Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 24 November 2013

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude for this gift which he has given us. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long. […]
The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ is at the centre, Christ is the centre. Christ is the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of his people and Christ is the centre of history.  
1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning: Jesus Christ, the Lord. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20). He is the Lord of creation, he is the Lord of reconciliation.
This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. And so our thoughts will be Christian thoughts, thoughts of Christ. Our works will be Christian works, works of Christ; and our words will be Christian words, words of Christ. But when this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.  
2. Besides being the centre of creation and the centre of reconciliation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. Today, he is here in our midst. He is here right now in his word, and he will be here on the altar, alive and present amid us, his people. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). […]Christ, the descendant of King David, is really the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one, one people, united with him and sharing a single journey, a single destiny. Only in him, in him as the centre, do we receive our identity as a people.

3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.  
Whereas all the others treat Jesus with disdain […] the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified Jesus and begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43), in his kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. […] We would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely and quietly: “Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom! Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can remember me because you are at the centre; you are truly in your kingdom!” […]
Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Let us go forward together on this road!
Archbishop Rino Fisichella carries the bones of Saint Peter which
Pope Francis venerated and held during the Creed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Courage and Hope

November 17, 2013

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) consists in the first part of one of Jesus’ sermons, that on the last times.  Jesus gives it in Jerusalem, near the temple, and the topic is given to him precisely by the people who were talking about the temple’s beauty, because that temple was beautiful.  So Jesus said: “All that you see here -- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down" (Luke 21:6).  Naturally, they ask him: When will this happen?  What will the signs be?  But Jesus deflects attention away from these secondary aspects – When will it happen?  What will it be like? – and turns it toward the real issues.  And there are 2. First, do not let yourself be deceived by false messiahs and not let yourself be paralyzed by fear.  Second, live the period of waiting as time of witness and perseverance.  And we are in this of waiting, of waiting for the Lord’s coming.

This sermon of Jesus is always relevant, even for us who live in the 21st century.  He repeats: “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name” (21:8).  It is an invitation to discernment, this Christian virtue of understanding where the spirit of the Lord is and where the evil spirit is.  Today too, in fact, there are false “saviors,” who try to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, even sorcerers, people who want to attract the minds and hearts, especially of young people, to themselves.  Jesus warns us: “Do not follow them!”  “Do not follow them!”

And the Lord helps us not to be afraid too: in the face of wars, revolutions, but also natural calamities, epidemics, Jesus frees us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions.  The second aspect addresses us precisely as Christians and members of the Church: Jesus foretells painful trials and persecutions that his disciples must undergo for his sake.  Nevertheless, he assures them: “Not one of your heads will be harmed” (21:18). He reminds us that we are totally in God’s hands!  The adversity that we face because of our faith and our adherence to the Gospel are occasions for witness; they need not distance us from the Lord but move us to abandon ourselves all the more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace.
I am reflecting in this moment and let all of us reflect.  Let us do it together: let us think about the many brother and sister Christians, who suffer persecution because of their faith.  There are many, perhaps many more than in the first centuries.  Jesus is with them.  We too are united to them by our prayer and our affection.  We also admire their courage and their testimony.  They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer because of being faithful to Jesus Christ.  We salute them from our hearts and with affection.

In the end, Jesus makes a promise that guarantees victory: “With your perseverance you will save your life” (21:19). How much hope there is in these words!  They are call to hope and patience, to knowing how to wait for the sure fruits of salvation, trusting in the profound meaning of life and of history: trials and difficulties are part of a larger design; the Lord, Lord of history brings everything to fulfillment.  Despite the disorder and disasters that disturb the world, the plan of God’s goodness and mercy will prevail!  And this is our hope: to walk in this way, on this road, in this plan of God that will prevail.  This is our hope.

This message of Jesus makes us reflect on our present moment and gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope, in the company of Our Lady, who always walks with us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]
I greet all of you: families, associations and groups, who have come from Rome, from Italy and from every part of the world: Spain, France, Finland, the low countries.  In particular I greet the pilgrims from Vercelli, Salerno, Lizzanello; the Motoclub Lucania from Potenza, the young people of Montecassino and Caserta.

