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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis paid a previously unannounced visit to the Jesuit House in Krakow on Saturday and urged them to look outwards and not just be concerned with abstract ideas. The Pope spent about 40 minutes with the Jesuits in an informal encounter where they chatted and he answered a number of question but said he had no desire to make a speech. Around 30 Jesuits were present for the encounter including the Provincials.
The visit was not included in the Pope’s official programme during his stay in Krakow. However, Father Antonio Spadaro, Director of the Jesuit magazine Civilita Cattolica who was present for the meeting, said such visits have become almost a regular habit during the Pope’s pastoral journeys abroad.
Father Spadaro described the encounter as very cheerful, relaxed and informal. Asked about the Jesuits’ work with the world of culture especially at universities, Pope Francis said their work in this field “must be outward looking” and not only concerned with abstract concepts and ideas. He urged them to be very close to all those "who are marginalized" and stay far away from “a libertarian ideology that puts money at the centre rather than the human person.”
Turning to the work of priests, Pope Francis said that nowadays “there is a risk that a priest who has not received a good formation is either 'too white or too black' and acts by simply applying the rules in a mechanical fashion.” Instead, he stressed, “discernment is important” and should be at the heart of pastoral life. The Pope said for this reason it is necessary to help priests and seminarians with their spiritual discernment and this should be “one of the main tasks of the Society of Jesus nowadays.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Church of St. Francis in Krakow on Saturday to venerate the relics housed there of two Polish Franciscan martyrs, Zbigniew Strzalkowski and Michal Tomaszek. They were killed by the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas in Peru in 1991 and were beatified in 2015, together with the Italian priest Don Alessandro Dordi from the diocese of Bergamo. Several relatives of the martyrs were present together with the Superior General of the Franciscans and the Superior of the Franciscan House in Peru where the two martyrs lived.
During his visit to the church, Pope Francis said the following prayer (in Italian).
Please find below a translation into English of the Pope’s prayer:
“Prayer for peace and protection from violence and from terrorism”
O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits.
We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.
O Giver of life, we pray to You also for all those who have died as victims of brutal terrorist attacks. Grant them their eternal reward. May they intercede for the world that is torn apart by conflicts and disagreements.
O Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray to You for the ones who have been wounded in these acts of inhuman violence: children and young people, old people and innocent people accidentally involved in evil. Heal their bodies and hearts; console them with Your strength and, at the same time, take away any hatred and a desire for revenge.
Holy Spirit Consoler, visit the families of the victims of terrorism, families that suffer through no fault of their own. Wrap them in the mantle of Your divine mercy. Make them find again in You and in themselves the strength and courage to continue to be brothers and sisters for others, above all for immigrants, giving witness to Your love by their lives.
Touch the hearts of terrorists so that they may recognize the evil of their actions and may turn to the way of peace and goodness, of respect for the life and for the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, origin, wealth or poverty.
O God, Eternal Father, in Your mercy hear our prayer which we raise up to You amidst the deafening noise and desperation of the world. We turn to You with great hope, full of trust in Your infinite Mercy. Made strong by the examples of the blessed martyrs of Perú, Zbigniew and Michael, who have rendered courageous testimony to the Gospel, to the point of offering their blood, we entrust ourselves to the intercession of Your Most Holy Mother. We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday had lunch with a dozen young people serving as volunteers for World Youth Day in the Polish city of Krakow.
The private encounter took place in the residence of the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, following a morning Mass for priests and religious in the shrine dedicated to the Polish pope, Saint John Paul II.
The young men and women invited to join the Pope for lunch came from all the different continents and included representatives from New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Italy, Columbia, as well as the host nation, Poland. After the meal, they invited him to pose for a selfie with them as a souvenir of this very special occasion.
Each one of them was able to ask Pope Francis a question, to which he replied with the help of an interpreter. Speaking at a press conference after the meal, one of the volunteers said she asked him how he felt following his election to the pontificate in March 2013, to which he replied: ``I felt a bit of peace, and I haven't lost this peace.'' Another young woman asked Francis for some advice and his answer was: ``Don't give up hope”, adding that it’s important for young people to be themselves “in these times, these crucial moments.''
