In his homily, the Pope recalled the memorial of Saint Luisa de Marillac, who co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Saint Vincent de Paul. A community of the nuns lives in the Casa Santa Marta, and run the pediatric dispensary in the Vatican. Her feast day was earlier on March 15 but since it fell during Lent, it was moved to May 9 in 2016.
A painting of the foundress was placed at the side of the altar in the chapel for her feast.
“Today is the commemoration of Saint Luisa de Marillac,” the Pope said at the start of the Mass. “Let us pray for the Vincentian sisters who have been running this clinic, this hospital, for almost 100 years and have worked here, in Santa Marta, for this hospital. May the Lord bless the sisters,” he said.
In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:44-52) where the Jews of Antioch “filled with jealousy and with violent abuse” contradicted Paul’s statements about Jesus. They incited the pious noblewomen and the famous people of the city, provoking persecution that forced Paul and Barnabas to leave the territory.
Speaking about the power of God, the Pope recalled the Responsorial Psalm, “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him, His holy arm. The Lord has made His salvation known…”
On the one hand,” the Pope noted, “there is the Holy Spirit who makes the Church grow. On the other hand, there is the evil spirit that tries to destroy the Church.”
It has always been this way – one goes ahead but the enemy comes to destroy. He said there are many difficulties and martyrdom in this growth, in this struggle. As the Word of God makes the Church grow, persecution often arises.
“The Church,” the Pope pointed out, “strives ahead between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world”. And when the Church “has no difficulties there is something missing”. He added: “If the devil is calm, things are not going well.”
The Pope said the instrument that the devil uses to destroy the proclamation of the Gospel is envy and jealousy. It is the devil’s anger that destroys.
Witnessing this struggle, the Pope said, it is good to realize that the Church goes ahead between the consolation of God and the persecution of the world.
There is always this struggle – the Holy Spirit creates harmony in the Church and the evil spirit destroys, even today.
Temporal powers, the Pope pointed out, are an instrument of this envy. “Temporal power can be good, people can be good but, in and of itself, power is always dangerous.”
“The power of the world is opposed to the power of God, and behind the power of this world lies money.”
The Pope said that ever since the morning of the Resurrection, temporal power and money have been used to silence the truth.
The Holy Father concluded saying that a Christian should place his or her trust in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and not in temporal power and money.
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.
It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.
On May 4th, the country entered its so-called ‘Phase 2′, where it will slowly relaxing some of the lockdown restrictions.
Public Masses in Italy with the faithful will resume on Monday, May 18th, according to a statement of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. There will continue to be various safety measures in place, in order to protect the faithful.
In Italy where nearly 30,000 people have died from COVID19, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been twelve cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a recent statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The Vatican Museums are closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.