From the Vatican

Pope at Mass: Martyrdom Doesn’t Make the News

Pope 111518By Barbara Castelli

November 15, 2018 (Vatican Media) The Church grows “in simplicity, in silence, in praise, in the Eucharistic sacrifice, in fraternal community, where all are loved,” and none are rejected. That was the message of Pope Francis during the daily Mass celebrated in the chapel at Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the day’s Gospel (Lk 17:20-25), the Pope said that the Kingdom of God “is not spectacular,” and that it grows in silence.

Good works don’t make the news

The Church, he said, is manifested “in the Eucharist and in good works,” even if they don’t “make the news.” The Bride of Christ has a temperament given to silence; she produces fruit “without making a fuss,” without “sounding the trumpet, like the Pharisees”.

The Lord explains to us how the Church grows with the parable of the sower. The sower sows and the seed grows by day, by night… - God gives the growth – and then the fruit is seen. But this is important: First, the Church grows in silence, in secret; it is the ecclesiastical style. And how is this manifested in the Church? By the fruits of good works, so that the people see and glorify the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says. And in the celebration, the praise and the sacrifice of the Lord – that is, in the Eucharist. There the Church is manifested: in the Eucharist and in good works.

The temptation of seduction

“The Church grows through witness, through prayer, through the attraction of the Spirit who is within,” Pope Francis said in his homily, “and not through events.” These events certainly help, he continued, but “the growth proper to the Church, that which bears fruit, is in silence, in hiding, with good works, and the celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, the praise of God.”

The Lord helps us to not fall into the temptation of seduction. “We want the Church to be seen more; what can we do so that it will be seen?” So usually one falls into a Church of events that is not capable of growing in silence with good works, in secret.

The spirit of the world does not tolerate martyrdom

In a world that too often gives into the temptation to sensation, to worldliness, to appearance, Pope Francis recalled that Jesus Himself was tempted to create a sensation: “But why take so long to accomplish the work of redemption? Perform a good miracle. Cast yourself down from the temple, and everyone will see; they will see, and they will believe in you.” But He chose “the path of preaching, of prayer, of good works,” the way “of the Cross” and “of suffering”.

The Cross and suffering. The Church grows also with the blood of the martyrs, men and women who give their lives. Today there are many [martyrs]. It’s strange; they don’t make the news. The world hides this fact. The spirit of the world does not tolerate martyrdom; it hides it.

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Pope Audience: Gossip Kills, God is Truth

Pope 111418November 14, 2018 (Vatican Media) In his continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, the Pope during his General Audience reflects on the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

In his Catechesis devoted to the eighth commandment, Pope Francis told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday that Christians are called to be “truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others.” Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the Pope said that, “our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth.”

Where there is a lie there is no love

When a person is not communicating authentically, underlined the Pontiff, it is a serious matter because it inhibits relationships and therefore inhibits love. “Where there is a lie, he continued, there is no love."

Beware of Gossip

Gossiping, Pope Francis pointed out, kills. It kills, he explained, “because the tongue kills, like a knife.” Be careful, the Pope added, the gossip “is a terrorist because he or she throws a bomb and leaves.” “Christians are not exceptional men and women, said the Pope, “we are, however, children of our heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint us, and places in our hearts the love for our brothers and sisters.”

God is truth

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” he stressed, means living as children of God, acting in accordance with his will and trusting in him. “It bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord. "I trust God”, concluded Pope Francis, “this is the great truth."

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US Bishops Begin Three-Day General Assembly

Pope 111318By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

November 13, 2018 (Vatican Media) Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, opened the Fall General Assembly on Monday in Baltimore, MD. His opening remarks communicated a last minute change to the agenda made at the request of the Holy See.

Foreseen vote delayed

The agenda previously proposed for day two of the Assembly (Tuesday) contained discussion and voting regarding “the standards of accountability for Bishops”, and a “special commission for receiving complaints against Bishops”, regarding abuse Cardinal DiNardo said. On Sunday afternoon, Cardinal DiNardo said, he was informed that the Holy See “asked that we delay voting on these so that our deliberations can inform and be informed by the global meeting of the conference presidents that the Holy Father has called for February 2019”. He concluded his remarks saying that even though he is disappointed that the votes will not take place, he is hopeful that this “additional consultation will ultimately improve our response to the crisis we face”.

