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Pope Expresses Support for Access to Sacraments & Churches With Faithful (Full Text of Morning Homily)

Praying Also For Expectant Mothers, Says the ‘Ideal of the Church Is Always With the People and the Sacraments — Always’

Pope Francis has pushed for–always in the most cautious and prudent manner–there to be access to sacraments to the faithful. He has also stressed that the ideal of the Church is always to have the Sacraments and the people of God together, and that thinking otherwise is dangerous.

According to Vatican News, this was at the heart of the Pope’s homily today, April 17, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on today’s Gospel according to St. John (John 21: 1-14).

Praying for Expecting Mothers…

At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of coronavirus, Francis prayed for expecting mothers who may be scared.

“I wish that today we prayed for the women who are waiting, pregnant women who will become mothers and are restless, they worry,” he recognized, saying many ask themselves: “In what world will my child live?”

“Let us pray for them,” he exhorted, “so that the Lord will give them the courage to carry on these children with the confidence that it will certainly be a different world, but it will always be a world that the Lord will love so much.”

In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on how the Apostles and disciples were with Jesus, in community, not isolated, and how in this way, the Apostles’ familiarity with the Lord had grown.

“We Christians too, in our life’s journey are in this state of walking, of progressing in familiarity with the Lord,” Francis said, noting being Christian requires a daily familiarity with the Lord. The Jesuit Pope reminded how they ate together, spoke together, and spent quality time together.

This familiarity of Christians with the Lord, Francis said, is always of community. “Yes, it’s intimate, it’s personal but it’s in community,” he said.

A Familiarity With the Lord, Without Sacraments & People Is Dangerous

“A familiarity without community, without Bread, without the Church, without the people, without the Sacraments,” Francis stressed, “is dangerous.”

“It could become — let’s say –a gnostic familiarity, a familiarity only for myself, detached from the people of God. The Apostles’ familiarity with the Lord was always that of community, it was always at table, sign of community; it was always with the Sacrament, with the Bread.”

The Pope expressed that he wished to say this after someone made him reflect on the danger that this moment that we are living during this pandemic–that has made all of us communicate, including religiously, through the media, through the means of communication, also this Mass, we are all communicating–but not ‘together,’ only spiritually together.

Francis went on to analyze how we are ‘together’ spiritually, but not really together, and that the people connected with their priests and bishops only have Spiritual Communion.

“And this,” he underscored, “isn’t the Church: this is the Church of a difficult situation, which the Lord permits, but the ideal of the Church is always with the people and with the Sacraments — always.”

A Good Bishop Reproached Me …Then I Understood Why

Before Easter, when the news came out that I was to celebrate Easter in an empty Saint Peter’s, a Bishop wrote me — a good Bishop, good, and he reproached me. “But how come, Saint Peter’s is so big, why don’t you put at least 30 persons there, so that people are seen? There won’t be a danger . . . “I thought: “But what does he have in his head to say this to me?” At that moment, I didn’t understand. However, as he is a good Bishop, very close to the people, he must want to say something to me. When I meet him, I’ll ask him.

“Then I understood,” Francis noted. “He was saying to me: “Be careful not to virtualize the Church, to virtualize the Sacraments, to virtualize the People of God. The Church, the Sacraments, the People of God are concrete. It’s true that at this moment we must have this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but we must come out of the tunnel, not stay there.

This, Francis stressed, is the familiarity of the Apostles, “not gnostic,” “virtualized,” nor “egotistical for each one of them,” but a “concrete familiarity in the people — familiarity with the Lord in daily life, familiarity with the Lord in the Sacraments, in the midst of the People of God.”

Francis called on us to learn, like they did, how to undertake a path of maturity in familiarity with the Lord. They understood from the first moment, the Pope observed, that “this familiarity was different from that which they imagined,” but they eventually arrived at this, Francis said.

“They knew it was the Lord, they shared everything: the community, the Sacraments, the Lord, peace and celebration.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord teach us this intimacy with Him, this familiarity with Him but in the Church, with the Sacraments, with the holy faithful people of God.”

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 this month 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.

In Italy where more than 20,000 people have died from coronavirus, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been seven cases of coronavirus; at least two people healed.

The Vatican Museums are now 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.

