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Today’s news dispatch: Dec. 8, 2015

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Holy Year of Mercy

‘Nothing is more important to choose than “what pleases God most,” namely, His mercy, His love, His tenderness, His embrace, His caresses!’

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address during this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.

Yesterday, I opened here, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy, after having opened it already in the Cathedral of Bangui in the Central African Republic. Today, I would like to reflect together with you on the meaning of this Holy Year, responding to the question: Why a Jubilee of Mercy? What does this mean?

The Church is in need of this extraordinary moment. I do not say: this extraordinary moment is good for the Church. I say: the Church is in need of this extraordinary moment. In our age of profound changes, the Church is called to offer her particular contribution, rendering visible the signs of the presence and closeness of God. And the Jubilee is a favorable time for all of us because, by contemplating the Divine Mercy, which surpasses every human limitation and shines on the darkness of sin, we can become more convinced and effective witnesses.

To turn one’s look to God, our Merciful Father, and to brothers in need of mercy, means to focus our attention on the essential content of the Gospel: Jesus, Mercy made flesh, which renders visible to our eyes the great mystery of the Trinitarian Love of God. To celebrate a Jubilee of Mercy means to put again at the center of our personal life and of that of our communities what is specific to the Christian faith, namely Jesus Christ, the merciful God.

Therefore, a Holy Year to live mercy. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, this Holy Year is offered to us to experience in our life the sweet and gentle touch of the forgiveness of God, his presence at our side and His closeness especially in moments of greatest need.

Therefore, this Jubilee is a privileged moment for the Church to learn to choose only “what pleases God most.” And, what is it that ‘pleases God most”? To forgive His children, to have mercy on them, so that they also, in turn, can forgive their brothers, shining as torches of God’s mercy in the world. This is what pleases God most. In a book that he wrote on Adam, Saint Ambrose takes up the history of the creation of the world and says that every day, after having made something,  — the moon, the sun or the animals – “God saw that this was good.” However, when he made man and woman, the Bible says: “He saw that this was very good.” Saint Ambrose wonders: “But why does He say “very good”? Why is God so happy after the creation of man and woman?  Because, finally, He had someone to forgive. This is beautiful: God’s joy is to forgive; God’s being is mercy. Therefore, in this year, we must open our hearts so that this love, this joy of God fills all of us with this mercy. The Jubilee will be a “favorable time” for the Church if we learn to choose “what pleases God most,” without yielding to the temptation of thinking that there is something else that is more important or a priority. Nothing is more important to choose than “what pleases God most,” namely, His mercy, His love, His tenderness, His embrace, His caresses!

The necessary work of renewal of the institutions and the structures of the Church is also a means that must lead us to have the living and vivifying experience of God’s mercy, which alone can guarantee that the Church is that city placed on the mountain that cannot remain hidden (cf. Matthew 5:14). Only a merciful Church shines! If we were to forget, even for a moment, that mercy is “what pleases God most,” every effort of ours would be in vain, because we would become slaves of our institutions and of our structures, no matter how renewed they are. But we would always be slaves.

“To feel strongly in us the joy of being found again by Jesus, who as Good Shepherd came to find us because we were lost” (Homily in the First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, 2015): this is the objective that the Church sets for herself this Holy Year. Thus, we will reinforce in ourselves the certainty that mercy can really contribute to the building of a more human world. Especially in these our times, in which forgiveness is a rare guest in the ambits of human life, the call to mercy is more urgent, and this in every place: in society, in institutions, in work and also in the family.

Someone, of course, could object: “But Father, should not the Church do something more in this Year? It’s right to contemplate God’s mercy, but there are many urgent needs!” It’s true, there is much to do and I, for one, never tire of recalling it. But it is necessary to keep in mind that, at the root of the forgetfulness of mercy, there is also self love. In the world, this takes the form of the exclusive search of one’s interests, of pleasures and honors joined to the desire to accumulate riches, while the life of Christians is often crossed by hypocrisy and worldliness. All these things are contrary to mercy. The motions of self-love, which render mercy foreign in the world, are so many and numerous that we are often unable to recognize them as limitations and as sin. See why it is necessary to recognize ourselves sinners, to reinforce in us the certainty of Divine Mercy. “Lord, I am a sinner; come with your mercy.” This is a most beautiful prayer. It’s an easy prayer to say every day: “Lord, I am a sinner; come with your mercy.”

