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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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2015

#PopeFrancis "Jesus keeps knocking on our doors, the doors of our lives." to #Homeless FULL TEXT/Video

Washington D.C., Pope Francis met the homeless at the parish of St Patrick in the City, founded in 1794
Below please find the prepared text of Pope Francis’ words to the homeless in Washington D.C. 
Meeting with the Homeless at Saint Patrick in the City, Washington
Below please find the prepared text of Pope Francis’ words to the homeless in Washington D.C. Meeting with the Homeless at Saint Patrick in the City, Washington Dear Friends,
The first word I wish to say to you is “Thank you”. Thank you for welcoming me and for your efforts to make this meeting possible. Here I think of a person whom I love, someone who is, and has been, very important throughout my life. He has been a support and an inspiration. He is the one I go to whenever I am “in a fix”. You make me think of Saint Joseph. Your faces remind me of his. Joseph had to face some difficult situations in his life. One of them was the time when Mary was about to give birth, to have Jesus. The Bible tells us that, “while they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6-7). The Bible is very clear about this: there was no room for them. I can imagine Joseph, with his wife about to have a child, with no shelter, no home, no place to stay. The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person. The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head. We can imagine what Joseph must have been thinking. How is it that the Son of God has no home? Why are we homeless, why don’t we have housing? These are questions which many of you may ask daily. Like Saint Joseph, you may ask: Why are we homeless, without a place to live? These are questions which all of us might well ask. Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live? Why are these brothers and sisters of ours homeless?
Joseph’s questions are timely even today; they accompany all those who throughout history have been, and are, homeless. Joseph was someone who asked questions. But first and foremost, he was a man of faith. Faith gave Joseph the power to find light just at the moment when everything seemed dark. Faith sustained him amid the troubles of life. Thanks to faith, Joseph was able to press forward when everything seemed to be holding him back.
In the face of unjust and painful situations, faith brings us the light which scatters the darkness. As it did for Joseph, faith makes us open to the quiet presence of God at every moment of our lives, in every person and in every situation. God is present in every one of you, in each one of us.
We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing. There are many unjust situations, but we know that God is suffering with us, experiencing them at our side. He does not abandon us. We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help, his love. He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice. He tells us this clearly: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).
Faith makes us know that God is at our side, that God is in our midst and his presence spurs us to charity. Charity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to service of one another. Jesus keeps knocking on our doors, the doors of our lives. He doesn’t do this by magic, with special effects, with flashing lights and fireworks. Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the faces of those at our side.
Dear friends, one of the most effective ways we have to help is that of prayer. Prayer unites us; it makes us brothers and sisters. It opens our hearts and reminds us of a beautiful truth which we sometimes forget. In prayer, we all learn to say “Father”, “Dad”. We learn to see one another as brothers and sisters. In prayer, there are no rich and poor people, there are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. In prayer, there is no first or second class, there is brotherhood. It is in prayer that our hearts find the strength not to be cold and insensitive in the face of injustice. In prayer, God keeps calling us, opening our hearts to charity.
How good it is for us to pray together. How good it is to encounter one another in this place where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where we realize that we need one another. Today I want to be one with you. I need your support, your closeness. I would like to invite you to pray together, for one another, with one another. That way we can keep helping one another to experience the joy of knowing that Jesus is in our midst. Are you ready?
Our Father, who art in heaven… Before leaving you, I would like to give you God’s blessing: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (Num 6:24-26). And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

#PopeFrancis "....the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face." Address to #Congress FULLTEXT/Video

Pope Francis addressing the U.S. Congress - AP
Pope Francis addressing the U.S. Congress - AP
24/09/2015 17:00


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday (24th September) made history by becoming the first Pope ever to address a joint session of the United States Congress. In his wide-ranging address that was frequently interrupted by applause, the Pope touched on many themes including the need for politics to serve the common good, the importance of cooperation and solidarity, the dangers of fundamentalism, the refugee crisis, abolition of the death penalty, the need for courageous acts to avert environmental deterioration, the evils of the arms trade and threats to the family from within and without. During his speech he also mentioned four great Americans from the past, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, saying that each of them helped build a better future for the people of the U.S.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the Joint Session of the United States Congress:

Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress,
Dear Friends,
                I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
                Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation.  You are the face of its people, their representatives.  You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.  A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.  To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
                Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses.  On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation.  On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.  Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
                Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families.  These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.  They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need. 
                I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights.  I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land.  I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults.  I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
                My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans.  The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future.  They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people.  A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity.   These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality.  In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
                I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
                This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”.  Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
                All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today.  Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.  We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.  This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.  A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.  But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.  The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.  We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within.  To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.  That is something which you, as a people, reject.
                Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.  We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises.  Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent.  Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples.  We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
                The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States.  The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
                In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society.  It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society.  Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
                Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people.  All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776).  If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.  Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.  I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.
                Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans.  That dream continues to inspire us all.  I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”.  Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment.  Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
                In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.
                Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
                This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
                This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.  I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.  Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty.  Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
                In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.  Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.
                How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world!  How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!  I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.  At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.  They too need to be given hope.  The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.  I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.
                It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth.  The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.  “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).  This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3).  “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).
                In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.  I am convinced that we can make a difference, I'm sure and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.  Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139).  “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112).  In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.
                A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton.  He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people.  In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world.  Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born.  That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”.  Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church.  He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
                From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past.  It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same.  When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.  This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility.  A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism.  A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).
                Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world.  Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?  Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.  In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
                Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.
                Four representatives of the American people.
                I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families.  It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme.  How essential the family has been to the building of this country!  And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement!  Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.  Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.  I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
                In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young.  For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.  Their problems are our problems.  We cannot avoid them.  We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions.  At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future.  Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.
                A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
                In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people.  It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream. 
                God bless America!

#PopeFrancis makes Surpirse visit to #LittleSisters of the Poor

Pope Francis meets with Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, DC. - ANSA
Pope Francis meets with Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, DC. - ANSA
24/09/2015 11:45


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday made an unscheduled visit to the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he celebrated the Mass of Canonization of St. Junipero Serra.
The religious order operates several nursing homes and care facilities in the United States.
The congregation is involved in a lawsuit with the Obama Administration over the country’s new health care law. The government is trying to force the religious community to comply with a contraception mandate in the law, which violates Catholic religious beliefs.
“This is a sign, obviously of support for them [in their court case]” said Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the head of the Holy See Press Office.
“In this sense it is connected also to the words that the Pope has said in support of the Bishops of the United States in the speech to President Obama,” Father Lombardi continued.
“This was a little addition to the programme, but I think it has an important meaning in this moment,” he said.

#PopeFrancis "Rejoice in the Lord always!" Holy Mass of #Canonization FULL TEXT/Video

Pope Francis presides over the Canonization Mass of  new Saint Junipero Serra in Washington, US,  September 23, 2015. - ANSA
Pope Francis presides over the Canonization Mass of new Saint Junipero Serra in Washington, US, September 23, 2015. - ANSA
23/09/2015 19:56



(Vatican Radio) Celebrating his first Mass in the United States on Wednesday, Pope Francis declared a new saint of the United States.  Fr. Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest known for starting nine missions in the 18th century in what is today the US state of California, was raised to the glory of the altars during a solemn open-air Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in the US capital, Washington.  Several cardinals and bishops, all in white vestments, joined him at the altar on a state erected specially for the canonization, while many more sat in front of the altar. 
The Pope who is in the US, following his visit to Cuba Sept. 19-22, was accorded a state welcome Wednesday morning, at the Whitehouse in Washington by President Barack Obama, after which he met US bishops in St. Matthew's Cathedral. The canonization rite at the start of the evening Mass included a biography of Fr. Serra and the chanting of the Litany of the Saints.  Pope Francis then pronounced the formula of canonization, officially declaring Junipero Serra a saint.
In his homily, Pope Francis held up the figure of America’s new Saint, Junipero Serra, as a model of one who having experienced the joy of God’s merciful anointing, in turn went out to joyfully proclaim the Good News to all people, leaving behind the security and apathy of his comfort and home. Taking his cue from St. Paul who invited Philippians to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” Pope Francis, delivering the entire homily in Spanish, said the desire for a fulfilling, meaningful and joyful life is something all have in their hearts.  He noted that the struggles of everyday life seems to ‎stand in the way of this invitation to rejoice.  Our daily routine, he said, can often lead us to a kind of glum ‎apathy which gradually becomes a habit, making our hearts grow numb.‎  But against this, Jesus offers us the answer.  He says, “Go forth!  ‎Proclaim!  The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived ‎only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.‎” “For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show mercy, the ‎fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy,” the Pope stressed.
The Pope said that Jesus intended his Good News for all, embracing life as he saw it, in faces of pain, ‎hunger, sickness and sin, in faces of wounds, of thirst, of weariness, doubt and pity.   He said, Jesus embraced life as he found it, whether dirty, unkempt or broken, and urges us to go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, ‎without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living.  Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father…who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil od salvation.
The Pope explained that mission is never the fruit of a perfect planned program, but is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and ‎forgiven.  Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.‎ In this regard, Pope Francis recalled the Aparecida ‎Document of the Latin American Bishops, saying “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort.” And one such person who witnessed to the joy of the Gospel in these ‎lands, the Pope said, is Father Junípero Serra.  He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church ‎which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God.  Junípero Serra left his native ‎land and its way of life, and learned how to bring to birth and ‎nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met.  Junípero ‎sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated ‎and abused it.  The Pope said mistreatment and wrongs still trouble us today, especially because of the hurt ‎which they cause in the lives of many people.‎
The Canonization Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was in Latin, Spanish and English, and one of the scripture readings was in a native American ‎language.  The prayer of the faithful was is Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog of the Philippines, Igbo of ‎Nigeria, Criollo and American sign language, symbolizing the rich multi-cultural character that the US is ‎known for. ‎

