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Monday, January 22, 2018

Telegrams during the return flight to Rome

The aircraft carrying the Pope on his return flight to Rome following the completion of his Apostolic Journey to Chile and Perú landed at Rome's Ciampino International Airport at 2:15pm local time (8:15am EST).

During the flight from Lima to Rome, while passing over Colombia, Venezuela, Portugal, Spain, France and finally entering into Italian airspace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis sent the following telegrams to the respective Heads of State of each of those countries:

While flying over Colombia

His Excellency, Juan Manuel Santos
President of the Republic of Colombia

As my return flight from Chile and Perú takes me over Colombia, I send cordial greetings to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens.  Recalling with pleasure my recent visit to Colombia, I willingly invoke the divine blessings of peace and joy upon the nation.


While flying over Venezuela

His Excellency, Nicolás Maduro
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

I send greetings to Your Excellency and the people of Venezuela as my return flight from Chile and Perú takes me over your country.  Entrusting the nation to the providence of Almighty God, I willingly invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of peace and strength.


While flying over Portugal

His Excellency, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
President of the Portuguese Republic

As I fly over Portugal on my return journey from Chile and Perú to Rome, I send cordial greetings to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens.  Recalling with pleasure my recent visit to Portugal, I willingly invoke the divine blessings of peace and prosperity upon the nation.


While flying over Spain

His Majesty, Felipe VI
King of Spain

As my return journey to Rome takes me once more through Spanish airspace, I cordially renew my prayers that all the people of Spain may enjoy the abundant blessings of Almighty God.


While flying over France

His Excellency, Emmanuel Macron
President of the French Republic

Returning to Rome at the conclusion of my Apostolic Visit to Chile and Perú, I once again express my cordial best wishes to Your Excellency and the people of France.  With the assurance of my prayers, I gladly invoke upon all of you Almighty God's blessings of joy and harmony.


Upon re-entering Italian airspace

His Excellency, the Honourable Sergio Mattarella
President of the Italian Republic
Quirinale Palace

Upon my return from the Apostolic Journey to Chile and Perú, where I was able to encounter many of the faithful and representatives of those beloved people and to admire their faith and their desire to grow spiritually and socially, I express to you, Mister President, my cordial greetings and the assurance of a special prayer for the good, serenity and prosperity of the entire Italian nation, upon which I willingly impart my blessing.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Departure from Lima

At 6:30pm EST, the Holy Father, Pope Francis arrived at the International Airport in Lima where the official departure ceremony was held.

Upon his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by the President of the Republic and his wife in the Presidential Lounge where they briefly spoke together.

Following the presentation of military honours and a chance for the members of respective delegations to exchange greetings, the Holy Father boarded the flight - a LATAM B767 - for the return flight to Italy.

The aircraft lifted off at 7:10pm EST and is expected to arrive at Rome's Ciampino International Airport at 2:15pm local time (8:15am EST) tomorrow.

Immediately after the departure of the Papal flight from the International Airport in Lima, Pope Francis sent the following telegram to the President of the Republic of Perú, Mister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

His Excellency, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
President of the Republic of Perú

As I leave Perú, I wish to express my deep gratitude to Your Excellency, the government and the beloved people of Perú for your warm welcome and generous hospitality.  With the assurance of my prayers, I invoke upon the nation the blessings of Almighty God.


Mass in Lima

This afternoon, the Holy Father, Pope Francis left the Apostolic Nunciature and travelled by car to the Las Palmas Air Base in Lima.

Upon his arrival, following greetings offered by the Military Ordinary (Bishop for the Military) and the Base Commander, the Pope travelled through the crowd aboard the popemobile.

Then, at 4:15pm EST, the Holy Father presided over the Eucharistic celebration for the III Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Nearby the altar, the venerated image of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) was displayed.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the Mass celebrated in Lima

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you (Jonah 3:2).  With these words the Lord spoke to Jonah and directed him to set out towards that great city, which was about to be destroyed for its many evils.  In the Gospel, we also see Jesus setting out towards Galilee to preach the Good News (cf Mk 1:14).  Both readings reveal a God who turns his gaze towards cities past and present. The Lord sets out on a journey: to Nineveh, to Galilee, to Lima, to Trujillo and to Puerto Maldonado … the Lord comes here.  He sets out to enter into our individual, concrete histories.  We celebrated this not long ago: he is Emmanuel, the God who wants to be with us always.  Yes, here in Lima, or wherever you are living, in the routine of your daily life and work, in the education to hope that you impart to your children, amid your aspirations and anxieties; within the privacy of the home and the deafening noise of our streets.  It is there, along the dusty paths of history, that the Lord comes to meet each of you.

