ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:04:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.4 https://storage.googleapis.com/cdnmedia.zenit.org/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1-32x32.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 US National Collection Helps Religious Orders Care for Their Elderly Members https://zenit.org/2020/11/26/us-national-collection-helps-religious-orders-care-for-their-elderly-members/ Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:04:39 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205419 Scheduled for December 12-13

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The 33rd annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held in most U.S. Catholic parishes from December 12-13. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the appeal assists hundreds of religious order communities in providing for the ongoing needs of their aging Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests.

The U.S. bishops initiated the collection in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious orders. Distinct from retired priest collections held in respective dioceses for the care of retired diocesan priests, this annual collection benefits eligible religious orders to help underwrite retirement and health-care expenses for nearly 30,000 elderly religious.

The 2019 appeal raised $26.2 million, and this past June, the NRRO distributed $25 million in financial assistance to 341 religious communities across the nation. The beneficiary religious order communities combine this funding with their own income and savings to help furnish day-to-day necessities, including medications and nursing care, and the distributions may be applied toward immediate retirement needs or invested for future eldercare expenses.

“We are humbled and incredibly grateful for the ongoing generosity of the Catholic faithful to the annual appeal,” said Sister Stephanie Still, PBVM (Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary), who serves as the NRRO’s executive director. “And we are committed to ensuring the broadest and most beneficial use of these donations.”

The retirement-funding deficit is rooted in low salaries and changing demographics. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests—often known collectively as “women and men religious”—engaged in ministry for little to no pay. As a result, many of their religious communities lack adequate retirement savings. Elderly religious are also living longer and, according to NRRO data, outnumber younger, wage-earning religious by nearly three to one.

Like many other Americans, religious communities struggle with the ever-rising cost of health care. The total cost of care for religious past age 70 exceeds $1 billion annually. COVID-19 has compounded this already difficult situation.

Through the annual collection, the NRRO helps religious communities address their funding deficits. In addition to direct financial aid, donations make possible resources and services that assist communities in evaluating and preparing for long-term retirement needs.

“Our mission is sustained by the love and generosity of all who support senior religious and their communities,” said Sister Still.

Visit www.retiredreligious.org to learn more.

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Inter-Religious Dialogue: ‘Tolerance Isn’t Enough,’ says Monsignor Jurkovic https://zenit.org/2020/11/26/inter-religious-dialogue-tolerance-isnt-enough-says-monsignor-jurkovic/ Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:03:48 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205573 Intervention in Saudi Arabia

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In the matter of religious tolerance, “simple tolerance isn’t enough!” said Monsignor Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the United Nations in Geneva, during a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on November 22, 2020. “It’s about seeking mutual enrichment,” he explained.

Invited by Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa, Secretary-General of the World Muslim League, the Archbishop took part in the presentation of the book “The Promotion of the Inter-Cultural and Inter-Religious Dialogue as Instrument for Peace and Fraternity.”

In his intervention, pointing out “the growing tendencies to egoism and to individualism,” he stressed that fraternity “is essential.” In fact, the great problem today stems from the fact that “differences are often experienced in terms of conflict.”  However, “the recognition of a mutual fraternity can change this perspective, it can reverse conflicts.”

For peace to reign, it’s also necessary “that justice triumph,” Monsignor Jurkovic also said. And justice exacts respect “of the rights of every person.” “Therefore, the protection of fundamental human rights is important for the whole society,” in fact, it is “the first pillar” of society, her said.

“There cannot be dialogue if human dignity isn’t first respected,” he emphasized, mentioning religious liberty as “as one of the most fundamental inviolable rights,’ as it’s born “of the of the inherent need of men and women to nourish their spirit.”

“Simple tolerance isn’t enough!” alerted the Hoy See representative.  In fact, it implies a “negative connotation,” as if it’s necessary to “endure” rather than to “appreciate the differences.”

“We are called to more than a peaceful coexistence,” he continued, encouraging all to “seek mutual enrichment through dialogue.” Without dialogue, “the barriers of prejudice, of suspicion and of incomprehension cannot be eliminated.”

Two movements sustain dialogue, said Monsignor Jurkovic: to listen and to speak. For the two parties of dialogue to be enriched, “they must both have the right to speak and  . . . the duty to listen to what the others say.”

“Peace is neither a dream nor a utopia: peace is possible. Peacebuilding isn’t just for leaders. It’s also rooted in concrete everyday relations,” he concluded.