After lunch, the Pope took some time to rest at the residence, ahead of a prayer vigil with young people in the Campus Misericordiae or Field of Mercy venue on the outskirts of Krakow. The venue contains two new charitable centres, a day care for the elderly and a storage building for food parcels donated by local parishes for those most in need. Both buildings were constructed as a permanent reminder of the theme for this year’s World Youth Day, taken from St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday visited the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow and heard confession for several young World Youth Day pilgrims, before celebrating Mass for priests, religious and seminarians in the nearby sanctuary dedicated to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
Our special correspondent in Krakow, Lydia O’Kane reports on the morning activities of the Pope's penultimate day in Poland…..
The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy is one of the most important shrines in Poland and welcomes millions of people every year.
They come to venerate the image of Jesus, I trust in You, painted with blue and red rays emanating from his heart.
It is housed in the chapel of the convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and it was here on Friday that Pope Francis came to pray.
Outside in the grounds, meanwhile, and under the heat of the sun pilgrims, young and old, sat on the grass, some with babies on their laps others with children on their shoulders, soaking up the atmosphere of this Papal visit
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”, is the theme of this World Youth Day, so it was entirely fitting that the Holy Father should be here to visit this place of pilgrimage , so synonymous with the promoters of Divine Mercy, Sr Faustina Kowalska and St John Paul II.
After hearing the confessions of a number of young people, and passing through the Holy Door of this purpose built shrine devoted to the Merciful Jesus, the Pope travelled the short distance to the Sanctuary of St John Paul II to celebrate Mass for Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons and Seminarians.
As the Pope entered this sanctuary dedicated to his illustrious predecessor, the golden mosaics created by Fr Marko Ivan Rupnik glistened and the faces of the nuns in their distinctive habits beamed.
One of the key messages of Pope Francis’ pontificate has been the Mercy of God and in his homily he told those present that each of them held in his or her heart “a very personal page of the book of God’s mercy. It is the story of our own calling, he said, “the voice of the love that attracted us and transformed our life, leading us to leave everything at his word and to follow him.”
The Pope stressed that the Gospel of God’s Mercy remained “an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practice.” Jesus, he added, “wants hearts that are open and tender towards the weak, never hearts that are hardened.”
Recalling the words of Saint John Paul II, Pope Francis urged those called to the religious life not to remain closed in, but to “open the doors” and live out the Mercy of God. And in a final gesture at the end of this celebration, Pope Francis bowed his head at the relic of this other messenger of Mercy, Saint John Paul II.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) On Saturday morning, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow. He began his visit at the Chapel of St Faustina Kowalska, where he was greeted by the Superior General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and the Superior of the Convent. While there, he blessed a large picture of the Divine Mercy, and later prayed before the tomb of St Faustina. At the conclusion of his visit, the Holy Father signed the guest book, adding, in Spanish, the words, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifices.”
Leaving the convent, the Pope arrived at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. From the terrace, he greeted the young people gathered in the “field of confessions”: “The Lord today wants us to feel His mercy even more deeply,” the Pope said. “Never distance yourself from Jesus! Even if, because of our sins and our failings, we feel we are the worst, He prefers us that way – thus His mercy spreads out. Let us all profit this day by receiving the mercy of Jesus.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Pope Francis led the young people in a prayer to the “Mother of Mercy,” and asked them to please pray for him.
During his visit to the sanctuary, Pope Francis also walked through the Holy Door established at the church for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis heard the confessions of young pilgrims to World Youth Day in Krakow on Saturday. The moment of recollection and sacramental reconciliation took place at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy just outside the host city on the morning of the penultimate day of the week-long gathering.
The Holy Father heard the confessions of five different young people.
The Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy is the focal point of a devotion given to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun and mystic, whom Pope St. John Paul II canonized, and whose devotion he helped spread throughout the world.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) From the window of the Archbishop’s residence on Friday evening, Pope Francis recalled this day as one of pain. “Friday, he said, is the day when we remember the death of Jesus and with the young people we prayed the Way of the Cross: the suffering and death of Jesus for all of us.”
So many people, the Pope noted, “so many people are suffering: the sick; those who are at war; the homeless; the hungry; those who are doubtful in life, who do not feel happiness,”…
In the afternoon, he continued, “I went to the children’s hospital. There too, Jesus suffers in so many sick children: I always ask myself that question, "Why do children suffer?". It's a mystery. There are no answers to these questions ...”
Recalling his morning at Auschwitz-Birkenau, he said, “how much pain, how much cruelty! Is it possible that we men, created in the likeness of God, we are able to do these things?