Sometimes what happened to Jonah can happen to us.  Our cities, with their daily situations of pain and injustice, can leave us tempted to flee, to hide, to run away.  Jonah, and we, have plenty of excuses to do so.  Looking at the city, we can start by saying that there are citizens who find adequate means to develop their personal and family life – and that pleases us – yet the problem is the many non-citizens, the half-citizens or urban remnants (Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, 74).  They are found along our roadsides, living on the fringes of our cities, and lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence.  It is painful to realize that among these urban remnants all too often we see the faces of children and adolescents.  We look at the face of the future.

Seeing these things in our cities and our neighbourhoods – which should be places of encounter, solidarity and joy – we end up with what we might call the Jonah syndrome: we lose heart and want to flee (cf Jonah 1:3).  We become indifferent, and as a result, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and hard of heart. When this happens, we wound the soul of our people.  As Benedict XVI pointed out, the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer …  A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society (Encyclical Letter, Spe salvi, 38).

After they arrested John, Jesus set out to Galilee to proclaim the Gospel of God.  Unlike Jonah, Jesus reacted to the distressing and unjust news of John’s arrest by entering the city; he entered Galilee and from its small towns he began to sow the seeds of a great hope: that the Kingdom of God is at hand, that God is among us.  The Gospel itself shows us the joy and the rippling effect that this brought about: it started with Simon and Andrew, then James and John (cf Mk 1:14-20).  It then passed through Saint Rose de Lima, Saint Turibius, Saint Martin de Porres, Saint Juan Macías, Saint Francisco Solano, down to us, proclaimed by that cloud of witnesses that have believed in him.  It has come to us in order to act once more as a timely antidote to the globalization of indifference.  In the face of that Love, one cannot remain indifferent.

Jesus invites his disciples to experience in the present a taste of eternity: the love of God and neighbour.  He does this the only way he can, God’s way, by awakening tenderness and love of mercy, by awakening compassion and opening their eyes to see reality as God does.  He invites them to generate new bonds, new covenants rich in eternal life.

Jesus walks through the city with his disciples and begins to see, to hear, to notice those who have given up in the face of indifference, laid low by the grave sin of corruption.  He begins to bring to light many situations that had killed the hope of his people and to awaken a new hope.  He calls his disciples and invites them to set out with him.  He calls them to walk through to the city, but at a different pace; he teaches them to notice what they had previously overlooked, and he points out new and pressing needs.  Repent, he tells them.   The Kingdom of Heaven means finding in Jesus a God who gets involved with the lives of his people.  He gets involved and involves others not to be afraid to make of our history a history of salvation (cf Mk 1:15, 21).

Jesus continues to walk on our streets.  He knocks today, as he did yesterday, on our doors and hearts, in order to rekindle the flame of hope and the aspiration that breakdown can be overcome by fraternity, injustice defeated by solidarity, violence silenced by the weapons of peace.  Jesus continues to call us; he wants to anoint us with his Spirit so that we too can go out to anoint others with the oil capable of healing wounded hopes and renewing our way of seeing things.

Jesus continues to walk and to awaken hope, a hope that frees us from empty associations and impersonal analyses.  He encourages us to enter like leaven into where we are, where we live, into every corner of our daily life.  The kingdom of heaven is among you, he tells us.  It is there wherever we strive to show a little tenderness and compassion, wherever we are unafraid to create spaces for the blind to see, the paralyzed to walk, lepers to be cleansed and the deaf to hear (cf Lk 7:22), so that all those we had given up for lost can enjoy the resurrection.  God will never tire of setting out to meet his children.  How will we enkindle hope if prophets are lacking?  How will we face the future if unity is lacking?  How will Jesus reach all those corners if daring and courageous witnesses are lacking?