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that, in this Holy Year, each one of us will experience God’s mercy, to be witnesses of “what pleases Him most.”  Is it of the naive to believe that this can change the world? Yes, humanly speaking it is of the foolish, but “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Greeting in English:

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: With the opening of the Holy Door yesterday in Saint Peter’s, we inaugurated the Jubilee of Mercy. This extraordinary Holy Year reminds us that, amid profound changes in our world, the Church is called to bear convincing witness to God’s mercy, which alone can triumph over human sin and bring true freedom. God’s mercy, made present in our midst by the incarnation of his Son, is the very heart of the Gospel. This Year of Grace reminds us that mercy is what “pleases God most”, and that it has to find clear expression in our lives and in the Church’s structures. In today’s world, mercy and forgiveness often appear overwhelmed by self-interest, hedonism and venality, while in the Christian life they can be stifled by hypocrisy and worldliness. Forgetfulness of God’s mercy blinds us even to seeing sin for what it is. That is why this Holy Year of Mercy is so important. Let us ask the Lord to make us ever more aware of his mercy at work in our lives and ever more effective in testifying to its transforming power in our world.

Speaker:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Scotland, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Canada and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the international team of the space programme Galileo. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all!

[Original text: English]

Greeting in Italian

A cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I am happy to receive the Missionaries of Charity, the Dives in Misericordia Association of the diocese of Piazza Armenia; the Caffo Group of Limbadi and the artists of the Don Bosco Foundation in the World.

Yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we began the Jubilee of Mercy. May the Virgin Mary intercede for us, so that this Holy Year is rich in copious fruits and, that everyone experiences God’s care for us. May she guide our action according to the works of corporal and spiritual mercy, which we are all called to live.

A greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the Mother of Jesus teach you, dear young people, to receive in your heart the birth of the Savior; may she help you, dear sick, to entrust yourselves always to the arms of Divine Providence; and may she grant you, dear newlyweds, to make of mercy the criterion of your spousal life.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

 

 

Pope Tells ‘What Pleases God Most’ at General Audience

Reflecting on ‘God’s Joy’ of Pardoning, Francis, Off the Cuff, Urges Faithful to Do a Simple Prayer Daily

Mercy, Pope Francis says, “is what pleases God most,” which is why it must be lived out in our lives and be visible in the Church.

The Holy Father stressed this during his General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, noting, “This Jubilee is a privileged moment because the Church learns to choose that which God likes the most,” namely mercy. 
 
Francis began today’s address recalling that yesterday, the Jubilee Year of Mercy was inaugurated with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica,  and stressing that this year invites the Church to be a convincing witness to Christ’s mercy.

God’s joy

This merciful witness, Pope Francis stressed, is needed to “triumph over sin” and bring “true freedom.” At the very heart of the Gospel, Francis reflected, is God’s mercy, which is made present in our midst, through His Son’s incarnation. 
 
“The joy of God,” the Holy Father noted, “is in pardoning.” The call for mercy, Francis stressed, is more urgent than ever before, especially in society, institutions, the workplace, and in the family.

 
“In today’s world,” The Holy Father lamented, “mercy and forgiveness often appear overwhelmed by self interest, hedonism, and venality,” while in the Christian life “they can be stifled by hypocrisy and worldliness”
 
The reason why this Holy Year is so important, he pointed out, is that forgetting God’s mercy “blinds us from seeing what the sin really is.”
 
“The Church needs this extraordinary moment,” the Pope reflected, underscoring that contemplating Divine Mercy can make us become more effective Christian witnesses.

Some advice

Moreover, the Pope, off the cuff, gave those gathered some advice. Stressing we must admit we are sinners, he urged those gathered to say, ‘Lord, I am a sinner, come with your mercy.’
 
“It is a prayer to repeat every day,” he said.
 
Pope Francis concluded, praying that the Lord makes us ever more aware of His mercy at work in our lives and ever more effective in testifying to its transforming power in the world. During his address to English speakers, the Pontiff gave a special greeting to the international team of the space program ‘Galileo,’ and during his address to Italians, he recalled that yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and prayed that Mary intercedes for a Holy Year rich with many fruits.
 
 

INTERVIEW: The Immaculate: She Is Mother of Mercy

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza Asks Our Lady for “Protection of the Holy Father,” for “a Great and Renewed Vocational Spring” and for “the Confirmation of Fatima, With the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart”

Why do Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception? What does it mean and how is it related to Mercy? Why did Pope Francis choose the feast of the Immaculate Conception to begin the Jubilee? Is Mercy mere forgiveness or is it much more?

