FULL TEXT: Pope’s Homily for Opening of Jubilee of Mercy
‘The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world.’
Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis’ homily for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception:
In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act – as I did in Bangui – so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28).
The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, a cause for faith, a cause for abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan. Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Sin can only be understood in this light. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.
This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel thatwe ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.
Today, here in Rome and in all the dioceses of the world, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel, and the mercy and forgiveness of God. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan.[Original Text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]
FEATURE: Why Can’t the Little Sisters of the Poor Just Sign the Paper?
A moral theologian considers elements at play in the nuns’ opposition to the ‘contraception mandate’
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell (Sylvia Burwell is Secretary of Health and Human Services). The Sisters want an exemption from the odious Obamacare contraception mandate. Presently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exempts only churches and their exclusively “religious” activities, and—since the Hobby Lobby case—closely held for-profit corporations. The Little Sisters of the Poor, like the vast majority of religious schools, hospitals and charities, are a religious non-profit organization with activities not deemed by the government to be exclusively religious. So no exemption.
But the government does offer them an “accommodation”. The Sister’s would have to fill out a government-issued certificate on which they would specify the name of their organization and the name and contact information of the person authorized to make the certification on their behalf (e.g., their General Superior). And then they’d sign it and submit it to their health insurance plan’s “third-party administrator”— a separate organization charged with managing aspects of the plan.
The submission would do two things. It would deliberately signal that the Sisters are unwilling to act as the plan administrator or claims administrator with respect to claims for contraceptive services. And it would unintentionally activate a process by which the third party administrator arranges for the provision of abortion drugs, sterilizations, and other contraceptives, free of charge, to any female employee of the Little Sisters of the Poor who wants them.
The Obama administration believes this sufficiently distances religious employers from wrongfully cooperating in the supplying of the objectionable services. But the administration’s belief is false. To assess moral cooperation, we don’t look at the “distance” between one’s own act and the evil in which one cooperates. We assess it by looking at what one intentionally chooses and unintentionally causes.
For example, consider a woman who is a branch manager in a big pharmaceutical company. The branch she manages oversees no objectionable services. But the company’s other branches do. Can she remain employed knowing she contributes to the overall success of a company engaged in evildoing? To answer this we first ask what she intends as her end and means in her decision (her choice) to be employed there. Her “end” is to support herself and her family; her means is to manage a department engaged in upright activity. Her intention therefore is upright.
But upright intent is not the only requirement for morally good action. We must also ask what evils or harms she unintentionally causes by being employed there. By supporting the company’s overall viability, she in some way, perhaps only minimally, assists it to carry out wrongful research and distribute objectionable drugs. Moreover, her employment over time may erode her own moral inhibitions against the evildoing; or it may involve her in relations of trust and obligation with wrongdoers that make the avoidance of future evils more difficult. Further, since she is known to be an upright woman, her employment may impart an appearance of legitimacy to the evildoing, be used by other less scrupulous members of the company to rationalize it (“See!, Sarah works here, and she is a committed Catholic.”); this may encourage further wrongdoing and provide material that causes the weak and doubtful to believe the company’s actions are not wrong.
As you can see, the moral analysis can become complex. To simplify it, we might say the following: if we know that our action will unintentionally cause evil, we must assess whether tolerating that evil would be consistent with at least three serious moral duties: 1) not to be unfair to anybody involved, especially those who are most significantly harmed by the evil; 2) to avoid scandal (i.e., causing others to sin by our example); and 3) to maintain a credible testimony to Jesus and the Gospel.
Let’s apply this to the Little Sisters of the Poor. They understand that by choosing to sign and submit the certificate, they intend something entirely upright: to opt out of the administering of the objectionable services. But they also understand that their action will unintentionally cause evil. It will authorize the third party administrator—the government’s deputy—to use the Sisters’ healthcare plan information and infrastructure to provide abortion drugs and contraceptive services.
The Sisters have said publically that they believe complying with the accommodation would be contrary to their faith. Can we identify more precisely what about the compliance might be objectionable?
The Little Sisters have not consulted me on this matter, and so my reasoning here should not be taken as coextensive with theirs. But when they say that compliance would be contrary to their faith, I take this to mean contrary to their duty to bear perspicuous witness to Jesus and to the values of his Gospel.
As a religious order, they vow themselves to the kind of celibate chastity that Jesus himself adopted. Because of this the Sisters are, in a sense, sacraments—living signs—signifying the chaste purity of Christ’s kingdom. The use of contraceptives and the mentality that fuels it are toxic symptoms and widespread causes of unchaste behavior. To cooperate, however unintentionally, in the government’s sordid purposes would be particularly unfitting for women whose lives bear this particular symbolism.