Today the Lord calls each of you to walk with him in the city, in your city.  He invites you to become his missionary disciple, so that you can become part of that great whisper that wants to keep echoing in the different corners of our lives: Rejoice, the Lord is with you! 
(Original text in Spanish; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Angelus in Lima

At 11:45am EST, the Holy Father, Pope Francis led the recitation of the Angelus while standing in the Plaza de Armas in Lima (Perú).

At the conclusion of the Marian prayer, the Pope paused for a group photograph with the Bishops of Perú.  He then returned aboard the popemobile to the Apostolic Nunciature for lunch with the other members of the Papal party.

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

Dear young people, I am pleased to be here with you. These meetings are very important for me, especially in this year of preparation for the Synod on young people. Your faces, your questions and your lives are important for the Church and we need to give them the importance they deserve. We must also have the courage of the many young people of this land who were not afraid to love and risk their lives for Jesus.

Dear friends, how many examples you have! I think of Saint Martin de Porres. Nothing prevented that young man from achieving his dreams, nothing prevented him from spending his life for others, nothing prevented him from loving, and he did so because he had realized that the Lord loved him first. Just as he was: a mulato. He had to face many hardships. In the eyes of others, even his friends, it seemed that he had everything to lose, but he knew how to do one thing that would be the secret of his life: he knew how to trust. To trust in the Lord who loved him. Do you know why? Because the Lord had trusted him first; just as he trusts each of you and will never tire of trusting you. To each of us the Lord has entrusted something and the response is to trust in him. Each of you reflect in your heart: What has the Lord entrusted me with? Let everyone reflect: What is it in my heart that the Lord has entrusted me with?

You may say that sometimes this is very difficult. I understand that. In those moments, we can think negative thoughts, we can feel overwhelmed by different situations, and it can seem as though we have been thrown out of the world-cup, while they have the upper hand. But it’s not like that, even in the moments in which we’re thrown out, carry on trusting.

There are moments when you can feel powerless to achieve your desires and dreams. We all experience situations like that. In these moments when our faith seems to fade, remember that Jesus is by your side. Do not give up! Do not lose hope! Remember the saints who accompany us from heaven. Go to them, pray and never tire of asking for their intercession. Not only the saints of the past, but also those of the present: this land has many of them, because it is a land of saints. Peru is a land of saints. Ask for help and advice from people you know can give good advice because their faces radiate joy and peace. Let them accompany you as you journey along the path of life.

But there is something else, Jesus wants to see you on the move. He wants to see you achieve your ideals and to be enthusiastic in following his instructions. He will take you along the path of the beatitudes, a path that is not easy but exciting, a path that cannot be travelled alone, it has to be travelled as a team, where each member offers the best of his or her self. Jesus is counting on you as he counted long ago on Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Turibius, Saint Juan Macías, Saint Francisco Solano and so many others. And today he asks if, like them, you are ready to follow him (They reply: Yes). Today, tomorrow, will you be willing to follow him? (They reply: Yes). And within a week? (Yes). Don’t be overly confident. If you are inclined to follow him, ask him to prepare your heart in order to be willing to follow him. Clear?

Dear friends, the Lord looks on you with hope. He never grows discouraged with us. We sometimes become discouraged with a friend because we thought he or she was good but then we saw something which was not so good and we became discouraged and abandoned that person. Jesus is never discouraged, never: Father, but if you knew the things I do, I say something but I do another, my life is not completely clean. This being so, Jesus does not become discouraged about you. And now let us have a little silence. Each of you look into your heart to see how your life is, you will see that there are moments with good things and there are moments with things that are not so good. This being so, Jesus is not discouraged about you. And in your heart tell him: Thank you Jesus, thank you because you came to accompany me when I was still in bad things, thank you Jesus. Let us all tell him: Thank you Jesus (They all repeat this).

I know that we all like to see digitally enhanced photographs, but that only works for pictures; we cannot photoshop others, the world, or ourselves. Colour filtering and high definition only function well in video; we can never apply them to our friends. There are pictures that are very nice, but completely fake. Let me assure you that the heart can’t be photoshopped, because that’s where authentic love and genuine happiness have to be found and that’s where you show him who you are: how is your heart?

Jesus does not want you to have a cosmetic heart. He loves you as you are, and he has a dream for every one of you. Do not forget, he does not get discouraged with us. But if you get discouraged, I invite you to take a look at the Bible and remember the kind of friends Jesus chose.

