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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 15, 2015

Pope Francis: Don’t Read Your Horoscope, Look to Jesus

Says That It’s Not Important to Know the When or the How of the End, But Rather to Be Prepared

When you feel the urge to check your horoscope, instead turn your gaze to Jesus, recommends Pope Francis, who assures that a glance toward Our Lord “will serve us better” than fortune-tellers.

The Pope said this today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on this second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year.

The readings from the liturgies of this season focus on the end of times, as today’s selection from the 13th Chapter of Mark.

Though there are “apocalyptic elements” in the reading, the Pope explained, “these segments are not the essential part of the message.”

“The central nucleus around which the words of Jesus turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time. Our final goal is an encounter with the Risen Lord.”

The Pope asked how often we consider the fact that “There will be a day in which I encounter the Lord face to face,” saying that what’s important is not knowing when or how the end times will come, but rather “that we find ourselves prepared.”

And the lesson from the fig tree that Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel teaches us to “look toward our current days with an outlook of hope.”

Hope is a virtue that’s hard to live, the Pontiff acknowledged, referring to it as the “smallest of the virtues, but the strongest.” But, “our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes ‘with great power and glory,’ and this will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection.”

Stable point

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ triumph at the end of time “will be the triumph of the cross.” And he said that there’s only one victorious power: “the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ.” This, he said, “is the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world.”

Jesus is the “destination point of our earthly pilgrimage,” but he is also the “constant presence in our lives,” the Pope continued, saying that “he is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us so much.”

“He wants to direct his disciples of every age away from curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and concentrate their attention on the today of history.”

In this context, the Pope asked: how many are there among us who read their horoscope every day? 

“When you feel like reading your horoscope,” he said, “look to Jesus who is with us. That is better and will serve us better.”

“Everything passes, the Lord reminds us. His word alone remains as light that looks upon and steadies our journey. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We only have to look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our lives, and persevere with joy in his love.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-today-and-the-end-times

It’s Blasphemy to Use God’s Name to Justify Violence: Pope

Asks Our Lady to Watch Over France, the Church’s ‘Eldest Daughter’

Pope Francis today reiterated his “profound sorrow” at the terrorist attacks in France on Friday evening that left at least 132 dead.

After praying the midday Angelus today with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said, “To the president of the Republic of France and all of its citizens, I express my deepest sorrow. I feel particularly close to the families of those who lost their lives and the wounded.”

“Such barbarity,” the Pontiff continued, “leaves us stunned and makes us question how the heart of man could come up with and carry out such horrific acts, which have shattered not only France, but the whole world.”

He condemned the “intolerable acts,” as an “unspeakable attack on the dignity of the human person.”

“I want to vigorously reaffirm that the path of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity,” the Pope declared. “And that to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.”

Francis invited those in the Square and those listening around the world to join in his own prayer for France: “Let us entrust the defenseless victims of this tragedy to the mercy of God. Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, plant in the hearts of all thoughts of wisdom and resolutions of peace. 

“We ask her to protect us and to watch over the beloved French nation, the eldest daughter of the Church, all of Europe and the whole world.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-today-and-the-end-times

ANALYSIS: Religious Practice in America: Mixed Results, But Religion Is Still Important

Survey Looks at Landscape

By some measures Americans are becoming less religious. At the same time there is stability in the overall pattern of religious behavior and by some measures those Americans who are religious are more devout than in the past.

These findings come from a large-scale survey carried out by the Pew Research Center. The report, released earlier this month, is based on evidence provided by the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study.

The study was based on a nationally representative telephone survey of 35,071 adults. It is the second report from this survey, with the first one published in May this year focusing on the demographic characteristics of U.S. religious groups.

Compared with 2007 there was a slight decline in the number of adults who say they believe in God, declining from 92% to 89%. A more significant reduction occurred in the percentage who said they were “absolutely certain” that God exists, from 71% in 2007 to 63% in 2014.

There is also a growing share of Americans who are not identified with any religion. These unaffiliated people are termed “nones” and in 2014 they accounted for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.

Nevertheless, a majority of the “nones” declare that they believe in God, even though they are less religiously observant than those who identify with a specific faith.

Of the 77% of Americans who do identify with a specific faith, two-thirds declare that they pray every day and that religion is very important to them. Approximately six in 10 say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month.

Higher religious practice

Some results of the survey pointed to a growth in religious practice among those who are religiously affiliated. The number of religiously affiliated adults who say they regularly read scripture, share their faith with others and participate in small prayer groups or scripture study groups all increased modestly compared to the results in 2007.

In addition, about six in 10 adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of “spiritual peace and well-being,” up 7% since 2007.

The study explained that the decline in religious affiliation and practice is due to a generational change, with an older generation of Christians being replaced by young adults who are less likely to be attached to organized religion.

One factor that plays an important role in influencing the level of religious practice is which church or organization a person belongs to.

Roughly eight in 10 or more of evangelical Protestants, as well as Protestants who belong to churches that are part of the historically black Protestant tradition, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses say religion is “very important” in their lives. Lower down the scale are mainline Protestants and Catholics, with around six in 10 saying that religion is very important for them.

These numbers have remained constant over time, as has the rate of attendance at religious services. The study also noted that some indicators have risen. For example,the number of those who say they share their faith with nonbelievers or members of other faith traditions, and the percentage of those who say they read scripture outside of religious services.

This contrasts with the attitude of the religious “nones” where in recent years there has been a decline in the numbers of those who say religion is important for them and the number of those who pray.