Moreover, as a religious community dedicated to the care of indigent elderly people, the Sisters have a special duty to bear witness to the dignity of every human life, especially life at its most vulnerable stages, and against those evils that disregard and violate human dignity. The destruction of innocent life caused by the drugs and other contraceptive measures (e.g., Plan B and IUDs) supplied and defended by our government are gross examples of that disregard and violation. The Sisters know that compliance with the “accommodation” would facilitate the spread of the evil. So they reject compliance as inconsistent with the witness to human dignity that God has asked them to give.
What if the Supreme Court rules against the Little Sisters? In that case, they will be faced with several intolerable alternatives: cease providing medical insurance to their employees and suffer punishing monetary penalties; shut down their 175-year-old ministry to the elderly; or comply under duress with the government’s unjust demands while continuing to publish their opposition to the situation and working to correct it. Let’s hope they never have to face this moment of decision.
FEATURE: Create in Me a Clean Heart — Free From Pornography
American Apostolates Respond to Bishops’ Letter on Pornography
In their recent Fall meeting, the U.S. Bishops brought renewed attention to a wound many individuals and families are facing: pornography. In their letter, Create in Me a Clean Heart, the bishops call for greater pastoral care regarding this issue, on a local and national level.
A number of American ministries welcomed this letter with great enthusiasm, recognizing that it reaffirms their growing outreach to protect children, to promote awareness of the damage caused by pornography use and to help men and women on the road to healing.
Statistics tell us that by the time they graduate high school, 90% of boys and 60% of girls have viewed pornographic material. And, the vast majority of them are keeping their online activity a secret. In an increasingly digital world, the age kids are exposed to pornography—whether that be by accident on the family computer, being shown by a friend on the school bus or coming across an older sibling’s illicit internet access—is getting younger and younger. Protecting children from the assault of graphic images and videos is the first step to fighting this scourge.
Sam Black, Internet Safety Consultant at Covenant Eyes, an accountability and filtering company, explains why the most practical step parents can take to protect their children is to build accountability and trust with the installation of accountability software on all of the family’s devices. “Internet Accountability makes it easy for parents to keep up with their kids online and have ongoing conversations with them about what kids see and do on their phones, tablets, and computers. This intentional engagement allows parents to serve as a coach in an online world that is often viewed as secret,” Black says.
These practical tools, helpful for both children and adults, should be paired with an increasing recognition of why people turn to pornography in the first place. According to international author and speaker Matt Fradd, of The Porn Effect, this realization is essential not only to avoid beginning to fall into a porn addiction, but also to stop using it if they’ve already begun.
Fradd, who has encountered numerous youth, men and women who are seeking healing, states, “Pornography offers us something, right? Pleasure, escape, the feeling of power, excitement, and so forth. But pornography, as is the case with all things evil, promises us something and, in the end, leaves us with less than we came with. Instead of excitement we eventually end up bored (which is why the addict must continually seek out more perverse content), instead of intimacy we find isolation, instead of freedom, addiction; instead of escape, imprisonment; instead of adult entertainment, entertainment that trains us to be juvenile and narcissistic.”
Pornography use often continues well into adulthood and starts to tear apart marriages. Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei’s The Choice Wine: 7 Steps to a Superabundant Marriage program, points out that pornography is—in a proven scientific sense—“virtual infidelity”. The “mind processes pornography in a way that is very similar to an actual physical sexual encounter,” Bollman explains. The same neurochemicals that are released during sexual intimacy are released while using pornography. But in a way, virtual infidelity is even more damaging because the brain processes the pornographic image not as a person, but as a “desirable object to be possessed.”
So once people have recognized that their pornography use is a problem, how should they seek healing? It is important for loved ones to realize that this process is not always a simple one. Pornography can be as real of an addiction as alcohol and can also be symptomatic of deeper wounds.
Theological Advisor of the Integrity Restored Network, Fr. Sean Kilcawley, echoes Covenant Eyes’s recommendation to start with accountability. “Successful people in recovery will work multiple programs of recovery,” he counsels. These paths should include accountability software, but might also include a spiritual director, counselor, or trusted friend as well as a support group like Sexaholics Anonymous.
Speaking directly to those beginning this road to turning away from pornography, Fr. Kilcawley advises, “Considering the spiritual life, remember that if you are starting out in recovery you are also starting out in the spiritual life. Prayer should be focused on the mercy and love that Christ has for you. Learning to pray with scripture and engage the imagination facilitates this encounter with Christ, and it is His mercy for you that transforms hearts. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The USCCB’s recent letter has, no doubt, struck a chord in the hearts of many men and women who are seeking to protect their children, trying to turn away from pornography or have a loved one who is addicted. Along with the spiritual support from the Church in America on this issue, the increasing amount of resources available is an important step to transforming our porn-saturated culture.
