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Monday, October 16, 2017

A message to Hindus who are celebrating Diwali

The feast of Diwali is celebrated by all Hindus and is known as Deepavali or row of oil lamps.  Symbolically based on ancient mythology, it represents the victory of truth over lies, light over darkness, life over death and goodness over evil.

The celebrations last for three days and signal the beginning of a new year, family reconciliation, especially among brothers and sisters, and the adoration of God.

This year, the feast will be celebrated by many Hindus on 19 October.

For the occasion, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue has sent a Message to all Hindus entitled Christians and Hindus: Going beyond tolerance.

The Message is signed by the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and by the Secretary of that same Pontifical Council, Monsignor Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., and was also sent in the Hindi language.

Message of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
on the occasion of the celebration of Diwali

Christians and Hindus: Going beyond tolerance

Dear Hindu friends,

On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, we offer cordial greetings to all of you as you celebrate Deepavali on 19 October 2017. May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities!

We can rightfully acknowledge the many wonderful things that are happening throughout the world, for which we are very grateful. At the same time, we are also mindful of the difficulties which confront our communities and which deeply concern us. The growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world, is one such challenge we face today. On this occasion, therefore, we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.

Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole. To see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.

Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity. In the light of our responsibility to society, fostering such respect demands showing esteem for different social, cultural and religious customs and practices. It likewise demands the recognition of inalienable rights, such as the right to life and the right to profess and practise the religion of one’s choice.

The path forward for diverse communities is thus one marked by respect. While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favours peaceful coexistence and harmony for all. Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of feeling at home with others. Rather than dividing and isolating, respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family. In this way, as Pope Francis has pointed out, diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment (Address at the International Airport of Colombo, 13 January 2015). On yet another occasion, the Pope urged religious leaders and believers to have the courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all (Address to the Participants in the International Peace Conference, Al-Azar Conference Centre, Cairo, Egypt, 28 April 2017).

We are challenged then to go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace- making and harmonious living.

Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own. In this way, we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.

We wish you once again a joyful celebration of Deepavali!

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran

Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ

Greetings on World Food Day

This morning, the Holy Father, Pope Francis paid a visit to the offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome to mark the occasion of World Food Day which, is dedicated this year to the theme: To change the future of migration. Investing in food security and rural development.

Upon his arrival, at 8:50am, the Pope was welcomed by the Director General of the FAO, Doctor José Graziano da Silva, and the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the FAO as well as to the UN Organizations for Food and Agriculture (FAO, IFAD and PAM), Reverend Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano.

In the atrium, they viewed the sculpture which the Holy Father left as a gift to the FAO.

Then, the Pope held a brief encounter, in the Chinese Room, with the Director General; the Assistant General Director, Daniel Gustafson and with the Cabinet Chief, Mario Lubetkin.  When the meeting was complete, the Holy Father signed the Book of Honour.

The Pope then went to the second floor of the building where, in the Caribbean Room, he greeted the President of Madagascar, the Minister of External Affairs from Madagascar, the Minister of Agriculture from Madagascar, the Minister of Agriculture from Italy, the Minister of Agriculture from Canada, the Minister of Agriculture from France, the Minister of Agriculture from the United States of America, the Undersecretary of the Environment from Great Britain, the Secretary for Agriculture from Germany, the European Commissariat for Agriculture, the Commissariat for Agriculture from the African Union, the Minister of External Affairs from Mexico, the Ambassador of Japan to the FAO, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

At 9:15am, in the Plenary Room, after the opening of the Meeting by Mister Enrique Yeves, the screening of a video on the theme of World Food Dan and a few introductory remarks offered by the Director General of the FAO, Mister José Graziano da Silva, the Pope delivered his speech.  When he finished, the Moderator suspended the meeting and the Holy Father left the room.  He then left the offices of the FAO (at 10:15am) and returned to the Vatican.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during his visit to the FAO

Mister Director General,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I wish to thank the Director General, Professor José Graziano da Silva, for the invitation and for his words of welcome, and I greet with affection the authorities who accompany us, as well as the Representatives of the Member States and those who have the possibility of following along from the offices of the FAO around the world.

I address a special greeting to the Ministers of Agriculture of the G7 present here, following their summit in which they discussed issues which demand responsibility not only in relation to development and production, but also with respect to the international community as a whole.