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Asia Bibi Backs Campaign to Free Those Jailed for Faith https://zenit.org/2020/11/26/asia-bibi-backs-campaign-to-free-those-jailed-for-faith/ Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:02:12 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205576 'Set Your Captives Free'

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Asia Bibi – Pakistan’s first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy – has thrown her weight behind a Catholic charity’s campaign calling for the release of those unjustly imprisoned because of their faith.

Bibi, a Catholic who spent almost a decade in prison before her conviction was overturned, is backing Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)’s campaign for #RedWednesday, which took place on November 25.

This year’s campaign calls for Christians unfairly held against their will to be set free.

In the foreword to the ACN’s new Set Your Captives Free report, Bibi wrote: “Today… there are countless numbers of people who are unjustly detained – like me, their offense is the faith they refuse to renounce.”

Among those whose stories are told in the report are two teenage girls – Leah Sharibu, from Nigeria, who extremist group Boko Haram kept captive after she refused to renounce her faith, and Maira Shahbaz, from Pakistan, who is in hiding having escaped from her abductor who incarcerated her in his home.

Bibi added: “It is time that those who detain innocent people in defiance of the law are brought to justice.

“It is time for governments to act. It is time to rally in support of our faithful communities, vulnerable, poor, and persecuted.

“We should not rest until the oppressor finally hears our cry: ‘Set your captives free’.”

The ACN report also highlights the cases of senior clerics being held by the state.

This includes Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding who, despite never having been officially tried or sentenced, has been a prisoner for almost a quarter of a century, following his arrest by Chinese authorities in 1996.

And the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tawahedo Church, Aboune Antonios, who was placed under house arrest in 2007, after he refused to excommunicate 3,000 members of his Church and protested to Eritrea’s government over the imprisonment of Christians.

The state has since removed him as head of the Church, and he is still under house arrest, even though no charges have been brought against him.

Ms Bibi wrote: “One thing that so many of the people featured in this report have in common is that they are forced to suffer in silence.

“It is time that the world hears these stories – it is time to speak truth to power.”

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China: Appointment of New Bishop in Communion with the Pope https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/china-appointment-of-new-bishop-in-communion-with-the-pope/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 16:33:48 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205569 Monsignor Thomas Chen Tianhao, Appointed in Qingdao

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Under the Provisional Agreement, a  third Bishop has been appointed and ordained in the People’s Republic of China, in communion with Pope Francis, confirmed the Holy See.

He is Reverend Thomas Chen Tianhao, appointed in the diocese of Qingdao, Shandong. Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, announced at the same time that new appointments are expected in the future. ”Several processes are underway for episcopal appointments,” he said.

According to Vatican Radio, “the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China is bearing fruits.” It’s the third appointment of a Bishop in communion with the Successor of Peter, since the signing of the Agreement in September 2018.

“I can confirm that the Reverend Thomas Chen Tianhao is the third Bishop appointed and ordained in virtue of the regulatory framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the appointment of Bishops,” specified Bruni.

“I can also add that more episcopal consecrations are expected in the future, as different processes are being carried out for new episcopal appointments,” he continued.

The Provisional Agreement, renewed in recent weeks for two more years, does not concern directly diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, or the juridical statute of the Chinese Catholic Church or relations between the clergy and the country’s Authorities, reported Vatican Radio. “It only concerns the process of the appointment of Bishops: an essential issue for the life of the Church and for the communion of the Pastors of the Chinese Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome and with the Bishops of the world.”

The Provisional Agreement’s objective has always been truly pastoral,” points out the same source. “To enable the Catholic faithful to have Bishops in full communion with the Successor of Peter and, at the same time, to be recognized by the Authorities of the People’s Republic of China.”

On October 22, L’Osservatore Romano stressed that the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and China on the appointment of Bishops is “above all the point of departure for broader and long-term Agreements.” The Agreement had just been extended for two years.

Referring to the teaching of the Conciliar Constitution Lumen Gentium, the text must gradually ensure “on one hand the unity of the faith and the communion between the Bishops and, on the other hand, the complete service of the Catholic community in China,” said L’Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican newspaper published on the front page a long press release geared to “deepening the purpose and the motives of the renewal of the Provisional Agreement for two years, which were validated the same day by both parties.”

It reiterated that the reasons are not “geopolitical” but “ecclesiological and pastoral, to “support and promote the proclamation of the Gospel in this country, reconstituting full and visible union with the Church.”

