Friday, 29 March 2013

Via Crucis with Pope Francis

A large crowd -- many of them holding candles -- joined Pope Francis in celebrating the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum.

Praying and meditating the Stations

                  Participants in the ceremony were from Brazil, Africa, the Middle East and China.

        At one point, the cross was carried by a woman in a wheelchair, from a group representing the
        physically and mentally disabled.

The address of Pope Francis at the end of the Via Crucis held in the Colosseum.

Dear Brother and Sisters,

Thank you for having taken part in these moments of deep prayer. I also thank those who have accompanied us through the media, especially the sick and elderly.

I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. In judging us, he loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.

Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters: they composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon: we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope. 

We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much. Who is all love. 

Good Friday - St Peter's

The Holy Father stood as three deacons, two Franciscans and a Dominican, chanted the account of the Passion according to St. John. As is tradition, the papal preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivered the Good Friday Sermon, this year titled "Justified as a Gift through Faith in the Blood of Christ". 

He began by describing the Easter Triduum as the ‘high point’ of the current Year of Faith: “Today we can make the most important decision in our lives: to believe… that Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification”. Unlike Adam and Eve, he added, we must not hide from the presence of God, because of our sin. Instead we must recognize our need to be justified; that we cannot justify ourselves.

Fr. Cantalamessa continued that faith in the Risen Christ, like satellite images and infrared photography, helps us see world in new light. It helps us to see beyond misery, injustice; because we know “in Christ dead and risen, the world has reached its final destination” a new heavens, a new earth have begun

The Papal preacher then turned his attention to the Cross as a powerful tool for Evangelization. 

He noted that while the Cross sometimes separates unbelievers from believers, seen as madness by some and the ultimate symbol of love by others, “in a deeper sense it unites all men”, because “Christ died for everyone”. Thus, evangelization is a mystical gift that comes from the cross of Christ. It is not a conquest, not propaganda; it is sharing gift of God to world through Christ. 

Citing Kafka, Fr. Cantalamessa said we must do everything to prevent Church from becoming a structure that impedes the Gospel message with dividing walls, ‘starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy, the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris’.

The Franciscan Friar concluded: “We must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church".
The official text of the 2013 Good Friday Sermon in St. Peter's Basilica, preached by Capuchin Friar Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household:


“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith in his blood. He did this to show his righteousness [...] to prove at the present time that he is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus”(Rom 3:23-26).
We have reached the summit of the Year of Faith and its decisive moment. This is the faith that saves, "faith that overcomes the world" (1 Jn 5:5)! Faith – the appropriation by which we make ours the salvation worked by Christ, by which we put on the mantle of his righteousness. On the one hand there is the outstretched hand of God offering man His grace; on the other hand, the hand of man reaching out to receive it through faith. The "new and everlasting Covenant" is sealed with a handclasp between God and man. 
We have the opportunity to make, on this day, the most important decision of our lives, one that opens wide before us the doors of eternity: to believe! To believe that "Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification" (Rom 4:25)! In an Easter homily of the 4th century, the bishop pronounced these extraordinarily modern, and one could say existentialist, words: “For every man, the beginning of life is when Christ was immolated for him. However, Christ is immolated for him at the moment he recognizes the grace and becomes conscious of the life procured for him by that immolation” (The Paschal Homily of the Year 387 : SCh, 36 p. 59f.).

What an extraordinary thing! This Good Friday celebrated in the Year of Faith and in the presence of the new successor of Peter, could be, if we wish, the principle of a new kind of existence. Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, converted to Christianity as an adult, looking back on his past life, said, "before meeting you, I did not exist".
What is required is only that we do not hide from the presence of God, as Adam and Eve did after their sin, that we recognize our need to be justified; that we cannot justify ourselves. The publican of the parable came to the temple and made a short prayer: "O God, have mercy on me a sinner". And Jesus says that the man returned to his home "justified", that is, made right before him, forgiven, made a new creature, I think singing joyfully in his heart (Lk 18:14). What had he done that was so extraordinary? Nothing, he had put himself in the truth before God, and it is the only thing that God needs in order to act.
* * *
Like he who, in climbing a mountain wall, having overcome a dangerous step, stops for a moment to catch his breath and admire the new landscape that has opened up before him, so does the Apostle Paul at the beginning of Chapter 5 of the letter to the Romans, after having proclaimed justification by faith:
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we
boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
And not only that, but we
also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5: 1-5).
Today, from artificial satellites infrared photographs of whole regions of the Earth and of the whole planet are taken. How different the landscape looks when seen from up there, in the light of those rays, compared to what we see in natural light and from down here! I remember one of the first satellite pictures published in the world; it reproduced the entire Sinai Peninsula. The colors were different, the reliefs and depressions were more noticeable. It is a symbol. Even human life, seen in the infrared rays of faith, from atop Calvary, looks different from what you see "with the naked eye". 