Below is the prepared text of Pope Francis' homily at the Canonization Mass of St. Junipero Serra in Washington:
Rejoice in the Lord always!  I say it again, rejoice!  These are striking words, words which ‎impact our ‎lives.  Paul tells us to rejoice; he practically orders us to rejoice.  This command resonates ‎with the ‎desire we all have for a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, a joyful life.  It is as if Paul could ‎hear what ‎each one of us is thinking in his or her heart and to voice what we are feeling, what we ‎are experiencing.  ‎Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for ‎placebos which simply keep ‎us comfortable.‎
            At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life.  So much seems to ‎stand ‎in the way of this invitation to rejoice.  Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum ‎apathy ‎which gradually becomes a habit, with a fatal consequence: our hearts grow numb.‎
            We don’t want apathy to guide our lives… or do we?  We don’t want the force of habit to ‎rule ‎our life… or do we?  So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from ‎growing ‎numb, becoming anesthetized?  How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take ‎deeper root in ‎our lives?‎
            Jesus gives the answer.  He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go ‎forth!  ‎Proclaim!  The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and ‎lived ‎only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.‎
            The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy.  ‎Faced ‎with this human way of thinking, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that ‎we ‎have a shared responsibility for others and for the world” (Laudato Si’, 229).  It is the ‎responsibility ‎to proclaim the message of Jesus.  For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show ‎mercy, the ‎fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium, ‎‎24).  ‎Go out to all, proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming.  This is what the Lord tells us ‎today.  ‎He tells us:‎
            A Christian finds joy in mission: Go out to people of every nation!‎
            A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news!‎
            A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!‎
            Jesus sends his disciples out to all nations.  To every people.  We too were part of all ‎those ‎people of two thousand years ago.  Jesus did not provide a short list of who is, or is not, worthy ‎of ‎receiving his message, his presence.  Instead, he always embraced life as he saw it.  In faces of ‎pain, ‎hunger, sickness and sin.  In faces of wounds, of thirst, of weariness, doubt and pity.  Far ‎from ‎expecting a pretty life, smartly-dressed and neatly groomed, he embraced life as he found it.  ‎It ‎made no difference whether it was dirty, unkempt, broken.  Jesus said: Go out and tell the ‎good ‎news to everyone.  Go out and in my name embrace life as it is, and not as you think it should ‎be.  ‎Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without ‎prejudice, ‎without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living.  Go ‎out to ‎proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father.  Go out to those who are burdened by pain and ‎failure, ‎who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving Father who wants to ‎anoint ‎them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation.  Go out to proclaim the good news that ‎error, ‎deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person’s life.  Go out with ‎the ‎ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.‎
            Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual.  ‎Mission is ‎always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and ‎forgiven.  ‎Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.‎
            The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often ‎traversed ‎by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and ‎sisters.  The holy ‎and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of ‎becoming self-enclosed, ‎frozen into élites, clinging to their own security.  They know that self-‎enclosure, in all the many forms it ‎takes, is the cause of so much apathy.‎
            So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ (Evangelii ‎Gaudium, ‎‎49).  The People of God can embrace everyone because we are the disciples of the One ‎who knelt ‎before his own to wash their feet (ibid., 24).‎
            The reason we are here today is that many other people wanted to respond to that call.  ‎They ‎believed that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort” ‎‎(Aparecida ‎Document, 360).  We are heirs to the bold missionary spirit of so many men and women ‎who ‎preferred not to be “shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security… within ‎habits ‎which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49).  We ‎are ‎indebted to a tradition, a chain of witnesses who have made it possible for the good news of ‎the ‎Gospel to be, in every generation, both “good” and “news”.‎
            Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these ‎lands, ‎Father Junípero Serra.  He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church ‎which sets ‎out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God.  Junípero Serra left his native ‎land and its ‎way of life.  He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, ‎learning and valuing ‎their particular customs and ways of life.  He learned how to bring to birth and ‎nurture God’s life in the ‎faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.  Junípero ‎sought to defend the dignity ‎of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated ‎and abused it.  Mistreatment and ‎wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt ‎which they cause in the lives of many ‎people.‎
            Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: ‎siempre ‎adelante!  Keep moving forward!  For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the ‎joy of the ‎Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized.  He kept moving ‎forward, ‎because the Lord was waiting.  He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were ‎waiting.  He kept ‎going forward to the end of his life.  Today, like him, may we be able to say: ‎Forward!  Let’s keep ‎moving forward!‎

