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Santa Marta Saturday: Pope Prays for Those who Bury the Dead

Warns of Dangers of Worldliness

Pope Francis on May 16, 2020, offered prayers for those who bury the dead during the coronavirus pandemic, who risk the health for the unpleasant work. His remarks came during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, reported by Vatican News.

During his homily, the Holy Father warned of worldliness that can lead to hatred of Jesus and his followers.

“Let us pray today,” he said, “for people who bury the dead during the pandemic.”  “To bury the dead,” he said, “is one of the works of mercy and, obviously, it is not something pleasant. Let us also pray for them because they also risk their lives and can be infected.”

Later, in his homily, the Pope commented on the day’s Gospel (Jn 15:18-21) where Jesus says to His disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

The Pope said that Jesus often speaks about the world and about hatred against Him and His disciples. He asks the Father not to remove the disciples from the world but to defend them from the spirit of the world.

The Holy Father thus dwelt on this worldliness that is capable of hating and destroying Jesus, His disciples, and even corrupting the Church.

Worldliness, the Pope explained, is a proposal of life. It is a culture of the ephemeral, of appearance, of cosmetic make-up with superficial values.  It is a culture that knows no fidelity because it changes according to circumstances. Like a chameleon, it negotiates everything.

It is this worldliness that Jesus, in His prayer, asks the Father to defend us from. Worldliness, he continued, is a throwaway culture that goes according to convenience. It is also a way of life for many who call themselves Christians but are worldly. The concerns of the world drown the faith.

The Pope recalled the renowned 20th-century Jesuit theologian, Father Henri de Lubac who described worldliness as the worst of evils afflicting the Church.  Spiritual worldliness is a way of living Christianity that kills because it hates faith. Worldliness enters everywhere, even in the Church.

Pope Francis pointed to martyrs who are killed for hatred of the faith. He warned against the mistake of regarding spiritual worldliness as something superficial, saying it has deep roots.

Pope Francis recalled Saint Paul’s speech at the Areopagus in Athens, where he drew attention to the “unknown god” and began preaching the Gospel.  “But when he arrived at the cross and resurrection they were scandalized and left.”

The one thing that worldliness cannot tolerate, the Pope pointed out, is the scandal of the cross. “The only medicine against worldliness is Christ who died and rose for us. Victory against the world is faith in Jesus.” The foolishness of the cross and the victory of Christ is our victory too, the Pope said, referring to the First Letter of John.

The world hates Jesus and He prays to the Father to defend us from the spirit of the world. However, faith does not mean being fanatical or not dialoguing with others.

The Holy Father thus urged Christians to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to be able to discern between worldliness and the Gospel, so as not to be deceived.

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.

The Masses at Santa Marta will stop being streamed as of Monday, May 18th.

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 more than 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.

About Jim Fair

Jim Fair is a husband, father, grandfather, writer, and communications consultant. He also likes playing the piano and fishing. He writes from the Chicago area.

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