The way is still long and not exempt from difficulties, states the press release. “Profoundly conscious” of all the “worrying” questions “related to the life of the Catholic Church in China,” which have yet to be addressed, the Holy See “takes them into account  and does no crease to call the attention of the Chinese Government to foment a more fruitful exercise of religious liberty.”

Recently, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, also recalled the long process that led to the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops.

“The Agreement’s objective is above all ecclesial and pastoral,” reiterated the Vatican Secretary of State. It is to “help the local Churches to enjoy conditions of greater freedom, autonomy, and organization, so that they dedicate themselves to the mission and proclaim the Gospel, contributing to the integral development of the person and the society,” he said.

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Bishops of Guatemala Call for Dialogue https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/bishops-of-guatemala-call-for-dialogue/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 16:09:57 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205563 'Today's Debts are Tomorrow's Hunger'

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After the demonstrations, where citizens have been protesting against the government of Guatemala since Saturday, November 21, the country’s Primate, Archbishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez of Santiago de Guatemala, invited the demonstrators to remain calm and called for dialogue, reported Fides News Agency.

The demonstrations, during which part of the congress site was set on fire on Saturday, led to clashes with the police. There were further demonstrations on Monday, November 23rd, despite the fact that Congress had announced early that morning that it would revise the controversial budget for 2021.

The President of Parliament Allan Rodríguez announced this together with 16 other MPs from the various parliamentary groups that are allied with the ruling party.

In the announcement, however, he did not explain what changes will be made.

The 2021 State Budget Project was rejected by all social sectors and is the cause of the protests that broke out on November 19, first on social media and then on the streets, where they still continue. The protesters are protesting against an increase in national debt and the unclear procedures in the approval of the budget by Congress.

The Bishops’ Conference of Guatemala issued a statement on the same day stating: “The way in which the budget was approved sparked outrage in very different sectors of the country over the opaque and certainly turbid approach underlying the decisions to achieve the necessary majority”.

According to the local press, the approval of the budget took place at 5 am on November 18 without all MPs having access to the content. Many social organizations joined the position of the bishops lamenting: “For ten consecutive years we have approved underfunded debts, but never before for such disproportionate amounts as this year. The country’s debt is frankly reaching worrying levels and today’s debts will be tomorrow’s hunger. The elimination or reduction of important elements seems to express resentment but also ethical myopia”.

The final request of the document – “We ask the President of the Republic to veto this budget and to do it for the good of the country” – was accepted, but the population is still on the street expressing discontent with the way Congress is acting

According to recent reports, the government agrees to a “dialogue” with the various social sectors of society.

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English Bishops Welcome a Return to Public Worship https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/english-bishops-welcome-a-return-to-public-worship/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:58:14 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205560 Lockdown Expires December 2

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The government has confirmed that collective worship can resume in churches and other places of worship when the national lockdown expires on December 2, This decision applies across all three tiers of COVID-19 restrictions in England.

On behalf of the Bishops, the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Canon Christopher Thomas, commented:

“The Catholic Community in England is delighted at the Government’s decision to allow the resumption of collective worship following the national lockdown in all three tiers.

“This decision reflects the importance of the right of all people to express their faith in worship, but more importantly, it is an acknowledgment of the active collaboration the church has had with public officials in developing COVID-secure protocols in our churches.

“As we move forward, it is incumbent on all who come to worship God in our churches to play their part in keeping themselves and others safe by following all of the guidance that has been prepared.

“Through our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and other sacraments celebrated in the Church, the works of charity which have been expressed through Catholic charities and communities over the last nine months finds its source and goal.”

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Benedict XVI’s Former Butler Paolo Gabriele Dies https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/benedict-xvis-former-butler-paolo-gabriele-dies/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:53:03 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205557 At 54 after a Long Illness

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Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, has died at 54 after a long illness. He leaves his wife and three children, reported Vatican Radio.

“After many years of service to the Holy See and having been a member of the Papal Family, in 2012 he was the protagonist of the first Vatileaks, the disappearance of confidential documents published in a book,” pointed out Vatican Radio.

“He was declared guilty by the Court of Vatican City State and was given the pardon and grace of the Pope Emeritus on December 22 of that year. Later he served in the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome, “ it explained.

Benedict forgave and pardoned his former butler Gabriele, who on October 6, 2012 was sentenced by an Ecclesiastical Court to a year and half of prison for stealing thousands of confidential documents, a case commonly known as Vatileaks. He asked for papal pardon for these deeds.

