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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Catholic News World : Holy Thursday April 2, 2015 - SHARE

2015


#PopeFrancis Chrism Mass " Only love gives true rest." Homily/Video

Chrism Mass, 2014 - AP 02/04/2015 08:20SHARE: (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Chrism Mass for the diocese of Rome on the morning of Holy Thursday. Below, please find the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.
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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Thursday Chrism Mass
2 April 2015
“My hand shall ever abide with him, my arms also shall strengthen him” (Ps 89:21).
This is what the Lord means when he says: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him” (v. 20). It is also what our Father thinks whenever he “encounters” a priest. And he goes on to say: “My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him… He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation”’ (vv. 24, 26).
It is good to enter with the Psalmist into this monologue of our God. He is talking about us, his priests, his pastors. But it is not really a monologue, since he is not the only one speaking. The Father says to Jesus: “Your friends, those who love you, can say to me in a particular way: ‘You are my Father’” (cf. Jn 14:21). If the Lord is so concerned about helping us, it is because he knows that the task of anointing his faithful people is demanding; it can tire us. We experience this in so many ways: from the ordinary fatigue brought on by our daily apostolate to the weariness of sickness, death and even martyrdom. The tiredness of priests! Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience? I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself. I pray for you as you labour amid the people of God entrusted to your care, many of you in lonely and dangerous places. Our weariness, dear priests, is like incense which silently rises up to heaven (cf. Ps 141:2; Rev 8:3-4). Our weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father. Know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is well aware of this tiredness and she brings it straight to the Lord. As our Mother, she knows when her children are weary, and this is her greatest concern. “Welcome! Rest, my child. We will speak afterwards…”. “Whenever we draw near to her, she says to us: “Am I not here with you, I who am your Mother?” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 286). And to her Son she will say, as she did at Cana, “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).
It can also happen that, whenever we feel weighed down by pastoral work, we can be tempted to rest however we please, as if rest were not itself a gift of God. We must not fall into this temptation. Our weariness is precious in the eyes of Jesus who embraces us and lifts us up. “Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Whenever a priest feels dead tired, yet is able to bow down in adoration and say: “Enough for today Lord”, and entrust himself to the Father, he knows that he will not fall but be renewed. The one who anoints God’s faithful people with oil is also himself anointed by the Lord: “He gives you a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (cf. Is 61:3). Let us never forget that a key to fruitful priestly ministry lies in how we rest and in how we look at the way the Lord deals with our weariness. How difficult it is to learn how to rest! This says much about our trust and our ability to realize that that we too are sheep. A few questions can help us in this regard. Do I know how to rest by accepting the love, gratitude and affection which I receive from God’s faithful people? Or, once my pastoral work is done, do I seek more refined relaxations, not those of the poor but those provided by a consumerist society? Is the Holy Spirit truly “rest in times of weariness” for me, or is he just someone who keeps me busy? Do I know how to seek help from a wise priest? Do I know how to take a break from myself, from the demands I make on myself, from my self-seeking and from my self-absorption? Do I know how to spend time with Jesus, with the Father, with the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, with my patron saints, and to find rest in their demands, which are easy and light, and in their pleasures, for they delight to be in my company, and in their concerns and standards, which have only to do with the greater glory of God? Do I know how to rest from my enemies under the Lord’s protection? Am I preoccupied with how I should speak and act, or do I entrust myself to the Holy Spirit, who will teach me what I need to say in every situation? Do I worry needlessly, or, like Paul, do I find repose by saying: “I know him in whom I have placed my trust” (2 Tim 1:12)?
Let us return for a moment to what today’s liturgy describes as the work of the priest: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners and healing to the blind, to offer liberation to the downtrodden and to announce the year of the Lord’s favour. Isaiah also mentions consoling the broken-hearted and comforting the afflicted.
These are not easy or purely mechanical jobs, like running an office, building a parish hall or laying out a soccer field for the young of the parish… The tasks of which Jesus speaks call for the ability to show compassion; our hearts are to be “moved” and fully engaged in carrying them out. We are to rejoice with couples who marry; we are to laugh with the children brought to the baptismal font; we are to accompany young fiancés and families; we are to suffer with those who receive the anointing of the sick in their hospital beds; we are to mourn with those burying a loved one… All these emotions can exhaust the heart of a pastor. For us priests, what happens in the lives of our people is not like a news bulletin: we know our people, we sense what is going on in their hearts. Our own heart, sharing in their suffering, feels “com-passion”, is exhausted, broken into a thousand pieces, moved and even “consumed” by the people. Take this, eat this… These are the words the priest of Jesus whispers repeatedly while caring for his faithful people: Take this, eat this; take this, drink this… In this way our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God… and this always leaves us weary.
I wish to share with you some forms of weariness on which I have meditated.
There is what we can call “the weariness of people, the weariness of the crowd”. For the Lord, and for us, this can be exhausting – so the Gospel tells us – yet it is a good weariness, a fruitful and joyful exhaustion. The people who followed Jesus, the families which brought their children to him to be blessed, those who had been cured, those who came with their friends, the young people who were so excited about the Master… they did not even leave him time to eat. But the Lord never tired of being with people. On the contrary, he seemed renewed by their presence (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 11). This weariness in the midst of activity is a grace on which all priests can draw (cf. ibid., 279). And how beautiful it is! People love their priests, they want and need their shepherds! The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sun glasses. There is a good and healthy tiredness. It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep… but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren. It has nothing to do with those who wear expensive cologne and who look at others from afar and from above (cf. ibid., 97). We are the friends of the Bridegroom: this is our joy. If Jesus is shepherding the flock in our midst, we cannot be shepherds who are glum, plaintive or, even worse, bored. The smell of the sheep and the smile of a father…. Weary, yes, but with the joy of those who hear the Lord saying: “Come, O blessed of my Father” (Mt 25:34).
There is also the kind of weariness which we can call “the weariness of enemies”. The devil and his minions never sleep and, since their ears cannot bear to hear the word of God, they work tirelessly to silence that word and to distort it. Confronting them is more wearying. It involves not only doing good, with all the exertion this entails, but also defending the flock and oneself from evil (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 83). The evil one is far more astute than we are, and he is able to demolish in a moment what it took us years of patience to build up. Here we need to implore the grace to learn how to “offset”: to thwart evil without pulling up the good wheat, or presuming to protect like supermen what the Lord alone can protect. All this helps us not to let our guard down before the depths of iniquity, before the mockery of the wicked. In these situations of weariness, the Lord says to us: “Have courage! I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16:33).
And finally – lest you be wearied by this homily itself! – there is also “weariness of ourselves” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 277). This may be the most dangerous weariness of all. That is because the other two kinds come from being exposed, from going out of ourselves to anoint and to do battle (for our job is to care for others). But this third kind of weariness is more “self-referential”: it is dissatisfaction with oneself, but not the dissatisfaction of someone who directly confronts himself and serenely acknowledges his sinfulness and his need for God’s mercy; such people ask for help and then move forward. Here we are speaking of a weariness associated with “wanting yet not wanting”, having given up everything but continuing to yearn for the fleshpots of Egypt, toying with the illusion of being something different. I like to call this kind of weariness “flirting with spiritual worldliness”. When we are alone, we realize how many areas of our life are steeped in this worldliness, so much so that we may feel that it can never be completely washed away. This can be a dangerous kind of weariness. The Book of Revelation shows us the reason for this weariness: “You have borne up for my sake and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:3-4). Only love gives true rest. What is not loved becomes tiresome, and in time, brings about a harmful weariness.
The most profound and mysterious image of how the Lord deals with our pastoral tiredness is that, “having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1): the scene of his washing the feet of his disciples. I like to think of this as the cleansing of discipleship. The Lord purifies the path of discipleship itself. He “gets involved” with us (Evangelii Gaudium, 24), becomes personally responsible for removing every stain, all that grimy, worldly smog which clings to us from the journey we make in his name.
From our feet, we can tell how the rest of our body is doing. The way we follow the Lord reveals how our heart is faring. The wounds on our feet, our sprains and our weariness, are signs of how we have followed him, of the paths we have taken in seeking the lost sheep and in leading the flock to green pastures and still waters (cf. ibid., 270). The Lord washes us and cleanses us of all the dirt our feet have accumulated in following him. This is something holy. Do not let your feet remain dirty. Like battle wounds, the Lord kisses them and washes away the grime of our labours.
Our discipleship itself is cleansed by Jesus, so that we can rightly feel “joyful”, “fulfilled”, “free of fear and guilt”, and impelled to go out “even to the ends of the earth, to every periphery”. In this way we can bring the good news to the most abandoned, knowing that “he is with us always, even to the end of the world”. Let us learn how to be weary, but weary in the best of ways!

