Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Blessed Paul VI

Paul VI with tiaraAfter two weeks of meetings on the family and marriage, Pope Francis offered Mass at which he beatified the Venerable Servant of God Pope Paul VI. whom he called a “great Pope,” a “courageous Christian” and a “tireless apostle.”

This action of the Pope’s means that several of the 20th century popes have been raised to the altar: John Paul II, Paul VI, John XXIII, Pius X. We ought to keep in mind that John Paul I and Pius XII have their causes for sainthood being studied, too.

The emeritus pope Benedict XVI was present for the Mass.

Here are the relevant paragraphs of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass that pertain to the beatification:

On this day of the Beatification of Pope Paul VI, I think of the words with which he established the Synod of Bishops: “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods… to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society” (Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo).

When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks!  Thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI!  Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

In his personal notes, the great helmsman of the Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour” (P. Macchi, Paolo VI nella sua parola, Brescia, 2001, pp. 120-121).  In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

Paul VI truly “rendered to God what is God’s” by devoting his whole life to the “sacred, solemn and grave task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ” (Homily for the Rite of Coronation: Insegnamenti I, 1963, p. 26), loving the Church and leading her so that she might be “a loving mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation” (Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam, Prologue).

God’s vineyard, or mine: Pope Francis’ homily opening the Synod

Pope Francis and Cadinals Oct 5 2014 REUTERS

Knitting the fabric together you will want to read the Pope’s reflections from the Saturday Vigil, today’s homily and the Angelus address. Read independently you’ll not have the full flavor of what he’s trying to say to the Church.

The difficulty that is arising is the confusion of what a synod is, and the perceived division among the theologians, especially among some cardinals. The pastoral thing to do in any situation is to know in a concrete way what is going on in the people’s way of life. The trouble is bishops and other pastors tend to not to really care what their people believe, think, how they live and what their struggles are: they are too insulated; they are too attached to their own opinions of “what should be.” When you are cut off from the laity: rarely speaking with and listening to them, hearing their confessions, counseling them, etc. there is no way a pastor of souls can claim to know his sheep. See if this is what the Pope is saying.

The homily from Mass follows:

Today the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard.  The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream”, the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard.  Vines are plants which need much care!

God’s “dream” is his people.  He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.

But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted.  Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2,4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v. 7).  In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.

In Jesus’ parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers.  To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nurture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.

But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard.  Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.

The temptation to greed is ever present.  We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds (cf. ch. 34), which Saint Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours.  Greed for money and power.  And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move (cf. Mt 23:4)

We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard.  Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent…  They are meant to better nuture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people.  In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

We are all sinners and can also be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings.  God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants.  We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.

My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7).  In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 21:43).

Pope Francis prays for a listening heart fixed on Christ’s gaze

Luisna Pucci and Elise NataleDear families, good evening!

The evening falls on our assembly.

It is the hour in which one willingly returns home to the same meal, in the thick of affections, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which anticipates in the days of man the feast without end.

It is also the most weighty hour for he who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of broken dreams and plans: how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes was the wine of joy less plenty, therefore, the zest – and the wisdom – of life. For one another we make our prayer heard.

It is significant how – even in the individualistic culture which distorts and  renders connections fleeting – in each person born of a woman, there remains alive an essential need of stability, of an open door, of someone with whom to weave and to share the story of life, a history to which to belong.

The communion of life assumed by spouses, their openness to the gift of life, the mutual protection, the encounter and the memory of generations, educational support, the transmission of the Christian faith to their children . . . With all this, the family continues to be a school without parallel of humanity, an indispensable contribution to a just and united society. (cfr Esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 66-68).

And the deeper its roots, the more it is possible in life to leave and to go far, without getting lost or feeling out of place in foreign lands.

This horizon helps us to grasp the importance of the Synodal assembly, which opens tomorrow.

Already, the “convenire in unum” surrounding the Bishop of Rome is an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment.

To search for that which today the Lord asks of His Church, we must lend our ears to the beat of this time and perceive the “scent” of the people today, so as to remain  permeated with their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility.

