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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God loves each and every one of us, He is totally extraneous to the “throwaway culture” of today and like the good shepherd he does not want a single person to be lost.
Speaking on Wednesday at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy reflecting on the parable of the Good Shepherd.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
He said that the Lord uses the image of the shepherd who leaves his flock to go in search of one lost sheep to express God’s closeness to sinners. He emphasized that God does not want even a single person to be lost and that in his infinite mercy, he is always ready to meet us wherever we are.
And reflecting on the “throwaway culture” of the contemporary world, the Pope said it is something that is totally foreign to God who would never “throw away” a single person.
“God loves all, he reaches out to every person: one by one! He knows nothing about ‘throwing away people’ because He is all about love and mercy” he said. The example of the Good Shepherd, Pope Francis continued, also challenges us to go out in search of those in particular need of God’s mercy, especially those who have gone astray.
He said that Jesus teaches us that in his eyes there are no lost sheep, but only sheep needing to be found and that the joy which the Good Shepherd feels must also be the joy of the entire flock.
Continuing to reflect on the parable the Pope pointed out that the faithful must also resist the temptation to close themselves in the pen where there may be no ‘stink of sheep’ but the stuffiness of a closed and airless room.
“Christians, he said, must never be closed. Ever! We must not be closed within ourselves, or within small communities or parishes thinking we are ‘right’.
Christians, he said, are called to embrace the missionary spirit that takes them into the world to encounter others.
He said that for the Lord no one is definitely lost: “He looks for us up until the very last moment”.
Pope Francis concluded saying that we are all lost sheep who were found by the Lord’s mercy.
“No distance can keep the shepherd far from his sheep; no flock can afford to give up on a member” he said.
And he called us to rejoice in his merciful love, to bring that love to others and to join him in gathering all into the fold.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Ahead of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met with participants of a meeting between the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies of Amman and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Fourth meeting between the two institutions had for its main topic the theme: "Shared values in social and political life: citizens and believers."
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
In brief, off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis recalled his visit to Jordan in 2014, saying, “It is a beautiful memory that I carry with me.
He thanked those taking part in the colloquium, and told them that the work they are doing is “a work of construction.” Although in our days “we have become used to the destruction caused by wars, the work of dialogue, of rapprochement, helps us always to build.”
The Pope emphasized the importance of “dialogue” for work of this kind:
“Dialogue is going out of ourselves, with a word, to hear the word of the other. The two words meet, two thoughts meet. It is the first step of a journey. Following this meeting of the word, hearts meet and begin a dialogue of friendship, which ends with holding hands. Word, hearts, hands. It’s simple! A little child knows how to do it…”
Reminding his listeners that “we have a common Father: we are brothers,” Pope Francis encouraged the participants in the meeting to “go forward along this street, which is beautiful!”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis lamented on Tuesday that there are many following Christianity in a confused way, forgetting that Jesus is the only true path. He said these include the motionless or 'mummified' Christians, the vagabond and stubborn Christians and the Christians who stop half way along their journey. The Pope was speaking during his homily at morning Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the gospel reading where Jesus tells the Apostles that “I am the way,” Pope Francis reflected on the need for Christians to consistently follow Jesus and not get waylaid or blocked on their journey of faith. He said there are many different types of Christians who are following Jesus in a confused manner like the mummified Christian, the vagabond Christian, the stubborn Christian and the half way Christian.
Turning to an examination of these different types of Christians, the Pope pointed first to the Christian who doesn’t move or journey forward and who gives the idea, he said, of being like an (embalmed) mummy.
“Christians who stay still, who don't go forward, are non-Christian Christians. We don’t know exactly what they are. They are slightly ‘paganized’ Christians: who are there, who stay still and don’t go forward in their Christian lives, who don’t make the Beatitudes bloom in their lives, who don’t do Works of mercy… they are motionless. Excuse me for saying it, but they are like an (embalmed) mummy, a spiritual mummy there. There are Christians who are ‘spiritual mummies,’ motionless, there. They don’t do evil but they don’t do good deeds.”
Moving on to a description of the stubborn Christian, the Pope said these types of Christians realize that they are taking the wrong direction but worst still they insist it’s the right path and don’t heed the voice of our Lord, telling them to turn back and take the correct path. The next category, he explained, are the vagabond Christians who travel here and there but doesn’t know where they are going.
“They are wanderers in the Christian life, vagabonds. During their life they turn here and there and thus lose the beauty of drawing close to Jesus in the Jesus’ life. They lose their way because they are constantly turning and often this turning is wrong and takes them to a dead end. Turning so many times, (the road) becomes a labyrinth and then they don’t know how to get out. They have lost that call from Jesus. They don't have a compass to get out and they keep on turning and searching. There are other Christians who whilst journeying are seduced by the beauty of an object and they stop half way, fascinated by what they see, by some idea, a proposal or a landscape. And they stop! Christian life is not a fascination: it’s the truth! It’s Jesus Christ!”
After looking at these different types of Christians, Pope Francis said we’d do well to examine our own lives and question whether we too have stopped or lost our way. Are we standing in front of the things that we like such as worldliness and vanity or are we journeying forward and “putting into practice the beatitudes and Works of mercy” in our daily life? He concluded by saying that Jesus’ way “is full of consolations, glory and also the Cross. But always with peace in our souls.”
“Today let us ponder this question just for five minutes... How am I doing on this Christian journey? Am I standing still, making mistakes, turning here and there, stopping in front of the things that I like, or (am I following) Jesus who said “I who am the Way.’? And let us implore the Holy Spirit to teach us to journey along the right road, forever! And when we get tired, a little refreshment and then we carry on our journey. Let us ask for this grace.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is for the Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention.
The full text of the Pope’s Video is below
The contribution of women in all areas of human activity is undeniable, beginning with the family.