The Pope visited the accused on Saturday, December 22, in the Vatican’s gendarmerie, where his cell was. It was a symbolic gesture in the pre-Christmas period. The Holy Father wanted to “confirm” his “pardon” to Paolo Gabriele. He “personally” wanted to announce Gabriele’s release, saying that he accepted his request for pardon and annulled his sentence.

The Vatican described it as “a paternal gesture to a person with whom the Pope has been close daily for many years.” “Paolo Gabriele was then released and returned to his home in the Vatican,” added Vatican Radio.

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Pope Erects New Eparchy in Poland https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/pope-erects-new-eparchy-in-poland/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:43:33 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205554 Appoints Reverend Arkadiusz Trochanowski

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The Holy Father erected the new Eparchy of Olsztyn-Gdańsk (Poland) of the Byzantine-Ukrainian rite, with the territory dismembered from the Archieparchy of Przemyśl-Warszawa and from the Eparchy of Wrocław-Gdańsk and appointed Reverend Arkadiusz Trochanowski, of the clergy of the Eparchy of Wrocław-Gdańsk. Until the Bishop takes possession, the Eparchy of Olsztyn-Gdańsk will be governed by Metropolitan SER Eugeniusz Mirosław Popowicz as Apostolic Administrator.

The Holy Father changed the name of the Eparchy of Wrocław-Gdańsk to Wrocław-Koszalin and made the new Eparchy of Olsztyn-Gdańsk a suffragan of the Archieparchy of Przemyśl-Warszawa.

Curriculum vitae

HE Archbishop Arkadiusz Trochanowski was born on 6 January 1973 in Szprotawa, a town near Zielona Góra belonging to the Eparchy of Wrocław-Gdańsk. He comes from a family with an ancient Ukrainian Greek-Catholic tradition actively involved in the parish.

After completing his high school studies, he began his philosophical-theological training at the Major Seminary of Lublin and was ordained a priest on 29 July 2000 in Wrocław, incardinating in the homonymous Eparchy.

He then worked as Parish Vicar in Wrocław and Środa Śląska, Oława and Oleśnica, meanwhile continuing his specialist studies in Theology at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wrocław. In 2012 he received his Doctorate in Theology.

From 2001 to 2016 he was parish priest in Szczecinek, while up to now he was parish priest of Wałcz, also following the Greek-Catholic community of Pila.

Since 2006 he has been a member of the College of Consultors, of the Presbyteral Council and of the Eparchial Pastoral Council.

Since 2010 he has been Dean of Koszalin and since 2014 co-director of the Greek-Catholic monthly Blahowist . Since 2015 he has been Director of the Eparchial Office for Youth Ministry and since 2017 Eparchial Delegate for the protection of minors.

Statistics

The new Eparchy of Olsztyn-Gdańsk covers an area of ​​90,075 km2 and has a total population of 5,991,158 inhabitants. The territory corresponds to that of the Latin Dioceses of Gdańsk, Pelplin, Elblag, Toruń, Płock, Warmia, Elk, Łomża, Białystok and Drohiczyn.

The seat of the Eparchy is fixed in Olsztyn, establishing as the cathedral the church of the Patronage of the Most Holy Theotókos in Olsztyn.

The circumscription includes 43 parishes and chaplaincies, entrusted to 26 priests, including 4 Fathers of the Order of St. Basil the Great.

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Pope Makes Two Appointments in South Africa https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/pope-makes-two-appointments-in-south-africa/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:30:41 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205552 Announced November 25, 2020

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Resignation and appointment of the Bishop of Rustenburg (South Africa)

The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Rustenburg (South Africa), presented by HE Mgr Kevin Patrick Dowling, C.SS.R ..

The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Robert Mogapi Mphiwe, of the clergy of Pretoria, currently Vicar General, as bishop of the same diocese.

Curriculum vitae

HE Mons. Robert Mogapi Mphiwe was born on March 14, 1972, in Pretoria. After attending St. Peter’s Seminary in Garsfontein for Philosophy studies (1990-1992), he entered the St. John Vianney Seminary NPC in Pretoria for theology courses (1993-1996). He obtained a Licentiate in Liturgy from the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on 1 November 1997 for the Archdiocese of Pretoria.