 2015

What is the Triduum and Holy Week - SHARE - Amazing Video and Free Resources!

Holy Thursday, marks the start of Holy Week, and the Easter Triduum. From the Latin word meaning "three days", the Easter Triduum is the holiest time of the year in the Catholic Church. The solemn liturgies of the Triduum are the most important liturgies of the Church year teaching the meaning of Christ's life, death and resurrection. People gather to commemorate the three pillars of the Catholic faith: the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the Priesthood and the Mass.

During the Chrism Mass, the Holy Oils to be used throughout the coming year for Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick are consecrated. The Mass of the Lord's Supper is traditionally held after sundown. 
 This commemorates the Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion and recalls the Last Supper of Our Lord. It was at this last supper that Christ after he was betrayed, offered His Body and Blood to God the Father, under the species of bread and wine which he gave to the Apostles as spiritual nourishment, commanding them and their successors in the priesthood to perpetuate this offering. At the Mass of the Lord's Supper it is traditional in Catholic dioceses for the archbishop or bishop to wash the feet of 12 priests to symbolise Christ's washing of the feet of His Apostles and a symbol of service everyone is called to live. 
This Mass ends in silence, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession to the Altar of Repose where it will remain until Mass the following day. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and is the most solemn day in the Christian calendar. It is a day of quiet fasting and mourning, remembering again how Jesus suffered and died for our sins.Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.  During the Solemn Commemoration of the Lord's Passion the ceremony and prayers are solemn and reflective. The pulpit and altar will be bare; no candles lit. This creates the awareness of grief over the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son. Communion will be distributed - the hosts having been blessed in the Thursday Mass. On Holy Saturday the service begins in a darkened Church. There is the blessing of new fire, lighting of the paschal candle and the Easter Proclamation. These are the most important days of remembrance and celebration in the Catholic Church. The Easter Triduum is the holiest time of the year in the Catholic Church. The Easter fast, begun on Good Friday ends on Sunday, when the world celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord. Statues and artworks covered for Lent are uncovered, the altar is no longer bare and the entire church is filled with flowers. The Palm Sunday celebration commemorated Christ's arrival in ancient Jerusalem riding on a small donkey to be greeted by exuberant crowds hailing him as the Messiah and waving palm leaves. As we know before the week was out, Christ had been betrayed and arrested. What followed was the Lord's terrible suffering and his crucifixion outside the walls of the city. But three days later came His glorious resurrection which Catholics and Christians of all denominations celebrate on Easter Sunday. Edited from Archdiocese of Sydney

USCCB Release 18 Questions Answered About the Triduum:

The following eighteen questions address the most commonly received questions concerning the Sacred Paschal Triduum, and may be freely reproduced by diocesan Offices for Worship, parish Liturgy Committees, and others seeking to promote the effective celebration of these most sacred days. 
1. When does the Triduum begin and end? The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. 
2. May another Mass besides the Mass of the Lord’s Supper be celebrated on Holy Thursday? Ordinarily, no other Mass may be celebrated on Holy Thursday. However, by way of exception, the local Ordinary may permit another Mass in churches and oratories to be celebrated in the evening, and, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning. Such Masses are provided for those who in no way are able to participate in the evening Mass. 
3. How are the Holy Oils, consecrated and blessed at the Chrism Mass, to be received in the parish? A reception of the oils may take place before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The oils, in suitable vessels, can be carried in procession by members of the assembly. 
4. A text for this can be found here. Is the Mandatum, the washing of feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, required? No. The Roman Missal only indicates, “After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it [ubi ratio pastoralis id suadeat], the Washing of Feet follows.” 
5. When should the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion take place? Normally it should take place in the afternoon, at about 3:00 PM, to enable people to assemble more easily. However, pastoral discretion may indicate a time shortly after midday, or in the late evening, though never later than 9:00 PM. Depending on the size or nature of a parish or other community, the local Ordinary may permit the service to be repeated. 
6. May a deacon officiate at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion? Although the Celebration of the Lord's Passion appears to be a service of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion, the Roman Missal does not permit a deacon to officiate at the celebration. Historically, even though the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day, the liturgy of Good Friday bears resemblance to a Mass. At one time it was called the “Mass of the Presanctified” (referring to the pre-consecrated hosts used at Communion, even when only the priest received Communion). This is also reflected in the prescribed vesture for the priest: stole and chasuble. The liturgy of Good Friday, as an integral part of the Triduum, is linked to the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While there may be cases where a parish with multiple churches or chapels (e.g., mission churches or a cluster of parishes under one pastor) might rotate the liturgies among the various locations, it would not be appropriate for a community to celebrate only part of the Triduum. 
7. May any of the readings at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion be omitted? The Lectionary for Mass does not indicate that any readings may be omitted at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. All three readings (Isaiah, Hebrews, and the Passion according to John) are required. It should be noted, however, for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, the Lectionary indicates that while all three readings provided should be used, there may be circumstances in which one or more of the readings at Mass could be omitted: “Given, however, the importance of the account of the Lord’s Passion, the priest, having in mind the character of each individual congregation, is authorized to choose only one of the two readings prescribed before the Gospel, or if necessary, he may read only the account of the Passion, even in the shorter form. This permission applies, however, only to Masses celebrated with a congregation.” Thus, the account of the Passion is never omitted. 
8. Does the Church encourage any other liturgical celebrations on Good Friday? On this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer could appropriately be celebrated with the participation of the people in the churches. Note that Evening Prayer is only prayed by those who do not participate in the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. 
9. Do devotions have a particular importance on Good Friday? The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2002) provides the proper perspective in paragraphs 142-145. Clearly the central celebration of this day is the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. In no way should manifestations of popular piety, either by the time or manner in which they are convoked, substitute for this solemn liturgical action. Nor should aspects of the various acts of piety be mixed with the Good Friday celebration, creating a hybrid. In recent times, Passion processions, celebrations of the Stations of the Cross, and Passion Plays have become more common. In such representations, actors and spectators can be involved in a moment of faith and genuine piety. Care should be taken, however, to point out to the faithful that a Passion Play is a representation which is commemorative and they are very different from “liturgical actions” which are anamnesis, or the mysterious presence of the redemptive event of the Passion. 
10. How does the Adoration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday begin? The Adoration of the Holy Cross begins with one of two forms of the Showing of the Holy Cross. The First Form begins as the deacon or another suitable minister goes to the sacristy and obtains the veiled Cross. Accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, the veiled Cross is brought to the center of the sanctuary in procession. The priest accepts the Cross and then, standing in front of the altar and facing the people, uncovers the upper part of the Cross, the right arm, and then the entire Cross. Each time he unveils a part of the Cross, he sings the acclamation, Behold the wood of the Cross. In the Second Form of the Showing of the Holy Cross, the priest or deacon goes to the church door, where he takes up the uncovered Cross. Accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, he processes to the sanctuary, stopping at the door of the church, in the middle of the church, and before entering the sanctuary, to sing the acclamation, Behold the wood of the Cross. 
11. How is the cross venerated by members of the congregation on Good Friday? After the showing of the Cross, the priest or deacon may carry the Cross to the entrance of the sanctuary or another suitable place. The first person to adore the Cross is the priest celebrant. If circumstances suggest, he takes off his chasuble and his shoes. The clergy, lay ministers and the faithful then approach the Cross. The personal adoration of the Cross is an important feature in this celebration and every effort should be made to achieve it. The rubrics remind us that “only one Cross” should be used for adoration. If the numbers are so great that all cannot come forward, the priest, after some of the clergy and faithful have adored the Cross, can take it and stand in the center before the altar. In a few words he invites the people to adore the Cross. He then elevates the Cross higher for a brief period of time while the faithful adore it in silence. It should also be kept in mind that when a sufficiently large Cross is used even a large community can reverence it in due time. The foot of the Cross as well as the right and left arm can be approached and venerated. Coordination with ushers and planning the flow of people beforehand can allow for this part of the liturgy to be celebrated with decorum and devotion. 
12. When should the Easter Vigil take place? The Vigil, by its very nature, must take place at night. It is not begun before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Easter Sunday. The celebration of the Easter Vigil takes the place of the Office of Readings of Easter Sunday. The Easter Vigil begins and ends in darkness. It is a nocturnal vigil, retaining its ancient character of vigilance and expectation, as the Christian people await the Resurrection of the Lord during the night. Fire is blessed and the paschal candle is lighted to illumine the night so that all may hear the Easter proclamation and listen to the word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures. For this reason the Solemn Beginning of the Vigil (Lucernarium) takes place before the Liturgy of the Word. Since sunset varies at different locations throughout the country, local weather stations can be consulted as to the time of sunset in the area, keeping in mind that twilight concludes (i.e., nightfall occurs) somewhat later. 
13. What considerations should be given for the paschal candle used at the Easter Vigil? This candle should be made of wax, never be artificial, be replaced each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size that it may convey the truth that Christ is the light of the world. The paschal candle is the symbol of the light of Christ, rising in glory, scattering the darkness of our hearts and minds. Above all, the paschal candle should be a genuine candle, the pre-eminent symbol of the light of Christ. Choice of size, design, and color should be made in relationship to the sanctuary in which it will be placed. 
14. In the case of mission churches and cluster parishes, can multiple paschal candles be used for the Service of Light? The Roman Missal, not envisioning the pastoral situation of mission churches or cluster parishes, specifies that only one paschal candle is used. To accommodate the particular circumstances, the Secretariat of Divine Worship might suggest that the candles from the mission churches or other parish churches could be present at the Easter Vigil, having been prepared in advance, and blessed alongside the main candle (perhaps having deacons or other representatives holding them). In keeping with the rubrics, for the lighting and procession only one candle should be lit (the principal one, or the one which will remain in that particular church). As the other candles in the congregation are lit, the other paschal candles could be lit and held(but not high, in order to maintain the prominence of the one principal candle) by someone at their place in the assembly. Once all the candles are extinguished after the singing of the Exsultet, the other paschal candles are put aside. On Easter Sunday morning, those candles could be taken to each of the missions and carried, lit, in the entrance procession at the first Mass at each church and put in place in the sanctuary. 
15. How many readings should be proclaimed at the Easter Vigil? One of the unique aspects of the Easter Vigil is the recounting of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation. These deeds are related in seven readings from the Old Testament chosen from the law and the prophets and two readings from the New Testament, namely from the Apostle Paul and from the Gospel. Thus, the Lord meets us once again on our journey and, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” (Lk 24:27) opens up our minds and hearts, preparing us to share in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup. The faithful are encouraged to meditate on these readings by the singing of a responsorial psalm, followed by a silent pause, and then by the celebrant’s prayer. Meditation on these readings is so significant for this night that we are strongly urged to use all the readings whenever it can be done. Only in the case of grave pastoral circumstances can the number of readings be reduced. In such cases, at least three readings from the Old Testament should be read, always including Exodus 14.
16. How is the First Communion of the neophytes to be emphasized during the Easter Vigil? The celebrant, before he says, Behold the Lamb of God, may make a brief remark to the neophytes about their first Communion and about the importance of so great a mystery, which is the climax of initiation and the center of the Christian life. This is a night when all should be able to receive Holy Communion under both forms. 
17. What directions are given for the celebration of Masses on Easter Sunday? Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. A full complement of ministers and the use of liturgical music should be evident in all celebrations. On Easter Sunday in the dioceses of the United States, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises may take place after the homily, followed by the sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. (If the renewal of baptismal promises does not occur, then the Creed is said. The Roman Missal notes that the Apostles' Creed, "the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church," might be appropriately used during Easter Time.) The holy water fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water. On the subsequent Sundays of Easter, it is appropriate that the Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water take the place of the Penitential Act. 
18. Where is the paschal candle placed during Easter Time? The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer. After Easter Time the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistery, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from it. In the celebration of funerals the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate Christ’s undying presence, his victory over sin and death, and the promise of sharing in Christ’s victory by virtue of being part of the Body of Christ (see Order of Christian Funerals, no. 35). The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside Easter Time.


