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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday told Deacons from across the globe that they must be generous with their lives and with their time.
“One who serves cannot hoard his free time, he said, he has to give up the idea of being master of his day” because he knows that his time “is not his own, but a gift from God which is then offered back to him. Only in this way will it bear fruit.” The Pope’s words came during the homily at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the conclusion of the Jubilee for Deacons.
Deacons and their families from all around the world were invited to make a pilgrimage to Rome from 27 to 29 May in order to participate in this major gathering on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee year of Mercy.
Focusing on the fact that Deacons must be good and faithful servants, Pope Francis said: “One who serves is not a slave to his own agenda, but ever ready to deal with the unexpected, ever available to his brothers and sisters and ever open to God’s constant surprises”.
And speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope urged those present to have the courage to ignore timetables. He said he is not pleased when he sees a timetable on Church doors and parishes because it means that the doors are not always open, that there is not always a priest, a deacon or a layperson available to receive the people.
“A servant, he said, knows how to open the doors of his time and inner space for those around him, including those who knock on those doors at odd hours, even if that entails setting aside something he likes to do or giving up some well-deserved rest”.
“Dear deacons, if you show that you are available to others, your ministry will not be self-serving, but evangelically fruitful” he said.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily for the conclusive Mass of the Jubilee for Deacons:
“A servant of Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:10). We have listened to these words that the Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, uses to describe himself. At the beginning of his Letter, he had presented himself as “an apostle” by the will of the Lord Jesus (cf. Gal 1:1). These two terms – apostle and servant – go together. They can never be separated. They are like the two sides of a medal. Those who proclaim Jesus are called to serve, and those who serve proclaim Jesus.
The Lord was the first to show us this. He, the Word of the Father, who brought us the good news (Is 61:1), indeed, who is the good news (cf. Lk 4:18), became our servant (Phil 2:7). He came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mk 10:45). “He became the servant (diakonos) of all”, wrote one of the Church Fathers (Saint Polycarp, Ad Phil. V, 2). We who proclaim him are called to act as he did. A disciple of Jesus cannot take a road other than that of the Master. If he wants to proclaim him, he must imitate him. Like Paul, he must strive to become a servant. In other words, if evangelizing is the mission entrusted at baptism to each Christian, serving is the way that mission is carried out. It is the only way to be a disciple of Jesus. His witnesses are those who do as he did: those who serve their brothers and sisters, never tiring of following Christ in his humility, never wearing of the Christian life, which is a life of service.
How do we become “good and faithful servants” (cf. Mt 25:21)? As a first step, we are asked to be available. A servant daily learns detachment from doing everything his own way and living his life as he would. Each morning he trains himself to be generous with his life and to realize that the rest of the day will not be his own, but given over to others. One who serves cannot hoard his free time; he has to give up the idea of being the master of his day. He knows that his time is not his own, but a gift from God which is then offered back to him. Only in this way will it bear fruit. One who serves is not a slave to his own agenda, but ever ready to deal with the unexpected, ever available to his brothers and sisters and ever open to God’s constant surprises. A servant knows how to open the doors of his time and inner space for those around him, including those who knock on those doors at odd hours, even if that entails setting aside something he likes to do or giving up some well-deserved rest. Dear deacons, if you show that you are available to others, your ministry will not be self-serving, but evangelically fruitful.
Today’s Gospel also speaks to us of service. It shows us two servants who have much to teach us: the servant of the centurion whom Jesus cures and the centurion himself, who serves the Emperor. The words used by the centurion to dissuade Jesus from coming to his house are remarkable, and often the very opposite of our own: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (7:6); I did not presume to come to you” (7:7); “I also am a man set under authority” (7:8). Jesus marvels at these words. He is struck by the centurion’s great humility, by his meekness. Given his troubles, the centurion might have been anxious and could have demanded to be heard, making his authority felt. He could have insisted and even forced Jesus to come to his house. Instead, he was modest and unassuming; he did not raise his voice or make a fuss. He acted, perhaps without even being aware of it, like God himself, who is “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). For God, who is love, out of love is ever ready to serve us. He is patient, kind and always there for us; he suffers for our mistakes and seeks the way to help us improve. These are the characteristics of Christian service; meek and humble, it imitates God by serving others: by welcoming them with patient love and unflagging sympathy, by making them feel welcome and at home in the ecclesial community, where the greatest are not those who command but those who serve (cf. Lk 22:26). This, dear deacons, is how your vocation as ministers of charity will mature: in meekness.
After the Apostle Paul and the centurion, today’s readings show us a third servant, the one whom Jesus heals. The Gospel tells us that he was dear to his master and was sick, without naming his grave illness (v. 2). In a certain sense, we can see ourselves in that servant. Each of us is very dear to God, who loves us, chooses us and calls us to serve. Yet each of us needs first to be healed inwardly. To be ready to serve, we need a healthy heart: a heart healed by God, one which knows forgiveness and is neither closed nor hardened. We would do well each day to pray trustingly for this, asking to be healed by Jesus, to grow more like him who “no longer calls us servants but friends” (cf. Jn 15:15). Dear deacons, this is a grace you can implore daily in prayer. You can offer the Lord your work, your little inconveniences, your weariness and your hopes in an authentic prayer that brings your life to the Lord and the Lord to your life. When you serve at the table of the Eucharist, there you will find the presence of Jesus, who gives himself to you so that you can give yourselves to others.