The celebration of this World Food Day unites us in memory of that 16 October of the year 1945, when governments, with the intention of eliminating hunger in the world through development of the agricultural sector, instituted the FAO. It was a period of grave food insecurity and major displacements of the population, with millions of people seeking a place to survive the miseries and adversity caused by the war.

In light of this, reflecting on the effects of food security on human mobility means returning to the commitment that gave rise to the FAO, in order to renew it. The current situation demands greater responsibility on all levels, not only to guarantee the necessary production or equitable distribution of the fruits of the earth – this duty is taken for granted – but above all to guarantee the right of all human beings to be nourished according to their own needs, also participating in decisions that affect them and in the realization of their own aspirations, without having to part from their loved ones.

Faced with an aim of such significance, the credibility of the entire international system is at stake. We know that cooperation is increasingly conditioned by partial commitments, which still now limit aid in emergencies. Even death by hunger or the abandonment of one’s own land is daily news, which risks being met with indifference. It is therefore urgent to find new paths, to transform the possibilities available to us into a guarantee that permits each person to look to the future with well-founded trust and not only with desire.

The scenario of international relations shows a growing capacity for giving answers to the expectations of the human family, also with the contribution of science and technology which, studying the problems, propose appropriate solutions. Yet even these new developments do not succeed in eliminating the exclusion of much of the world’s population: how many are the victims of malnutrition, wars, climate change? How many people lack work and essential items, and are forced to leave their land, exposing themselves to many and terrible forms of exploitation? Valuing technology in the service of development is certainly a path to take, provided it leads to concrete actions to reduce the number of those who suffer from hunger or to govern the phenomenon of forced migration.

The relationship between hunger and migration can only be tackled if we go to the root of the problem. In this regard, studies conducted by the United Nations, as well as many other civil society organizations, agree that there are two main obstacles to overcome: conflicts and climate change.

How can conflicts be overcome? International law gives us the means to prevent them or to resolve them quickly, avoiding their prolongation and the production of famines and destruction of the social fabric. Let us think of the people afflicted by wars that have lasted for decades, which could have been avoided or at least stopped, and which instead propagate their disastrous effects including food insecurity and the forced displacement of people. Good will and dialogue are needed to curb conflicts, and it is necessary to make a firm commitment to gradual and systematic disarmament, as provided for by the United Nations Charter, and to remedy the scourge of arms trafficking. Of what value is it to denounce the fact that millions of people are victims of hunger and malnutrition as a result of conflicts if we do not work effectively for peace and disarmament?

As for climate change, we see the consequences every day. Thanks to scientific knowledge, we know how the problems are to be faced; and the international community has drawn up the necessary legal instruments, such as the Paris Agreement, from which however some are withdrawing. There is a re-emergence of the nonchalance towards the delicate balances of ecosystems, the presumption of being able to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and greed for profit. It is, therefore, necessary to make an effort for a concrete and active consensus if we wish to avoid more tragic effects, which will continue to impact upon the poor and the most helpless. We are called to propose a change in lifestyles, in the use of resources, in production criteria, including consumption that, with regard to food, involves growing losses and waste. We cannot resign ourselves to saying someone else will take care of it.

I think that these are the preconditions for any serious discussion of food security linked to the phenomenon of migration. Certainly wars and climate change cause hunger, so let us, therefore, avoid presenting it as if it were an incurable disease. The recent estimates provided by your experts foresee an increase in global production of cereals to levels that enable greater consistency to be given to global reserves. This gives hope, and demonstrates that if we work paying attention to needs and countering speculation, results will not be lacking. Indeed, food resources are not infrequently left at the mercy of speculation, which measures them solely with regard to the economic prosperity of the big producers or in relation to the potential for consumption and not the real needs of the people. This leads to conflicts and waste, and increases the numbers of the poor on earth who seek a future outside their countries of origin.

In view of all this, we can and must change direction (cf Encyclical Laudato si’, 53; 61; 163; 202). Faced with the increased demand for food it is indispensable that the fruits of the land be available to all. For some it would be enough to reduce the number of mouths to feed and in this way solve the problem; but it is a false solution if we think of the levels of food waste and models of consumption that squander many resources. Reducing is easy; sharing instead demands conversion, and this is imperative.