Despite War Churches are Crowded in Syria for Easter Services

Vicar of Aleppo: Despite the war, churches crowded for Easter
Mgr Georges Abou Khazen talks about crowded churches and the "moving" presence of the faithful, despite the war and Islamist threats. Muslims show their affection and join in the celebration. For apostolic nuncio of Damascus, Catholics and Orthodox brought together by the violence, with "ecumenism" as the answer to war and terror.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) – "These are difficult days, especially after the fall of Idlib" in the hands of Islamist movements. The city "is not far from Aleppo and people fear the same might happen here. Yet, in spite of fears, Christians are taking part in Holy Week rites and the churches are always packed,” said Mgr Georges Abou Khazen, apostolic vicar of Aleppo of the Latins.
Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that "the presence and the number of faithful on Palm Sunday was beautiful and touching”. Despite shelling "everywhere, people were not afraid and attended Mass and the procession with their children. For the youngest, it was a special feast, for they carried the adorned candles during the procession . . . Faith is really stronger than fear."
In the city, everyone, Christians included, is very concerned about the arrival of Jihadi forces, following the recent fall of Idlib, in north-western Syria, to the Islamic State (IS) group, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo said.
IS fighters seized a Greek Orthodox priest, and yesterday, upon reaching the outskirts of Damascus, they attacked the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, about 6 km south of the capital. Sources told AsiaNews that this attack could be "a settling of scores between IS forces near the camp, and rebel groups inside it.”
In a situation of war, persecution and violence, Aleppo’s Christians have thrown themselves into Holy Week with a great deal of enthusiasm, doing many things, meditating, because faith is stronger than fear, the prelate noted.
“For us pastors, their witness is a source of encouragement,” said Mgr Abou Khazen. “Thanks to their faith and prayers, the Risen Lord will deliver us." Meanwhile, “Muslims also showed us their affection. This a great sign of goodwill.”
The Church itself "is playing a great role in helping refugees, Christians and Muslims, and they are very grateful for this."
"We help the children, without distinction of religion, through Caritas Syria,” the prelate explained, “not only with food, but also shoes, trousers, and shirts. It is great to see the joy of these people, the kids and their parents, who realise that we look at them with affection, for their own good. They too are part of our family and this celebration."
At the pastoral level, "we organised religious services, sermons and meetings in various churches, insisting on penance and conversion, in light of the overall situation," Mgr Georges said.
Events in Idlib are “frightening”. Yet, despite them, we are courageously going through our own Via Crucis, in the light of the resurrection and this gives us great hope."
In a pastoral letter, the prelate stressed that "the Risen Christ did not seek vengeance, but sent his people out to preach the Good News, and teach love and forgiveness.”
“This is my message for Easter and the faithful took up the invitation,” he said. “They have set up groups to meet, and meditate on the letter. Let us hope that the Lord will use us as a sign and witness of peace. "
In Damascus, however, all eyes are on what is happening in the Yarmouk refugee camp. For the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Mario Zenari, it "is disgrace that the issue of the refugee camp is raised only on certain occasions".
The camp’s residents – more than 18,500 Palestinians – are living through "a never-ending ordeal, with no medicines. Food and aid come in dribs and drabs." This is shameful.
This tragedy has been going on for a long time, just a few kilometres from the capital, with local and international authorities standing idly by. "They are going through their own Via Crucis,” the prelate said, “at one of the most sorrowful stations."
For the apostolic nuncio, Syria as a whole is going through its own pain-filled Way of the Cross. The problem, he explained, is that "we do not know at which station we are – whether it is the last, on the eve of the resurrection, or just at the beginning."
Still, this year, the atmosphere of war, the violence and the tensions have brought greater closeness and unity among Christians, irrespective of their denominational differences; this, thanks to the proximity in the calendar (Catholic and Orthodox Easter are just a week apart, 5 and 12 April, this year).

"The war situation is an encouragement to pray together and help each other,” Mgr Zenari said. “We went through an intense moment on 16 March, with Catholics and Orthodox taking part in a joint prayer . . . War ecumenism helps us pray and reflect." (DS) Shared from Asia News IT

Today's Mass Readings : Holy Thursday April 2, 2015 - Video

Holy Thursday - Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Lectionary: 39

Reading 1EX 12:1-8, 11-14
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 116:12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18

R. (cf. 1 Cor 10:16) Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

Reading 21 COR 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Verse Before The GospelJN 13:34

I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.

GospelJN 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

New President Elect of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari defeats Jonathan

Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, has been voted in the country's democratic elections. He is a 72-year-old former military general. On Tuesday, Buhari defeated President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari was placed ahead of Jonathan by over 2 million votes. Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960, then the country had a bloody civil war and a military authority. Buhari ruled Nigeria for just 20 months and was subsequently jailed for 40 months. In 1999, Nigeria regained civilian rule. Buhari a former dictator calls himself a "converted democrat." Nigeria is Africa's most populated country, Buhari is from the Muslim-majority north, while Jonathan is from the Christian south. There are 36 states in Nigeria. Buhari has a Christian running partner, and Jonathan has a Muslim. Buhari denounced Boko Haram as "misguided persons masquerading as adherents of Islam." Buhari has vowed to eliminate the Boko Haram extremist group.