Then he added, “cruelty did not end in Auschwitz, Birkenau: even today. Today! Today we torture people; many prisoners are tortured immediately, to get them to talk ... It 's terrible!” “Today there is this cruelty. We say, "Yes, there we saw the cruelty more than 70 years ago. How they died shot or hanged or with gas .. ". But today in many places of the world where there is war, it's the same! In this reality, the Holy Father said, “Jesus came to take us on his shoulders. He asks us to pray. We pray for all the Jesus’ who today are in the world: the hungry; the thirsty; the doubters; the sick, who are on their own; those who feel the weight of so many doubts and guilt. Who suffer so much ... Let us pray for all the sick children, innocent, who carry the Cross for children. And we pray for so many men and women who today are tortured in many countries of the world; for prisoners who are all piled up there, as if they were animals.”
“Everyone here is a sinner”, the Pope concluded, “we all have the weight of our sins.” “But He loves us: He loves us!” Let's all pray together for these people who are suffering in the world today so many bad things, many bad things. And when there are tears, the child seeks its mother. Even us sinners we are children, we look for our mother and pray to Our Lady all together, each in his own language.”(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday evening joined youth from around the world for an artistic rendition of the Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross. Lydia O'Kane is in Poland with the Holy Father, and sends us this report.
The theme of this Way of the Cross for World Youth Day was the path of mercy and this solemn event opened in Blonia Park in Krakow to the anthem of the Jubilee Year performed by a talented youth orchestra and choir with Pope Francis looking on.
In a prelude to the mediations for this evening, a girl in Marian like clothes took to the stage creating a design drawn in sand which revealed the face of Christ.
All through the Via Crucis the World Youth Day cross was brought to each station by a different group of young people which included a group of refugees from Syria, a former homeless couple from Poland and nuns from the missionaries of charity; all symbolising the works of mercy.
Many of the stops on the way to Calvary were artistically re-enacted through the medium of dance and at the 10th station an acrobat took to the sky where the cloth wound around him fell away to symbolise Jesus being stripped of his garments.
At the 12th station and to the strains of Samuel Barber’s, “Adagio for Strings”, Jesus on the Cross at Blonia Park took his last breath and the world's youth here fell silent
In his words, following this intense and moving event, the Holy Father posed the question; where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees? Where is God, when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism and war? “We can only look to Jesus and ask him”, the Pope said, “and Jesus’ answer is this: “God is in them”. Jesus is in them; he suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them.”
The Pope also had words for the group of Syrian refugees present here on Friday evening, saying, “tonight Jesus, and we with him, embrace with particular love our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war. We greet them and we welcome them with fraternal affection and friendship.”
As Pope Francis departed from Blonia Park, he left the hundreds of thousands of young people present with this message of hope.
“The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life.”
With Pope Francis in Krakow, I'm Lydia O'Kane(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told young people that the world needs those who do not live their lives “halfway” and who like Christ are ready to spend their lives serving the poorest and most vulnerable. He said the Way of the Cross is Jesus’ style and is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism or solitude. The Pope was speaking at the conclusion of a Way of the Cross event attended by young people taking part in the World Youth Day gathering in the Polish city of Krakow.
During his address to the young people, the Pope had affectionate words of greeting for “our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war.” The Syrian refugees were among a group of about 20 young people helping to carry the Cross during the first station. The others included a Polish couple who until recently lived on the streets and young people from Italy, Argentina, Ukraine and Pakistan.
Please find below a translation into English of the Pope’s prepared remarks at the Way of the Cross event:
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me (Mt 25:35-36).
These words of Jesus answer the question that arises so often in our minds and hearts: “Where is God?” Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees? Where is God, when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism and war? Where is God, when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection? Or when children are exploited and demeaned, and they too suffer from grave illness? Where is God, amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit? These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer. We can only look to Jesus and ask him. And Jesus’ answer is this: “God is in them”. Jesus is in them; he suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them. He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, “one body”.
Jesus himself chose to identify with these our brothers and sisters enduring pain and anguish by agreeing to tread the “way of sorrows” that led to Calvary. By dying on the cross, he surrendered himself into to the hands of the Father, taking upon himself and in himself, with self-sacrificing love, the physical, moral and spiritual wounds of all humanity. By embracing the wood of the cross, Jesus embraced the nakedness, the hunger and thirst, the loneliness, pain and death of men and women of all times. Tonight Jesus, and we with him, embrace with particular love our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war. We greet them and we welcome them with fraternal affection and friendship.