For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:

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FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]

The disciples were fishermen: in fact, Jesus called them while they were at work. Andrew and Peter were casting a net. They left their nets and followed Jesus (Cf. Matthew 4:18-20). The same with John and James: they left their father and the boys working with them and followed Jesus (Cf. Matthew 4:21-22). The call was in fact in their job of fishermen. And this passage of today’s Gospel, this miracle, of the miraculous catch, makes us think of another miraculous catch, that which Luke recounts (Cf. Luke 5:1-11), the same thing also happened there. They had a catch, when they thought they didn’t have any. After He ceased speaking, Jesus said: “Put out into the deep” — “We toiled all night and took nothing!” “Go.” “Trusting in His word — Peter says — I will let down the nets.” Such was the quantity there — says the Gospel – that “they were astonished” (Cf. Luke 5:9) by that miracle. Today, in this other catch, there is no talk of astonishment. A certain naturalness is seen, one sees that there was progress, a path covered in knowledge of the Lord, in intimacy with the Lord; I’ll say the just word: in familiarity with the Lord. When John saw this, he said to Peter: “It is the Lord!”, and Peter put on his clothes and sprang into the water to go to the Lord (Cf. John 21:7). The first time, he knelt before Him and said: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man” (Cf. Luke 5:8). This time he doesn’t say anything, he is more natural. No one asked: “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord, the encounter with the Lord was natural; the Apostles’ familiarity with the Lord had grown.

We Christians too, in our life’s journey are in this state of walking, of progressing in familiarity with the Lord. The Lord, I could say, is somewhat “at hand,” but “at hand” because He walks with us; we know it is He. No one here asked Him: “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. That of a Christian is a daily familiarity with the Lord. And, not doubt, they had breakfast together, with the fish and bread; no doubt they spoke of many things naturally. This familiarity of Christians with the Lord is always of community. Yes, it’s intimate, it’s personal but in community. A familiarity without community, a familiarity without Bread, a familiarity without the Church, without the people, without the Sacraments is dangerous. It could become — let’s say –a gnostic familiarity, a familiarity only for myself, detached from the people of God. The Apostles’ familiarity with the Lord was always that of community, it was always at table, sign of community; it was always with the Sacrament, with the Bread.

I say this because someone made me reflect on the danger that this moment that we are living, this pandemic that has made all of us communicate, including religiously, through the media, through the means of communication, also this Mass, we are all communicating, but not together, we are spiritually together. The people are small <in number but> there are many people: we are together, but not together. The Sacrament also: you have it, the Eucharist, today, but the people that are connected with us only have Spiritual Communion. And this isn’t the Church: this is the Church of a difficult situation, which the Lord permits, but the ideal of the Church is always with the people and with the Sacraments — always.

Before Easter, when the news came out that I was to celebrate Easter in an empty Saint Peter’s, a Bishop wrote me — a good Bishop, good, and he reproached me. “But how come, Saint Peter’s is so big, why don’t you put at least 30 persons there, so that people are seen? There won’t be a danger . . . “I thought: “But what does he have in his head to say this to me?” At that moment, I didn’t understand. However, as he is a good Bishop, very close to the people, he must want to say something to me. When I meet him, I’ll ask him. Then I understood. He was saying to me: “Be careful not to virtualize the Church, to virtualize the Sacraments, to virtualize the People of God. The Church, the Sacraments, the People of God are concrete. It’s true that at this moment we must have this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but <we must come out of the tunnel, not stay there. And this is the familiarity of the Apostles: not gnostic, not virtualized, not egotistical for each one of them, but a concrete familiarity in the people — familiarity with the Lord in daily life, familiarity with the Lord in the Sacraments, in the midst of the People of God. They undertook a path of maturity in familiarity with the Lord: let us also learn to do it. They understood from the first moment that this familiarity was different from that which they imagined, and they arrived at this. They knew it was the Lord, they shared everything: the community, the Sacraments, the Lord, peace and celebration.

May the Lord teach us this intimacy with Him, this familiarity with Him but in the Church, with the Sacraments, with the holy faithful people of God.

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:

I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer You the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness in Your holy Presence. I adore You in the Sacrament of your Love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You. While awaiting the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in spirit. Come to me, O Jesus, that I may come to You. May your love inflame my whole being in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You.

Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide:

Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

 

(Rejoice, O Queen of Heaven, alleluia.

For Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,

Is risen, as He promised, alleluia.

Pray to the Lord for us, alleluia).

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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