Saint April 2 : St. Mary of Egypt : Hermitess



Information:
Feast Day:April 2
Born:344, Egypt
Died:421, Trans-Jordan desert, Palestine
Patron of:Chastity; Demons (deliverance from); Fever; Skin diseases
Born probably about 344; died about 421. At the early age of twelve Mary left her home and came to Alexandria, where for upwards of seventeen years she led a life of public prostitution. At the end of that time, on the occasion of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, she embarked for Palestine, not however with the intention of making the pilgrimage, but in the hope that life on board ship would afford her new and abundant opportunities of gratifying an insatiable lust. Arrived in Jerusalem she persisted in her shameless life, and on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross joined the crowds towards the church where the sacred relic was venerated, hoping to meet in the gathering some new victims whom she might allure into sin. And now came the turning-point in her career. When she reached the church door, she suddenly felt herself repelled by some secret force, and having vainly attempted three or four times to enter, she retired to a corner of the churchyard, and was struck with remorse for her wicked life, which she recognized as the cause of her exclusion from the church. Bursting into bitter tears and beating her breast, she began to bewail her sins. Just then her eyes fell upon a statue of the Blessed Virgin above the spot where she was standing, and in deep faith and humility of heart she besought Our Lady for help, and permission to enter the church and venerate the sacred wood on which Jesus had suffered, promising that if her request were granted, she would then renounce forever the world and its ways, and forthwith depart whithersoever Our Lady might lead her. Encouraged by prayer and counting on the mercy of the Mother of God, she once more approached the door of the church, and this time succeeded in entering without the slightest difficulty. Having adored the Holy Cross and kissed the pavement of the church, she returned to Our Lady's statue, and while praying there for guidance as to her future course, she seemed to hear a voice from afar telling her that if she crossed the Jordan, she would find rest. That same evening Mary reached the Jordan and received Holy Communion in a church dedicated to the Baptist, and the day following crossed the river and wandered eastward into the desert that stretches towards Arabia.

Here she had lived absolutely alone for forty-seven years, subsisting apparently on herbs, when a priest and monk, named Zosimus, who after the custom of his brethren had come out from his monastery to spend Lent in the desert, met her and learned from her own lips the strange and romantic story of her life. As soon as they met, she called Zosimus by his name and recognized him as a priest. After they had conversed and prayed together, she begged Zosimus to promise to meet her at the Jordan on Holy Thursday evening of the following year and bring with him the Blessed Sacrament. When the appointed evening arrived, Zosimus, we are told, put into a small chalice a portion of the undefiled Body and the precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ (P. L. LXXIII, 686; "Mittens in modico calice intemerati corporis portionem et pretioso sanguinis D.N.J.C." But the reference to both species is less clear in Acta SS., IX, 82: "Accipiens parvum poculum intemerati corporis ac venerandi sanguinis Christi Dei nostri"), and came to the spot that had been indicated. After some time Mary appeared on the eastern bank of the river, and having made the sign of the cross, walked upon the waters to the western side. Having received Holy Communion, she raised her hands towards heaven, and cried aloud in the words of Simeon: "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace, because my eyes have seen thy salvation". She then charged Zosimus to come in the course of a year to the spot where he had first met her in the desert, adding that he would find her then in what condition God might ordain. He came, but only to find the poor saint's corpse, and written beside it on the ground a request that he should bury her, and a statement that she had died a year before, on the very night on which he had given her Holy Communion, far away by the Jordan's banks. Aided, we are told, by a lion, he prepared her grave and buried her, and having commended himself and the Church to her prayers, he returned to his monastery, where now for the first time he recounted the wondrous story of her life.

The saint's life was written not very long after her death by one who states that he learned the details from the monks of the monastery to which Zosimus had belonged. Many authorities mention St. Sophronius, who became Patriarch of  Jerusalem in 635, as the author; but as the Bollandists give good reasons for believing that the Life was written before 500, we may conclude that it is from some other hand. The date of the saint is somewhat uncertain. The Bollandists place her death on 1 April, 421, while many other authorities put it a century later. The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 1 April, while the Roman Martyrology assigns it to 2 April, and the Roman Calendar to 3 April. The Greek date is more likely to be correct; the others may be due to the fact that on those days portions of her relics reached the West. Relics of the saint are venerated at Rome, Naples, Cremona, Antwerp, and some other places.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmaryofegypt.asp#ixzz1qwC0A9pK

Saint April 2 : St. Francis of Paola : Founder of the Order of Minims



Information:
Feast Day:April 2
Born:1416 at Paola, Calabria, Italy
Died:2 April 1507 at Plessis, France
Canonized:1512 by Pope Julius II
Founder of the Order of Minims; b. in 1416, at Paula, in Calabria, Italy; d. 2 April, 1507, at Plessis, France. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives. Remaining childless for some years after their marriage they had recourse to prayer, especially commending themselves to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. Three children were eventually born to them, eldest of whom was Francis. When still in the cradle he suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi, and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year in the "little habit" of St Francis in one of the convents of his order, a not uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured. From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity, and at the age of thirteen, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a convent of the Franciscan Order in order to fulfil the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility, and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paula he selected a retired spot on his father's estate, and there lived in solitude; but later on he found a more retired dwelling in a cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years giving himself to prayer and mortification.
In 1435 two companions joined him in his retreat, and to accommodate them Francis caused three cells and a chapel to be built: in this way the new order was begun. The number of his disciples gradually increased, and about 1454, with the permission of Pyrrhus, Archbishop of Cosenza, Francis built a large monastery and church. The building of this monastery was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm and devotion on the part of the people towards Francis: even the nobles carried stones and joined in the work. Their devotion was increased by the many miracles which the saint wrought in answer to their prayers. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. They observed perpetual abstinence and lived in great poverty, but the distinguishing mark of the order was humility. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world. To express this character which he would have his disciples cultivate, Francis eventually obtained from the Holy See that they should be styled Minims, the least of all religious. In 1474 Sixtus IV gave him permission to write a rule for his community, and to assume the title of Hermits of St. Francis: this rule was formally approved by Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of Minims. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established convents of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
He had an extraordinary gift of prophecy: thus he foretold the capture of Otranto by the Turks in 1480, and its subsequent recovery by the King of Naples. Also he was gifted with discernment of consciences. He was no respecter of persons of whatever rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered much persecution. When Louis XI was in his last illness he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come nor could he be prevailed upon until the pope ordered him to go. He then went to the king at Plessis-les-Tours and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis's successor, much admired the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for Minims at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the throne in 1498. Francis was now anxious to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction. The last three mouths of his life he spent in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Maundy Thursday he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a vicar-general. He then received the last sacraments and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, his soul passed away. Leo X canonized him in 1019. In 1562 the Huguenots broke open his tomb and found his body incorrupt. They dragged it forth and burnt it,  but some of the bones were preserved by the Catholics and enshrined in various churches of his order. The Order of Minims does not seem at any time to have been very extensive, but they had houses in many countries. The definitive rule was approved in 1506 by Julius II, who also approved a rule for the nuns of the order. The feast of St. Francis of Paula is kept by the universal Church on 2 April, the day on which he died.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/F/stfrancisofpaola.asp#ixzz1qwCOCGTU