Moses, he was not articulate; Abraham, an old man; Jeremiah, very young; Zacchaeus, a short man; the disciples, who fell asleep when Jesus told them they should pray; Mary Magdalene, a public sinner; Paul, a persecutor of Christians; Peter, who denied him, and was then made Pope, yet he denied Jesus … and we could go on with the list. Jesus wants us as we are, just as he wanted his friends, with their defects, desiring to correct them yes, but as they were, that’s how the Lord loves you. Don’t put on any make-up, don’t put any make-up on the heart, but show yourself to Jesus as you are so that he can help you to move forwards in life.

When Jesus looks at us, he does not think about how perfect we are, but about all the love we have in our hearts to give him and to follow him. That is the important thing for him, that is the greatest thing, how much love do I have in my heart? And the response I want it to be also directed to our Mother: Mother, beloved Blessed Virgin, look at the love I have in my heart, is it little? Is it much? I do not know if it is love.

Be assured that she will accompany you at every moment of your life, at all the crossroads of your journey, especially at those times when you have to make important decisions. Do not become discouraged, move forwards, all together, because life is worth living with our heads held high. May God bless you.

We are in the Plaza Mayor of Lima, a small place in a relatively small city of the world, but the world is much bigger and full of cities and peoples, and is also full of problems, full of wars. Today I have heard very concerning news coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo; let us think of that country. In these moments, from this Plaza and with all those young people, I ask the authorities, those responsible and everyone within that beloved nation, to make the greatest commitment and effort to avoid every form of violence and to find solutions that favour the common good. Altogether, in silence, let us pray for this intention for our brothers and sisters of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae, et concepit de Spiritu Santco.  Ave Maria ...
Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.  Ave Maria ...
Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.  Ave Maria ...
Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix, Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine, mentibus nostris infunde: ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Good bye!
(Original text in Spanish; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Meeting with Bishops in Lima

This morning, after having visited the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist and Apostle in Lima where he prayed in the presence of the relics of the Peruvian saints, the Holy Father made his way to the residence of the Archbishop of Lima where he met with Bishops from various parts of Peru.

The meeting was introduced by a few words of welcome offered by the Archbishop of Lima, His Eminence, Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne.  Then, the Holy Father shared the following speech with his brothers.

Address of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with the Bishops of Peru

Dear Brother Bishops,

Thank you for the kind words addressed to me by the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima and the President of the Episcopal Conference in the name of all present.  I have looked forward to being here with you.  I recall with pleasure your visit ad limina last year.

These days I have spent among you have been very intense and gratifying.  I have been able to learn about and experience the different realities that shape these lands, and to share at first hand the faith of God’s holy and faithful people, which does us so much good.  Thank you for the opportunity to touch the faith of the people that God has entrusted to you.

The theme of this Visit speaks to us of unity and hope.  This is a demanding yet exciting programme, which makes us think of the heroic accomplishments of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, Archbishop of this See and patron of the Latin American episcopate, an example of a builder of ecclesial unity, as my predecessor, Saint John Paul II described him during his first Apostolic Visit to this land (Saint John Paul II, Address to the Peruvian Bishops, 2 February 1985, 3).

It is significant that this holy bishop is frequently portrayed as a new Moses.  As you know, the Vatican has a picture in which Saint Turibius appears crossing a great river whose waters open before him like the Red Sea, so that he could get to the other shore, where a numerous group of natives awaited him. Behind Saint Turibius is a great crowd, representing the faithful people who follow their shepherd in the task of evangelization (cf Miracle of Saint Turibius, Vatican Pinacoteca).  This beautiful image can serve to anchor my reflection with you.  Saint Turibius, the man who wanted to get to the other shore.

We see him from the time in which he accepted the mandate to come to these lands with the mission to be a father and a shepherd.  He left the security of familiar surroundings in order to enter a completely new universe, unknown and filled with challenges.  He journeyed towards a promised land guided by faith as the assurance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1).  His faith and his trust in the Lord impelled him, then and for the rest of his life, to get to the other shore, where the Lord himself was waiting for him in the midst of a great crowd.

