Christian is called to go to meet the others, to dialogue with those who have different beliefs, with those who have another faith, or who have no faith. To meet everyone, because we all have in common that we were created in the image and likeness of God. We can go to meet everyone, without fear and without giving up our belonging.”

3) Finally, he invited us to recognize that “all of this, however, is not left to chance or improvisation in the Church. It requires a common commitment to a pastoral project that recalls the essential and that is well centered on the essential, that is, on Jesus Christ. It’s of no use to get lost in many secondary or superfluous things; we must concentrate on the fundamental reality, which is the encounter with Christ, with His mercy and His love, and love our brothers and sisters as He loved us.” This “pushes us to travel new paths, with courage, without becoming fossilized! We could ask ourselves: How is the pastoral life in our dioceses and parishes? Does it make visible the essential, that is, Jesus Christ?”

I ask you to embrace Pope Francis’ question as directed at us—particularly at us, who were born only for this, as all of Fr. Giussani’s life witnesses. Does each of us, each community of our Movement, “make visible the essential, that is, Jesus Christ?”

Pope Francis confided to me that he met the Movement in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 1990s, and that this discovery was “fresh air” for him. And this brought him to read Fr. Giussani’s texts often, because what he found in Giussani was helpful to his Christian life. Imagine how moved I was to hear these things from the man who today is the Bishop of Rome!

The Pope encourages us to live the nature of our charism personally, in the communion among ourselves, because a movement like ours is called to respond to the needs of this moment in the life of the Church and of the world.

From the closeness and familiarity of Pope Francis comes, for me and for all of us, friends, a new responsibility before God and the Church.

After having furnished the Pope with some facts about our reality—for example, regarding our presence in universities, schools, and various environments of life and work; our many attempts to respond to the needs that we intercept with gestures of charity; and the grace of the vocations to both the priesthood and consecrated life in its various forms—we took leave of each other, but not before he asked me to pray for him.

Obviously, this invitation was directed at me and at all of the Movement. For this reason, I ask you to take his request seriously, in offering and in prayer for Pope Francis every day, that God continue to give him the grace necessary to guide His Church.

And for each of us, let’s ask the Lord for the simplicity to surrender constantly to His voice, which has reached us through the unique accent of our dearest Fr. Giussani, and which continues to call us with the intensity of Pope Francis.

Full of affection, I embrace each one of you.

Fr. Julián Carrón

Pope Francis moves 2014 Spiritual Exercises away from Vatican

Pope Francis has entrusted the 2014 Lenten Spiritual Exercises to a Roman parish priest and popular spiritual director, Monsignor Angelo De Donatis, 59. Since 2003, he’s been the pastor of the Basilica Parish of Saint Mark the Evangelist Church near to the Piazza Venezia.

The Lenten Exercises will be held 9-14 March closing the Curial offices and Papal meetings not taken. What theme Monsignor De Donatis will preach on is unknown.

The Casa Divin Maestro (Divine Master House) is operated by the Society of St Paul, located in Arricia, in the Alban hills, 30 miles from the Vatican. The Society of St Paul is a religious community of men founded by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, who also founded several other religious communities including the Daughters of St Paul; the work of Alberione’s Pauline family has something to do with social media and evangelization.

The change in location  seems to be the first since the Exercises were first conceived in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. The now retired Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone SDB,  sent a letter to curial officials saying the Pope wanted the Exercises made “in a recollected, silent fashion, away from the office.” By the looks of it, a smaller crowd is expected due to the size of the retreat facility.

Yet another example that Pope Francis is asking that the Curia and therefore, us, to take seriously the spiritual life.

Francis on the New Evangelization: There is need of the oxygen of the Gospel

The Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace was the setting of a meeting between the Holy Father and the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, led by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Council and his collaborators, Bishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas and Monsignor Graham Bell. This Council was formed by Benedict in 2010. The Pope’s address follows.

I greet you all and thank you for what you do at the service of the New Evangelization, and for the work for the Year of Faith. My heartfelt thanks! What I would like to say to you today can be summarized in three points: primacy of witness; urgency of going out to encounter; pastoral program centered on the essential.

In our time we often witness an attitude of indifference to faith, regarded as no longer relevant in man’s life. New Evangelization means to reawaken the life of faith in the heart and mind of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift of God, but it is important that we Christians show that we live the faith in a concrete way, through love, concord, joy, suffering, because this elicits questions, as at the beginning of the journey of the Church: Why do they live like this? What drives them? These are questions that go to the heart of evangelization, which is the witness of t faith and charity. What we need especially in these times are credible witnesses who with their life and also with the word render the Gospel visible, reawaken attraction for Jesus Christ, for God’s beauty.