By following Jesus along the Way of the Cross, we have once again realized the importance of imitating him through the fourteen works of mercy. These help us to be open to God’s mercy, to implore the grace to appreciate that without mercy we can do nothing; without mercy, neither I nor you nor any of us can do a thing. Let us first consider the seven corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, and burying the dead. Freely we have received, so freely let us give. We are called to serve the crucified Jesus in all those who are marginalized, to touch his sacred flesh in those who are disadvantaged, in those who hunger and thirst, in the naked and imprisoned, the sick and unemployed, in those who are persecuted, refugees and migrants. There we find our God; there we touch the Lord. Jesus himself told us this when he explained the criterion on which we will be judged: whenever we do these things to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do them to him (cf. Mt 25:31-46).
After the corporal works of mercy come the spiritual works: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, consoling the afflicted, pardoning offences, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead. In welcoming the outcasts who suffer physically and welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake.
Humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives “halfway”, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable, in imitation of Christ who gave himself completely for our salvation. In the face of evil, suffering and sin, the only response possible for a disciple of Jesus is the gift of self, even of one’s own life, in imitation of Christ; it is the attitude of service. Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose. By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ.
This evening, dear friends, the Lord once more asks you to be in the forefront of serving others. He wants to make of you a concrete response to the needs and sufferings of humanity. He wants you to be signs of his merciful love for our time! To enable you to carry out this mission, he shows you the way of personal commitment and self-sacrifice. It is the Way of the Cross. The Way of the Cross is the way of fidelity in following Jesus to the end, in the often dramatic situations of everyday life. It is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism or solitude, because it fills ours hearts with the fullness of Jesus. The Way of the Cross is the way of God’s own life, his “style”, which Jesus brings even to the pathways of a society at times divided, unjust and corrupt.
The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life. It is the way of hope, the way of the future. Those who take up this way with generosity and faith give hope and a future to humanity.
Dear young people, on that Good Friday many disciples went back crestfallen to their homes. Others chose to go out to the country to forget the cross. I ask you: How do you want to go back this evening to your own homes, to the places where you are staying? How do you want to go back this evening to be alone with your thoughts? Each of you has to answer the challenge that this question sets before you.(from Vatican Radio)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited on Friday the Pediatric Hospital of Prokocim near Krakow and in an address to patients and staff said he wished that “We Christians could be as close to the sick as Jesus was, in silence, with a caress, with prayer.” Sadly, the Pope continued, “our society is tainted by the culture of waste” and the victims of this “are the weakest and frailest and this is indeed cruel." He thanked all those working at the hospital for the love and compassion shown towards the young patients, describing this as “the sign of true civility, human and Christian: to make those who are most disadvantaged the centre of social and political concern.”
Please find below an English translation of the Pope’s greeting to patients and staff at the Children’s Hospital:
Dear brothers and sisters,
A special part of my visit to Kraków is this meeting with the little patients of this hospital. I greet all of you and I thank the Prime Minister for his kind words. I would like to draw near to all children who are sick, to stand at their bedside, and embrace them. I would like to listen to everyone here, even if for only a moment, and to be still before questions that have no easy answers. And to pray.
The Gospel often shows us the Lord Jesus meeting the sick, embracing them and seeking them out. Jesus is always attentive to them. He looks at them in the same way that a mother looks at her sick child, and he is moved by compassion for them.
How I would wish that we Christians could be as close to the sick as Jesus was, in silence, with a caress, with prayer. Sadly, our society is tainted by the culture of waste, which is the opposite of the culture of acceptance. And the victims of the culture of waste are those who are weakest and most frail; and this is indeed cruel. How beautiful it is instead to see that in this hospital the smallest and most needy are welcomed and cared for. Thank you for this sign of love that you offer us! This is the sign of true civility, human and Christian: to make those who are most disadvantaged the centre of social and political concern.
Sometimes families feel alone in providing this care. What can be done? From this place, so full of concrete signs of love, I would like to say: Let us multiply the works of the culture of acceptance, works inspired by Christian love, love for Jesus crucified, for the flesh of Christ. To serve with love and tenderness persons who need our help makes all of us grow in humanity. It opens before us the way to eternal life. Those who engage in works of mercy have no fear of death.
I encourage all those who have made the Gospel call to “visit the sick” a personal life decision: physicians, nurses, healthcare workers, chaplains and volunteers. May the Lord help you to do your work well, here as in every other hospital in the world. May he reward you by giving you inner peace and a heart always capable of tenderness.
Thank you for this encounter! I carry you with me in affection and prayer. And please, do not forget to pray for me.(from Vatican Radio)