Use of an Antimension in the Latin Church
Altar Furnishing Is Allowable in Some Cases
Q: Can an antimension still be made in the Latin Church? The old Rituale Romanum specifies the blessing of one, and how it must be made, but I am unaware of any post-conciliar legislation. If obtaining new antimensia in the Western Church is not possible, could a priest request that a hierarch of the Eastern Church bless one, in accordance with their customs? — L.L., Worcester, Massachusetts
A: An antimension, from the Greek for “instead of the table,” is among the most important furnishings of the altar in Byzantine Christian liturgical traditions. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, of either linen or silk, typically decorated with representations of the entombment of Christ and the four Evangelists and scriptural passages related to the Eucharist. A small relic of a martyr is sewn into it. The Eucharist cannot be celebrated without an antimension that must be consecrated by a bishop and indeed is given to the priest by the bishop as a witness to his permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
The antimension is a substitute for the altar table. A priest may celebrate the Eucharist on the antimension even if the altar table is not properly consecrated. In emergencies, when an altar table is not available, the antimension serves a very important pastoral need by enabling the use of unconsecrated tables for divine services outside of churches or chapels.
In the Latin tradition, Mass was celebrated with an altar stone containing a small relic. When celebrating outside of a church with a consecrated altar, a portable altar stone was used. After the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire in 1454, however, many Eastern Christians, Greeks and Albanians fled to southern Italy. Some submitted to Rome while retaining their rite, but the faith of others was doubtful. Since some Latin priests began to use the antimensia there was a fear that celebrating on their antimensia was consequently considered as a communion in sacred things (Communicatio in Divinis) with heretics, and therefore forbidden.
Hence the popes, notably Clement VIII (1592-1605) and later the great canonist Benedict XIV (1740-1758), regulated the practice. Benedict XIV in his document “Etsi Pastoralis,” promulgated May 26, 1742, determined the following:
“If the Greeks wish to accept portable altars consecrated by Latin Bishops, it would be well; if they do not wish to do so, the placing of their antimensia, or thrones, on stone altars when they celebrate, may be tolerated. They should use Corporals like the Latins, unless they use their thrones also as Corporals. It is not lawful for a Latin Priest celebrating in the Latin Rite in churches of the Greek Catholics, if he lacks his own portable altar stone, to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass on the antimensia, or thrones, of the Greeks. Every Priest must celebrate with a chalice of gold, or only silver or at least tin [pewter?], using a Throne or Corporal of linen, white and clean, and an altar covered with clean altar-cloths or with decently prepared ornamental covering.”
These limitations were formally incorporated into the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canon 823.2):
“In the absence of an altar of his own rite, it is fundamental that a priest can celebrate his own rite on an altar consecrated in another Catholic Rite, but not on the antimensiis (altar cloths) of the Greeks.”
In spite of these prohibition, however, many exceptions and indults were granted to individual bishops and priests and to missionary societies to use a form of antimension to celebrate Mass on portable altars.
During the Second World War, the Holy See granted to military chaplains the privilege of using for the celebration of Mass, instead of the Latin-rite portable altar stone, “a veil which had enclosed, and well fastened, authentic relics.” This was later extended to peacetime military activities. Since it was not always possible to obtain a veil with authentic relics, the use of an Eastern-rite antimension was considered an acceptable alternative.
Finally, Paul VI’s “Pastorale Munus,” a letter issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) in November 1963, gave to all local ordinaries of the universal Church (of all rites, Western and Eastern) the faculty to grant, for a just and serious reason, to all priests subject to them, who enjoy the faculty of the portable altar, the faculty of substituting for the portable altar stone the Byzantine or the Latin forms of the antimension.
Although this faculty has not been revoked, it has, in a way, been superseded by later liturgical legislation which no longer requires the use of an altar stone for portable altars and foresees the use of relics in fixed altars only if they are visibly part of a human body.
Finally, we present the text of the blessing of the Latin form of the antimension approved by the Congregation of Sacred Rites on March 12, 1947. The use of the antimension still required a special apostolic indult for it to be used in the celebration of Mass in mission territories, in place of an altar-stone or portable altar. It was reserved to a bishop but could be delegated to a priest.