ZENIT asked these and other questions to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

ZENIT: Your Eminence, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year, proclaimed by Pope Francis, begins with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Can you explain in what this feast consists and how it developed? 

Cardinal Piacenza: In every Marian celebration, the Church always turns to contemplate the roots of Her life itself and Her irreducible vocation to be the Bride of Her Lord, Mother of the redeemed and Mystical Body, living Presence of Christ in the world. The great truth of the Immaculate was proclaimed dogmatically on December 8, 1854, by Blessed Pope Pius IX. We know well, however, how dogmatic proclamations are in reality a “making explicit” of a truth itself of Divine Revelation, certainly also object of particular further theological reflections, as in the case of the Immaculate , but believed, in the Church – as Vincent of Lerins recites – always, everywhere and by all. The truth of the Immaculate indicates Mary of Nazareth  as the “pre-redeemed”: conceived naturally in Saint Anne’s womb. She was preserved from the stain of original sin, from the first instance of her existence, by virtue of the future merits of Christ on the Cross. By proclaiming this Dogma, at the end of the 19th century, the Church was responding to the twofold error of the Enlightenment, which idolized reason, and of Positivism, which pretended to save man only by modifying the institutions in which he lives.

ZENIT: And what can the Immaculate still say to Western man “sated and desperate,” wedged between the pretension of emancipation, of seeing every wish of his transformed into a right, and the absence of an ultimate meaning for his life? 

Cardinal Piacenza: Perhaps man is only more desperate, given that the economic crisis has also made the securities of a few years ago fail! You used an interesting word: “emancipation.” The only possible emancipation for man cannot be from truth, but from sin. Emancipation from truth, from the truth of Christ, God made man, and from his own created human nature and from the moral law inscribed in his heart, emancipation from that intelligent and humble obedience, which truth always requires, cannot but lead man to an ultimate solitude, in which he becomes incapable of seeing God, of communicating with brothers and of hearing that which the “great sign” of reality suggests incessantly. Sin is always a “practical denial” of truth. To be emancipated from it enables man to open himself to the great horizon of God, to enter into a true dialogue with every other man, and into that extraordinary “friendship” with Creation, which we see in so many Saints, as the great Saint Francis of Assisi, and that Pope Francis wished to recall in the Encyclical “Laudato Si’.” However, there is no other emancipation from sin, no other “salvation,” which is not in Christ. The Immaculate is She who is full of grace because She was “pre-redeemed,” namely, redeemed by Christ, not only before any other creature, but at the very root of Her being. Mary Most Holy is integrally human, in Her the fullness of humanity flowers. As opposed to us men, She is not “restrained” by original sin in what constitutes the only, true appropriate purpose of human nature: the intelligent and free relation with the truth of God and with His love.

ZENIT: Your Eminence, in the past decades Marian devotion has at times been placed at the margins be it in theological research, be it in pastoral action, adducing expressly as reason the necessity of a greater “Christological” concentration, perhaps also geared to a more effective ecumenical dialogue. However, is it really possible to leave the Immaculate out of consideration in the thought and life of the Church?

Cardinal Piacenza: Every word and every choice of Christ, who is God made man, is for us simply an inexorable necessity. If He divinely chose not to do without Mary of Nazareth to become man and save us, we cannot, nor do we certainly want to pretend to do without her. Moreover, in Mary the whole Christian Revelation finds, we can say, its “foundation,” its “method” and its continuous “protection”: Revelation has in Her its “foundation,” theologically and historically speaking: theologically, because God, conceived first in her Heart and then in Her Immaculate Womb, takes flesh in Her and from Her, uniting Himself definitively to our nature; historically, because entering in the world through Mary  — “Spouse of a man of the House of David, named Joseph” Saint Luke tells us – Christ inserts Himself fully in the great river of human  history and of the family of David, in particular. In Mary, Revelation then has its “method”: as to the most pure freedom of Mary, in the moment of the Annunciation, the Mystery conferred the unheard of power to open or not the doors of Heaven, thus Christ, who is the Mystery made flesh, confers on every man the same unheard of power to receive or not His Person and His grace. In Mary, finally, Revelation has its continuous “protection,” because Christianity, being a “life,” the Divine Life of Christ in us, is not only in need of human coherence and even of great speculations, but always and above all of a Mother! And then, as the great Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe teaches, we must have no fear of loving Our Lady “too” much, because Christ will always love Her more than us.