But only to recognize it…Is that enough?
We have done little for the women who are in very difficult situations--despised, marginalized, and even reduced to slavery.
We must condemn sexual violence against women and remove the barriers that prevent their full integration into social, political, and economic life.
If you think this is clearly right, join my petition. It is a prayer--that in all countries of the world women may be honored and respected and valued for their essential contribution to society.
I DO MY JOB AS WELL AS A MAN.
I WILL NEVER BE A SLAVE.
NO GENDER VIOLENCE.
ENOUGH OF DISCRIMINATION AT WORK.
MEN AND WOMEN ARE CHILDREN OF GOD.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano reported Monday that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is the winner of the "Golden Pen" award. The prize, awarded by the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, is given to journalists and writers who have brought honor to the country. Established in 1957 in memory of Giovanni Papini, the "Golden Pen" has been assigned in recent years to Salvatore Quasimodo, Eugenio Montale, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Giuseppe Prezzolini, Alberto Moravia, Ugo Spirito, Bacchelli, Mario Soldati and, in the last two editions, to Paolo Mieli and Eugenio Scalfari. The decision was taken unanimously by a panel of jurists. The award ceremony will take place on 2 July during celebrations organized by the Ischia Prize Foundation in Lacco Ameno on the southern Italian island. It will be preceded by a series of debates involving journalists, politicians, economy and foreign policy experts .
(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in reference to the situation in the country. The chief of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi sj confirmed the news without giving information about the letter’s contents, on Monday.
Amid triple-digit inflation rates, Venezuela is undergoing one of the most serious economic crises of its history and basic goods and food are increasingly difficult to find. Shortages have led to smuggling and a thriving black market while power outages have led to looting.
"The Pope is following with great attention and participation the situation in Venezuela,” Lombardi said and cited the pontiff’s “most recent public remarks” and the “ample passage, very eloquent” which the Pope dedicated to Venezuela on Easter Sunday in the message before the Urbi et Orbi Blessing.
The Pope said: “With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all. May his Easter message be felt ever more powerfully by the beloved people of Venezuela in the difficult conditions which they are experiencing, and by those responsible for the country’s future, that everyone may work for the common good, seeking spaces of dialogue and cooperation with all. May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people.”
"The seriousness of the situation appears clearly from the recent Statement of Bishops on 27 April,” Fr. Lombardi stated. “For his part, the Nuncio, S.E. Msgr. Giordano, has committed very clearly to encourage the dialogue desired by the Pope.”
“In this context, I can say that the Pope himself did recently have a personal letter given to President Maduro, with reference to the situation of the country," Lombardi said.
Venezuelan Bishops press government to permit Church to help
In their 27 April statement, Venezuela’s bishops urged the government of President Maduro to allow the Church to bring in much-needed supplies such as food and medicine.
They warned that never before had the country suffered from such an “extreme lack of goods and basic food and health products” combined with “an upsurge in murderous and inhuman crime, the unreliable rationing of electricity and water, and deep corruption in all levels of the government and society.”
They recalled that the government is duty-bound to “encourage all forms of assistance to its citizens” and to provide basic goods and services.
Authorization, the bishops said, “is urgently needed for private institutions in the country, such as Caritas or other programs of different religious denominations…to bring in food, medicine, and other basic needs from national and international aid groups, and to organize distribution networks in order to meet the urgent needs of the people.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is to receive 6 thousand homeless people from all over Europe, who will be making a pilgrimage to Rome from November 11th to 13th, at the close of the Year of Mercy.
Organized by the FRATELLO Association – an initiative born in the wake of the 2014 pilgrimage of 150 people then living on the streets in France – the 2016 pilgrimage is one in which organizations throughout Europe aiding the poorest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters in society are invited to participate.
The event program for the 2016 European Festival of Joy and Mercy, includes catechetical sessions – including several occasions to pray with and hear from Pope Francis – group activities organized by language, and breakout sessions with team leaders.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) On the Sixth Sunday of Easter at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, three seminarians were ordained to the diaconate.
The three men were ordained by Bishop Joseph Toal from the Diocese of Motherwell in Scotland. Paul Denney, Bernard Mournian and Jonathan Whitworth have been in priestly formation for six years. The men are now transitional deacons, meaning that they have made promises of obedience and celibacy. They intend to be ordained to the priesthood in Scotland next year.
Whitworth, from the Diocese of Paisley and a student of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, said the entire day was a humbling experience. Reflecting on the Mass, he noted, “What comes to mind is the Litany of the Saints, when we were prostrated on the ground. When you hear the names of the saints being called out, asking them for their petitions, it is a deeply humbling experience. That’s what will stay with me forever, I’m sure.”
Bishop Toal was invited to the Eternal City to ordain the men because two of them are from his own diocese. Speaking ahead of the Ordination Mass, he said, “As some of the young men from today’s group of Scottish seminarians come to their diaconate ordination the Church in Scotland looks forward with anticipation and longing to their diaconal and priestly ministry in our dioceses – some may also be called later to the episcopal ministry, although it is unlikely I will be around to reminisce!”
Although the formation programme at the Scots College lasts seven years, Mournian believes that it is important to soak up as much of the Roman way of life as possible before returning to Scotland. “The gift of these years in Rome has been an incomparably precious privilege as I continue in my vocation. I cannot thank the Lord enough for giving me the opportunity to study and live in this wonderful place, which I will always consider as my second home.”
Almost two hundred people were present at the Mass. Special guests of honor included the newly ordained deacons’ families and a second Scottish Bishop, Stephen Robson, who was formerly a Spiritual Director at the College. The Rector, Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick, was delighted with how smoothly everything went, giving special thanks to the College community for their support and prayers in the period before the ordination.(from Vatican Radio)