Holy See takes abuse crisis seriously

After hearing this announcement, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, took the floor. He underlined how seriously the Holy See is taking the abuse crisis. The Holy See, he said, sees it as a “watershed moment, not just for the Church in this country but around the world in putting so much emphasis on the February meeting”. At the same time, he said, “we need to be very clear with you where we stand and we need to tell our people where we stand”.

Motion made to continue the discussion

Cardinal Cupich then made the motion that the planned discussion continue and the document be modified according to proposed amendments. Rather than putting that document to a binding vote, he suggested that they take a “resolution ballot”. In this way, Cardinal Cupich said Cardinal DiNardo would be able to represent the US Bishops well in the discussions to take place at the upcoming February meeting.

Moment is urgent

“Given the urgency of the moment”, Cardinal Cupich continued, he suggested that a “special session” be held in March “to deal precisely with this issue”. The Conference of Bishops needs to pursue the issue “for the good of the Church in this country without delay”, he said. The Cardinal then added that they will be able to benefit from the planned February meeting. “In fact”, he said, we “may find some new insights that we had not thought of”.

Listening and prayer

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nunzio to the US, addressed the Assembly, after which Cardinal DiNardo gave the Presidential Address. The Bishops then were invited to begin the prayer and listening portion of the day which is entitled “Looking at the problem and the harm that has been done”. At various times throughout the day, they will hear from a variety of the faithful on different topics. A layperson will speak about “the accompaniment of a survivor”, a young layperson will present the needs the faithful have regarding their Bishops, and a woman religious will talk about “the Bishop as minister of healing”.

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Pope at Angelus: ‘Let’s Think of the Widow’

Pope 111118By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

November 11, 2018 (Vatican Media) Before reciting the Angelus Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday. Basing himself on the Gospel of the day, the Pope asks us to emulate the “poor and generous widow as the model of Christian life.”

Two types of people

Pope Francis began by distinguishing the two groups presented in today’s Gospel. The first group includes “the important, the rich, and the influential”; the second, “the least, the poor, and the weak”. The former look down on the latter, he said.

The poor widow

Jesus “denounces the oppression of the weak categorically based on religious motives”. He offered his disciples a living example—the poor widow—in order to impress this lesson on them. Her gesture of offering all she had is filled with “religious and spiritual significance”, he said

Quality not quantity

What Jesus taught his disciples can help us “recuperate what is essential in our life and to foster a concrete and daily relationship with God”, the Pope continued. It reminds us that the Lord measures quality, not quantity and that He “scrutinizes the heart and sees the purity of intentions”.

Let’s think of the poor widow

The poor widow teaches us to rid our acts of charity of all ritualistic and formalistic attitudes, the Pope explained. “We do not know [the widow’s] name, but we know her heart; that is what counts before God.” We can think of her, he said, when we are tempted to do things for appearance sake, or when we want to attract attention to our good works.

Mary, the poor woman

He concluded asking “Mary, the poor woman, who gave herself completely to God” to help us as we resolve to not simple give “something” but “ourselves” to the Lord— making of ourselves “a humble, generous offering”.

Pope draws attention to three important dates

Pope Francis draws attention to the beatification of 16 people in Spain, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and the World Day of the Poor.

Pope Francis announced that Father Teodoro Illera of Olma and 15 other Spanish martyrs were beatified. The Beatification Ceremony took place in Barcelona on Saturday.

All of them lost their lives due to the Faith in different parts of Spain and on different dates during the religious persecution that took place during the Spanish civil war in the last century.

Pope Francis ended the announcement, saying:

“Let us praise the Lord for these courageous witnesses.”

World War I

“Today marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, which my predecessor, Benedict XV, defined as the ‘useless slaughter’, Pope Francis said. Bells throughout the world are to ring at 1:30pm Italian time to honor the date, he said. He also said that World War I is a “strong warning” to reject the “culture of war” and to “seek every legitimate means to put an end to those conflicts that still are making blood flow in many regions of the world”. He proposed St Martin of Tours as a symbol of investing in peace.  “He cut his cloak in two to share it with a poor man. May this gesture of human solidarity indicate to everyone the way toward constructing peace”, Pope Francis said.

Second World Day for the Poor

The final date the Pope spoke of is the Second World Day for the Poor to be celebrated next Sunday with many initiatives. He said that a First Aid station will be set up in St Peter’s Square where those in need can receive medical care. “I hope that this Day will encourage greater attention to the needs of the least and the marginalized”, he said.

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Pope: Communion, Service and Mercy Foster “Eucharistic Culture”

Pope 111018By Robin Gomes

November 10, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis is encouraging attitudes of communion, service and mercy in Christian communities in order to create a “Eucharistic culture” through prayer and action grounded in the Eucharist.