ZENIT: Do you think that the Immaculate can also have a particular meaning for this Jubilee Year dedicated to Mercy?

Cardinal Piacenza: Certainly. In fact, the Immaculate shows us, in a simple and clear way, how we must understand the Mystery of Mercy. Widespread today, in fact, is a certain tendency to “measure” Mercy “on sin,” almost as if sin has the power, or worse yet the right, to arouse Divine Mercy; almost as if Mercy can be reduced to mere “forgiveness” of fault. Divine Mercy certainly also means forgiveness of the sinner but, at the same time, it is immensely more. It is God’s “irrupting” in man’s history; it is His revealing Himself to us, revealing the Mystery of His divine intimacy; it is His sharing of our human condition itself, to the end, to the experience of death, to render us entirely participants of His own Divine Life; it is our participating in such Divine Life through the Sacrament of Baptism, which changes our being radically, drawing it to the Being itself of Christ, in His Being Son of the Eternal Father, and admitting us in the great communion of the Baptized, which embraces heaven and earth, which is the Communion of the Church; it is giving His Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, which unites us ever more perfectly to Him and draws us in His salvific Offer to the Father. Mercy, understood as forgiveness of individual fault, comes only ”after” in this sense. First there is the immense gift of the Life of Christ and then the wonderful “removal” of that which in us has obfuscated or compromised it. The Immaculate is the real beginning of all this and is its womb for ever.

ZENIT: One last question, Eminence, hoping that you can give us this confidence: what do you ask the Immaculate for the Church in this Jubilee Year?

Cardinal Piacenza: I answer with pleasure, raising now, in fact, through this means my prayer to the Immaculate, that She may obtain three graces for us: first of all the protection of the Holy Father in his unimaginable task of Supreme Pastor of the Church, perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity, called to confirm his brothers in the faith, resisting the tempest of errors that grips the world; in the second place, I ask the Immaculate for a great and renewed vocational spring, which can give the Church holy priests and consecrated persons, for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity; finally, I ask simply, that She grant the great promise of Fatima, whose centenary occurs in 2017: the great triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.

[Translation by ZENIT]

 

 

Light Show Is Final Event for Jubilee’s Opening Day

“Intended to present the beauty of creation”

The final event of the opening of the Holy Year was a light show on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, which was inspired by Pope Francis’ ecological encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home. The three-hour event on Tuesday evening was called “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home.” It involved a changing display of animals (many of them endangered), nature scenes, and other images highlighting the fragility of our environment.

The show was sponsored by the World Bank Group (Connect4Climate), by Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, by the Li Ka-shing Foundation and by Okeanos. The event featured the work of some of the world’s most notable humanistic and nature photographers and filmmakers including Sebastião Salgado (Genesi and Contrasto), Joel Sartore (National Geographic Photo Ark), Yann Arthus Bertrand (Human), David Doubilet, Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson (Samsara), Howard Hall, Shawn Heinrichs, Greg Huglin, Chris Jordan, Steve McCurry, Paul Nicklen and Louie Schwartzberg. The projection is curated by Louie Psihoyos and Travis Threlkel, and produced by Obscura Digital. Francesco Carrozzini curated the Creative Direction for Connect4Climate.

“We are honored to be working with the Vatican to raise awareness of an issue so critical to our shared goal of ending extreme poverty,” said  Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank Group.

“The poorest people in the world are disproportionately affected by the effects of a warming climate and are most vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather,” Kim added. “This impressive initiative will draw global attention to the urgency of tackling climate change for the sake of people and our planet.”

Speaking about the event last week, the President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said the event was “intended to present the beauty of creation,” adding this was especially significant since the Twenty-first United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop 21) is currently taking place in Paris.

 

 

FORUM: Meet ‘the Doorkeeper’: Solanus Casey, a Man Without Ego

A Catholic Hall of Famer for sure, and quite the contrast to the gaggle of egotists that bombard us daily with their ‘I think’ wisdom

This reflection is contributed by Larry Peterson of the Catholic Writers’ Guild.