1. BLESSING OF AN ANTIMENSION
The bishop (or a priest delegated for this), having ascertained the authenticity of the relics of holy martyrs to be used here, encloses them in a tiny sack which is sewn in the right corner of the antimension. Then he blesses the antimension, saying:
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
Lord, we humbly appeal to your sovereignty, asking that it please you to bless + this antimension, made ready by our lowly ministry to receive the offerings of your people. For on it we are to offer the holy Sacrifice to you, to the honor of the blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, and in particular to the honor of Saints N. and N., whose relics we have enclosed therein. Grant that by these sacred mysteries the bonds of our sins be loosed, our stains blotted out, pardon obtained and graces acquired, so that together with your holy elect we may merit the joys of everlasting life through Christ our Lord.
He sprinkles it with holy water. [From the 1964 Roman ritual]
* * *
Readers may send questions to [email protected]. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.
Pope Francis: Mercy, Not Judgment
Holy Father Ushers in Jubilee of Mercy at the Vatican, Along With Pope Emeritus
Pope Francis has underscored that the feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love, and that God’s love is manifested in being merciful.
In his homily this morning in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass which opened the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as well as marked the Marian Solemnity, the Pontiff stated this, noting, “Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world.”
While explaining that this is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves, he added, “Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness.”
“Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfillment.”
This Extraordinary Holy Year, Francis noted, is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door, which Pope Francis opened today and even his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI passed through as well, means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.
Pope Benedict was present at today’s opening ceremony, after having accepted a personal invitation from Pope Francis to be there.
While Francis stressed that this year we will grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy, he pondered: “How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy.”
In passing through the Holy Door, he said, this should invite us to be part of this mystery of love.
“Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things,” he said.
“May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan,” Pope Francis prayed.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Pope Francis Pays Homage to the Virgin Mary at Piazza di Spagna
“Looking at you, Our Immaculate Mother, we see the victory of divine mercy”
This afternoon, Pope Francis visited Piazza di Spagna, as part of celebrations for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Piazza was packed with people who welcomed the Pope saying ‘Viva il Papa!’
Following more than 50 years of tradition, in his official capacity as the Bishop of Rome, the Pope pays homage to the Virgin Mary by placing a bouquet at the base of the Column of the Immaculate Conception in the Piazza on 8th December each year.
The column and statue were originally erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in the Virgin Mary’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception coincides this year with the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Father addressed this theme when he prayed to Our Lady, asking for her mercy on families, children, young people, the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned and migrants, after which the choir present sung the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After the ceremony, the Holy Father spoke to and blessed many of those gathered in the square.
On this day, the feast of your Immaculate Conception,
I pay homage to you in faith and love
On behalf of God’s holy people who live in this city and diocese.
I come before you in the name of families, with their joys and troubles;
On behalf of children and young people, exposed to life’s challenges;
On behalf of the elderly, laden with age and years of experience;
I come especially on behalf of the sick, the imprisoned,
And those who struggle.
As a leader I also come here for the sake of all those
Who have come from far-away lands in search of peace and work.
There is space for everyone beneath your cloak,
Because you are the Mother of Mercy.
Your heart is full of tenderness towards all your children:
The tenderness of God, who, by you, became incarnate
And became our brother, Jesus,
Saviour of every man and every woman.
Looking at you, Our Immaculate Mother,
We see the victory of divine mercy
Over sin and all its consequences;
And hope for a better life is reignited within us,
Free from slavery, rancor and fear.
Here, today, in the heart of Rome, we hear your motherly voice
Calling all of us to walk towards that door,
Which represents Christ.
You say to everyone: “Come, come closer, faithful ones;
Enter and receive the gift of mercy;
Do not be afraid, do not be ashamed:
The Father awaits you with open arms.
He will forgive and welcome you into his house.
Come, all those in search of peace and joy”.
We thank you, Immaculate Mother,
Because you do not make us walk along this path alone;
You guide us, You are near us and help us through every difficulty.
May God bless you, now and forever. Amen.
Pope Urges Faithful to Be Embraced by God’s Mercy Which Pardons Everything
During Angelus, Francis Also Prays Mary’s Intercession Transforms Our Lives; Calls for Special Shout Out to Pope Benedict XVI
“Let’s not be afraid: let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God that waits for us and pardons everything. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy. Let’s let ourselves be caressed by God: He is so good, the Lord, and He pardons everything.”
Pope Francis gave this exhortation today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address, departing from his scripted remarks. This morning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis opened the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with a Mass in the Square, which even the Pope Emeritus accepted Francis’ invite to attend.
Reflecting on today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Pope Francis reminded those gathered that the Virgin Mary was never contaminated by sin and always full of God, “is Mother of a new humanity. She is mother of a recreated world.”
In imitation of Mary, he exhorted, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first of all at those who are the privileged ones in Jesus’ eyes: the poor and marginalized.