Saint September 24 : St. Pacific of San Severino

St. Pacific of San Severino
MIRACLE WORKER
Feast: September 24
Information:
Feast Day:
September 24
Born:
1 March 1653 at San Severino
Died:
24 September 1721 at San Severino
Canonized:
26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory IX

Born at San Severino, in the March of Ancona, 1 March, 1653; died there 24 September, 1721; the son of Antonio M. Divini and Mariangela Bruni. His parents died soon after his confirmation when three years old; he suffered many hardships until in December, 1670, he took the Franciscan habit in the Order of the Reformati, at Forano, in the March of Ancona, and was ordained on 4 June, 1678, subsequently becoming Lector or Professor of Philosophy (1680-83) for the younger members of the order, after which, for five or six years, he laboured as a missionary among the people of the surrounding country. He then suffered lameness, deafness, and blindness for nearly twenty-nine years. Unable to givemissions, he cultivated more the contemplative life. He bore his ills with angelic patience, worked several miracles, and was favoured by God with ecstasies. Though a constant sufferer, he held the post of guardian in the monastery of Maria delle Grazie in San Severino (1692-3), where he died. His cause for beatification was begun in 1740; he was beatified by Pius VI, 4 August, 1786, and solemnly canonized by Gregory XVI, 26 May, 1839. His feast is celebrated on 24 September. SOURCEhttp://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpacificofsanseverino.asp

#PopeFrancis "May no member of Christ’s Body and the American people feel excluded from the Pope’s embrace." FULL TEXT - Video

Pope Francis in Washington D.C. - REUTERS
Pope Francis in Washington D.C. - REUTERS
23/09/2015 16:49