"The same fate”, said the wise man of the Old Testament, “comes to all, to the righteous and to the wicked...I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well"(Ecc 3:16; 9:2). And in fact at all times man has witnessed iniquity triumphant and innocence humiliated. But so that people do not believe that there is something fixed and sure in the world, behold, Bossuet notes, sometimes you see the opposite, namely, innocence on the throne and lawlessness on the scaffold. But what did Qoheleth conclude from all this? " I said in my heart: God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for everything" (Ecc 3:17). He found the vantage point that puts the soul in peace.
What Qoheleth could not know and that we do know is that this judgement has already happened: "Now”, Jesus says when beginning his passion, “is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people
to myself"(Jn 12:31-32).
In Christ dead and risen, the world has reached its final destination. Human progress is advancing today at a dizzying pace and humanity sees new and unexpected horizons unfolding before it, the result of its discoveries. Still, it can be said that the end of time has already come, because in Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Father, humanity has reached its ultimate goal. The new heavens and new Earth have already begun. 
Despite all the misery, injustice, the monstrosities present on Earth, he has already inaugurated the final order in the world. What we see with our own eyes may suggest otherwise, but in reality evil and death have been defeated forever. Their sources are dry; the reality is that Jesus is the Lord of the world. Evil has been radically defeated by redemption which he operated. The new world has already begun. 
One thing above all appears different, seen with the eyes of faith: death! Christ entered death as we enter a dark prison; but he came out of it from the opposite wall. He did not return from whence he came, as Lazarus did who returned to life to die again. He has opened a breach towards life that no one can ever close, and through which everyone can follow him. Death is no longer a wall against which every human hope is shattered; it has become a bridge to eternity. A "bridge of sighs", perhaps because no one likes to die, but a bridge, no longer a bottomless pit that swallows everything. "Love is strong as death", says the song of songs (Sgs 8:6). In Christ it was stronger than death!

In his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People", the Venerable Bede tells how the Christian faith made its entrance into the North of England. When the missionaries from Rome arrived in Northumberland, the local King summoned a Council of dignitaries to decide whether to allow them, or not, to spread the new message. Some of those present were in favor, others against. It was winter and outside there was a blizzard, but the room was lit and warm. At one point a bird came from a hole in the wall, fluttered a bit, frightened, in the hall, and then disappeared through a hole in the opposite wall. 

Then one of those present rose and said: "Sire, our life in this world resembles that bird. We come we know not from where, for a while we enjoy the light and warmth of this world and then we disappear back into the darkness, without knowing where we are going. If these men are capable of revealing to us something of the mystery of our lives, we must listen to them". The Christian faith could return on our continent and in the secularized world for the same reason it made its entrance: as the only message, that is, which has a sure answer to the great questions of life and death.

* * *
The cross separates unbelievers from believers, because for the ones it is scandal and madness, for the others is God's power and wisdom of God (cf. 1 Cor 1:23-24); but in a deeper sense it unites all men, believers and unbelievers. "Jesus had to die [...] not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God"(cf. Jn 11:51f). The new heavens and the new Earth belong to everyone and are for everyone, because Christ died for everyone. 
The urgency that comes from all this is that of evangelizing: "The love of Christ urges us, at the thought that one has died for all" (2 Cor 5:14). It urges us to evangelize! Let us announce to the world the good news that "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has delivered us from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:1-2).

There is a short story by Franz Kafka that is a powerful religious symbol and takes on a new meaning, almost prophetic, when heard on Good Friday. It's titled "An Imperial Message". It speaks of a king who, on his deathbed, calls to his side a subject and whispers a message into his ear. So important is that message that he makes the subject repeat it, in turn, into his hear. Then, with a nod, he sends off the messenger, who sets out on his way. But let us hear directly from the author the continuation of this story, characterized by the dreamlike and almost nightmarish tone typical of this writer: 
" Now pushing with his right arm, now with his left, he cleaves a way for himself through the throng; if he encounters resistance he points to his breast, where the symbol of the sun glitters. But the multitudes are so vast; their numbers have no end. If he could reach the open fields how fast he would fly, and soon doubtless you would hear the welcome hammering of his fists on your door. But instead how vainly does he wear out his strength; still he is only making his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he get to the end of them; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; he must next fight his way down the stair; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; the courts would still have to be crossed; and after the courts the second outer palace; and so on for thousands of years; and if at last he should burst through the outermost gate—but never, never can that happen—the imperial capital would lie before him, the center of the world, crammed to bursting with its own sediment. Nobody could fight his way through here even with a message from a dead man. But you sit at your window when evening falls and dream it to yourself”.
From his deathbed, Christ also confided to his Church a message: "Go throughout the whole world, preach the good news to all creation" (MK 16:15). There are still many men who stand at the window and dream, without knowing it, of a message like his. John, whom we have just heard, says that the soldier pierced the side of Christ on the cross "so that the Scripture may be fulfilled which says 'they shall look on him whom they have pierced"(Jn 19:37). In the Apocalypse he adds: "Behold, he is coming on the clouds, and every eye will see him; they will see him even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the Earth will lament for him "(Rev 1:7). 

