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General Audience: Holy Mass is the prayer "par excellence"



Reading: Luke 11,1-4

[1] He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” [2]He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread [4] and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

(Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Holy Mass.

The Mass, the Pope said, is prayer – or rather, it is “the prayer par excellence, the highest, the most sublime, and at the same time, the most ‘concrete’ … it is an encounter with the Lord.”

“But what is prayer, really?” Pope Francis asked. “it is first of all dialogue, a relationship with God.” Man, he continued, “was created as a being in personal relationship with God, who finds his full realization only in the encounter with His Creator.”

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is Himself “a perfect relationship of love that is unity.” Because we are created in “the image and likeness of God,” we too are called to enter into a perfect relationship of love. And it is the Mass, the Eucharist, that is “the privileged moment to be with Christ, and, through Him, with God and with our brothers.”

But dialogue also means knowing how to remain silent, in the presence of the other. The Holy Father emphasized the importance of moments of silence when we go to Mass – the liturgy, he said, is not a time for chatting, but a time to recollect ourselves, to prepare our hearts for the encounter with Jesus.

Jesus Himself often went off to “a place apart” in order to pray; and His disciples, seeing His intimate relationship with the Father, asked Him how to pray. “Jesus says that the first thing necessary for prayer” is to be able to call God “Father.” Pope Francis said, “If I cannot say ‘Father’ to God, I can’t pray. We have to learn to say ‘Father,’ that is, to put ourselves into His presence with filial confidence.”

In this sense, he continued, we must be like children, able to entrust ourselves entirely to God, as children do with their parents. And, like children, we must also have a sense of wonder, we must “allow ourselves to be surprised.” When we speak to God in prayer, the Pope said, it is not talking to God “like parrots.” Instead it means “entrusting ourselves and opening our hearts to allow ourselves to wonder.” The encounter with God in Mass, he said, “is always a living encounter, it is not a meeting in a museum.”

Pope Francis recalled the Gospel account of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus. In their encounter, Jesus spoke about the need to be born again. But how is this possible, the Pope asked? “This is a fundamental question of our faith,” he said, “and this is the desire of every true believer: the desire to be reborn, the joy of beginning anew.” Pope Francis asked his audience, “Do we have this desire? Does each one of us have the desire to always be reborn in order to encounter the Lord? Do you have this desire?”

In fact, the Pope concluded, “the Lord surprises us by showing us that He loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer.”

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis at General Audience: English Summary



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has begun a new series of catecheses focussing on the Eucharist. He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience.

Please find below the English Summary of the Pope’s cathechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today begins a new series of catecheses devoted to the Eucharist.  The Mass is the very “heart” of the Church and the source of her life.  How many martyrs have died to defend the Eucharist!  Their witness confirms our Lord’s promise that by partaking of his body and blood we pass with him from death to life (cf. Jn 6:54).  At every celebration of Mass, our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.  The liturgical renewal called for by Second Vatican Council sought to help the faithful understand more fully and share more fruitfully in the Eucharist.  At Mass, Jesus becomes truly present and allows us in some way, like the Apostle Thomas, to touch his flesh and renew our faith in him.   In coming weeks, we will seek to grow in our appreciation of this great gift, so as to share more fully in its spiritual riches and beauty, which give ultimate meaning and direction to our lives.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope at General Audience: ‘he who knows Jesus will never despair’



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told the faithful never to despair, as the Lord’s grace is always present to those who put their trust in him.

The Pope’s was speaking to the faithful at the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian hope.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:



Pope Francis greeted the crowds in St. Peter’s square telling them that this is the last catechesis on the subject of Christian hope, which has accompanied us since the beginning of the liturgical year.

 And so, he said: “I will end by talking about heaven, as the goal of our hope”.

Paradise

“Paradise” the Pope said is one of the last words spoken by Jesus on the cross when he addresses the good thief. 

Reflecting on that scene from the Gospel, the Pope said “Jesus is not alone. Next to him, right and left, there are two offenders”.