We know, in fact, as in the Gospel, there is a strength and tenderness capable of defeating that which is created by unhappiness and violence.

Yes, in the Gospel there is salvation which fulfills the most profound needs of man! Of this salvation – work of God’s mercy and grace – as a Church, we are sign and instrument, a living and effective sacrament.

If it were not so, our building would remain only a house of cards, and pastors would be reduced to clerics of state, on whose lips the people would search in vain for the freshness and “smell of the Gospel.” (Ibid., 39).

Thus emerges also the subject of our prayer.

Above all, we ask the Holy Spirit, for the gift of listening for the Synod Fathers: to listen in the manner of God, so that they may hear, with him, the cry of the people; to listen to the people, until they breathe the will to which God calls us.

Besides listening, we invoke an openness toward a sincere discussion, open and fraternal, which leads us to carry with pastoral responsibility the questions that this change in epoch brings.

We let it flow back into our hearts, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust which in his own time the Lord will not fail to bring into unity.

Does not Church history perhaps recount many similar situations, which our Fathers knew how to overcome with persistent patience and creativity?

The secret lies in a gaze: and it is the third gift that we implore with our prayer. Because, if we truly intend to walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ – Lumen Gentium – to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face.

If we assume his way of thinking, of living and of relating, we will never tire of translating the Synodal work into guidelines and paths for the pastoral care of the person and of the family.

In fact, every time we return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and un-thought of possibilities open up. This is what the Gospel hints at: “Do whatever he tells you.”

These are the words which contain the spiritual testament of Mary, “the friend who is ever-concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives” (EV 286). Let us make these words ours!

At that point, our listening and our discussion on the family, loved with the gaze of Christ, will become a providential occasion with which to renew – according to the example of Saint Francis – the Church and society.

With the joy of the Gospel we will rediscover the way of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and friend of the poor; a Church “given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without.” (Lumen Gentium, 8)

May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all of humanity. Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.

Grant us this creative charity which consents to love as Jesus loved. And our message may reclaim the vivacity and enthusiasm of the first missionaries of the Gospel.

Angels defend us

Scripture reveals and theology teaches that angels help Christians fight the devil. Angels, those holy spirits who bring God’s messages to us help to overcome temptation. Good pastoral advice is to pray several times a day to one’s guardian angels, but also to the three Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, whom we honor today in the sacred Liturgy.
Here’s Vatican Radio’s summary of the papal homily for the Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael:
“This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child.  Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: ‘Thou hast made man superior to the angels,’ and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”
“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute. He presents things as if they were a good thing. But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
”This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches … If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night”.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, Pope Francis delivered this homily for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows:

“Jesus came into the world to learn how to be a man, and by being a man, walk with men. He came into the world to obey, and He obeyed. But he learned this obedience from suffering. Adam left Paradise with a promise, a promise that lasted for so many centuries. Today, through this obedience, this self-abnegation, this humiliation, through Jesus, that promise becomes hope. And the people of God walk with sure hope. Even the Mother, ‘the New Eve,’ as Paul himself calls her, in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother.”

The Gospel shows us Mary at the foot of the Cross. Jesus says to John, “Behold your mother.” Mary – the Pope said – “is anointed Mother”

“And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother and the Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord. These two women – Mary and the Church – carry on the hope that is Christ, they give us Christ, they bring forth Christ in us. Without Mary, there would be no Jesus Christ; without the Church, we cannot go forward.”

“Two women and two mothers” – continued the Pope Francis – and next to them our soul, which in the words of Isaac, the abbot of Stella, is “feminine” and is like “Mary and the Church.”

“Today, looking at this woman by the Cross, steadfast in following her Son in His suffering to learn obedience, looking at her we see the Church and look at our Mother. And also, we look at our little soul that will never be lost, if it continues to be a woman close to these two great women who accompany us in life: Mary and the Church. And just as our fathers left Paradise with a promise, today we can go forward with a hope: the hope that our Mother Mary, steadfast at the Cross, and our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church, give us.”

Transcription from Vatican Radio

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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