Thursday, February 13, 2014




(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education on Thursday. Members are gathered for three days this week to discuss a series of issues, including the reform of the Apostolic Constitution, Sapientia Christiana, which governs the Pontifical university system, the recovery and strengthening of Catholic identity in Catholic institutions of higher learning, and the preparation of two major anniversaries: the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, Ex corde Ecclesiae, on the nature and mission of Catholic universities, and the 50  th anniversary of the II Vatican Council’s declaration, Gravissimum educationis, which called for a renewal of Catholic instruction and formation at all levels.

One major focus of the Holy Father’s remarks was the need for those who work in Catholic schools, colleges and universities, “To be involved in educational itineraries of encounter and of dialogue, with a courageous and innovative faithfulness that is capable of bringing the different ‘souls’ of a multicultural society together with Catholic identity.”

Pope Francis also spoke of the need for those responsible for faith formation to be themselves well-formed in the faith and attuned to the exigencies of teaching the faith in social contexts ever more characterized by the presence and participation of people coming from of a plurality of cultural backgrounds. “The educator in Catholic schools,” said Pope Francis, “must first be very competent, qualified, and at the same time full of humanity, capable of being among the young people with [his] pedagogical style, to promote their human and spiritual growth.”

A priest and professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University, Fr. Philip Larrey, told Vatican Radio his work always involves careful attention to and balancing of the increasing cultural richness of the student body and the legitimate demands of academic programs, in light of the mission of the university. “We have students from over ninety nationalities,” he said, “which poses a challenge to us and also to them.” He went on to say, “One of the central characteristics of the Jesuit education that Pope Francis has received and is [now] in charge of, is engaging with culture: going out, and not hiding in a ‘bunker mentality’, but actually seeking out the challenges of the culture that is around us – and I think that, at the Lateran [University], we try to do that

Text from Vatican Radio website 


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday urged Christians and Jews to cooperate in constructing “a more just and fraternal world” during a meeting with members of the American Jewish Committee.

“In this regard, I call to mind in a particular way our common efforts to serve the poor, the marginalized and those who suffer,” said Pope Francis. “Our commitment to this service is anchored in the protection of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners as shown in Sacred Scripture. It is a God given duty, one which reflects his holy will and his justice; it is a true religious obligation.”

The Holy Father also said it is important to transmit to new generations the “heritage of our mutual knowledge, esteem and friendship which has, thanks to the commitment of associations like yours, grown over these years.”

The full text of the address by Pope Francis to the American Jewish Committee is printed below 

Address of the Holy Father
to Members of the American Jewish Committee
13 February 2014

Dear friends,
I welcome you here today. Your organization, which on various occasions has met with my venerable Predecessors, maintains good relations with the Holy See and with many representatives of the Catholic world. I am very grateful to you for the distinguished contribution you have made to dialogue and fraternity between Jews and Catholics, and I encourage you to continue on this path.
Next year we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate, which today constitutes for the Church the sure point of reference for relations with our “elder brothers”. From this document, our reflection on the spiritual patrimony which unites us and which is the foundation of our dialogue has developed with renewed vigour. This foundation is theological, and not simply an expression of our desire for reciprocal respect and esteem. Therefore, it is important that our dialogue be always profoundly marked by the awareness of our relationship with God.
In addition to dialogue, it is also important to find ways in which Jews and Christians can cooperate in constructing a more just and fraternal world. In this regard, I call to mind in a particular way our common efforts to serve the poor, the marginalized and those who suffer. Our commitment to this service is anchored in the protection of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners as shown in Sacred Scripture (cf. Ex 20:20-22). It is a God given duty, one which reflects his holy will and his justice; it is a true religious obligation.
Finally, in order that our efforts may not be fruitless, it is important that we dedicate ourselves to transmitting to new generations the heritage of our mutual knowledge, esteem and friendship which has, thanks to the commitment of associations like yours, grown over these years. It is my hope therefore that the study of relations with Judaism may continue to flourish in seminaries and in centres of formation for lay Catholics, as I am similarly hopeful that a desire for an understanding of Christianity may grow among young Rabbis and the Jewish community.
Dear friends, in a few months I will have the joy of visiting Jerusalem, where – as the Psalm says – we are all born (cf. Ps 87:5) and where all peoples will one day meet (cf. Is 25:6-10). Accompany me with your prayers, so that this pilgrimage may bring forth the fruits of communion, hope and peace. Shalom!