Perhaps, he said, passing in front of those three crosses hoisted on Golgotha, someone may even have breathed a sigh of relief thinking that justice was finally done.

In fact, Francis said “On Calvary, on that tragic and Holy Friday, for Jesus it was the extreme moment of solidarity with sinners. As the prophet Isaiah said: “He was counted among the ungodly.”

Pope Francis remarked that it is interesting to note that this is the only instance in which the word “Paradise” appears in the gospels.

The good thief

He recalled the “poor devil” who, on the cross, had the courage to express the most humble of wishes: “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.”

“He did not have good deeds to assert, he had nothing, but he put his trust into Jesus, and his humble words of repentance were enough to touch the heart of Jesus” he said.

This tells us, he said, that the Lord’s solidarity with us sinners culminated on the cross where, in one of his final acts, he opened the gates of heaven to a repentant criminal.

Trust in God‘s mercy

Thus, at the heart of the Pope’s catechesis was the message that we can only trust in God’s mercy, and, at every hour of our life, turn to him with hope in his promises. 

This miracle, he said, is repeated countless times in hospitals and prison cells: “there is no person, no matter how bad, to whom grace is denied”

God, he said, desires that nothing be lost of what he has redeemed.  

No one must despair 

“No one, he explained, should despair, for his grace is always present to those who put their trust in him”.

Paradise, Francis continued, is not a fairy tale, nor is it an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God, it is infinite Love, it is a place we enter thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us.

“Where there is Jesus, there is mercy and happiness; without Him there is the cold and darkness” he said.

Love and charity never end

If we believe this, the Pope said, we stop being afraid of death and we can hope to leave this world in a serene and trusting way.

“At the hour of death, a Christian must say to Jesus: ‘Remember me’ and even if there is no one who remembers us, Jesus is there, beside us” he said. 

At that moment, the Pope concluded, we will no longer need anything, we will not see in a confused way, we will not weep unnecessarily, because everything will be gone except for love that remains because: “charity never ends”.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope at General Audience: ‘Jesus came to save us from death’



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation. 

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.  

For those “in doubt”, he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.

For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.

Prepare for death

The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.

In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.

Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  

Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.

To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”. 

Jesus will take us by the hand

Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.  

But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.

Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.

Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.

We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: “Talitha cum” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”   

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope receives German president in private audience ‎



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany in a private audience in the Vatican on Monday.  The Holy See’s Press office issued a statement saying Steinmeier later met Vatican Secretary ‎of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin along with Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

During the “cordial talks”, the Press Office said, the two sides expressed satisfaction over the good relations and fruitful relations between the Holy See and Germany, and between Church and the institutions in the country.  They also expressed appreciation for the positive inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue, especially between Catholics and Protestants during the 5th centenary of the Lutheran Reformation. 

Monday’s talks also touched upon some issues of common interest, such as the economic and religious situation in Europe and in the world, with special reference to the phenomenon of migration and the promotion of the culture of welcome and solidarity. 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis at Audience: English-language summary



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis dedicated his General Audience on Wednesday to a reflection on his Aposotolic Visit to Colombia, which concluded on Sunday.

He prayed, “through the prayers of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, Patroness of Columbia,” that the nation might “continue to progress in the way of peace in love, justice and truth.”

Below, please find the official English-language summary of Pope Francis’ remarks at the General Audience for Wednesday, 13 September 2017:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: My recent Pastoral Visit to Colombia, in the footsteps of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, sought to encourage the process of reconciliation in that country following a half century of conflict and division. Its motto – Let us Take the First Step – was also an appeal to the nation to discover in its deep Christian roots the spiritual resources needed to advance the work of healing and rebuilding. In Bogotá, I was warmly welcomed, especially by the young, who are the future of the country. The Beatification of two martyrs and the reconciliation service celebrated in Villavicencio were particularly moving. In Medellín, the emphasis was on Christian discipleship and mission, exemplified in the help given to youth through the Hogares group homes and in the faces of the many young men and women who are responding to Jesus’ call to the priesthood and the consecrated life. In Cartagena, the example of Saints Peter Claver and Maria Bernarda Bütler reaffirmed our evangelical commitment to human promotion and the defence of human rights. Through the prayers of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, Patroness of Columbia, may the nation continue to progress in the way of peace in love, justice and truth.