In an audience to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses on Saturday in the Vatican, he said this will help the Church to meet the challenges of a secularized and globalized world.

National delegates of bishops’ conferences from around the world participated in the plenary assembly, in preparation for the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2020 in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

Eucharistic culture

Celebrating a Eucharistic Congress in the modern and multicultural city, where the Gospel and the forms of religious affiliation have been marginalized, the Pope said, means cooperating with God’s grace in order to spread, through prayer and activity, a “Eucharistic culture” 

This culture, he pointed out, is grounded in hearing the Word of God and in breaking the bread in the Eucharistic celebration. For this to happen, the Holy Father recommended the attitudes of communion, service and mercy.

Communion

He explained that communion is established with the Lord and among the faithful at Mass where they are nourished by His body and blood.

The Pope also underscored the importance of Eucharistic adoration outside the Mass, which is an important feature of Eucharistic Congresses.

Service

The Pope explained that the attitude of service impels the Eucharistic community to be present in places of frailty, under the shadow of the cross, in order to share and to bring healing. 

He said that through spiritual and corporal works, the balm of mercy can be poured in numerous places and situations, such as families in difficulty, young people and adults without work, the sick and the elderly who are abandoned, migrants experiencing hardship and acts of violence, and many other forms of poverty.

In these places of wounded humanity, the Pope said, Christians celebrate the memorial of the Cross and make living and present the Gospel of Jesus the Servant, by spreading the seeds of a Eucharistic culture by becoming servants of the poor.

Mercy

The Pope said we complain about the “corrosive river misery” flowing through our society, such as of oppression, arrogance, cruelty, hatred, forms of rejection and lack of concern for the environment.  But, he said, this swollen river is powerless against the “ocean of mercy” that inundates our world. The Eucharist, he said, is the wellspring of this ocean of mercy that helps form the image and structure of the People of God suited to our modern age.

The Holy Father wished that the Budapest Eucharistic Congress be able to foster processes of renewal in Christian communities, so that the salvation whose source is in the Eucharist will find expression in a Eucharistic culture capable of inspiring men and women of good will in the fields of charity, solidarity, peace, family life and care for creation.

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Pope at Mass Warns Against Idolatry of Money in the Church

Pope 110918By Robin Gomes

November 9, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis on Friday urged that churches be given due respect as the “house of God” and not be transformed into markets or social lounges dominated by “worldliness”.   Celebrating his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, he warned that churches risked transforming themselves into marketplaces with sacraments on sale, which are free.

He was reflecting the Gospel reading on the feast of the Dedication of Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica, where Jesus cleanses the temple of Jerusalem of all buyers and sellers, warning them against turning his Father’s house into a marketplace.  

Idols enslave

Jesus noted that the temple was populated by idolaters - men ready to serve "money" instead of "God". "Behind money there is an idol,” the Pope said, adding idols are always of gold that enslaves.

Pope Francis wondered if we treat our  “temples, our churches” as the house of God, the house of prayer, a place of meeting the Lord, and whether the priests treat it like that.

The Pope recalled instances of a price list for the sacraments that are free of cost. To those who argue that it is an offering, the Pope said, offerings are to be put secretly into the box without anyone noticing it.  He warned that there is this danger even today.

Pope Francis admitted the Church needs to be maintained by the faithful but this is done in the offering box, not with a price list.

Worldliness

Another danger that the Pope warned against was the temptation of worldliness.  He noted that in some celebrations or commemorations in the Church one cannot make out if the house of God is a place of worship or a social parlour.  

The Pope said that some church celebrations slip into worldliness.  Celebrations must be beautiful but not worldly, because, he said, worldliness depends on the god of money.  He called this idolatry and said it should make us think about our zeal for our churches and the respect that we give when we enter them.  

Heart – the temple of God

Pope Francis then drew attention to the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians which speaks about our hearts as the temple of God.  Despite our sinfulness, the Pope said, each one of us should ask ourselves whether our hearts are "worldly and idolatrous".

The Holy Father said it is not the question of what our sins are, but of finding out if there is the lord of money within us.   If there is a sin, he said, we have the Lord, the merciful God, who forgives if we go to Him.  But if there is other lord, the god money, we are an idol worshipper, a corrupt person, and not a former sinner.

The Pope concluded saying the core of corruption is precisely an idolatry, of having sold one’s soul to the god of money, to the god of power.