Pope Francis met with the bishops at the Cathedral
Prepared text of Pope Francis’ words to the United States Bishops
Meeting with the United States Bishops, Cathedral of Saint Matthew, Washington
Dear Brother Bishops,
            I am pleased that we can meet at this point in the apostolic mission which has brought me to your country.  I thank Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Kurtz for their kind words in your name.  I am very appreciative of your welcome and the generous efforts made to help plan and organize my stay.
            As I look out with affection at you, their pastors, I would like to embrace all the local Churches over which you exercise loving responsibility.  I would ask you to share my affection and spiritual closeness with the People of God throughout this vast land.
            The heart of the Pope expands to include everyone.  To testify to the immensity of God’s love is the heart of the mission entrusted to the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of the One who on the cross embraced the whole of mankind.  May no member of Christ’s Body and the American people feel excluded from the Pope’s embrace.  Wherever the name of Jesus is spoken, may the Pope’s voice also be heard to affirm that: “He is the Savior”!  From your great coastal cities to the plains of the Midwest, from the deep South to the far reaches of the West, wherever your people gather in the Eucharistic assembly, may the Pope be not simply a name but a felt presence, sustaining the fervent plea of the Bride: “Come, Lord!”
            Whenever a hand reaches out to do good or to show the love of Christ, to dry a tear or bring comfort to the lonely, to show the way to one who is lost or to console a broken heart, to help the fallen or to teach those thirsting for truth, to forgive or to offer a new start in God…  know that the Pope is at your side and supports you.  He puts his hand on your own, a hand wrinkled with age, but by God’s grace still able to support and encourage.
            My first word to you is one of thanksgiving to God for the power of the Gospel which has brought about remarkable growth of Christ’s Church in these lands and enabled its generous contribution, past and present, to American society and to the world.  I thank you most heartily for your generous solidarity with the Apostolic See and the support you give to the spread of the Gospel in many suffering areas of our world.  I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit. I am well aware of the immense efforts you have made to welcome and integrate those immigrants who continue to look to America, like so many others before them, in the hope of enjoying its blessings of freedom and prosperity.  I also appreciate the efforts which you are making to fulfill the Church’s mission of education in schools at every level and in the charitable services offered by your numerous institutions.  These works are often carried out without appreciation or support, often with heroic sacrifice, out of obedience to a divine mandate which we may not disobey. 
            I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.  Nor have you been afraid to divest whatever is unessential in order to regain the authority and trust which is demanded of ministers of Christ and rightly expected by the faithful.  I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.
            I speak to you as the Bishop of Rome, called by God in old age, and from a land which is also American, to watch over the unity of the universal Church and to encourage in charity the journey of all the particular Churches toward ever greater knowledge, faith and love of Christ.  Reading over your names, looking at your faces, knowing the extent of your churchmanship and conscious of the devotion which you have always shown for the Successor of Peter, I must tell you that I do not feel a stranger in your midst.  I am a native of a land which is also vast, with great open ranges, a land which, like your own, received the faith from itinerant missionaries.  I too know how hard it is to sow the Gospel among people from different worlds, with hearts often hardened by the trials of a lengthy journey.  Nor am I unaware of the efforts made over the years to build up the Church amid the prairies, mountains, cities and suburbs of a frequently inhospitable land, where frontiers are always provisional and easy answers do not always work.  What does work is the combination of the epic struggle of the pioneers and the homely wisdom and endurance of the settlers.  As one of your poets has put it, “strong and tireless wings” combined with the wisdom of one who “knows the mountains”.
            I do not speak to you with my voice alone, but in continuity with the words of my predecessors.  From the birth of this nation, when, following the American Revolution, the first diocese was erected in Baltimore, the Church of Rome has always been close to you; you have never lacked its constant assistance and encouragement.  In recent decades, three Popes have visited you and left behind a remarkable legacy of teaching.  Their words remain timely and have helped to inspire the long-term goals which you have set for the Church in this country.
            It is not my intention to offer a plan or to devise a strategy.  I have not come to judge you or to lecture you.  I trust completely in the voice of the One who “teaches all things” (Jn 14:26).  Allow me only, in the freedom of love, to speak to you as a brother among brothers.  I have no wish to tell you what to do, because we all know what it is that the Lord asks of us.  Instead, I would turn once again to the demanding task – ancient yet never new – of seeking out the paths we need to take and the spirit with which we need to work.  Without claiming to be exhaustive, I would share with you some reflections which I consider helpful for our mission.
            We are bishops of the Church, shepherds appointed by God to feed his flock.  Our greatest joy is to be shepherds, and only shepherds, pastors with undivided hearts and selfless devotion.  We need to preserve this joy and never let ourselves be robbed of it.  The evil one roars like a lion, anxious to devour it, wearing us down in our resolve to be all that we are called to be, not for ourselves but in gift and service to the “Shepherd of our souls” (1 Pet 2:25).