Today the Eritrean community in Rome celebrates the feast of St. Michael.  We greet you from our heart!  Today is the “Day of Victims of Road Accidents.”  I assure you of my prayers and encourage you to continue in your work for prevention because respect for laws is the primary way of protecting oneself and others.

Today I would also like to suggest a medicine to you.  But someone might think: “The Pope is a pharmacist now?”  It is a special medicine that will make the fruits of the Year of Faith concrete. This year is drawing to its close.  It is a medicine of 59 pills for the heart.  It is a “spiritual medicine” called “Misericordina.”  A little box with 59 pills for the heart.  The medicine is in this little box and some volunteers will hand it out to you as you are leaving the piazza.  Take it! It is a rosary with which you can also pray the “Mercy chaplet,” a spiritual help for our soul and to spread love, forgiveness and fraternity everywhere.  Do not forget to take it because it is good for you, okay?  It is good for your heart, your soul and your whole life!

I offer you all a cordial wish for a good Sunday.  Goodbye and have a good lunch!

Translation of the Angelus from

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Angelus – November 10, 2013

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
This Sunday’s Gospel presents us Jesus contending with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. And it is precisely on this topic that they pose a question to Jesus to give him trouble and ridicule faith in the resurrection of the dead. They propose a hypothetical situation: “A woman had seven husbands, who died one after the other,” and they ask Jesus: “Whose wife will she be after her death?” Jesus, always meek and patient, first of all responds that life after death does not have the same parameters as life on earth. Eternal life is another life, in another dimension, where, among other things, there will be no marriage, which is linked to our existence in this world. The resurrected, Jesus says, will be like angels, and they will live in a different state that we cannot experience or imagine now. And this is how Jesus explains things.
But then Jesus, so to speak, launches a counterattack. And he does this by citing Sacred Scripture with a simplicity and an originality that fills us with admiration for our Master, the only Master! Jesus finds the proof of the resurrection in the episode about Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6), where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The name of God is connected to the men and women to which he binds himself, and this link is stronger than death. And we can also say of God’s relationship with us, with each one of us: He is our God! He is the God of each one of us! It is as if he bore our name. It pleases him to say it, and this is the covenant. This is why Jesus says: “God is not the God of the dead but of the living, because everyone lives for him” (Luke 20:38). And this is the decisive link, the fundamental covenant, the covenant with Jesus: he himself is the Covenant, he himself is the Life and the Resurrection because, with his crucified love, he overcame death. In Jesus, God gives us eternal life, he gives it to everyone, and thanks to him everyone has the hope of a life still more true than this one. The life that God prepares for us is not merely an embellishment of this present life: it transcends our imagination, because God continually awakens wonder in us with his love and with his mercy.
So, what will happen is precisely the contrary of what the Sadducees expected. It is not this life that illuminates eternity, the other life, the one that awaits us, but eternity – that life – that illuminates and gives hope to the earthly life of each one of us! If we look at things only with human eyes, we are brought to say that man’s journey runs from life to death. This is obvious! But this is only the case if we look at things with human eyes. Jesus stands this perspective on its head and says that our pilgrimage runs from death to life: to fullness of life! We are on a journey, on pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that life is what enlightens us on our journey! So, death is behind us, at our backs, not in front of us. Before us there is the God of the living, the God of the covenant, the God who bears my name, our name, as he said: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” also the God with my name, with your name, with your name..., with our name. God of the living! ... Before us is the final defeat of sin and death, the beginning of a new time of joy and of light without end. But already on this earth, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in fraternity, we meet Jesus and his love, and in this way we can have a foretaste of the risen life. Our experience of his love and his fidelity lights a fire in our heart and increases our faith in the resurrection. In fact, if God is faithful and loves, it cannot be for a limited time: fidelity is eternal, it cannot change. God’s love is eternal, it cannot change! It is not for a limited time: it is forever! And to go forward! He is faithful forever and he awaits us, each of us, he accompanies each of us with this eternal fidelity.
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square:]
Today in Paderborn, Germany, Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel will be proclaimed blessed. Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she lived in the 19th century. The Eucharist was the source from which she drew spiritual energy to dedicate herself with untiring charity to the weakest. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