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Latest News from #Vatican and #PopeFrancis

01-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 065 

Summary
- Easter Triduum: peak of the liturgical year and of Christian life
- Ten years since the death of St. John Paul II
- Tax agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic
- Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy: 11 April in St. Peter's Basilica
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for April
- Declaration of the Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office
- The Holy See on the Sustainable Development Goals
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Palm Sunday: God humbles Himself for His people
- Angelus: the Pope entrusts the victims of the Alps air crash to Our Lady
- St. Teresa, a “remarkable woman”: 500th anniversary of the birth of the founder of Carmel
- Pope's telegram for the death of the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
- Francis prays for flood victims in Chile and Peru
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts

Easter Triduum: peak of the liturgical year and of Christian life
Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience to the Easter Triduum, the culmination of the liturgical year, “and of our life as Christians”, which begins tomorrow, Holy Thursday, with the celebration of the Last Supper, in which Jesus offers His Body and Blood to the Father, in the Bread and Wine, and instructs us to perpetuate this offering in His memory.
“The Gospel of this ceremony, recalling the washing of the feet, expresses the same meaning of the Eucharist from another perspective”, said the Holy Father to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. “Jesus, like a servant, washes the feet of Simon Peter ad the other eleven disciples. With this prophetic gesture he expresses the meaning of His life and His passion, as service to God and to His brothers. … This also happens in our Baptism, when the grace of God cleanses us of sin and we are clothed in Christ. This happens every time we commemorate the Lord in the Eucharist: we make communion with Christ the Servant to obey His commandment, that of loving each other as He has loved us. If we partake in holy Communion without being sincerely willing to wash each other's feet, we do not recognise the Body of the Lord”.
 In the liturgy of Good Friday we consider the mystery of the death of Christ and we worship the Cross. “In the final moments of life, before delivering his spirit to the Father, Christ said, 'It is finished'. … This means that the work of salvation is complete, that all the Scriptures find their fulfilment in the love of Christ, the sacrificial lamb. Jesus, by His sacrifice, transformed the greatest wickedness into the greatest love”.
The Pontiff commented that throughout the centuries men and women have, by the witness of their existence, “reflected a ray of this perfect, full, uncontaminated love”, offering the example of a heroic witness of our times, the Italian priest and missionary in Turkey Andrea Santoro, who shortly before being murdered in the church of Trebisonda on 5 February 2006, wrote: “I am here to live among these people and to let Jesus do so, lending Him my flesh. … We become capable of salvation only by offering our own flesh. The evil of the world must be borne and pain shared, absorbed in one's own flesh unto the end, as Jesus did”. “This example, and many others, sustain us in offering our own life as a gift of love to our brethren, in imitation of Jesus”, exclaimed the Pope.
On Holy Saturday, “the Church contemplates Christ's 'repose' in the tomb after the victorious battle of the Cross. On Holy Saturday the Church once again identifies with Mary: all our faith is encompassed in her, the first and perfect disciple, the first and perfect believer. In the darkness that enshrouds Creation, she alone keeps the flame of faith alight, hoping against all hope in Jesus' Resurrection”.
On the great Easter Vigil, “we celebrate the Risen Christ as the centre and end of the cosmos and of history; we stay awake to await His return, when Easter will manifest itself fully. At times, the darkness of night seems to penetrate the soul; at times we think, 'there is no longer anything to be done', and the heart no longer finds the strength to love. … But it is precisely in that darkness that Christ lights the flame of God's love: a gleam that breaks through the darkness, presage of a new beginning. The stone of suffering is overturned, making space for hope. This is the great mystery of Easter! On this holy night the Church gives to us the light of the Resurrection, so that we no longer have inside us the regret of saying 'by now...', but rather the hope of one who opens up to a present full of the future: Christ has defeated death, and we are with Him. Our life does not end at the tombstone!”.
“During these days of the Holy Triduum, let us limit ourselves to commemorating the Lord's passion, but let us instead enter into the mystery, making His feelings and His attitudes our own, as the Apostle Paul tells us: 'Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus'. Then ours will be a happy Easter”.
Ten years since the death of St. John Paul II
Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – In his greetings following today's catechesis, the Pope recalled that tomorrow will be the tenth anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II. “We remember him as a great witness to Christ in His suffering, death and resurrection, and invoke his intercession for us, for the family, for the Church, so that the light of resurrection may shine over all the shadows of our life and fill us with joy and peace”.
Tax agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic
Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning, in the Secretariat of State, an agreement on fiscal matters was signed by the Holy See and the Italian Republic. It was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, and for the Italian Republic by Pier Carlo Padoan, minister of Economics and Finance, with full powers.
The reforms introduced in 2010 and the creation by the Holy See of institutions with specific experience in economics and finance now enable full administrative cooperation, also with regard to fiscal matters. Within the framework of the special importance of bilateral relations, Italy is the first country with which the Holy See has signed an agreement governing the exchange of information.
In accordance with the current process of establishing transparency in the field of financial relations at a global level, the Convention transposes the most up to date international standard in terms of the exchange of information (article 26 of the OSCE Model) to regulate cooperation between the competent authorities of the two contracting Parties. The exchange of information relates to the fiscal year starting 1 January 2009.
The Convention, from the date on which it enters into force, will enable full compliance, with simplified procedures, with the tax obligations relating to financial assets held by institutions engaging in financial activities in the Holy See by various physical and legal persons resident in Italy. The same persons will be able to have access to a procedure for the regularisation of these activities, with the same effects as established by Law 186/2014.
The Convention will also implement the provisions of the Lateran Treaty regarding tax exemption for property belonging to the Holy See, indicated in the same Treaty.
Finally, the Convention incorporates the Exchange of notes between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Secretariat of State in July 2007, which provides for the notification of tax acts to the Holy See authorities via diplomatic channels.
31-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 064 

Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy: 11 April in St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – Following the first announcement of the next extraordinary Holy Year by Pope Francis on 13 March, the Holy Father will proceed with the official indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy with the publication of the Bull of Indiction onSaturday 11 April, at 5.30 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The rite of publication will involve the reading of various passages of the Bull before the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica. Pope Francis will subsequently preside at the celebration of First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, thus underlining in a particular way the fundamental theme of the extraordinary Holy Year: God’s Mercy.
The term bull (from the Latin bulla = bubble or, more generally, a rounded object) originally indicated the metal capsule used to protect the wax seal attached with a cord to a document of particular importance, to attest to its authenticity and, as a consequence, its authority. Over time, the term began to be used first to indicate the seal, then the document itself, so that nowadays it is used for all papal documents of special importance that bear, or at least traditionally would have borne, the Pontiff’s seal.
The bull for the indiction of a jubilee, for instance in the case of an extraordinary Holy Year, aside from indicating its time, with the opening and closing dates and the main ways in which it will be implemented, constitutes the fundamental document for recognising the spirit in which it is announced, and the intentions and the outcomes hoped for by the Pontiff, who invokes it for the Church.
In the case of the last two extraordinary Holy Years, 1933 and 1983, the Bull of Indiction was published on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. For the next extraordinary Holy Year, the choice of the occasion on which the publication of the Bull will take place clearly demonstrates the Holy Father’s particular attention to the theme of Mercy.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for April
Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for April is: “That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God”.
His intention for evangelisation is: “That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church”.
Declaration of the Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office
Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – The Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, C.P., today issued the following declaration:
“Prior to the recent appointment of His Excellency Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons precluding the appointment”.
The Holy See on the Sustainable Development Goals
Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York, spoke at the session dedicated to intergovernmental negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held on 24 March.
The prelate expressed his appreciation for the “ambitious and compelling nature” of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and his conviction of the need for a “transformative and action-oriented post-2015 agenda”. “Moreover”, he continued, “we SDGs must integrate in a balanced manner the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental development – with an overarching focus on the eradication of poverty and the achievement of a life of dignity for all. It is imperative that the SDGs focus more on the needs of the most vulnerable countries, notably the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with particular attention to the sectors of the populations where poverty is most pervasive, to those regions where armed conflicts continue to block even the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and indeed cause further regression towards underdevelopment – and to those areas most affected by natural disasters.
The Holy See delegation, affirmed the Archbishop, “is fully aware that SDGs are a carefully and purposefully crafted package to respond to the desires of the stakeholders”, and therefore does not support “the technical proofing of the goals and targets, as it may lead to the re-opening and re-negotiating of what is already a politically balanced agreement acceptable to the great majority of the stakeholders”. Furthermore, results and progress if the SDGs are implemented “would have to be assessed and verified against indicators agreed by the stakeholders themselves”.
“Therefore”, he continued, “my delegation takes note of the work of the UN Statistical Commission in providing a preliminary list of indicators for the SDGs and targets. We further emphasise that the development of evidence-based indicators should continue to be carried out in an open and transparent manner and guided by Member States. These indicators should not upset the political balance of the SDGs, nor should they serve to impose ideas or ideologies that do not find consensus under the outcome of the Open Working Groups (OWGs)”.
Archbishop Auza concluded by indicating that certain goals and targets “are understood differently in different cultural and religious contexts and will translate differently into their national policies and legislation. We believe the indicators must take these differences into consideration and be drafted in a way that allows countries to assess their results in a way that both reflects and respects their national values, as well as is consistent with their national policies and legislation. … My delegation strongly believes that the indicators should be global, while taking into consideration the national and regional specificities, especially different capacities. Indicators cannot be unrealistic figures that only, or not even, developed countries can achieve”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Fr. Christophe Amade, M. Afr., as bishop of Kalemie-Kirungu (area 71,577, population 5,950,013, Catholics 3,663,230, priests 100, religious 125), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Mune, Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He studied theology at the London Missionary Institute, England, and holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has exercised his pastoral ministry in Funsi in the diocese of Wa, Ghana, and has served as lecturer and subsequently rector of the Consortium of Philosophy in Jinja, Uganda, and lecturer in philosophy at the Consortium of Philosophy in Kumasi, Ghana and at the St. Augustin University, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is currently provincial superior of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (“White Fathers”) for Central Africa.
- Fr. Donatien Bafuidinsoni, S.J., and Msgr. Jean-Pierre Kwambamba Masi as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Kinshasa (area 8,500, population 10,516,000, Catholics 5,830,000, priests 1166, religious 3,643), Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bishop-elect Bafuidinsoni is currently judicial vicar of the same archdiocese; Bishop-elect Kwambamba Masi, currently of the clergy of Kenge, is an official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
- Rev. Fr. Giorgio Demetrio Gallaro as bishop of Piana degli Albanese di Sicilia (area 420, population 30,500, Catholics 29,000, priests 28, permanent deacons 4, religious 159), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Pozzallo, Italy in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1972. He holds a doctorate in oriental canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome, and a licentiate in ecumenical theology from the Pontifical Institute of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. In the U.S.A. he has served in pastoral and academic roles in the Melkite eparchy of Newton, Massachusetts, the Ukrainian eparchy of Stamford, Connecticut, and the Ruthenian archieparchy of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is currently syncellus for canonical affairs and judicial vicar in the archieparchy of Pittsburgh, lecturer in canon law and ecumenical theology at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, and judge of appeal for the archieparchy of Philadelphia of the Ukrainians.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Koln, Germany, as member of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
30-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 63 