Text from Vatican Radio website 


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with Bishops from Bulgaria who are in Rome for their ad limina visit. In his address to the Bishops, Pope Francis gave thanks to God for the “concerted effort” of the whole Church in Bulgaria, which “demonstrates the vitality of the Catholic faith” in the country.

He called to mind especially a number of initiatives promoted in recent years, including the Jubilee celebrating the 150th anniversary of the union with the Apostolic See; a conference on the work Angelo Roncalli, later John XXIII, who served as Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria from 1925-34; and the 60th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Passionist Bishop Evgenij Bossilkov, who was executed by the Communist regime in 1952.

Pope Francis also mentioned the National Gathering of Catholics in Bulgaria, the National Day of Youth, and a Study Conference on the Second Vatican Council, all held during last year’s Year of Faith.

“These initiatives confirm that the Catholic communities, whether Latin or Greek Catholic — although in terms of a numerical minority in the country — carry on with commitment their mission to witness to both the natural moral values, and the Gospel of Christ, in a society marked by so many spiritual voids left behind by the former atheist regime or by the uncritical reception of cultural models in which the suggestions of a practical materialism prevail.”

The Holy Father said that, in virtue of our Baptism, we are all called to be missionary disciples, “invited by the Lord to evangelize with joy and with spirit.” He emphasized, too, the social dimension of evangelization, “which has as its point of reference the social doctrine of the Church” and which prioritizes inclusion of poor and commitment to common good and to social peace. In this regard, he said it was important for civil institutions to recognize the moral and spiritual authority of the Holy See, and its contribution to the common good and the progress of the country.

Pope Francis also recognized the “courageous witness of fidelity to Christ and to the Church,” and called on the bishops to foster a united effort with regard the formation of the faithful, promoting catechesis, making special efforts for the pastoral care of youth and for the fostering of vocations.

“Your communities,” Pope Francis said, “live and work alongside those of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.” Through the Bishops, he greeted the Orthodox Patriarch Neophyte I, who will celebrate the first anniversary of his canonical election in the coming days. Pope Francis called on the Bishops to promote ecumenical dialogue, praying that “the hearts and minds of all might be opened so that the hope of joining together to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice might become ever more concrete.”

Finally Pope Francis spoke about the upcoming canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II. Both Popes, he noted, have a connection to Bulgaria — John XXIII having served there as Apostolic Delegate; and John Paul II, the first Slavic Pope, having visited the country in 2002.
At the conclusion of his address, Pope Francis entrusted the Churches of Bulgaria and the earthly development of the country to “the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church; to Saint Cyril and Methodius, the evangelizers of the Slavic people; and to the Blessed Bishop and Martyr Evgenij Bossilkov.”

Text from the Vatican Radio website 


(Vatican Radio) The Eucharist is not just a weekly way of celebrating our faith, but should radically affect our relationship with others, especially with those most in need. That was the message Pope Francis shared with the crowds gathered in St Peter’s square for his general audience on Wednesday.