One-third of religiously unaffiliated adults now say they do not believe in God, up 11 points since 2007, the study noted.

Thus, the report explained, the absolute number of Americans who are highly religious has not changed, but the United States is growing less religious in percentage terms because as the overall population has grown there are now many more non-religious people compared with the past.

This pattern of change seems set to continue if the study by the Pew Center reflects long-term trends. The younger group of adults, in their late teens up to their early 30s, are much less religiously observant than older adults. Moreover, even younger adults who are religiously affiliated are less observant than those who are older.

This trend has to be counterbalanced against other studies that show there is a tendency for people to become more religious as they get older, the study qualified.

Spiritual but not religious

One way to interpret the data, the Pew Center continued, is to say that the adult population is becoming less religious, but more spiritual. Compared with 2007 the share of respondents in 2014 who declared they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week rose by seven percentage points.

As well, 46% say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe on a weekly basis, a sharp increase since 2007.

Large numbers of adults also declared that they frequently feel a deep sense of gratitude, including two-thirds of the religiously unaffiliated.

Overall, while America still stands out among Western countries for its high level of religious practice, it too is experiencing the effects of a growing secularization that looks set to continue in the near future.

Angelus Address: On Today and the End Times

“The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Gospel of this second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year proposes to us some of Jesus’ words about the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfillment of the reign of God.

It is the preaching that Jesus gave in Jerusalem before his last Passover. It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes. “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

Still, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The central nucleus around which the words of Jesus turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time. Our final goal is an encounter with the Risen Lord.

I would like to ask how many of you think about this: “There will be a day in which I encounter the Lord face to face.” And this is our goal, our encounter. We do not await a time or a place; rather we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather that we find ourselves prepared. It’s also not about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things.

We are called to live the present building our future with serenity and trust in God. The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of approaching summer, teaches that the perspective of the end doesn’t distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look toward our current days with an outlook of hope.

Hope: this virtue that is so hard to live. The smallest of the virtues, but the strongest. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory,” and this will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world. 

The Lord Jesus is not only the destination point of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives. That’s why when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always to lead us back to the present.

He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he counters fatalism. He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us so much.

He wants to direct his disciples of every age away from curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and concentrate their attention on the today of history. 

I would like to ask you — but don’t answer out loud; each one answer to himself — how many are there among us who read the horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with us. That is better and will serve us better.

This presence of Jesus calls us, yes, to anticipation and vigilance that excludes both impatience and lethargy, [both] the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and worldliness. In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every type. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us. His word alone remains as light that looks upon and steadies our journey. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We only have to look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our lives, and persevere with joy in his love.

[Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters, I want to express my profound sorrow over the terrorist attacks that bloodied France on Friday night, resulting in numerous victims.

To the president of the Republic of France and all of its citizens, I express my deepest sorrow. I feel particularly close to the families of those who lost their lives and the wounded.

Such barbarity leaves us stunned and makes us question how the heart of man could come up with and carry out such horrific acts, which have shattered not only France, but the whole world.

In the face of such intolerable acts, we cannot cease condemning this unspeakable attack on the dignity of the human person. 

I want to vigorously reaffirm that the path of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity. And that to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy. 

I invite you to join in my prayer: let us entrust the defenseless victims of this tragedy to the mercy of God. Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, plant in the hearts of all thoughts of wisdom and resolutions of peace. 

We ask her to protect us and to watch over the beloved French nation, the eldest daughter of the Church, all of Europe and the whole world.

Let us pray in silence for a moment and then, a Hail Mary …

[Hail Mary]

Yesterday in Tres Puntas, in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, Fr. Francisco de Paula Victor was beatified. He was a Brazilian priest of African origin, the son of a slave. A generous parish priest, dedicated to catechesis and administering the sacraments, he was particularly distinguished by his great humility.

May his extraordinary testimony be a model for so many priests, called to be humble servants of the people of God. 

I greet everyone here, families, parishes, associations and each one of the faithful who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrims coming from Granada, Málaga, Valencia and Murcia, Spain, — so many Spaniards! — San Salvador and Malta. To the association ‘Accompagnatori Santuari Mariani nel Mondo’ and the Cristo Rey secular institute. I wish all of you a good Sunday. And please, don’t forget to pray for mi. Have a good lunch and arrivederci.

[Transcription and translation by ZENIT]

Message of Archbishop of Paris

“Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred”

The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has issued this statement on the terrorist attacks of Friday. Here is Vatican Radio’s translation of the statement: 

* * *

Our city of Paris, our country, was hit last night with particular savagery and intensity. After the attacks of last January, after the attack in Beirut this week and many others in these past months, including in Nigeria and other African countries, our country knows anew the pain of grief and must face the barbarism spread by fanatical groups.

This morning I pray, and invite Catholics of Paris to pray, for those who were killed yesterday and for their families, for the injured and their loved ones and for those who are hard at work assisting them, for the police forces who face formidable challenges, and for our leaders and country, so that together we will remain in unity and peace of heart.

I ask the parishes of Paris to comply strictly with the measures issued by public authorities. I ask them to make today and tomorrow days of mourning and prayer. Sunday evening at 18.30 I will preside at Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris for the victims and their families and for our country; the bell of the cathedral will toll at 18.15. Catholic Television (KTO) will broadcast this Mass, allowing all who wish to join us.

Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred. May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice.

+ Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris

 

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