Palm Sunday: God humbles Himself for His people
Vatican City, 30 March 2015 (VIS) – At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square the Holy Father presided at the solemn liturgical celebration of Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At the centre of the square, near the obelisk, the Pope blessed the palm and olive branches and, at the end of the procession, he celebrated the Holy Mass for the Passion of the Lord. Young people from Rome and other dioceses took part in the celebration, on the occasion of the thirtieth World Youth Day, on the theme “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”.
The following is the full text of the homily pronounced by Pope Francis following the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord according to Mark:
“At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: 'He humbled himself'. Jesus' humiliation. These words show us God’s way and, consequently, that which must be the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!
“Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the the story of the Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.
“This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be 'holy' for us too. We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the 'rock' among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God. This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.
“Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the 'form of a slave'. In the end, humility also means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, 'emptying oneself', as Scripture says. This – the pouring out of oneself – is the greatest humiliation of all.
“There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success, the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, and only by his grace, with his help, we too can overcome this temptation to vanity, to worldliness, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well. In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and concealment, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person, the homeless.
“We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time – and there are many. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. In truth, we can speak of a ìcloud of witnesses' – the martyrs of our own time.
“During this week, let us set about with determination along this same path of humility, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be”.
Angelus: the Pope entrusts the victims of the Alps air crash to Our Lady
Vatican City, 29 March 2015 (VIS) – Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus and greeted all those present, especially the young, whom he exhorted to continue on their path both within the dioceses and in their pilgrimage across continents, leading next year to Krakow, Poland, the homeland of St. John Paul II, who initiated the World Youth Days.
“The theme of this great meeting: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy', harmonises with the Holy Year of Mercy”, he said. “Let yourselves be filled with the tenderness of the Father, to radiate it around you. And now we turn in prayer to Mary, our Mother, so that she might help us to live Holy Week with faith. She too was present when Jesus entered Jerusalem, acclaimed by the crowd; but her heart, like that of her Son, was ready for sacrifice. Let us learn from Her, faithful Virgin, to follow the Lord even when His path leads to the Cross. I entrust to her intercession the victims of last Tuesday's aviation tragedy, among whom there was also a group of German students”.
St. Teresa, a “remarkable woman”: 500th anniversary of the birth of the founder of Carmel
Vatican City, 28 March 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to Fr. Saverio Cannistra, prepositor general of the Order of Descalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, to commemorate the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Jesus and and to participate in the giving of thanks for the charism of this “remarkable woman”.
“I consider it a providential grace that this anniversary coincides with the year dedicated to consecrated life, in which the Saint of Avila shines as a sure guide and attractive model of total commitment to God. … How much we continue to benefit from the witness of her consecration, born directly of her encounter with Christ, her experience of prayer, as a continual dialogue with God, and her community life, rooted in the maternity of the Church!”
“St. Teresa was above all a teacher of prayer. The discovery of Christ's humanity was central to her experience. Moved by the desire to share this personal experience with others, she describes it in a lively and simple way, accessible to all, as consisting simply in 'a relationship of friendship … with Whom we know loves us'. The prayer of Teresa was not a prayer reserved solely to a space or time of day; it arose spontaneously on the most diverse occasions. … She was convinced of the value of continual, if not always perfect, prayer. … To renew consecrated life today, Teresa has left us a great heritage full of concrete suggestions, ways and methods of praying that, far from closing us in ourselves or leading us merely to inner balance, enable us always to start again from Jesus, and constitute a genuine school for growth in love for God and neighbour”.
“Starting from her encounter with Jesus, St. Teresa lived 'another life'; she transformed herself into a tireless communicator of the Gospel. Keen to serve the Church, and faced with the great problems of her time, she did not limit herself to being an observer of the situations surrounding her. … In this way she began the Teresian reform in which she asked her sisters not to waste time discussing 'matters of little importance' with God while “the world is in flames'. This missionary and ecclesial dimension has always distinguished the Discalced Carmelites. As she did during her times, St. Teresa opens up new horizons to us today; she calls us to a great enterprise, to look upon the world through Christ's eyes, to seek what He seeks and to love what He loves”.
“St. Teresa knew that neither prayer nor mission could sustain an authentic community life. Therefore, the foundation she laid in her monasteries was fraternity. … She was very careful to warn her sisters of the danger of self-referentiality in fraternal life”, emphasising the need to “'place what we are at the service of others. To avoid such risks, the Saint of Avila reminded her sisters above all of the virtue of humility, which is neither outward neglect nor inner timidness of the soul; instead, it involves each person being aware of their own possibilities and of what God can achieve in us. The contrary is what she refers to as a 'false point of honour', a source of gossip, jealousy and criticism, that seriously harm relations with others. … With these noble roots, Teresian communities are called to become houses of communion, able to bear witness to the fraternal and maternal love of the Church, presenting to the Lord the needs of the world, riven by divisions and wars”.
Pope's telegram for the death of the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
Vatican City, 28 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to His Beatitude Mar Aprem Locum Tenens of the Assyrian Church of the East for the death of the His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
The Pope assures the Assyrian faithful of the spiritual closeness of all Catholics, and remarked that the Christian world has lost “an important spiritual leader, a brave and prudent pastor, who faithfully served his community in extremely difficult times”.
His Holiness Mar Dinka “suffered greatly as a result of the tragic situation in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and in Syria”, he continues, “resolutely calling attention to the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters and other religious minorities suffering daily persecution. I recall how we spoke of this at length during the recent visit of His Holiness to Rome. I give heartfelt thanks to Almighty God for the enduring commitment of His Holiness to improving relations among Christians and in particular between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. May the Lord receive him and grant him eternal repose, and may the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church live on as a challenge and an inspiration to us all”.
Francis prays for flood victims in Chile and Peru
Vatican City, 28 March 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of the Holy Father to Archbishpo Ivo Scapolo, apostolic nuncio in Chile, on account of the floodings and landslides caused by intense rainfall, that have already claimed six lives and left 19 people missing and thousands injured in the north of Chile; in southern Peru a further six people have been killed. The torrential rains have caused a total of at least 4,000 victims in both countries.
“Due to the severe flooding that has affected areas of Peru and Chile, causing casualties and heavy damage to property, the Holy Father offers prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased and asks for the Lord to grant consolation and strength to those affected by this disaster.
The Holy Father furthermore exhorts all institutions and persons of good will, motivated by sentiments of fraternal solidarity and Christian charity, to offer assistance to overcome these difficult moments, and offers them his heartfelt blessing”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 30 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life;
- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity;
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference;
- Msgr. Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church;
- Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican; vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City State; president of the Fabric of St. Peter;
- Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 30 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Fr. Alberto Vera Arejula, O. de M., as auxiliary of the diocese of Xai-Xai (area 75,709, population 1,664,000, Catholics 298,000, priests 27, religious 81), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in Aguilar del Rio Alhama, Spain in 1957, gave his solemn vows in 1981, and was ordained a priest in the same year. He studied theology and psychology and, in his pastoral ministry has served in a number of roles including parish vicar, formator of postulants and promoter of vocations in the Vicariate of Central America in Guatemala; provincial counsellor and head of youth and vocational pastoral ministry for the Province of Aragon, Spain; formator of the community, superior of the Community of Matola-Mozambiqye, rector of studies of the Mercedarian Seminary, parish priest, primary and secondary school director, and diocesan counsellor for Caritas in Maputo, Mozambique. He is currently provincial delegate for the Mercedarian Fathers in Mozambique and parish priest in Xai-Xai.
On Sunday, 29 March, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Osaka, Japan, as bishop of Nagoya (area 25,306, population 12,379,569, Catholics 26,666, priests 115, permanent deacons 3, religious 268), Japan. He succeeds Bishop Augustinus Jun-ichi Nomura, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
On Saturday, 28 March, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Makurdi, Nigeria, presented by Bishop Athanasius Atule Usuh, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe, C.M.F., coadjutor of the same diocese.
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