1.          He wanted to get to the other shore in search of the distant and dispersed.  To do so, he had to leave behind the comfort of the bishop’s residence and traverse the territory entrusted to him in constant pastoral visits; he tried to visit and stay wherever he was needed, and how greatly was he needed!  He went out to encounter everyone, along paths that, in the words of his secretary, were meant more for goats than for people.  Turibius had to face greatly differing climates and landscapes, of the twenty-two years of his episcopate, eighteen were spent outside of his city, three times crossing his territory (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Homily at Mass, Aparecida, 16 May 2007).  He knew that this was the one way to be a pastor: to be close to his own, dispensing the sacraments, and he constantly exhorted his priests to do the same.  He did so not only by words, but by his witness in the front lines of evangelization.  Today we would call him a street bishop.  A bishop with shoes worn out by walking, by constant travel, by setting out to preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance and fear.  The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 23).  How much Saint Turibius knew this!  Without fear and without hesitation he immersed himself in our continent in order to proclaim the good news.

2.          He wanted to get to the other shore not only geographically but also culturally.  Consequently, he worked in many ways for an evangelization in the native languages. With the Third Council of Lima he provided for catechisms to be compiled and translated into Quechua and Aymara.  He encouraged the clergy to learn the language of their flock in order to administer the sacraments to them in a way they could understand.  Visiting and living with his people, he realized that it was not enough just to be there physically, but to learn to speak the language of others, for only in this way could the Gospel be understood and touch the heart.  How necessary is this vision for us, the pastors of the twenty-first century!  For we have to learn completely new languages, like that, for example, of this, our digital age.  To know the real language of our young people, our families, our children …  As Saint Turibius clearly realized, it is not enough just to be present and occupy space; we have to be able to generate processes in people’s lives, so that the faith can take root and be meaningful.  And to do that, we have to be able to speak their language.  We need to get to the places where new stories and paradigms are being born, to bring the word of Jesus to the very heart of our cities and our peoples (EG, 74).  The evangelization of culture requires us to enter into the heart of culture itself, so that it can be illuminated from within by the Gospel.

3.          Saint Turibius wanted to get to the other shore of charity.  For our patron, there could be no evangelization without charity.  He knew that the supreme form of evangelization is to model in our own lives the self-giving of Jesus Christ, out of love for every man and woman.  The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not practise justice are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters (cf 1 Jn 3:10).  In his visits, he was able to see the abuses and excesses that the original peoples had suffered, and thus he was unafraid, in 1585, to excommunicate the Corregidor of Cajatambo, setting himself against a whole system of corruption and a web of interests which drew upon him the enmity of many, including the Viceroy (cf Ernesto Rojas Ingunza, El Perú de los Santos, in : Kathy Perales Ysla (ed.), Cinco Santos del Perú. Vida, obra y tiempo, Lima, 2016, 57).  Such, we see, is the pastor who knows that spiritual good can never be separated from just material good, and all the more so when the integrity and dignity of persons is at risk.  An episcopal spirit of prophecy unafraid of denouncing abuses and excesses committed against our people.  In this way, Turibius reminds society as a whole, and each community, that charity must always be accompanied by justice.  And that there can be no authentic evangelization that does not point out and denounce every sin against the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most vulnerable.

4.          He wanted to get to the other shore in the formation of his priests.  He founded the first post-Tridentine seminary in this part of the world, thus encouraging the training of the native clergy.  He realized that it was not enough to visit everywhere and to speak the same language: the Church needed to raise up her own local pastors and thus become a fruitful mother.  To this end, he defended the ordination of the mestizos – a controversial issue at that time – and sought to make others see that if the clergy needed to be different in any area, it had to be by virtue of their holiness and not their racial origin (cf José Antonio Benito Rodríguez, Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo, in Kathy Perales Ysla (ed.), Cinco Santos del Perú. Vida, obra y tiempo, Lima, 2016, 178).  This formation was not limited to seminary studies, but continued through the constant visits that he undertook.  There he was able to see firsthand the state of his priests and to show his concern for them.   The story goes that on Christmas Eve his sister gave him a shirt that he could wear for the holidays.  That same day he went to visit a priest and, seeing his living conditions, took off the shirt and gave it to him (Cinco Santos del Perú, 180).  He was a pastor who knew his priests.  A pastor who tried to visit them, to accompany them, to encourage them and to admonish them.  He reminded his priests that they were pastors and not shopkeepers, and so they had to care for and defend the indios as their children (cf Juan Villegas, Fiel y evangelizador.  Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo, patrono de los obisbos de América Latina, Montevideo, 1984, 22).  Yet he did not do this from a desk, and so he knew his sheep and they recognized, in his voice, the voice of the good shepherd.