            The heart of our identity is to be sought in constant prayer, in preaching (Acts 6:4) and in shepherding the flock entrusted to our care (Jn 21:15-17; Acts 20:28-31).
            Ours must not be just any kind of prayer, but familiar union with Christ, in which we daily encounter his gaze and sense that he is asking us the question: “Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?”  (Mk 3:31-34).  One in which we can calmly reply: “Lord, here is your mother, here are your brothers!  I hand them over to you; they are the ones whom you entrusted to me”.  Such trusting union with Christ is what nourishes the life of a pastor.
            It is not about preaching complicated doctrines, but joyfully proclaiming Christ who died and rose for our sake.  The “style” of our mission should make our hearers feel that the message we preach is meant “for us”.  May the word of God grant meaning and fullness to every aspect of their lives; may the sacraments nourish them with that food which they cannot procure for themselves; may the closeness of the shepherd make them them long once again for the Father’s embrace.  Be vigilant that the flock may always encounter in the heart of their pastor that “taste of eternity” which they seek in vain in the things of this world.  May they always hear from you a word of appreciation for their efforts to confirm in liberty and justice the prosperity in which this land abounds.  At the same time, may you never lack the serene courage to proclaim that “we must work not for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures for eternal life” (Jn  6:27).
            Shepherds who do not pasture themselves but are able to step back, away from the center, to “decrease”, in order to feed God’s family with Christ.  Who keep constant watch, standing on the heights to look out with God’s eyes on the flock which is his alone.  Who ascend to the height of the cross of God’s Son, the sole standpoint which opens to the shepherd the heart of his flock.
            Shepherds who do not lower our gaze, concerned only with our concerns, but raise it constantly toward the horizons which God opens before us and which surpass all that we ourselves can foresee or plan.  Who also watch over ourselves, so as to flee the temptation of narcissism, which blinds the eyes of the shepherd, makes his voice unrecognizable and his actions fruitless.  In the countless paths which lie open to your pastoral concern, remember to keep focused on the core which unifies everything: “You did it unto me” (Mt 25:31-45).
            Certainly it is helpful for a bishop to have the farsightedness of a leader and the shrewdness of an administrator, but we fall into hopeless decline whenever we confuse the power of strength with the strength of that powerlessness with which God has redeemed us.  Bishops need to be lucidly aware of the battle between light and darkness being fought in this world.  Woe to us, however, if we make of the cross a banner of worldly struggles and fail to realize that the price of lasting victory is allowing ourselves to be wounded and consumed (Phil 2:1-11).
            We all know the anguish felt by the first Eleven, huddled together, assailed and overwhelmed by the fear of sheep scattered because the shepherd had been struck.  But we also know that we have been given a spirit of courage and not of timidity.  So we cannot let ourselves be paralyzed by fear.
            I know that you face many challenges, that the field in which you sow is unyielding and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one’s wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition.
            And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter.  We are living sacraments of the embrace between God’s riches and our poverty.  We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response.
            Dialogue is our method, not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting the marketplace, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love (Mt 20:1-16).
            The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society.  I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly.  The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it.  Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue.  Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain.  Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.
            We need to let the Lord’s words echo constantly in our hearts: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, who am meek and humble of heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls” (Mt 11:28-30).  Jesus’ yoke is a yoke of love and thus a pledge of refreshment.  At times in our work we can be burdened by a sense of loneliness, and so feel the heaviness of the yoke that we forget that we have received it from the Lord.  It seems to be ours alone, and so we drag it like weary oxen working a dry field, troubled by the thought that we are laboring in vain.  We can forget the profound refreshment which is indissolubly linked to the One who has made us the promise.
            We need to learn from Jesus, or better to learn Jesus, meek and humble; to enter into his meekness and his humility by contemplating his way of acting; to lead our Churches and our people – not infrequently burdened by the stress of everyday life – to the ease of the Lord’s yoke.  And to remember that Jesus’ Church is kept whole not by “consuming fire from heaven” (Lk 9:54), but by the secret warmth of the Spirit, who “heals what is wounded, bends what is rigid, straightens what is crooked”.
            The great mission which the Lord gives us is one which we carry out in communion, collegially.  The world is already so torn and divided, brokenness is now everywhere.  Consequently, the Church, “the seamless garment of the Lord” cannot allow herself to be rent, broken or fought over.