So many people have fallen away from the Church. It’s a mistake to put the blame on one side or the other, in fact, it’s not about talking about fault. There are responsibilities in the history of the Church and of her men, in certain ideologies and also in individual persons. As children of the Church we must continue on the path of Vatican Council II, stripping ourselves of useless and harmful things, of false worldly securities which weigh down the Church and damage her true face.

There is need of Christians who render the mercy of God visible to the men of today, His tenderness for every creature. We all know that the crisis of contemporary humanity is not superficial but profound. Because of this the New Evangelization — while calling to have the courage to go against the current, to be converted from idols to the only true God –, cannot but use the language of mercy, made up of gestures and attitudes even before words. In the midst of today’s humanity the Church says: Come to Jesus, all you who labor and are heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls (cf. Matthew 11:28-30). Come to Jesus. He alone has the words of eternal life.

Every baptized person is a “cristoforo,” a bearer of Christ, as the ancient holy Fathers said. Whoever has encountered Christ, as the Samaritan woman at the well, cannot keep this experience to him/herself, but has the desire to share it, to bring Jesus to others (cf. John 4). It is for all of us to ask ourselves if one who meets us perceives in our life the warmth of faith, sees in our face the joy of having encountered Christ!

Here we move to the second aspect: the encounter, to go out to encounter others. The New Evangelization is a renewed movement towards him who has lost the faith and the profound meaning of life. This dynamism is part of the great mission of Christ to bring life to the world, the Father’s love to humanity. The Son of God “went out” of his divine condition and came to encounter us. The Church is within this movement; every Christian is called to go out to encounter others, to dialogue with those who do not think the way we do, with those who have another faith, or who don’t have faith. To encounter all because we all have in common our having been created in the image and likeness of God. We can go out  to encounter everyone, without fear and without giving up our membership.

No one is excluded from the hope of life, from the love of God. The Church is sent to reawaken this hope everywhere, especially where it is suffocated by difficult existential conditions, at times inhuman, where hope does not breathe but is suffocated. There is need of the oxygen of the Gospel, of the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to rekindle it in hearts. The Church is the house whose doors are always open not only so that everyone can find welcome and breathe love and hope, but also because we can go out and bring this love and this hope. The Holy Spirit drives us to go out of our enclosure and guides us to the fringes of humanity.

In the Church all this, however, is not left to chance or improvisation. It calls for a common commitment to a pastoral plan that recalls the essential and that is “well centered on the essential, namely on Jesus Christ. It is no use to be scattered in so many secondary or superfluous things, but to be concentrated on the fundamental reality, which is the encounter with Christ, with his mercy, with his love, and to love brothers as He loved us. A project animated by the creativity and imagination of the Holy Spirit, who drives us also to follow new ways, with courage and without becoming fossilized! We could ask ourselves: how effective is the pastoral of our dioceses and parishes? Does it render the essential visible? Do the different experiences, characteristics, walk together in the harmony that the Spirit gives? Or is our pastoral scattered, fragmentary where, in the end, each one goes his own way?

In this context I would like to stress the importance of catechesis, as an instance of evangelization. Pope Paul VI already did so in the encyclical Evangelii nuntiandi (cf. n. 44). From there the great catechetical movement has carried forward a renewal to surmount the break between the Gospel and the culture and illiteracy of our days in the matter of faith. I have recalled several times a fact that has struck me in my ministry: to meet children who cannot even do the Sign of the Cross! Precious is the service carried out by the catechists for the New Evangelization, and it is important that parents be the first catechists, the first educators of the faith in their own family with their witness and with the word.

Thank you, dear friends, for this visit. Good work! May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.

Remaining close to Mary: the world is consecrated to Mary

We are at the anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. We know of the Pope’s profound love of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a common trait of the last Popes).

Here is a booklet on Our Lady of Fatima.

Yesterday and today in Rome the Church and the world were consecrated to the maternal protection of the great Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima.

The homily for today’s Mass the Pope hits on some well known themes: gratitude, remembrance, God surprises, our reliance on God, openness to the Divine initiative and trust. Put together we have a vision of what our life ought to be like: a Yes to the Lord in ALL things. Mercy is available. Do we ask for mercy?

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1). Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.

First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: remember Jesus Christ. If we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realise that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.

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



Humanities Blog Directory