5.          He wanted to get to the other shore of unity.  In an admirable and prophetic way, he worked to open up possibilities for communion and participation among the different members of God’s people.  Saint John Paul II mentioned this when speaking to the bishops in these lands.  He noted that: The Third Council of Lima was the result of that effort, guided, encouraged and directed by Saint Turibius; it bore fruit in a wealth of unity in faith, pastoral and organizational norms, and useful insights for the desired integration of Latin America (Saint John Paul II, Address to the Peruvian Bishops, 2 February 1985, 3).  We know very well that this unity and consensus emerged from great tensions and conflicts.  We cannot deny tensions and the differences; life is not possible without conflict.  Yet they require us, if we are men and Christians, to face them and to deal with them.  But to deal with them in a spirit of unity, in honest and sincere dialogue, face to face, taking care not to fall into temptation to ignore the past, or to remain prisoners, lacking the vision to discern paths of unity and peace.  It is a source of encouragement, in our journey as an episcopal conference, to know that unity will always prevail over conflict (EG, 226-230).  Dear brothers, work for unity.  Do not remain prisoners of divisions that create cliques and hamper our vocation to be a sacrament of communion.  Remember: what was attractive about the early church was how they loved one another.  That was – and is and always will be – the best way to evangelize.

6.          The moment came for Saint Turibius to get to the final shore, to the land of which he had a foretaste on every shore he left.  This time, however, he did not leave alone.  As in the picture I spoke of previously, he went to meet the saints surrounded by a great crowd.  He was a pastor who packed his bags with names and faces.  They were his passport to heaven.  I would not like to pass over this final chord, the moment when the shepherd surrendered his soul to God.  He did so in the midst of his people, and a native played a song on his chirimía so that the soul of his pastor would feel at peace.  Brothers, would that when we undertake our final journey, we might have this same experience.  Let us ask the Lord to grant this to us (cf Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Homily at Mass, Aparecida, 16 May 2007).

And please, do not forget to pray for me.
(Original text in Spanish; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Prayer with Peruvian Saints

This morning, at 10:00am EST, the Holy Father, Pope Francis arrived at the Cathedral of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist in order to pray in the presence of the Relics of the Peruvian saints.

Upon his arrival, the Pope, accompanied by the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, was welcomed by the Metropolitan Chapter of Canons.  There were approximately 2,500 people present in the Cathedral including priests, religious men and women, seminarians and members of Ecclesiastical movements as well as lay pastoral workers.

Following the entrance hymn and the presentation of a floral bouquet by a family, Pope Francis paused in prayer before the Relics of the Peruvian Saints.

When he had completed his private prayer, the Holy Father imparted his blessing and then went to the residence of the Archbishop of Lima for his scheduled meeting with the Bishops of Perú.

Prayer recited by the Holy Father, Pope Francis
in presence of the relics of the Peruvian Saints

God our Father,
through Jesus Christ
you founded your Church
on the rock of the Apostles,
that, guided by the Holy Spirit,
she may be a sign and instrument
of your love and mercy in the world:
we thank you for the gifts you have
bestowed upon our Church in Lima.

We thank you in a special way
for the holiness that has flourished in our land.
Our Archdiocesan Church has been made fruitful
by the apostolic labours of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo,
enlarged by the prayer, penance and charity
of Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Martin de Porres,
adorned by the missionary zeal of Saint Francisco Solano
and the humble service of Saint Juan Macías.
It has been blessed by the witness of Christian life and fidelity to the Gospel
of many others of our brothers and sisters.
We give you thanks for all that you have accomplished in our history
and we ask you to keep us faithful to the heritage we have received.