This prophecy does not annouce the last coming of Christ, when it will no longer be the time of conversion, but of judgment. It describes the reality of the evangelization of the peoples. In it, a mysterious but real coming of the Lord occurs, which brings salvation to them. Theirs won't be a cry of despair, but of repentance and of consolation. This is the meaning of that prophetic passage of Scripture that John sees realized in the piercing of the side of Christ, and that is, the passage of Zechariah 12:10: "I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and consolation; they will look to me, to him whom they have pierced". 

The evangelization has a mystical origin; it is a gift that comes from the cross of Christ, from that open side, from that blood and from that water. The love of Christ, like that of the Trinity of which it is the historical manifestation, is "diffusivum sui", it tends to expand and reach all creatures, "especially those most needy of thy mercy." Christian evangelization is not a conquest, not propaganda; it is the gift of God to the world in his Son Jesus. It is to give the Head the joy of feeling life flow from his heart towards his body, to the point of vivivfying its most distant limbs. 

We must do everything possible so that the Church may never look like that complicated and cluttered castle described by Kafka, and the message may come out of it as free and joyous as when the messenger began his run. We know what the impediments are that can restrain the messenger: dividing walls, starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy, the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris. 
In Revelation, Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). Sometimes, as noted by our Pope Francis, he does not knock to enter, but knocks from within to go out. To reach out to the "existential suburbs of sin, suffering, injustice, religious ignorance and indifference, and of all forms of misery."
As happens with certain old buildings. Over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church".
"Who could ever be up to this task?" wondered aghast the Apostle before the superhuman task of being in the world "the fragrance of Christ"; and here is his reply, that still applies today: "We're not ourselves able to think something as if it came from us; our ability comes from God. He has made us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life"(2 Cor 2:16; 3:5-6). 
May the Holy Spirit, in this moment in which a new time is opening for the Church, full of hope, reawaken in men who are at the window the expectancy of the message, and in the messengers the will to make it reach them, even at the cost of their life. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Palm Sunday - Pope Francis

“Jesus awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don't matter in the eyes of the world". (Pope Francis)

  “Christian joy is not born from possessing a lot of things but from having met Jesus”. (Pope Francis)

Christian joy, said Pope Francis keeps people young: "From seven to 70, the heart inspired by Christian joy does not age" 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Meeting Castel Gandolfo

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pope Francis - Inauguration

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that "Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: "Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model" (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a "protector" because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are "Herods" who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be "protectors", we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, "hoping against hope, believed" (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

H.E.H. Matthew Festing
Grand Master of the Order of Malta

Monday, 18 March 2013

Pope Francis - Seal and Motto

Pope Francis has chosen to remain with his episcopal seal and motto. Added to the original papal seal are a blue background along with a miter with cross keys of gold and silver along with a red cord, symbol of his pontifical office.

The emblem of the Society of Jesus, the order which Pope Francis belongs to, is placed above on the shield. The emblem is an image of a radiant sun with the letters “IHS” the monogram of the name of Christ. A cross is placed above the letter H of the monogram while three nails are placed below it.

On the bottom left hand side of the shield is an image of a star, which according  to heraldic tradition, symbolizes  the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ and of the Church. To the right of the star is the image of the spikenard, an aromatic plant, meant to symbolize St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. According to spanish iconographic tradition, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard in his hand.

By placing these two symbols on his coat of arms, Pope Francis wished to express his particular devotion to the Virgin Mary and Saint. Joseph.

The Holy Father’s motto, “Miserando Atque Eligendo”, (Because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him) is taken from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable regarding the calling of St. Matthew by Jesus.