Blessed Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel
I would like again to assure the people of the Philippines and that region, who have been struck by a massive typhoon, of my closeness to them. Unfortunately, there are many victims and enormous damage. Let us pray for a moment in silence and then to Our Lady for these brothers and sisters of ours and let us try also to help them concretely. Let us pray in silence. [And then after a pause:] Hail Mary...
Today is the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Kristallnacht,” the night of violence against Jews, their synagogues, homes and businesses [in Germany and Austria] November 9-10, 1938. It marked a sad step toward the tragedy of the Shoah. Let us renew our nearness and solidarity with the Jewish people, our big brothers. And we pray to God that the memory of the past, the memory of past sins help us to be ever more vigilant against every form of hatred and intolerance.
This Sunday in Italy the Day of Thanksgiving is celebrated. I join my voice to that of the bishops, expressing my nearness to the agricultural world, especially to young people who have chosen to work the land. I encourage those who work to ensure that no one goes without healthy and adequate food.
I greet all the pilgrims, who have come from different countries, the families, the parish groups, the associations; in particular I greet the faithful of the dioceses of Liguria, accompanied by Cardinal Bagnasco and by the other bishops of the region.
I greet the Istituto Secolare Operaie Parrocchiali, the Centro Académico Romano Fundación, the faithful from the United States of America and from Tahiti, along with those from Riccione, Avezzano, Torino, Bertonico e Celano. A special thought goes out to the young people of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, the young people from Pescara and Monte San Savino and the Green Cross of Alessandria.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. Goodbye and have a good lunch!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Baptism: The Beginning of Our Conversion

General audience: November 13, 2013

In the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience, the Pope continued his reflection on the articles of the Creed. This time he spoke about the only explicit reference to a Sacrament in the profession of faith: “I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”  In effect, Baptism is the “door” to faith and Christian life, and the mission of the Church, following the mandate of the Risen Christ is “to evangelize and to forgive the sins through Sacramental Baptism.”  To better explain this expression, the Pontiff divided it into three points: “I believe”, “in one Baptism”, and “for the forgiveness of sins.”

By proclaiming “I believe,” said the Holy Father, “we affirm our true identity as sons of God.” At the same time, “Baptism is linked to our faith in the remission of sins. The Sacrament of Penance or Confession is, indeed, like a 'second Baptism', which always refers to the first to consolidate or renew it.  In this sense, the day of our Baptism is the beginning of a path of conversion which lasts throughout our lives, and which is continually supported by the Sacrament of Penance.”  When we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness … but we also go to renew our Baptism with this forgiveness. Confession is not a torture chamber, it is a celebration of the day of Baptism.”

The Pope described Baptism as “the act of birth of a Christian in the Church,” and asked the participants in the audience to raise their hands if, alongside their birthday, they remembered the date of their Baptism. Since few hands were raised in St. Peter's Square, he set those present the task of asking their parents or finding out when they returned home, and urged them to celebrate it to commemorate the act of birth into the Church.

The Holy Father then considered the second element: one Baptism, recalling that the word “baptism” literally means “immersion.”  “This sacrament,” he emphasized, “constitutes a true spiritual immersion in the death of Christ, from which we emerge as new creatures. It is a cleansing for regeneration and enlightenment.  Regeneration because it puts into effect the birth from the water and the Spirit without which no one may enter the kingdom of heaven, and enlightenment since, through Baptism, the human person is filled with the grace of Christ, 'the true light that gives light to everyone' and dissipates the shadows of sin. By virtue of this gift, the baptized is himself called to become 'light' to his brothers, especially for those who find themselves in the shadows and do not perceive any glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives.”

Finally, Pope Francis turned to the forgiveness of sins. In the Sacrament of Baptism “all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all forms of punishment for sin. By Baptism we open the door to a new form of life that is not oppressed by the weight of a negative past, but instead already resonates with the beauty and goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a powerful intervention of God's mercy in our lives, for our salvation. But this salvific intervention does not remove the weakness from our human nature; it does not take away our responsibility to ask forgiveness whenever we err.”