Today’s feast, Francis said, communicates a specific message to us, namely that in our life, “everything is a gift, everything is mercy.” The Holy Father prayed that Mary helps us rediscover always more that divine mercy is ‘the distinguishing mark’ of a Christian.
The Pontiff noted that mercy is the fundamental feature of Christ’s face, which one sees this in how Jesus went out to encounter everyone, cure the sick, sit at tables with sinners, and “especially when, nailed to the cross, He forgives.” Here, the Pontiff pointed out, “We see the face of Divine Mercy.”
Before reciting the midday prayer, the Pope prayed that through Mary’s intercession, may mercy take possession of our hearts and transform our whole life.
Shout out to Pope Benedict
After greeting those gathered, the Pope reminded the faithful in the square that this afternoon he, as is an annual tradition, goes to Piazza di Spagna to pray at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate Conception, and also added that afterward he will go to Santa Maria Maggiore. “I ask you to join me spiritually in this pilgrimage, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, Mother of Mercy. I will entrust to her the Church and the whole of humanity, particularly the city of Rome,” he said.
“Today,” he went on to say, “also Pope Benedict crossed the Door of Mercy. Let’s send him a salute from here, everyone, to Pope Benedict!”
Pope Francis concluded, wishing all those gathered a happy feast and a Holy Year rich in fruits, with the guidance and intercession of our Mother, “a year full of mercy for all of you, and from you, toward others.” As usual, he reminded the faithful to pray for him, saying he has a great need for the prayers, and wished them a good day and lunch.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
ANGELUS ADDRESS: On God’s Mercy Which Awaits Us, Pardons All
‘Today, also Pope Benedict crossed the Door of Mercy. Let’s send him a salute from here, everyone to Pope Benedict!’
Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address at noon today, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy:
Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and Feast!
Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception makes us contemplate Our Lady who, by a singular privilege, was preserved from Original Sin from her conception. Although living in the world marked by sin, she was not touched by it: she is our Sister in suffering, but not in evil and in sin. In fact, evil was defeated in her even before grazing her, because God filled her with grace (cf. Luke 1:28). The Immaculate Conception means that Mary is the first saved by the Father’s infinite mercy, as the first fruit of the salvation that God wills to give, in Christ, every man and woman. Therefore, the Immaculate
In the Immaculate Conception of Mary we are invited to recognize the dawn of the new world, transformed by the saving work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The dawn of the new creation wrought by Divine Mercy. Therefore, the Virgin Mary, never contaminated by sin and always full of God, is Mother of a new humanity. She is mother of a recreated world.
To celebrate this feast implies two things: to receive God fully and His merciful grace in our life; to become in turn architects of mercy through a genuine evangelical journey. Therefore, the feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes the feast of us all if, with our daily “yes,” we are able to overcome our egoism and to render the lives of our brothers happier, to give them hope, drying tears and giving a bit of joy. In imitation of Mary, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first of all at those who are the privileged ones in Jesus’ eyes. They are those who He himself indicated: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception has a specific message to communicate to us: it reminds us that in our life everything is gift, everything is mercy. May the Holy Virgin, first fruit of the saved, model of the Church, holy and immaculate Bride loved by the Lord, help us to rediscover always more divine mercy as the distinguishing mark of a Christian. It is the word-synthesis of the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of Christ’s face, that face that we recognize in the different aspects of His existence: when He goes to encounter all, when He cures the sick, when He sits at table with sinners, and especially when, nailed to the cross, He forgives. We see there the face of Divine Mercy. Let’s not be afraid: let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God that waits for us and pardons everything. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy. Let’s let ourselves be caressed by God: He is so good, the Lord, and He pardons everything.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take possession of our hearts and transform our whole life.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT and Deborah Castellano Lubov]
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all affectionately, especially the families, the parish groups and associations. A special thought goes to the members of Italian Catholic Action that renew today their adherence to the association: I wish you a good journey of formation and service, always animated by prayer.
This afternoon, I will go to Piazza di Spagna, to pray at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate Conception. And then I will go to Santa Maria Maggiore. I ask you to join me spiritually in this pilgrimage, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, Mother of Mercy. I will entrust to her the Church and the whole of humanity, particularly the city of Rome.
Today, also Pope Benedict crossed the Door of Mercy. Let’s send him a salute from here, everyone to Pope Benedict!
I wish you all a happy feast and a Holy Year rich in fruits, with the guidance and intercession of our Mother. A year full of mercy for all of you, and from you, for others. Please, ask this of the Lord, also for me, of which I have a great need! Have a good lunch and good-bye.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT and Deborah Castellano Lubov]