How do we experience the Eucharist, Pope Francis asked the crowds gathered in a sunny St Peter’s Square on Wednesday? Does it just make us feel good about ourselves or is it something more than that? He suggested three ways of discovering how the Eucharist can make a real difference in our lives and in our relationships with those around us.
The first clue, Pope Francis said, is the way we look and behave towards people from all walks of life - young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. Just as Christ loved to be with others and gave himself to all on the Cross, so we are called to give ourselves generously to our brothers and sisters, sharing in their joys and sorrows.
Does the Eucharist lead us towards the poor, the sick, the marginalized, recognizing the face of God in them, the Pope asked? Mentioning especially those affected by the flooding here in Rome or those struggling with unemployment, he said are we indifferent, or are we concerned and willing to help those facing such problems?
Secondly, Pope Francis said, the Eucharist gives us the grace to feel forgiven and to be ready to forgive others. We go to Mass, not because we are worthy or want to appear better than others, but because we know that we always need God’s love and mercy that comes to us through the Body and Blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. When we confess our sins, he said, it is not a mere formality but a recognition that we are all sinners, in need of God’s grace and reconciliation in our hearts.
Thirdly, Pope Francis said, the Eucharist affects the life of our Christian communities, reminding us that it is from the Eucharist that the Church receives her identity and mission. It is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, the Pope concluded, in a spirit of faith and prayer, a spirit of forgiveness, joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need.

Please find below the English summary of Pope Francis' words at his general audience on Wednesday February 12th 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Continuing our catechesis on the Sacraments of Initiation, I wish to reflect on how we live the Eucharist in our daily lives, as a Church and individual Christians. First, the Eucharist affects the way we see others. In his life, Christ manifested his love by being with people, and by sharing their desires and problems. So too the Eucharist brings us together with others – young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. The Eucharist calls us to see all of them as our brothers and sisters, and to see in them the face of Christ.
Second, in the Eucharist we experience the forgiveness of God and the call to forgive. We celebrate the Eucharist not because we are worthy, but because we recognize our need for God’s mercy, incarnate in Jesus Christ. In the Eucharist, we renew the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ for the remission of sins, and our hearts are enlarged to receive and show mercy.
Third, in the Eucharistic celebration, we are nourished as the Christian community by Christ’s Word and Life. It is from the Eucharist that the Church receives continually her identity and mission. It is in our celebration that Christ fills us with his grace, so that our lives may be consonant with our worship of God in the Liturgy. Let us live the Eucharist in a spirit of faith and prayer, with the certainty that the Lord will bring to fulfillment all that he has promised.