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Pope at Mass: Bearing Witness, Complaining, Asking Questions

Pope 110818By Debora Donnini

November 8, 2018 (Vatican Media) Witness, complaining, questions. These were the three words which Pope Francis focused on in his homily at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday. He reflected on the day’s Gospel (Lk 15:1-19), which begins with the witness given by Jesus: tax collectors and sinners approach Him and listen to Him; and He eats with them.

Testimony causes the Church to grow

The first word, then, is the “witness” of Jesus, which, the Pope said, “was a new thing for the time, because going to sinners made you unclean, like touching a leper.” For this reason, the doctors of the law kept away from them. Pope Francis noted that bearing witness has never “been a convenient thing, either for the witnesses – who often paid with martyrdom – or for the powerful.”

Bearing witness is breaking a habit, a way of being… Breaking it for the better, changing it. For this reason, the Church advances through witness. What is attractive [to people] is the witness. Not the words, which help, yes; but witness is what is attractive, and what makes the Church grow. It is a new thing, but not entirely new, because the mercy of God was also there in the Old Testament. They, these doctors of the law, never understood the meaning of the words: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ They had read about mercy, but they had not understood what it was. And Jesus, with His way of acting, proclaimed this mercy with His witness.

Witness, the Pope repeated, “always breaks a habit,” and also “puts you at risk.”

Instead of resolving conflicts, they murmured

In fact, Pope Francis said, Jesus’ witness caused people to murmur. The Pharisees, the scribes, the doctors of the law complained about Him, saying, “He welcomes sinners, and eats with them.”  They did not say, “Look, this man seems to be good because he seeks to convert sinners.” This, the Pope continued, is an attitude that consists in always making negative comments “to destroy the one bearing witness.” This sin of complaining about others, he said, is a part of daily life, in big and small ways. In our own lives, we can find ourselves murmuring “because we don’t like something or other”; and instead of dialoguing, or “trying to resolve a conflict situation, we secretly complain, always in a low voice, because there is no courage to speak clearly.”

And so it happens, he said, even in smaller societies, “in parishes.” “How often is there murmuring in parishes?” he asked, pointing out that whenever “I don’t like the testimony, or there is a person that I don’t like, murmuring immediately breaks out.”

And in dioceses? ‘Infra-diocesan’ conflicts… Internal conflict within the diocese. You know this. And also in politics. And this is bad. When a government is not honest, it seeks to soil its opponents with murmuring. There’s always defamation, slander, always looking for something [to criticize]. And you know dictatorial governments well, because you have experienced it. What makes a dictatorial government? Taking control first of the means of communication with a law, and from there, it begins to murmur, to belittle everyone that is a danger to the government. Murmuring is our daily bread, at the level of persons, of the family, the parish, the diocese, the social level.

Jesus’ question

It’s a matter of finding a way “to not look at reality,” Pope Francis said, “of not allowing people to think.” Jesus knows this, the Pope said, but the Lord is good, and “instead of condemning them for murmuring,” He asks a question. “He uses the method they use.” They ask questions with evil intentions, in order to test Jesus, “to make Him fall”; as, for example, when they asked Him about paying taxes, or about divorce. Jesus asks them, in today’s Gospel, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” And “the normal thing would be for them to understand”; instead they do the calculation: “I have 99,” so what if one is lost?:

‘We’ll let this one perish, and in the balance it will result in profit and loss, and we will save these.’ This is the logic of the doctors of the law. ‘Which one of you?’ And their choice is the opposite of Jesus’. For this reason, they do not go to speak with sinners, they do not go to the tax collectors, they do not go because ‘it is better not to dirty myself with these people, it is a risk. Let us save ourselves.’ Jesus is smart in asking them this question: He enters into their casuistry, but puts them in a position contrary to what is right. ‘Which one of you?’ And not one of them says, ‘Yes, it’s true,’ but all of them say, ‘No, no, I would not do it.’ And for this reason they are unable to forgive, to be merciful, to receive.

The logic of the Gospel is contrary to the logic of the world

Finally, the Pope summarized the three “words” around which he built his reflection: “witness,” which is provocative, and makes the Church grow; “murmuring,” which is like a “guardian of my inner self, so that the witness doesn’t wound me”; and Jesus’ “question.” Pope Francis then adds another word: joy, the feast, which these people do not know: “All those who follow the path of the doctors of the law, do not know the joy of the Gospel,” he said. And he concluded with the prayer, “That the Lord might make us understand this logic of the Gospel, in contrast to the logic of the world.”