Saint Bede’s homily, which is read on the feast of St. Matthew, is a homage to the divine mercy of Christ, and is of significance to the Holy Father in his spiritual itinerary. According to a communique explaining the Papal coat of arms, at the age of 17, the young Jorge Bergoglio experienced in a particular way, the loving presence of God in his life.

“Following confession, his heart was touched but the descent of the mercy of God, who with tender love called him to the religious life, following the example of Saint Ignatius of Loyola,” the communique stated.

“Upon being chosen as bishop, Bishop Bergoglio, in remembrance of that event that began his total consecration to God in the Church, decides to choose as motto and program of his life, the phrase by Saint Bede miserando atque eligendo which he has chosen to reproduce on his own pontifical coat of arms.”

Sunday, 17 March 2013

First Angelus of Pope Francis

Pope Francis' Angelus address given today at St. Peter's Square.

Brothers and sisters, hello! After the first meeting last Wednesday, today I can again offer my greeting to everyone! And I am glad to do it on Sunday, the Lords day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: coming together on Sunday, greeting each other, talking with each other like we are doing now here in the piazza; a piazza that, thanks to the media, has the dimensions of the world. On this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. John 8:1-11), who Jesus saves from the death sentence. Jesus attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more! (8:11). 
Well, brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, who always has patience. Have you thought about Gods patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not weary of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. Great is the mercy of the Lord, the Psalm says. These last several days I have been able to read a book by a cardinal Cardinal Kasper, a smart theologian, a good theologian on mercy. And it did me much good that book, but dont think that I am advertising the books of my cardinals! It is not that way! But it did me much good, much good... Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy, this word changes everything. It is the best word we can hear: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to rightly understand this mercy of God, this merciful Father, who has a lot of patience ... 
Let us remember the prophet Isaiah, who says that even if our sins are bright red, Gods mercy can make them white as snow. Mercy is beautiful! I remember, when I had just become a bishop, in the year 1992, Our Lady of Fatima had just arrived in Buenos Aires and there was a big Mass for the sick. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. And near the end of the Mass I got up, because I had to administer holy oil. An old lady came to me, a humble lady, very humble, over 80 years old/ I looked at her and I said to her: Grandma, because in our country this is what we call old people: Grandma do you want to go to confession? Yes, she said to me. But if you havent sinned..., [I said]. And she said to me: We have all sinned... . But maybe the Lord does not forgive them... [I replied]. The Lord forgives everything, she told me, certain of what she was saying. But how do you know that, madam? If the Lord did not forgive everything, [she said], the world wouldnt exist. I felt like asking her, Tell me, madam, did you study at the Gregorian? because thats the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: interior wisdom about the mercy of God. Let us not forget this: God never wearies of forgiving us, never! So, father, whats the problem? Well, the problem is that we grow weary, we do not want to, we tire of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but we, at times, we tire of aski ng forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father, who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And we too learn to be merciful with everyone. 
We invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man. Now let us all together pray the Angelus. [Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian.] I offer a cordial greeting to all the pilgrims. Thanks for your welcome and for your prayers. I ask you to pray for me. I renew my embrace of the faithful of Rome and I extend it to all of you, who come from various parts of Italy and of the world, and to those who are joining through different media. I chose the name of the Patron of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and that reinforces my spiritual bond with this land, where as you know my family has its origins. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church, this family of God, walking together along the way of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you, may Our Lady protect you. Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving! We are the ones who weary of asking for forgiveness. Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Pope Francis

Pope Francis visited the parish of St. Anne in the Vatican to celebrate the Mass of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The Gospel of today's liturgy presents the story of the adulteress whom the Pharisees and scribes want to stone but is forgiven by Christ. Jesus said, "Go and from now on sin no more."
The Pope began his homily saying: “Jesus is alone on the mountain, praying. He prayed alone. Then, he went back into the temple, and all the people came to him. Jesus among the people. But then, they left him alone with the woman. " "That solitude of Jesus" - he said "is a fruitful solitude: that of prayer with the Father and that, is the message of the Church today, that solitude in which He shows mercy towards this woman."

Pope Francis

Friday, 6 July 2012


Jesus was called the friend of sinners, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?". Perhaps this “title” the friend of sinners was the one which pleased him most. The Lord came to redeemer us from our sin, to set us free from the bonds of sin and death and lead us to eternal life.
When the Lord was criticised for eating and drinking with sinners, he almost replied by saying that he was only fulfilling his duty which meant doing the will of the Father.
A doctor visits the sick, his ministrations are not for the healthy. The Lord like a good physician was ready to spend time with his patients: "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?". He stills waits patiently for the sinner to repent and come to the healing mercy of God.