* * *

The 2016 election (more than a year away) has already worn me down. The pundits include the greatest thinkers of our time. I know this because virtually all of the TV and radio commentators, campaign officials, editorial writers, government officials, TV talk show hosts, comedians and, of course the candidates are always saying, “I THINK…this” or I THINK…that.” Those folks sure do a lot of thinking. And I know it must be important thinking because the ones doing all the thinking are doing it on TV, radio, in print or somewhere in cyber-land. It MUST be important, right? Wrong!

They are all experts in everything you can think of and, filled with their own sense of grandiosity, they vilify, name-call, and besmirch those with an opposing viewpoint or philosophy. They even attack their opponent’s families. Then you hear the great Machiavellian disclaimer of, “Hey, that’s politics.” You know what, I have my own phrase for all of it: rude, obnoxious, self-gratified egomania. I’m so over it.

I decided to begin a search for someone sans EGO. I was sure it would be almost next to impossible. But guess what? It was not. We Catholics celebrate the great feast of All Saint’s Day on November 1. The saints are members of the Catholic Hall of Fame (I call it that). They are the best of the best, the crème de le crème, the most selfless of the unselfish. These are the people who loved God unconditionally and, in some cases, failed many times before they got it right. But they all invariably emptied themselves for others before they died, many times giving their lives in doing so.

Let me tell you about one of them who was a quiet, uncomplicated  man who never aspired to be anything more than a simple priest. His name was Bernard Francis Casey, and his family and friends called him Barney. There are many guys and gals like Barney in our Catholic Hall of Fame and they, like Barney, were ‘ego-less.’ This was not a birth defect. Their secret simply was knowing how to love God with all their mind, heart and soul. That led them to love others more than themselves. It was NEVER about them.

Barney was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, back in 1870. He was the sixth of 16 kids of Irish immigrant parents. When Barney was a boy he contracted diptheria, and it left him with a permanently raspy-sounding voice. (Barney would never have qualified for American Idol). Barney felt the call to the priesthood but, at the age of 16, he hit a detour. He had to go to work to help the family and worked at jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a streetcar operator and a hospital orderly.

Barney Casey always did whatever job he had to the best of his ability, wanting to serve his God in all things. Five years later he was able to enter St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee. He spent five years there before being able to move on and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Upon his acceptance he took the name of Solanus after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century missionary.

Solanus Casey was finally ordained a priest at the age of 33. He had to study extremely hard to reach that goal, and when he was finally ordained he was given the title “Sacerdos Simplex,” which means “simple priest.” This meant he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He never complained; he took joy in just being a “simple priest.”

Father Solanus Casey lived in Detroit, and his main job at the monastery was that of “doorkeeper.” Father Casey, wanting to the absolute best at whatever God chose for him, became the finest doorkeeper that ever lived. He did this for well over 20 years and also became known for his service to the sick and the advice and consultations he would have with visitors. People began attributing cures and other blessings to his interaction with them or others.

Father Solanus Casey: a man who opened and closed doors for people. A man who had no ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. A man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, was declared “Venerable” by Pope John Paul II in 1995. This is the first step toward canonization as a saint. Father Solanus Casey died in 1957.

Father Casey is the first man born in the USA to be on the road to full sainthood. And all he did was humbly and happily open doors for people and talk to them if they wanted. A Catholic Hall of Famer for sure, and quite the contrast to the gaggle of egotists that bombard us daily with their “I think” wisdom. Solanus (Barney) Casey has recharged me. It might be nice if all of today’s bloviating pundits could hear or read his story.

 

 

Communiqué: Adoption by Moneyval of “Second Progress Report” of Holy See, Vatican City State

‘The latest Progress Report confirms that the Holy See has established a functional, sustainable and effective system, aiming at preventing and fighting financial crimes’

esterday, in Strasbourg, the Plenary Meeting of Moneyval (the “Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism” of the Council of Europe) approved the Second Progress Report of the Holy See/ Vatican City State. The approval of this latest Report, which follows on the Mutual Evaluation Report of 4 July 2012 and on the Progress Report of 9 December 2013, is part of the ordinary reporting process foreseen in the Rules of Procedure of Moneyval for all member States.

TheMoneyval Committee has welcomed the outcome of the continued efforts by the Holy See and the Vatican City State to further strengthen their institutional, legal and operational framework for combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

“The latest Progress Report confirms that the Holy See has established a functional, sustainable and effective system, aiming at preventing and fighting financial crimes”, said Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of Delegation of the Holy See and Vatican City State to the Moneyval Plenary.

[Original text: English] [Vatican-provided communique]

 

 

 

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