Shared from Radio vaticana


St. Catherine de Ricci
Feast: February 13

Feast Day:February 13
23 April 1522 at Florence, Italy
Died:2 February 1590 at Prato, Italy
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany. Peter de Ricci, the father of our saint, was married to Catherine Bonza, a lady of suitable birth. The saint was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, she was formed to virtue by a very pious godmother, and whenever she was missing she was always to be found on her knees in some secret part of the house. When she was between six and seven years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. This place was to her a paradise: at a distance from the noise and tumult of the world, she served God without impediment or distraction. After some years her father took her home. She continued her usual exercises in the world as much as she was able; but the interruptions and dissipation, inseparable from her station, gave her so much uneasiness that, with the in consent of her father, which she obtained, though with great difficulty, in the year 1535, the fourteenth of her age, she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany, to which her uncle, F. Timothy de Ricci, was director. God, in the merciful design to make her the spouse of his crucified Son, and to imprint in her soul dispositions conformable to his, was pleased to exercise her patience by rigorous trials For two years she suffered inexpressible pains under a complication of violent distempers, which remedies themselves served only to increase. These sufferings she sanctified by the interior dispositions with which she bore them, and which she nourished principally by assiduous meditation on the passion of Christ, in which she found  an incredible relish and a solid comfort and joy. After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses, and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practicing the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water, and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment, and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility, and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. The least shadow of distinction or commendation gave her inexpressible uneasiness and confusion, and she would have rejoiced to be able to lie hid in the centre of the earth, in order to be entirely unknown to and blotted out of the hearts of all mankind, such were the sentiments of annihilation and contempt of herself in which she constantly lived. It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart the sentiments or life of the first Adam—that is, of corruption, sin, and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself, and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer; for by the union of her soul with God, and the establishment of the absolute reign of his love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from all earthly things. And in one act of sublime prayer she advanced more than by a hundred exterior practices in the purity and ardour of her desire to do constantly what was most agreeable to God, to lose no occasion of practicing every heroic virtue, and of vigorously resisting all that was evil. Prayer, holy meditation, and contemplation were the means by which God imprinted in her soul sublime ideas of his heavenly truths, the strongest and most tender sentiments of all virtues, and the most burning desire to give all to God, with an incredible relish and affection for suffering contempt and poverty for Christ. What she chiefly laboured to obtain, by meditating on his life and sufferings, and what she most earnestly asked of him, was that he would be pleased, in his mercy, to purge her affections of all poison of the inordinate love of creatures, and engrave in her his most holy and divine image, both exterior and interior—that is to say, both in her conversation and her affections, that so she might be animated, and might think, speak, and act by his most Holy Spirit. The saint was chosen, very young, first, mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, was appointed perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, princes, and cardinals—among others, of Cervini, Alexander of Medicis, and Aldobrandini, who all three were afterwards raised to St. Peter's chair, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.
Something like what St. Austin relates of St. John of Egypt happened to St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Ricci. For having some time entertained together a commerce of letters, to satisfy their mutual desire of seeing each other, whilst he was detained at Rome she appeared to him in a vision, and they conversed together a considerable time, each doubtless being in a rapture. This St. Philip Neri, though most circumspect in giving credit to or in publishing visions, declared, saying that Catherine de Ricci, whilst living, had appeared to him in vision, as his disciple Galloni assures us in his life. And the continuators of Bollandus inform us that this was confirmed by the oaths of five witnesses. Bacci, in his life of St. Philip, mentions the same thing, and Pope Gregory XV, in his bull for the canonization of St. Philip Neri, affirms that whilst this saint lived at Rome he conversed a considerable time with Catherine of Ricci, a nun, who was then at Prat, in Tuscany. Most wonderful were the raptures of St. Catherine in meditating on the passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, but to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. After a long illness she passed from this mortal life to everlasting bliss and the possession of the object of all her desires, on the feast of the Purification of our Lady, on the 2nd of February, in 1589, the sixty-seventh year of her age. The ceremony of her beatification was performed by Clement XII in 1732, and that of her canonization by Benedict XIV in 1746. Her festival is deferred to the 13th of February.
In the most perfect state of heavenly contemplation which this life admits of, there must be a time allowed for action, as appears from the most eminent contemplatives among the saints, and those religious institutes which are most devoted to this holy exercise. The mind of man must be frequently unbent, or it will be overset. Many, by a too constant or forced attention, have lost their senses. in he body also stands in need of exercise, and in all stations men owe several exterior duties both to others and themselves, and to neglect any of these, upon presence of giving the preference to prayer, would be a false devotion and dangerous illusion. Though a Christian be a citizen of heaven, while he is a sojourner in this world, he is not to forget the obligations or the necessities to which this state subjects him, or to dream of flights which only angels and their fellow inhabitants of bliss take. As a life altogether taken up in action and business, without frequent prayer and pious meditation, alienates a soul from God and virtue, and weds her totally to the world, so a life spent wholly in contemplation, without any mixture of action, is chimerical, and the attempt dangerous. The art of true devotion consists very much in a familiar and easy habit of accompanying exterior actions and business with a pious attention to the Divine Presence, frequent secret aspirations, and a constant union of the soul with God. This St. Catherine of Ricci practiced at her work, in the exterior duties of her house and office, in her attendance on the sick (which was her favourite employment, and which she usually performed on her knees), and in the tender care of the poor over the whole country. But this hindered not the exercises of contemplation, which were her most assiduous employment. Hence retirement and silence were her delight, in order to entertain herself with t. Creator of all things, and by devout meditation, kindling in her soul the fire of heavenly love, she was never able to satiate the ardour of her desire in adoring and praising the immense greatness and goodness of God.


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