            Our mission as bishops is first and foremost to solidify unity, a unity whose content is defined by the Word of God and the one Bread of Heaven.  With these two realities each of the Churches entrusted to us remains Catholic, because open to, and in communion with, all the particular Churches and with the Church of Rome which “presides in charity”.  It is imperative, therefore, to watch over that unity, to safeguard it, to promote it and to bear witness to it as a sign and instrument which, beyond every barrier, unites nations, races, classes and generations.
            May the forthcoming Holy Year of Mercy, by drawing us into the fathomless depths of God’s heart in which no division dwells, be for all of you a privileged moment for strengthening communion, perfecting unity, reconciling differences, forgiving one another and healing every rift, that your light may shine forth like “a city built on a hill” (Mt 5:14).
            This service to unity is particularly important for this nation, whose vast material and spiritual, cultural and political, historical and human, scientific and technological resources impose significant moral responsibilities in a world which is seeking, confusedly and laboriously, new balances of peace, prosperity and integration.  It is an essential part of your mission to offer to the United States of America the humble yet powerful leaven of communion.  May all mankind know that the presence in its midst of the “sacrament of unity” (Lumen Gentium, 1) is a guarantee that its fate is not decay and dispersion.
            This kind of witness is a beacon whose light can reassure men and women sailing through the dark clouds of life that a sure haven awaits them, that they will not crash on the reefs or be overwhelmed by the waves.  I encourage you, then, to confront the challenging issues of our time.  Ever present within each of them is life as gift and responsibility.  The future freedom and dignity of our societies depends on how we face these challenges.
            The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature – at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters.  It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent.  No less important is the Gospel of the Family, which in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia I will emphatically proclaim together with you and the entire Church.
            These essential aspects of the Church’s mission belong to the core of what we have received from the Lord.  It is our duty to preserve and communicate them, even when the tenor of the times becomes resistent and even hostile to that message (Evangelii Gaudium, 34-39).  I urge you to offer this witness, with the means and creativity born of love, and with the humility of truth.  It needs to be preached and proclaimed to those without, but also to find room in people’s hearts and in the conscience of society.
            To this end, it is important that the Church in the United States also be a humble home, a family fire which attracts men and women through the attractive light and warmth of love.  As pastors, we know well how much darkness and cold there is in this world; we know the loneliness and the neglect experienced by many people, even amid great resources of communication and material wealth.  We see their fear in the face of life, their despair and the many forms of escapism to which it gives rise.
            Consequently, only a Church which can gather around the family fire remains able to attract others.  And not any fire, but the one which blazed forth on Easter morn.  The risen Lord continues to challenge the Church’s pastors through the quiet plea of so many of our brothers and sisters: “Have you something to eat?”  We need to recognize the Lord’s voice, as the apostles did on the shore of the lake of Tiberius (Jn 21:4-12).  It becomes even more urgent to grow in the certainty that the embers of his presence, kindled in the fire of his passion, precede us and will never die out.  Whenever this certainty weakens, we end up being caretakers of ash, and not guardians and dispensers of the true light and the warmth which causes our hearts to burn within us (Lk 24:32).
            Before concluding these reflections, allow me to offer two recommendations which are close to my heart.  The first refers to your fatherhood as bishops.  Be pastors close to people, pastors who are neighbors and servants.  Let this closeness be expressed in a special way towards your priests.  Support them, so that they can continue to serve Christ with an undivided heart, for this alone can bring fulfillment to ministers of Christ.  I urge you, then, not to let them be content with half-measures.  Find ways to encourage their spiritual growth, lest they yield to the temptation to become notaries and bureaucrats, but instead reflect the motherhood of the Church, which gives birth to and raises her sons and daughters.  Be vigilant lest they tire of getting up to answer those who knock on their door by night, just when they feel entitled to rest (Lk 11:5-8).  Train them to be ready to stop, care for, soothe, lift up and assist those who, “by chance” find themselves stripped of all they thought they had (Lk 10:29-37). 
            My second recommendation has to do with immigrants.  I ask you to excuse me if in some way I am pleading my own case.  The Church in the United States knows like few others the hopes present in the hearts of these “pilgrims”.  From the beginning you have learned their languages, promoted their cause, made their contributions your own, defended their rights, helped them to prosper, and kept alive the flame of their faith.  Even today, no American institution does more for immigrants than your Christian communities.  Now you are facing this stream of Latin immigration which affects many of your dioceses.  Not only as the Bishop of Rome, but also as a pastor from the South, I feel the need to thank and encourage you.  Perhaps it will not be easy for you to look into their soul; perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity.  But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared.  So do not be afraid to welcome them.  Offer them the warmth of the love of Christ and you will unlock the mystery of their heart.  I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church.
            May God bless you and Our Lady watch over you!
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