“And I cannot be baptized twice, three times, four,” he continued, speaking off the cuff, “but I can go to confession and when I do so, I renew the grace of Baptism.  It is as if it were a second Baptism. The Lord Jesus, Who is so good, and Who never tires of forgiving me. Listen! Baptism opens the door to the Church … but when the door narrows a little because of our weaknesses or our sins, confession helps us to open it because it is like a second Baptism, which forgives us all and enlightens us, helping us to go ahead joyfully in the light of the Lord. Because life is about living in the joy of Jesus Christ and it is a grace from the Lord."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2 homilies from last week

Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Chair
Monday, 4 November 2013
In the spiritual atmosphere of the month of November, which is marked by the remembrance of the faithful departed, we remember our brother Cardinals and Bishops from around the world who have returned to the Father’s house during this last year. […]
We have listened to the words of St Paul: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
The Apostle presents the love of God as the deepest and most compelling reason for Christian trust and hope. He lists the opposing and mysterious forces that can threaten the journey of faith. But immediately he states with confidence that even if our entire life is surrounded by threats, nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love which Christ himself has obtained for us by his total self-gift. […] This reality of the faithful love that God has for each one of us helps us to face life’s daily journey, which sometimes passes quickly and at other times is slow and laborious, with serenity and strength.
Only man’s sin can break this bond, and yet even in this case God will always seek man, he will run after him in order to reestablish a union with him that endures even after death; indeed, a union that reaches its culmination in the final encounter with the Father. This certitude gives new and full meaning to earthly life and opens us to hope for life beyond death.  
In fact, every time we are faced with the death of a loved one or of someone whom we knew well, the question arises within us: “What will become of his life, his work, his service in the Church?” The Book of Wisdom tells us: they are in the hands of God! The hand is a sign of welcome and protection, it is a sign of a personal relationship of respect and faithfulness: to give a hand, to shake someone’s hand. Now, these zealous pastors who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and their brothers, are in the hands of God. […]
Even their sins, our sins, are in the hands of God; those merciful hands, those hands “wounded” by love. It was not by chance that Jesus willed to preserve the wounds in his hands to enable us to know and feel his mercy. And this is our strength, our hope. […]
This is how we want to remember our deceased brother Cardinals and Bishops. As men devoted to their vocation and to their service to the Church, who have loved as one loves a bride. In prayer let us entrust them to the Lord’s mercy, through the intercession of Our Lady and St Joseph, that he may receive them into his Kingdom of light and peace, there where the just and those who were faithful witnesses of the Gospel live eternally. And let us also pray for ourselves, that the Lord may prepare us for this encounter. We do not know the date, but we do know that the encounter will come.

Cited on November 9, 2013 from

Cemetery of Verano
Friday, 1st November 2013
At this hour before sunset, we gather in this cemetery and think about our future, we think of all those who have departed, preceded us in life and are in the Lord.
The vision of Heaven we just have heard described in the First Reading is very beautiful: the Lord God, beauty, goodness, truth, tenderness, love in its fullness. All of this awaits us. Those who have gone before us and who have died in the Lord are there. They proclaim that they have been saved not through their own works, though good works they surely did, but that they have been saved by the Lord: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:10). It is he who save us, it is he who at the end of our lives takes us by the hand like a father, precisely to that Heaven where our ancestors are. […]
We can enter heaven only thanks to the blood of the Lamb, thanks to the blood of Christ. Christ’s own blood has justified us, which has opened for us the gates of heaven. And if today we remember our brothers and sisters who have gone before us in life and are in Heaven, it is because they have been washed in the blood of Christ. This is our hope: the hope of Christ's blood! It is a hope that does not disappoint. If we walk with the Lord in life, he will never disappoint us!   
In the Second Reading, we heard what the Apostle John said to his disciples: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are […]” (1 Jn 3:1-2). To see God, to be like God: this is our hope. And today, on All Saints’ Day and the first day that we commemorate the faithful departed, we need to think a little about this hope: this hope that accompanies us in life. The first Christians depicted hope with an anchor, as though life were an anchor cast on Heaven’s shores and all of us journeying to that shore, clinging to the anchor’s rope. This is a beautiful image of hope: to have our hearts anchored there, where our beloved predecessors are, where the Saints are, where Jesus is, where God is. This is the hope that does not disappoint; today and tomorrow are days of hope.
Hope is a little like leaven that expands our souls. There are difficult moments in life, but with hope the soul goes forward and looks ahead to what awaits us. Today is a day of hope. Our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God and we shall also be there, through the pure grace of the Lord, if we walk along the way of Jesus. The Apostle John concludes: “every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (v. 3). Hope also purifies us, it lightens us; this purification in hope in Jesus Christ makes us go in haste, readily. Today before evening falls each one of us can think of the twilight of life: “What will my passing away be like?” All of us will experience sundown, all of us! Do we look at it with hope? Do we look with that joy at being welcomed by the Lord? This is a Christian thought that gives us hope. Today is a day of joy; however it is serene and tranquil joy, a peaceful joy. […] And let us think about our hearts and ask ourselves: “Where is my heart anchored?”. If it is not firmly anchored, let us anchor it beyond, on that shore, knowing that hope does not disappoint because the Lord Jesus does not disappoint.
Cited on November 9, 2013 from