Therefore I ask – and I propose to you – this question: is it too much to think of introducing into the language of international cooperation the category of love, understood as gratuitousness, parity in negotiation, solidarity, the culture of giving, fraternity, mercy? In effect, these words express the practical content of the term humanitarian, widely used at international level. To love one’s brothers and to do so first, without waiting for it to be reciprocated; this is a Gospel principle that is found in many cultures and religions, and becomes the principle of humanity in the language of international relations. It is to be hoped that diplomacy and multilateral Institutions nurture and organize this capacity to love, so that it may become the primary way to guarantee not only food security, but human security in a global sense. We cannot work only if others do so, nor can we limit ourselves to having pity, because pity stops at emergency aid, whereas love inspires justice and is essential for realizing a just social order among diverse realities that wish to run the risk of the mutual encounter. To love means to contribute so that every country increases its production and reaches food self-sufficiency. To love translates into thinking of new models of development and consumption, and adopting policies that do not aggravate the situation of the less advanced populations, or their external dependency. To love means not continuing to divide the human family into those who more than they need, and those who lack the essential.

The efforts of diplomacy have shown us, also in recent events, that it is possible to stop the recourse to the use of weapons of mass destruction. We are all aware of the capacity of destruction of these instruments. But are we equally aware of the effects of poverty and exclusion? How can we stop people willing to risk everything, entire generations that may disappear because they lack their daily bread, or are victims of violence or climate changes? They head where they see a light or perceive the hope of life. They cannot be stopped by physical, economic, legislative or ideological barriers: only a consistent application of the principle of humanity can do so. On the other hand, we see that public development aid is reduced and the activity of the multilateral institutions is limited, while bilateral agreements are used which subordinate cooperation to the fulfillment of particular agendas and alliances or, simply, to a momentary tranquility. On the contrary, the management of human mobility requires coordinated and systematic intergovernmental action in accordance with existing international norms, and permeated with love and intelligence. Its objective is a meeting of peoples that enriches all and generates union and dialogue, not exclusion or vulnerability.

Here, allow me to join the debate on vulnerability, which causes division at the international level when it comes to immigrants. A vulnerable person is one who is in an inferior situation and cannot defend himself, who has no means, or rather, experiences exclusion. This is because he is compelled by violence, by natural situations or, even worse, by indifference, intolerance and even hatred. In this condition, it is right to identify the causes so as to act with the necessary competence. But it is not acceptable that, in order to avoid commitment, one entrenches oneself behind linguistic sophisms that do not honor diplomacy, but rather reduce it from the “art of the possible” to a sterile exercise to justify selfishness and inactivity.

It is to be hoped that all this will be taken into account in the development of the Global Pact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, currently underway in the United Nations.

Let us listen to the cry of so many of our marginalized and excluded brothers: I am hungry, I am a stranger, I am naked, sick, confined in a refugee camp. It is a request for justice, not a plea or an emergency call. There is a need for broad and sincere dialogue at all levels, so that the best solutions can be found and a new relationship be nurtured between the various actors on the international scene, characterized by mutual responsibility, solidarity and communion.

The yoke of misery generated by the often tragic displacement of migrants can be eliminated through prevention in the form of development projects that create work and the capacity to respond to environmental crises. Prevention costs far less than the effects of land degradation or water pollution, scourges that plague the nerve centers of the planet, where poverty is the only law, diseases are on the increase and life expectancy is decreasing.

The initiatives that are being implemented are many, and praiseworthy. However, they are not enough: it is urgent to continue to promote new efforts and to finance programs to combat hunger and structural poverty in a more effective and promising way. But while the aim is to promote a diversified and productive agriculture, taking into account the real demands of a country, it is not however lawful to remove arable land from the population, enabling land grabbing (acaparamiento de tierras) to continue to be profitable, sometimes with the complicity of those who should defend the interests of the people. The temptation to work to the advantage of small groups of the population, as well as to use external aid inappropriately, favoring corruption, or in an illegal way, must be removed.

The Catholic Church, with her institutions, and having a direct and concrete knowledge of the situations to be faced or of the needs to be met, wishes to participate directly in this effort by virtue of her mission, which leads her to love everyone and also compels her to remind those who bear national or international responsibility of the overriding duty to meet the needs of the poorest.

I hope that each person may discover, in the silence of his or her own faith or convictions, the motivations, principles and contributions to give the FAO and other intergovernmental institutions the courage to improve and work tirelessly for the good of the human family.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

All dressed up

This week, the scripture passages draw our attention to clothing and the way in which the clothes we wear remind us of the inner dignity that is the gift of God, given at our baptism.