He has held the following positions: Parish Vicar of St. Kizito in Marapyane (1997-1999); Lecturer and trainer at St. Peter’s Seminary in Garsfontein (2000-2001 and 2005-2008); Parish priest of St. Anne’s in Atteridgeville (2009-2010); Pastor of St. Thomas More in Centurion (2011 to present) and from 2015 until now he has been Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Pretoria.

Appointment of the Bishop of Witbank (South Africa)

The Holy Father has appointed HE Mgr. Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo, currently Bishop of the Diocese of Eshowe, as Bishop of the Diocese of Witbank (South Africa).

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Pope Francis at General Audience: ‘God Gives Love, God Asks for Love’ (FULL TEXT) https://zenit.org/2020/11/25/pope-francis-at-general-audience-god-gives-love-god-asks-for-love-full-text/ Wed, 25 Nov 2020 12:56:13 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=205549 Focuses on the Prayer of the Nascent Church

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God gives love… God asks for love…

Pope Francis gave this reminder during his Nov. 25 General Audience today, privately streamed from his Apostolic Library, again without public due to the resurgence of COVID19 in the country.

The Holy Father continued his series of catechesis on prayer, this week looking at the prayer of the nascent Church.

This reciprocal loving relationship, the Holy Father says, “is the mystical root of the believer’s entire life,” and is manifested in prayer.

“In prayer, the first Christians – and us as well, who come many centuries afterwards – we all live the same experience. The Spirit inspires everything. And every Christian who is not afraid to devote time to prayer can make his or her own the words of the Apostle Paul, who says this: “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).”

Prayer, Francis said, makes you aware of this, adding: “only in the silence of adoration do we experience the whole truth of these words.”

“We must recapture this sense of adoration,” the Holy Father underscored: “To adore, to adore God, to adore Jesus, to adore the Spirit. The Father, the Son and the Spirit: to adore. In silence.”

The prayer of adoration, he noted, is that which makes us recognize God as the beginning and the end of all of History, and “the living flame of the Spirit that gives strength to witness and to mission.”

Reflecting on how constant prayer was the driving force of the missionary activity of the first Christians, the Jesuit Pope reminded how St. Luke told us that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Similarly today, the Holy Father stressed, the Church’s life is centered on prayer, “which unites us to Christ, and inspires our witness to the Gospel and our charitable service to those in need.”

As we pray, he noted, we experience the life of the risen Jesus who, in the power of the Spirit, continues to be present to our world, especially in the Church’s teaching and sacraments, and our efforts to advance his kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace.

Recalling that the Catechism teaches that the Holy Spirit “keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church,” Pope Francis said that same Spirit “grants courage and conviction to all those missionaries, who, in our day too, face arduous journeys, dangers and persecution for the sake of the Gospel.”

“Like the early Christians, may we learn, through the cultivation of personal and communal prayer,” the Pope said, “to be ever more closely united to the Triune God of love, and to bring that same love to the world around us.”

Here is the Vatican-provided text of the Holy Father’s address:

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Catechesis on prayer – 16. The prayer of the nascent Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

The Church’s first steps in the world were interspersed with prayer. The apostolic writings and the great narration of the Acts of the Apostles give us the image of an active Church, a Church on the move, yet which, gathered in prayer, finds the basis and impulse for missionary action. The image of the early Community of Jerusalem is the point of reference for every other Christian experience. Luke writes in the Book of Acts: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42). The community persevered in prayer.