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis General Audience: English summary



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall.

Please find below the official English-language summary:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue to explore the virtue of Christian hope, we discover in the final pages of the Bible that the ultimate destination of our Christian pilgrimage will be the heavenly Jerusalem.  And on this pilgrimage we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey.  Even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering – think of the fearful faces of those haunted by violence and war – still there is a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.  We believe that neither death nor hatred have the last word, for we Christians see, with great hope, a larger horizon: the Kingdom of God, where all evil is banished forever.  It is Jesus himself who is the light of this new future, and who even now accompanies us on our way.  Creation did not stop on the sixth day of Genesis, because God is continually looking after us, always ready to pronounce his blessing: “Behold, I make all things new! (Rev 21:5)”.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis’ catechesis at General Audience: English Summary



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, reflecting on divine forgiveness as the “driving force of hope”.

Please find below the official English summary of the Pope’s catechesis:

In our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.  When Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, “untouchable”.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God.  This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.  We who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope at Audience: ‘Divine mercy is foundation of Christian hope’



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope with pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, saying that God’s mercy as embodied by Jesus both transforms us and renews our hope.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:



In his address to pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about God’s mercy and forgiveness as the driving force or the “motor” of Christian hope.

He reflected on the passage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 7:44-50) in which Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and a precious ointment.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ merciful action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of his time. Jesus, he said, embraced sinners and the “untouchables” of his day, rather than rejecting them as was commonplace.

“Jesus, faced with human pain, feels mercy; Jesus’ heart is merciful. Jesus feels compassion. Literally: Jesus feels a tremor within.”

The Pope said Jesus’ astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy.

And this gives a sure foundation to our hope.

Pope Francis then invited all present to reflect on the cost of sin.

“Jesus does not go to the cross because He heals the sick, preaches charity, or proclaims the beatitudes. The Son of God goes to the cross above all because He forgives sins, and because He wants the total and definitive liberation of the human heart.”

Finally, Pope Francis said God’s mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.

“[W]e are all poor sinners, in need of the mercy of God Who has the strength to transform us and to restore our hope every day.”

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis: weekly General Audience summary



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a General Audience on Wednesday, August 2nd, the first of his weekly appointments with pilgrims and tourists after their suspension for the month of July. The Holy Father continued his series of catechetical reflections on Christian hope, this Wednesday focusing on the Sacrament of Baptism, which he described as the “gateway to hope”. Below, please find the full text of the English-language summary of his prepared remarks, which was read after the main catechesis.

***********************

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the sacrament of baptism as the gate to eternal life. In the early Church, those about to be baptized made their profession of faith facing eastward, seeing the rising sun as a symbol of Christ. Even if our modern world has lost contact with such cosmic imagery, this symbolism retains its power. For what does it mean to be Christian, but to confess our faith in the light, a light that casts out gloom and darkness? In putting on Christ at baptism we become children of light. This light gives us new hope, helps us to know God as Father, and enables us to recognize Jesus in the weakest and poorest. When we were baptized we received a candle that was lit from the Paschal Candle, as a sign of Christ’s victory over the darkness of sin and death. This is also a sign of the life of the Church: to be ablaze with this new light! As Christians, let us remind each other that we have been reborn as children of the light, and, faithful to our baptismal calling, let us share the new hope that Jesus brings.

Greetings:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Japan, Nigeria, Iraq and the United States of America. I am especially pleased to welcome the pilgrims from the Chaldean Patriarchate, accompanied by Bishop Shlemon Warduni. Upon all of you, I invoke the grace of the Lord Jesus, that you may be a sign of Christian hope in your homes and communities.  May God bless you!

(from Vatican Radio)



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