Help us to be a Church that goes forth,
drawing near to all, especially the less fortunate.
Teach us to be missionary disciples
of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Miracles,
living in love, seeking unity
and practising mercy,
so that, protected by the intercession
of Our Lady of Evangelization,
we may live the joy of the Gospel
and proclaim it before the world.
(Original text in Spanish; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Mid-morning prayer with Contemplatives

This morning, having taken his leave of the Apostolic Nunciature in Lima, the Holy Father, Pope Francis travelled by car to the Shrine of the Lord of Miracles in Lima where, at 9:00am EST, he led the prayer of Terce (Mid-morning Prayer) with approximately 500 Peruvian contemplative religious women.

Upon his arrival, the Pope was welcomed at the main entrance by the Chaplain of the Confraternity of the Lord of Miracles.  He then continued down the central nave of the Shrine until he stood before the Venerated Image before which he paused in silent prayer.

Following a few introductory remarks offered by the Mother Superior of the Discalced Carmelites who are resident at the Shrine, and the recitation of Mid-morning prayer, the Pope shared his homily.

At the conclusion of Terce, the Holy Father individually greeted a few of the Mother Prioresses and the Abesses and, after having completed a tour through the crowds of faithful aboard the popemobile, he went to the Cathedral.

Homily of His Holiness, Pope Francis
during the celebration of Terce

Dear Sisters from different monasteries of contemplative life:

How good it is to be here in this Shrine of the Lord of Miracles, visited so often by Peruvians, to ask his grace so that he will show us his closeness and mercy! He is the light that guides, that illumines us with his divine love. Seeing you here, I have a bad thought: that you took advantage of this visit to get out for some fresh air! (Applause) Mother Soledad, I thank you for your words of welcome, and I thank all of you, who from the silence of the cloister walk ever by my side. Also – this you will allow me to say as it touches my heart – from this place I send a greeting to my four Carmels in Buenos Aires. I want to also put them before the Lord of Miracles, because they accompanied me in my ministry in that Diocese, and I want them to be here to receive the Lord’s blessing. You are not jealous? (They reply: No)

We have listened to the words of Saint Paul and have been reminded that we have received the Spirit of filial adoption that makes us children of God (cf Rom 8:15-16). Those few words sum up the richness of every Christian vocation: the joy of knowing we are God’s children. This is the experience that nourishes our lives, that seeks always to be a pleasing response to God’s love. How important it is to renew this joy day by day! Above all, during those moments when joy seems to have gone or the soul is burdened under a cloud or there are things we don’t understand; from there; ask the Lord again to renew the gift: I am a daughter, a daughter of God.

A privileged path that you have for renewing this conviction is the life of prayer, both communal and individual. Prayer is the heart of your consecrated life, your contemplative life, and the means of cultivating the experience of love that sustains our faith and, indeed as Mother Soledad rightly said, it is always a missionary prayer. It is not a prayer that bounces off the walls of the convent and comes back. No, it is a prayer that goes forth and up and up …

Missionary prayer makes us one with our brothers and sisters in whatever situations they find themselves, and asks that love and hope will never fail them. This is what Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus said: I understood that it is love alone which prompts the members of the Church to act and, if there is no love, neither would the Apostles proclaim the Gospel, nor would the martyrs spill their blood. I recognized clearly and I was certain that love subsumes in itself all vocations, that love is everything, encompassing all times and places, in a word, that love is eternal … in the heart of the Church, who is my Mother, I will be love (Autobiographical manuscripts: Letter to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, 8 September 1896, Ms. B, 3v.).  Oh that each of you could say this. If any of you are weary and the small flame of love seems to have been extinguished, ask him, ask him! To love is a gift of God.

To be love! This means being able to stand alongside the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters, and to say with the Psalmist: In my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free (Ps 117:5). In this way, your cloistered life can attain a missionary and universal outreach and play a fundamental role in the life of the Church. You pray and intercede for our many brothers and sisters who are prisoners, migrants, refugees and victims of persecution. Your prayers of intercession embrace the many families experiencing difficulties, the unemployed, the poor, the sick, and those struggling with addiction, to mention just a few of the more urgent situations. You are like those who brought the paralytic to the Lord for healing (cf Mk 2: 1-12). They were not ashamed, they were without shame, and well said. They were not ashamed to make a hole in the roof to lower down the paralytic. Be not ashamed to bring before the power of God, through your prayers, the miseries of mankind. That is your prayer. Through your prayer, night and day, you bring before God the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters who for various reasons cannot come to him to experience his healing mercy, even as he patiently waits for them. By your prayers, you can heal the wounds of many (Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere on women's contemplative life, 29 June 2016, 16).