We find here four essential characteristics of ecclesial life: listening to the apostles’ teaching, first; second, the safeguarding of mutual communion; third, the breaking of the bread; and fourth, prayer. They remind us that the Church’s existence has meaning if it remains firmly united to Christ, that is, in community, in His Word, in the Eucharist and in prayer – the way we unite ourselves to Christ. Preaching and catechesis bear witness to the words and actions of the Teacher; the constant quest for fraternal communion shields us from selfishness and particularisms; the breaking of the bread fulfils the sacrament of Jesus’ presence among us. He will never be absent – particularly in the Eucharist, He is there. He lives and walks with us. And lastly, prayer, which is the space of dialogue with the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Everything in the Church that grows outside of these “coordinates” lacks a foundation. To discern a situation, we need to ask ourselves about these four coordinates: how in this situation these four coordinates are present – the preaching, the constant search for fraternal communion, charity, the breaking of the bread (that is, the Eucharistic life), and prayer. Any situation needs to be evaluated in the light of these four coordinates. Whatever is not part of these coordinates lacks ecclesiality, it is not ecclesial. It is God who creates the Church, not the clamour of works. The Church is not a market; the Church is not a group of businesspeople who go forward with a new business. The Church is the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to us to gather us together. The Church is precisely the work of the Spirit in the Christian community, in the life of the community, in the Eucharist, in prayer… always. And everything that grows outside of these coordinates lacks a foundation, is like a house built upon sand (see Mt 7:24-27). It is God who creates the Church, not the clamour of works. It is Jesus’ word that fills our efforts with meaning. It is in humility that we build the future of the world. At times, I feel tremendous sadness when I see a community that has good will, but takes the wrong road because it thinks that the Church is built up in meetings, as if it were a political party. “But, the majority, the minority, what do they think about this, that and the other… And this is like a Synod, the synodal path that we must take…” I ask myself: “But where is the Holy Spirit there? Where is prayer? Where is communitarian love? Where is the Eucharist?” Without these four coordinates, the Church becomes a human society, a political party – majority, minority – changes are made as if it were a company, according to majority or minority… But the Holy Spirit is not there. And the presence of the Holy Spirit is precisely guaranteed by these four coordinates. To evaluate whether a situation is ecclesial or not ecclesial, let us ask ourselves about these four coordinates: life in community, prayer, the Eucharist…how is life developing along these four coordinates. If this is lacking, the Holy Spirit is lacking, and if the Holy Spirit is lacking, we are a beautiful organization, humanitarian, doing good things, good, good…even an ecclesial party, let’s put it that way. But it is not the Church. It is for this reason that the Church does not grow with these things: it does not grow through proselytism, as any other company, it grows by attraction. And who provokes attraction? The Holy Spirit. Let us never forget Benedict XVI’s words: “The Church does not grow through proselytizing, she grows by attraction”. If the Holy Spirit is lacking, who is the one who attracts [people] to Jesus, the Church is not there. There might be a beautiful friendship club, good, with good intentions, but not the Church, not synodality.

In reading the Acts of the Apostles we then discover what a powerful driving force of evangelization the prayer gatherings can be, where those who participate actually experience Jesus’ presence and are touched by the Spirit. The members of the first community – although this always applies, even to us today – sensed that the narrative of the encounter with Jesus did not stop at the moment of the Ascension, but continued in their life. In recounting what the Lord said and did – listening to the Word – in praying to enter into communion with Him, everything became alive. Prayer infuses light and warmth: the gift of the Spirit endowed them with fervour.

For this reason, the Catechism contains a very substantial expression. It says this: “The Holy Spirit… keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth, to the whole truth, and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church’s life, sacraments, and mission” (n. 2625). This is the Spirit’s work in the Church: making us remember Jesus. And Jesus Himself said it: He will teach you and remind you. The mission is to remember Jesus, but not as a mnemonic exercise. Christians, walking on the paths of mission, remember Jesus while they make Him present once more; and from Him, from His Spirit, they receive the “push” to go, to proclaim, to serve. In prayer, Christians immerse themselves in the mystery of God, that mystery who loves each person, that God who desires that the Gospel to be preached to every one. God is God for everyone, and in Jesus every wall of separation has definitively crumbled: as Saint Paul says, He is our peace, that is, “He who has made us both one” (Eph 2:14). Jesus created unity, unity.

In this way the life of the early Church had the rhythm of a continuous succession of celebrations, convocations, times of both communitarian and personal prayer. And it is the Spirit who granted strength to the preachers who set out on the journey, and who, for love of Jesus, sailed the seas, faced dangers, subjected themselves to humiliation.

God gives love, God asks for love. This is the mystical root of the believer’s entire life. In prayer, the first Christians – and us as well, who come many centuries afterwards – we all live the same experience. The Spirit inspires everything. And every Christian who is not afraid to devote time to prayer can make his or her own the words of the Apostle Paul, who says this: “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Prayer makes you aware of this. Only in the silence of adoration do we experience the whole truth of these words. And we must recapture this sense of adoration. To adore, to adore God, to adore Jesus, to adore the Spirit. The Father, the Son and the Spirit: to adore. In silence. The prayer of adoration is that prayer that makes us recognize God as the beginning and the end of all of History. And this prayers is the living flame of the Spirit that gives strength to witness and to mission. Thank you.


Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. As we prepare to embark upon our Advent journey, may the light of Christ illumine our paths and dispel all darkness from our hearts. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!


© Copyright LEV

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