Clothed and ready

Can you remember a time when you would don your fanciest clothes to come to Church?  We used to call those clothes the Sunday Best.  This was the time when you would set aside the regular clothing that would be worn at other times during the week and choose instead to wear the clothes that would rarely be touched otherwise. Wearing our Sunday Best made us feel important and special.

The practice of wearing our Sunday Best has all but faded in many cases today, but the sense of importance that once came with that practice is still a part of our lives as disciples of Jesus.  There is a long-standing tradition of clothing children in white on the day that they are Baptized.  This tradition is also continued later on in life when the child receives the Eucharist for the first time, and on the day of a wedding when the bride (and sometimes the groom as well) is clad in white.  Each of these traditions take part at different moments in our lives, but they all stem from the moment of our Baptism, when the Lord welcomes us into his family and bestows us with the special dignity of being a child of God.

In today’s gospel passage, Jesus tells the Chief Priests and the Pharisees a parable about a special wedding banquet.  His story may very well have been based on the prophecy of the heavenly banquet that was foretold in the Book of Isaiah.  We heard a part of that prophecy today, one that is rich in imagery.  It speaks of a feast of rich food ... and well-aged wines (Is 25:6).  It tells of the great power that our God possesses to destroy the shroud that is cast over all nations (Is 25:7), stopping us from seeing and believing that each one of us is important and special.  The prophecy says that the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces (Is 25:8) and we will respond in joyful celebration: This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation (Is 25:9).  The Chief Priests and the Pharisees knew this prophecy, as did Jesus, but Jesus also knew that those who were tempted to take it for granted that they had a place already reserved at the heavenly banquet needed to be careful.  The same is true for us today.

We are all being invited to go to heaven; that’s our true home.  As if to describe what heaven will be like, Jesus speaks of a wedding banquet (Mt 22:2) and we are the invited guests.  It is up to us to decide whether to accept the invitation or not (cf Mt 22:3-5).  We can even choose to ignore Jesus’ invitation, but even if we do, he will never stop inviting us.  He is even willing to go into the streets and to invite everyone he finds to the wedding banquet (Mt 22:9-10), but we should never forget that if we accept his invitation, we should dress for the occasion.

Some among us may feel as though we have nothing suitable to wear to the banquet.  Like Saint Paul, we may even say to others: I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty (Phil 4:12), but do we realize that it doesn’t matter whether we have any physical possessions at all.  The most important thing is that we have received the gift of dignity, that we have been clothed with a garment of salvation, that we are known as children of God and we have all been invited to join in the heavenly banquet.

Des vêtements spéciaux

Avez-vous des souvenirs d’un temps où vous vous portiez vos plus beaux vêtements le dimanche matin à la messe?  Il y avait un nom spécial pour ces vêtements: on était endimanchés.  C’était une occasion ou on laissait de côté les vêtements ordinaires qui étaient portés à d’autres moments de la semaine pour céder la place aux vêtements qui seraient rarement touchés autrement.  Étant endimanché, nous nous sentions importants et spéciaux.

La pratique de s’endimancher a presque disparu aujourd’hui, mais le sens de l’importance qui faisait parti de cette pratique fait toujours parti de notre vie comme disciples de Jésus.  Il y a une tradition bien établie d’habiller des enfants en blanc le jour de leur baptême.  Cette tradition est liée à la pratique de porter des vêtements blancs lors de la célébration de notre Première Communion et même au jour du mariage où la mariée (et parfois le marié aussi) est vétue de blanc.  Chacune de ces traditions est observée à différents moments de notre vie, mais elles découlent toutes du moment de notre baptême, lorsque le Seigneur nous accueille dans sa famille et nous accorde la dignité d’être un enfant de Dieu.

Dans le passage de l’évangile d’aujourd’hui, Jésus raconte aux grands-prêtres et aux Pharisiens une parabole au sujet d’un banquet de mariage spécial.  Son histoire pourrait bien avoir été inspirée de la prophétie du banquet célèste qui a été prédite dans le livre du prophète Isaīe.  Nous avons entendu une partie de cette prophétie aujourd’hui, riche en images.  Il parle d’un festin de nourriture riche ... et de vins bien vieux (Is 25,6).  Il raconte la grande puissance que notre Dieu possède pour détruire le voile qui est répandu sur toutes les nations (Is 25,7), nous empêchant de voir et de croire que chacun de nous est important et spécial.  Le prophétie dit que le Seigneur Dieu essuira les larmes de tous les visages (Is 25, 8) et nous répondrons en joyeuse célébration: Voici le Seigneur que nous avons attendu; soyons dans l’alégresse et réjuissons nous de son salut (Is 25,9).  Les grands-prêtres et les Pharisiens ont connu cette prophetie, comme Jésus, mais celui savait aussi que ceux qui étaient tenté de prendre pour acquis qu’ils avaient une place déjà réservée au banquet céleste devaient faire attention.  La même chose est vraie pour nous aussi aujourd’hui.