For this very reason, we can state that cloistered life neither closes nor shrinks our hearts, but rather widens them. Woe to the nun that has a closed heart. Please find the remedy – you cannot be a contemplative nun with a closed heart – so that you can breathe again, that you may once more have a great heart. Moreover, nuns with closed hearts are nuns who have lost fruitfulness and are not mothers. They complain about everything, I’d say they are bitter, always looking for scrupulous details to moan about. The holy Mother used to say: Woe to the nun who says ‘they harmed me without reason’, ‘they have acted unjustly against me’. In the convent there is no room for collectors of injustices rather there is room for those who open their hearts and know how to carry the cross that bears fruit, the cross of love, the cross which brings life. Love expands the heart and thus we can move forwards with the Lord because he makes it possible to feel in a new way the pain, the suffering, the frustration and the misfortune of so many of our brothers and sisters who are victims of today’s throwaway culture. May intercession for those in need be the hallmark of your prayer. With your arms outstretched, like Moses, with the heart open in this way, imploring. And whenever possible, help them not only by prayer, but also by concrete service. How many of your convents, without infringing the cloistered element, and respectful of silence, are able to do so much good during those moments in the visiting room.

The prayer of supplication that takes place in your monasteries is attuned to the Heart of Jesus, which pleads to the Father that we may all be one, so that the world will believe (cf Jn 17:21). How much we need unity in the Church! May all be one. How much we need the baptized to be one, consecrated persons to be one, priests to be one, bishops to be one! Today and always! United in faith. United by hope. United by love. In the unity that wells up from our communion with Christ, who unites us to the Father in the Spirit, and, in the Eucharist, unites us with one another in that great mystery which is the Church. I ask you, please, to pray constantly for unity in this beloved Church in Peru because it is experiencing the temptation against unity. I entrust this unity to you, the unity of the Church, the unity of pastoral workers, of consecrated men and women, of the clergy and of bishops. The devil is a liar and, what is more, he is a gossip, he loves going from one place to the other, seeking to divide, and he wants members of a community to speak badly of each other. I have said this many times, and will repeat it here: Do you know what a gossiping nun is like? She is a terrorist, worse than those of Ayacucho years ago, worse, because gossip is like a bomb. The terrorist just like the devil goes in whispering and murmuring, throws the bomb, destroys and calmly walks off. No to terrorist nuns, no to gossip. You know the best remedy against gossip? Bite your tongue. The infirmary sister will have a lot of work because there will be swollen tongues but at least bombs will not be thrown. In other words, there must not be gossiping in the convent, because this is instigated by the devil, for he is a gossip by nature and a liar. And remember the terrorists of Ayacucho when you feel like passing on a piece of gossip.

Strive to grow in the fraternal life, so that every monastery can be a beacon of light in the midst of disunity and division. Help bear prophetic witness that this is possible. May all who draw near to you have a foretaste of the blessedness of the fraternal charity so essential to the consecrated life and so necessary in today’s world and in our communities.

When we live our vocation faithfully, our life becomes a proclamation of God’s love. I ask you never to stop giving that witness. In this Church of the Discalced Carmelite Nazarenes, I readily recall the words of the great spiritual teacher, Saint Teresa of Jesus: If you lose your guide, who is the good Jesus, you will not get the journey right… Always behind him: and yet you might say to me, but father sometimes Jesus ends up on Calvary. Well, I answer, you go there too, for he waits for you there also because he loves you, for the same Lord says he is the way; the Lord also says he is the light, and that no one can come to the Father except through him (The Interior Castle, VI, ch. 7, no. 6).

Dear sisters, know one thing, the Church does not tolerate you, she needs you. The Church needs you, with your lives of fidelity be beacons, and keep pointing to the One who is the way, and the truth and the life, to the one Lord who brings us fulfilment and grants us life in abundance (cf Vultum Dei Quaerere, 6).

Pray for the Church, pray for priests and bishops, for consecrated men and women, for families, for those who suffer, for those who harm others and destroy the lives of many people, for those who exploit their brothers and sisters. And please, following the list of sinners, do not forget to pray for me.
(Original text in Spanish; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)