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Pope at Audience: Life is a Time for Giving, Not Possessing

Pope 110718By Christopher Wells

November 7, 2018 (Vatican Media) Continuing his catechesis on the Ten Commandments, Pope Francis at his General Audience on Wednesday focused on the Seventh Word: You shall not steal.

The Pope notes that there is no culture that does not condemn theft and the misuse of our possessions. But, he says, it is worthwhile to reflect more deeply on the theme of ownership “in light of Christian wisdom.”

The universal destination of goods

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope says “the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race”; and this “universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.”

In a world where there are so many differences, so many differences of conditions, God has provided resources in such a way that all human beings must help one another, in order to ensure that everyone’s primary needs can be met. “If there is hunger in the world, it is not for lack of food!” the Pope says. “What is lacking is a free and far-seeing entrepreneurship, that ensures adequate production, and a solidarity based approach that ensures an equitable distribution.”

The deeper meaning of the Commandment

This, Pope Francis says, is the perspective that allows us to understand the deeper and fuller meaning of the commandment “You shall not steal.” Ownership, he says, is a responsibility; we can only truly possess “that which we know how to give.” If there are things which we cannot give away, “it is because those things possess me, have power over me, and I am a slave to it.”

The example of Christ

Here, the Pope says, we can once more look to the example of Christ Himself, who, “though He was God, ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself’; and He has enriched us with His poverty.” While humanity continually strives for more, “God redeems humanity by becoming poor.” What makes us truly rich, Pope Francis says, “is not goods, but love.”

The Holy Father concludes his catechesis with the reflection that “once more Jesus Christ reveals to us the full meaning of the Scriptures. ‘You shall not steal’ means ‘love with your goods, profit by your means to love as you can. Then your life will become good and the possession will truly become a gift. Because life is not a time for possessing but for giving.’”

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Pope at Mass: Jesus Invites Us to the Banquet of the Kingdom

Pope 110618By Adriana Masotti

November 6, 2018 (Vatican Media) The Kingdom of God is often seen as a banquet. Jesus invites us to be with Him at the feast – but, the Pope asks, how often do we make up excuses in order to refuse His invitation? Jesus, Pope Francis says, is good, and offers us a second chance, but He is also just.

The day’s Gospel passage revolves around a banquet organized by one of the leading Pharisees, to which Jesus had been invited. The Gospel for Monday told how, at the banquet, Jesus had healed a sick person, and had observed that many of the guests sought to occupy the most prominent place. The Lord told His host that he should invite the most needy to dine with him, those who could not return the favor.

The double refusal

Tuesday’s reading continued the Gospel account of the banquet. At a certain point during the feast, one of those present had said, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

Pope Francis described this as the passage of the double rejection. In the Gospel, Jesus responds with the parable of the man who gave a great banquet, and sent out many invitations. His servants told the guests, “‘Come: everything is now ready.’ But one by one they all began to excuse themselves.” There is “always an apology,” the Pope said. “They apologize. Apologizing is the polite word we use in order not to say, ‘I refuse.’”

And so the master then told his servants to “bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.”

This passage, the Pope said, ends with a second refusal, this one from the mouth of Jesus Himself: When someone rejects Jesus, “the Lord waits for them, gives them a second chance, perhaps even a third, a fourth, a fifth… but in the end, He rejects them”:

And this refusal makes us think of ourselves, of the times that Jesus calls us; calls us to celebrate with Him, to be close to Him, to change our life. Think about seeking out His most intimate friends and they refuse! Then He seeks out the sick… and they go; perhaps some refuse. How many times do we hear the call of Jesus to come to Him, to do a work of charity, to pray, to encounter Him, and we say: “Excuse me Lord, I’m busy, I don’t have time. Yes, tomorrow [today] I can’t…” And Jesus remains there.

How often do we invent excuses?

Pope Francis asked us to reflect on how often do we, too, ask Jesus to excuse us when “He calls us to meet Him, to speak with Him, to have a nice chat.” “We, too, refuse Him,” he said:  

Each one of us should think: In my life, how many times have I felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do a work of charity, to encounter Jesus in that work of charity, to go to pray, to change your life in this area, in this area that is not going well? And I have always found a reason to excuse myself, to refuse.