Le Seigneur nous invite tous à monter aux cieux; à entrer dans sa maison céleste.  Comme pour décrire ce que sera le paradis, Jésus parle d’un banquet de mariage (Mt 22,2) et nous sommes les invités.  C’est à nous de décider si on accepte l’invitation ou non (cf Mt 22,3-5).  Nous pouvons même chosir d’ignorer l’invitation offerte par Jésus, mais même si nous le refusons, il ne cessera jamais de nous inviter.  Il est même prêt à aller dans la rue et d’inviter toute personne qu’il y trouve au banquet (Mt 22,9-10), mais nous ne devrions jamais oublier que si nous acceptons son invitation, nous devrions nous habiller dignement.

Certains d’entre nous peuvent avoir l’impression que nous n’avons pas de vêtements dignes du banquet.  Comme Saint Paul, nous pouvons même dire aux autres:  Je sais ce que c’est d’avoir peu, et je sais ce que c’est d’avoir beaucoup (Phil 4,12), mais est-ce que nous réalisons que ce n’est pas grave si nous n’avons pas tout?  Ce qui est la plus important c’est que nous avons reçu notre dignité, que nous avons été revêtus d’un vêtement de salut, que nous sommes connus comme enfants de Dieu et que nous avons tous été invités à participer au banquet céleste.

Many new Saints are proclaimed at once

At 10:15am this morning (Rome time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Saint Peter's Square and canonized Blessed Andrea de Soveral and Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, both of whom were diocesan priests; as well as Matteo Moreira and 27 of his companions who are martyrs.  The Holy Father also canonized Cristoforo, Antonio and Giovanni, teenaged martyrs; Faustino Míguez, a priest who was a professed member of the Order of Regular Poor Clerics of the Mother of God and Pious Schools (also known as the Scolopi) who founded the Congregation of Calasanz Sisters , Daughters of the Divine Shepherdess; and Angelo da Acri, a priest who was a professed member of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the Mass of Canonization

The parable that we have heard speaks to us of the Kingdom of God as a marriage feast (cf Mt 22:1-14).  The protagonist is the son of a king, the bridegroom, in whom we easily understand the figure of Jesus.  In the parable however, there is no mention of the wife, but rather the many guests who have been invited, desired and awaited: they are the ones who must dress in the wedding gown.  These invited guests are us, all of u, because in each one of us, the Lord wants to celebrate the wedding.  The wedding inaugurates a life-long communion: it is what the Lord desires with each one of us.  Our relationship with Him then, cannot be merely one of devoted subjects in relation to their king, faithful servants in relation to their master or diligent school children in relation to their teacher; rather it is first and foremost a relationship of a beloved wife with her husband.  In other words, the Lord desires us, searches for us and invites us, and He is not content with the fact that we fulfill pious duties and observe his laws, rather he wants to establish true and proper communion for life with each of us, a relationship built on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.

This is Christian life, a story of love with God, where the Lord freely takes the initiative and where no one of us can boast about the exclusivity of our invitation: none of us is privileged above anyone else, but each of us is privileged before God.  From this free, tender and privileged love the Christian life is born and reborn, again and again.  We can ask ourselves whether, at least once a day, we tell the Lord that we love him; whether we remember, among our many words, that we have told Him every day: I love you Lord.  You are my life.  Because if love is lost, Christian life becomes sterile, it becomes a soulless body, an impossible morality, a set of unreasonable principles and laws to measure up against.  Instead, the God of life waits for a living answer, the Lord of love is waiting for an answer of love.  Speaking to a Church, in the Book of Revelation, He makes a precise reproach: You have abandoned your first love (Rev 2:4).  This is the danger: a routine Christian life, where we are content with normality, without any drive, with no enthusiasm, and with a short memory.  Instead, we must revive the memory of our first love: we are the beloved, those who are invited to the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a magnificent opportunity for us to respond to the invitation.