In this way, available in life, meek of heart and in constant dialogue with Jesus, you will not be afraid to be servants of Christ, and to encounter and caress the flesh of the Lord in the poor of our time.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received some four hundred children of different ethnicities, cultures and religions – many of them migrants and refugees – who had traveled to Rome from Calabria in southern Italy aboard the “Children’s Train” – the Treno dei Bambini – an annual initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which this year has as its theme, “Carried by waves”: a theme that is designed at once to invoke the often deadly danger of migration, and the hope in the promise of a better future that drives people – along with the threat of torture, slavery and death – to flee their homelands and seek a better life on strange and distant shores.
Click below to hear our full report
The children arrived Saturday at St. Peter’s railway station in the Vatican: their conveyance brining also the pain of the experience of its young passengers – their undeniable suffering, weaved together with the care and affection offered the children by the John XXIII Association, and the work of the “Quattrocanti” Children’s Orchestra of Palermo (in which boys and girls of eight different ethnicities are involved), as well as the initiative of Mary Salvia, principal of a school in Vibo Marina, who brought to Pope Francis the money from her school’s collection for the children of Lesbos and a letter signed by her pupils, which Cardinal Ravasi read to the Pope. “We children promise that we will welcome anyone who arrives in our country: we shall never consider anyone who has a different skin color, or who speaks a different language, or who professes a different religion from ours, a dangerous enemy.”
In an unscripted exchange with the young travelers, Pope Francis focused on the human cost of indifference to the plight of migrants, recounting the story and sharing the words of a rescue worker who brought the Holy Father the life vest of a young migrant who drowned at sea. “He brought me this jacket,” said Pope Francis, “and with tears in his eyes he said to me, ‘Father, I couldn’t do it – there was a little girl on the waves, and I did all I could, but I couldn’t save her: only her life vest was left.’” Then, indicating the Jacket, the Holy Father said, “I do not [tell you this because I] want you to be sad, but [because] you are brave and you [should] know the truth: they are in danger – many boys and girls, small children, men, women – they are in danger,” he said. “Let us think of this little girl: what was her name? I do not know: a little girl with no name. Each of you give her the name you would like, each in his heart. She is in heaven, she is looking on us.”
A teachable moment among many afforded by the occasion, as was the moment in which one of the Pope’s young visitors asked him what it means “to be Pope”: The Holy Father replied, “[to do] the good that I can do.” He went on to say, “I feel that Jesus called me to this: Jesus wanted me to be a Christian, and a Christian must do [the good he can]; and Jesus also wanted me to be a priest, and a bishop – and a priest and a bishop must do [the good they can]; I feel that Jesus is calling me to do this – that’s what I feel,” he said.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with Mr. Tony Tan Keng Yam, the President of the Republic of Singapore, who subsequently met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States.
A statement issued by the Holy See Press Office said the meeting was “cordial” and the parties spoke about “the good relations between the Holy See and Singapore, as well as the collaboration between Church and State, especially in the educational and social fields.”
The statement also said they also spoke about certain international issues and the regional political situation, with particular reference to the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue for the promotion of human rights, stability, justice and peace in Southeast Asia.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with Hebe de Bonafini, 87, the founder and president of the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo). The Association was formed by the mothers of those dissidents who “disappeared” (los desaparecidos) during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. During this period, Hebe de Bonafini lost two sons and her daughter-in-law.
She spoke after her meeting with the Holy Father, and told journalists the two had embraced and that apologized for earlier criticisms she had made of the Pope.
She also said they discussed the current situation in Argentina, especially the large number of people out of work, and struggling to survive.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter, in the Vatican on Friday for a private audience.
A press release from the Holy See Press Office called the meeting 'cordial', saying the Holy Father and Mr. Solís spoke about the good relationship between the Holy See and Costa Rica.
Mr. Solís expressed his appreciation for the important contribution of the Catholic Church to Costa Rican society, especially in the areas of education, health care, the promotion of human and spiritual values, and charitable works. The two leaders also spoke about several themes of common interest, including the protection of human life, migration, and drug trafficking. Finally, mention was made of the regional situation and a number of international issues.
Following his audience with the Holy Father, Mr. Solís met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted members of the Congregation of Don Orione, the Sons of Divine Providence, on the occasion of their 14th General Chapter.
The Congregation takes its inspiration from its founder, St Luigi Orione, whose motto was: “Do good to all; harm no one.” St Luigi Orione is remembered for his commitment to social justice and the service of those in need, a service guided and inspired by the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
In his address to the General Chapter, Pope Francis said, “The whole Church is called to journey with Jesus along the paths of the world, to encounter the humanity of today, which needs, as Don Orione wrote, ‘the bread of the body, and the divine balm of the Faith’.”
To put these words into practice today, the Pope said, the members of the Congregation must keep in mind their identity as “servants of Christ and of the poor.”
“You were called and consecrated by God,” he said, “to remain with Jesus and to serve Him in the poor and in those excluded from society." He called them to vigilance, that their faith “might not become an ideology,” or their charity a mere “philanthropy.”
Pope Francis recalled that, even during the lifetime of Don Orione, the Orionine Fathers were known as “running priests” because they “seemed to be always on the go, in the midst of the people, with the rapid pace of those who care.”
He exhorted them, “with Don Orione, to to not remain enclosed within your particular environment, but to ‘go out’.”
At the same time, it is important to never “lose sight of the Church” or of their own religious community. Rather, he said, “your heart must be there in your ‘cenaculum’, but then needs to go out to bring the mercy of God to all, without distinction.”(from Vatican Radio)