Thursday, November 7, 2013


General Audience: November 5, 2013

The communion of holy persons who grow through participation in spiritual goods, and above all the Sacraments, charisms and charity, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during yesterday's general audience.

In the Sacraments, each one of us is “incorporated in Christ and united with the entire community of believers. So, on the one hand there is the Church who 'makes' the Sacraments; on the other there are the Sacraments which 'make' the Church, edifying her, generating new sons and daughters, and joining them to the holy people of God.” Furthermore, “the Sacraments offer us the impetus to become missionaries, and the apostolic commitment to taking the faith to all places, even the most hostile.  This is the most authentic fruit of a steadfast sacramental life, inasmuch as it constitutes participation in God's salvific plan, which aims precisely at bringing salvation to all.”

The second aspect of communion in holy things is the communion of charisms. “The Holy Spirit dispenses a multitude of gifts and spiritual graces to the faithful … for the edification of the Church,” explained the Pope. “Therefore, they are not given for the benefit of the recipient, but for use by the people of God. … The charisms are particular graces, given to some for the good of many others,” and “they are born in the conscience and experience of certain persons, called to put their gifts at the service of the community. In particular, these spiritual gifts are are of benefit to the sanctity of the Church and her mission.”

Charity is the third aspect of this communion with spiritual goods. “The charisms are important in the life of the Christian community, but they are always means of growing in charity, which St. Paul places above the charisms. Without love”, Pope Francis emphasised, “even the most extraordinary gifts are in vain, while the smallest of our gestures of love brings good to all. … This brotherly solidarity is not a rhetorical figure, a figure of speech, but rather an integral part of communion between Christians. If we live this solidarity, we are a sign to the world, a 'sacrament' of God's love.”

“This is not that easy charity that we offer between ourselves, but instead something deeper: it is a communion that makes us able to enter into the joy and the pain of others in order to sincerely make them our own. And often we are too arid, indifferent and detached, and instead of transmitting brotherliness, we transmit ill-humour, coldness and selfishness. And with ill-humour, coldness and selfishness, one cannot help the Church to grow; the Church grows only with the love that comes from the Holy Spirit”.

“And I would now like to ask of you an act of charity," said the Holy Father to the tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, and added jokingly, “Don't worry! It's not a collection! Before coming to the Square, I went to see a seriously ill child aged just one and a half. Her mother and father pray and implore the Lord to cure their daughter. She is called Noemi and she smiled, poor girl. Let us carry out an act of love; we do not know her but she is a baptized child, she is one of us, a Christian. Let us ask the Lord to help her in this moment and to give her health: first in silence, and then let us pray the Hail Mary”.

Silence fell over the square for a moment, after which the Pope said, “And now let us pray together to the Virgin for the health of Noemi. … Thank you for this act of charity,” he concluded, after more than fifty thousand people recited the Hail Mary in unison.