But the gospel places us on guard: the invitation can however be refused.  Many of the invited guests said no, because they were busy with other interests: they did not care, and went to their own fields, about their own business says the text (Mt 22:5).  One word comes back: the key to understanding the motive for their refusal.  In fact, the invited guests did not think that the wedding would be sad or boring; rather, they simply did not care: they were distracted by their own interests, preferring to have something rather than to get involved, and love requires us to get involved.  This is how we distance ourselves from love, not through wickedness but because we prefer our own interests: security, self-affirmation, comfort ... Then we lie back on thrones of our own making, our pleasures, whatever hobbies give us some degree of pleasure, but in this way, we grow old quickly and do not age well, because we grow old within: when the heart is not dilate, it closes up, it ages.  And when everything depends on my ego - where I go, what I find useful, whatever I want - it also becomes rigid and bad, it reacts badly for no reason, like the guests in the gospel, who were insulted and preferred to kill the messengers (cf Mt 22:6) those who offered them the invitation, merely because they were inconvenient.

So the Gospel asks us where we stand: on our side or on God's side?  Because God is the opposite to egotism, to self-centredness.  The gospel tells us that faced with the continual refusals he encounters, having been greeted with nothing but negative responses to his invitations, he keeps going, he does not postpone the feast.  He does not give up, but continues to invite.  Faced with all those no's, he does not close the door, but opens it even wider to include more people.  When we are hurt because we have been wronged or because we have been refused, we can sometimes experience dissatisfaction and resentment.  On the other hand, even while God suffers because of our no's, he is always trying, he continues doing good even for those who do bad things.  Today, this God, who never gives up, encourages us to do as he does, to live according to true love, to overcome the temptation to give up and to go beyond the constant temptations of our own egos.

There is a final aspect that the gospel points out: the garment that is worn by the invited guests is indispensable.  In fact it is not enough for us to respond once to the invitation, to say yes and then to relax, we need to dress in the appropriate garment, we need to practice the habit of living love every day.  Because we cannot say: Lord, Lord without living and practicing the will of God (cf Mt 7:21).  We need to get dressed every day, to put on his love, to renew our choice for God every day.  The saints who have been canonized today, especially the many martyrs, show us the way.  They did not say yes to love only in words and only for a while, but with their lives, to the very end.  Each day, they clothed themselves in the love of Jesus, the crazy love with which he loved us to the end.  He even left his forgiveness and his clothing to those who crucified him.  We too have received the white garment of our Baptism, God's wedding garment.  Let us ask Him, through the intercession of these saintly brothers and sisters of ours, to grant us the grace to choose and to wear his garment every day, and to keep it clean.  How do we do this?  First of all, by going to confession and by receiving the Lord's forgiveness without any fear: this is the decisive step of entering into the wedding banquet room where we celebrate the feast of love with Him.

At the conclusion of the Mass which included the Rite of Canonization for Blessed Andrea de Soveral and Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, Matteo Moreira ad 27 of his companions, Christoforo, Antonio and Giovanni, Faustino Míguez and Angelo da Acri, the Holy Father led the recitation of the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims who were gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the conclusion of this celebration, I cordially greet all of you who have come from various countries to pay homage to the new Saints.  A respectful thought goes out especially to the official delegations from Brazil, France, Italy, Mexico, Malta and Spain.  The example and the intercession of these luminous witnesses to the gospel accompany us on our path and help us to promote fraternity and solidarity for the good of the Church and of society.

In response to the desire of some Episcopal Conferences in Latin America, as well as the voices of various Pastors and the faithful in other parts of the world, I have decided to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which will take place in Rome during the month of October 2019.  The principal focus of this gathering is to identify new paths of evangelization for that portion of the People of God, especially among the indigenous people, who are sometimes forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future, due to the crisis facing the Amazon rainforest, one of the most important lungs for our planet.  May the new Saints intercede for this ecclesiastical gathering, so that out of respect for the beauty of creation, all people of the earth may praise God, the Lord of the universe, and enlightened by Him, may they walk the paths of justice and peace.

I remember that the day after tomorrow we will commemorate the Day of Rejection and Misery.  Suffering is not fatal: it has causes which need to be recognized and removed in order to honour the dignity of many of our brothers and sisters, following the example of the saints.

And now, let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary.

Angelus Domini ...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Video greetings to Fatima

Pope Francis sent a video-message to pilgrims gathered in Fatima to mark the closing of the Centenary of the Fatima Apparitions.