Jesus is good, but He is also just

Pope Francis said that, in the end, those who do not reject Jesus, and are not rejected by Him, will enter the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Father had a warning for those who think to themselves “Jesus is so good, in the end He forgives everything”:

Yes, He is good, He is merciful – He is merciful, but He is also just. And if you close the door of your heart from within, He cannot open it, because He is very respectful of our heart. Refusing Jesus is closing the door from within, and He cannot enter.

By His death, Jesus pays for the banquet

Finally, the Pope reflected on one final point: It is Jesus Himself who pays for the feast. In the first Reading, St Paul reveals the cost of the banquet, speaking of Jesus, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, humbling Himself to the point of dying on the Cross.” Jesus, the Pope said, “paid for the feast with His life.”

“And I say, ‘I cannot,’” Pope Francis concluded. “May the Lord grant us the grace to understand this mystery of hardness of heart, of obstinacy, of rejection, and [grant us] the grace to weep.”

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Pope Warns Against Selfish Ambition and Conceit

Pope 110518By Linda Bordoni

November 5, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis celebrated morning Mass reminding Christians not to go through life simply by cultivating their personal advantage but by looking out for the interests of others, without expecting anything in return.  The Pope warned that “rivalry and vainglory” have the power to destroy the very foundations of communities by sowing division and conflict.

Speaking on Monday morning during the homily at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the Gospel reading of the day that reaffirms the importance of giving freely.

Gratuitousness is universal, not selective

The Pope explained that Jesus’ teaching is clear: “do not do things out of self-interest”, do not choose your friendships on the basis of convenience.

He said that reasoning on the basis of one's own “advantage” is a “form of selfishness, segregation and self-interest” whilst Jesus’ message “is exactly the opposite.”

And referring to the first reading in which St. Paul speaks to the Philippians, he urged the faithful to “do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory” but to humbly regard others as more important than themselves.

The Pope also mentioned the negative effects of gossip, which he said, stems from rivalry and is used to destroy others.

“Rivalry is ugly: you can perpetrate it openly, in a direct way, or with white gloves. But it always aims to destroy the other and to ‘raise oneself up’ by diminishing the other.” Rivalry, he said, stems from self- interest.

Conceit destroys communities

Equally harmful, the Pope continued, is someone who prides himself on being superior to others.

This attitude, he said, destroys communities and families: “Think of the rivalry between siblings for the father’s inheritance for example”, it is something we see every day.

A Christian life is born from giving freely

Christians, Pope Francis said, must follow the example of the Son of God, cultivating “gratuitousness”: doing good without expecting or wanting to be repaid, sowing unity and abandoning “rivalry or vainglory”.

“Building peace with small gestures paves a path of harmony throughout the world” he said.

When we read of wars, he concluded, of the famine of children in Yemen caused by the conflict there, we think “that’s far away, poor children… why don't they have food?”

“The same war is waged at home and in our institutions” he warned, “stemming from rivalry: that’s where war begins! And that’s where peace must be made: in the family, in the parish, in the institutions, in the workplace, always seeking unanimity and harmony and not one's own interest.”

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Pope Angelus: Love for God and Neighbor Two Faces of Same Coin

Pope 110418November 4, 2018 (Vatican Media) During his Angelus address from St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis takes his cue from Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark in which a scribe asks Jesus "What is the first of all the commandments?

Jesus responds, said the Pope, by quoting the profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day and which begins with the words "Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord". It is from this source, explained the Pontiff, “that the double commandment is derived for us: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Serve, Forgive, Cultivate

By choosing these two words addressed by God to his people and putting them together, Pope Francis said that, “Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for one's neighbour are inseparable; indeed, more than that, they support one another. Even if placed in sequence, they are the two faces of a single coin: lived together they are the true strength of the believer! To love God is to live by Him and for Him, for what He is and for what He does. It means, the Pope continued, “to invest one's energies every day to be his collaborators in serving our neighbor without reserve, in trying to forgive without limits and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.” Pope Francis pointed out that Mark the Evangelist, “does not bother to specify who the neighbor is…” as it is “not a question of pre-selecting my neighbor, but of having eyes to see him and a heart to love him.”

Be more than Christian “service stations”

Today's Gospel, he went on to say, “invites all of us to be projected not only towards the urgencies of our poorest brothers and sisters, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for a sense of life and for tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it is a question of avoiding the risk of being communities that live by many initiatives but with few relationships: "service stations" but with little company, in the full and Christian sense of the term.” The Pope underlined that “God, who is love, created us out of love, so that we can love others while remaining united to Him. The two dimensions of love, for God and for our neighbor, in their unity, characterize the disciple of Christ.”

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