Never be afraid, God is infinitely greater than all of our problems. He loves us very much. Go forward in your journey without losing sight of the Mother, like a child who feels safe when close to his mother, we too are safe when close to Our Lady, he said. 

In his message which was broadcast on giant screens at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima on 13 October, the Pope recalled his own pilgrimage to Fatima in May and the blessings received and he urged the faithful never to put the Rosary aside, but to continue to recite it as She asked.

New Saints to be Canonized

Pope Francis will declare 33 martyrs and 2 others from Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Italy, as the Catholic Church’s new saints tomorrow at a Canonization Mass in Rome’s Saint Peter’s Square.   They include 30 so-called Matryrs of Natal, including priests and lay people, who were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil.

Another group of 3 indigenous martyrs from Mexico - Cristobal, Antonio and Juan – known as the Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala will also be canonized.  Aged between 12 and 13, the children were among the first indigenous Catholics of Mexico who were ‎killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce their faith and return to their ancient ‎traditions.‎

Among the new saints will also be two European priests.  One of them is Spanish Piarist Father, Manuel Míguez González, the founder of the Daughters of the Divine Shepherdess, or the Calasanzian Institute.  He died in 1925.  The other  is Italian Cappuchin priest, Father Angelo da Acri, who died in 1739.

New Saints inspire Christians
to build a peaceful world

The church’s newest saints represent a diverse group of people who offer encouragement and hope to Christians today through their example, a Brazilian bishop said. Saints like the Martyrs of Natal, Brazil, offer a new opportunity, hope and a renewal of faith that can bring peace to a world battered by injustice, war and violence, Archbishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Natal told journalists yesterday during a press briefing.

The grace of their canonization will certainly help create a society that is less vengeful, less violent, more fraternal, and encourage Catholics to stand up for the dignity of the people, he said. Ornate tapestries depicting each of the soon-to-be canonized saints — who hail from Brazil, Italy, Mexico and Spain — draped the facade of Saint Peter’s Basilica as workers busily prepared the square for the October 15 Mass to be presided over by Pope Francis. The Martyrs of Natal — Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others — were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil.

Father Julio Cesar Souza Cavalcante, an expert on their cause, told journalists that the 30 Brazilian martyrs — which included priests, laymen and laywomen, families, husbands, wives, children and youth — are models for all Catholics, especially in Brazil today, who want to follow the pope’s call for a church on the move that goes out and gives public witness to their faith.

Martyrdom is always this witness. And to give this witness of faith in a country that today is in an economic, security and health crisis, it is a witness that it is possible to go forward, it is possible to do more, Father Souza said.

The Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala, Mexico — Blesseds Cristobal, Antonio and Juan — will also be declared saints by Pope Francis at the Mass. The children, whose ages range from 12 to 13, were among the first native converts in Mexico and were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people’s ancient traditions.

Monsignor Jorge Ivan Gomez Gomez, Vicar General of the Diocese of Tlaxcala, Mexico, told Catholic News Service that despite their age, the young martyrs proved that grace acts and that not everything relies on human effort.

With a Synod of Bishops focusing on young people taking place in 2018, the child martyrs are a motivation so that young men and women may be agents of the evangelization in their own families and confront the idols of the modern world.

Young people are immersed in a series of idolatries, which they sometimes passively accept, Monsignor Gomez said. The martyrs, at their age, had the capacity to confront idolatries that were common in so many places at the time.

The pope will also canonize Blessed Angelo of Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825. A famed preacher, Blessed Angelo proclaimed the good news of the Gospel in a simple, concrete way and not just by saying words, Capuchin Brother Carlo Calloni, postulator of Blessed Angelo’s cause, told CNS.

He was also known for his defence of the poor and knew how to raise his voice against the powerful of that time, Brother Calloni said. However, he added, Blessed Angelo combined his sharp wit and intelligence with mercy when it came to the confessional, often spending long hours listening to repentant men and women seeking forgiveness. Brother Calloni said the Capuchin priest’s zeal for saving souls can serve as an example for the church’s mission in reaching out to those who have become distant from their faith.

Blessed Angelo can be the model for those who seek a new way to bring the proclamation (of the Gospel) to the world and that it may be heard by the people, he said. Pope Francis will also canonize Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and a member of the Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys.
(by Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS)

Youth to speak about faith

Salt + Light Television is preparing a special cross-country Forum on Young people, Faith and Vocational Discernment.  It will air next Sunday (October 22).