Tag - hope

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: In moments of darkness choose the path of prayer, patience and hope in God



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday urged Christians not to fall into the trap of vanity in moments of pain and sorrow but rather resort to prayer patience and hope in God.  Do not be misled by the “cosmetic beauty” of vanity, but let that “joy of God” enter your hearts, thanking the Lord for the “salvation” he grants us. Pope Francis made the exhortation in his homily at Mass Friday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.

Reflecting on the first reading from the Book of Tobit, the Pope went through the story of a father-in-law and a daughter-in-law: Tobit, the father of Tobiah who became blind, and Sarah, Tobiah’s wife, accused in the past of being responsible for the death of some men.  The Pope explained it’s a passage in which one understands how the Lord carries forward the “history” and “the life of persons, including ours”.  In fact, he said, Tobit and Sarah lived through “bad times” and “good times”, as “it happens in an entire life”.  Tobit was “persecuted,” “teased” and “insulted” by his wife, who after all, the Pope said, was not a bad woman, because she had to manage the house as he was blind. Even Sarah was insulted and suffered much.  Passing through some very bad times, both of them, the Holy Father said, thought “it’s better to die.”

“We’ve all been through bad times, though not as bad as this, but we know how its feels in times of darkness, in moments of pain, in times of difficulty, we know.  But then Sara thinks, ‘If I hang myself, I will make my parents suffer.’  So she stops and prays. And Tobit says, ‘But this is my life, let’s go ahead’ and he prays.  This is the attitude that saves us in bad times,– prayer. Patience – because both of them are patient with their pains. And hope – that God will listen to us and help us tide over these bad moments.  In moments of sadness, little or much, in moments of darkness, prayer, patience and hope. Do not forget this.”

There are also bright moments in their stories but the Pope stressed it is like a “happy ending” of a novel.

“After the test, the Lord comes close to them and saves them. But there are some beautiful and authentic moments, not with beautiful makeup that everything is artificial, all fireworks which is not the beauty of the soul. And what do both of them do in the beautiful moments? They thank God, broadening their hearts with prayers of thanksgiving.”

The Pontiff exhorted all to ask themselves whether in various phases of life we are able to discern what is happening in our soul, aware that the bad moments are “the crosses” and that one needs “to pray, to have patience and have at least a bit of hope.”  One must avoid falling into “vanity” because “the Lord is always there” beside us when we turn “to Him in prayer” and thank Him for the joy that He has given us.  Through discernment Sarah realized that she should not end up hanging herself; Tobit realized that he had to “wait, in prayer and in hope for the Lord’s salvation.” Pope Francis invited all to re-read these passages of the Bible:

“While reading this Book this weekend, let us ask for grace of discerning what happens in the bad times of our lives and how to go on and what happens in the beautiful moments and not be misled by vanity.”

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope at Audience: Hope pushes us onward



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian Hope at Wednesday’s General Audience, taking as his starting point a reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

Rom 15, 13-14: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.

The Holy Father said that in light of the upcoming feast of Pentecost, “we cannot fail to speak of the relationship between Christian hope and the Holy Spirit.” Hope, he said, quoting the Letter to the Hebrews, can be compared to an anchor, but also to a sail; like an anchor it gives us security, but like a sail it pushes us forward.

Pope Francis focused on the words “God of hope,” saying that God is not simply the object of hope; He also makes us “joyful in hope,” giving us here and now the joy of hoping, not just the hope of having joy in the future.

This joy comes from knowing that we are made sons of God, and His heirs. Repeating a constant theme in his preaching, the Pope said that “hope does not disappoint,” because the Spirit is within us, always pushing us onward.

But, he continued, the Holy Spirit does not simply give us hope. He also makes us capable of being “sowers of hope.” A Christian can spread bitterness and hopelessness, but one who does that is not a good Christian. Quoting Blessed John Henry Newman, the Pope said we must be “consolers” in the image of the Spirit, always ready to help those most in need.

The Spirit, he said, also gives hope to all of creation, and this impels us to respect the world God has created.

Pope Francis concluded his reflection by pointing once again to the Solemnity of Pentecost, the “birthday of the Church.” He prayed that the feast may find us united in prayer, with Mary, the Mother and Jesus and our Mother; and prayed, too, that the gift of the Spirit might make us abound in hope. 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope to Pious Disciples of the Divine Master: ‘be prophets of hope’



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday greeted the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master and encouraged them to go forward in their mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of today with joy in unity, giving voice to plurality and respecting each other’s differences.

The Pope words came as he addressed the Sisters who are holding their 9th General Chapter in Rome (10 April-28 May) on the theme “New wine in new wineskins.”

First of all, Pope Francis said to the Sisters, always be open the Holy Spirit, Master of diversity, Master of unity within differences.

“Walk together in communion, he said, respecting plurality and tirelessly weaving your legitimate differences into unity, taking into account you are present in different Countries and cultures”.

Basing his discourse on the many fruits yielded by communion, the Pope encouraged the Sisters to allow each other to express themselves freely, to be accepted with their own special gifts, and to become fully co-responsible.

He urged them to cultivate mutual attention and practice sisterly correction and respect the weakest members.

“Grow in the spirit of living together, banish divisions, envy, and gossip from your communities, speak frankly and with charity” he said.

The Pope noted that the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master share Fr. Giacomo Alberione as father and founder with the Pauline family, as well as the mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of our time.

He spoke of the fruits of communion born from collaboration with other charisms saying it is the time for synergy between all consecrated persons who are called to welcome the riches of other charisms and put them all in the service of evangelization, remaining faithful to their identity.

“No one, he said, builds the future by isolating themselves or on their own strength alone” and he invited them to cultivate dialogue and communion with other charisms, and to combat self-referentialism in every way.

The Pope also mentioned the importance of the fruits produced by communion with the men and women of our time: “Our God is the God of history and our faith is a faith that works in history. In the questions and expectations of today’s men and women, there are important indications for our pursuit of Christ”.

Pope Francis said the Chapter is a time to listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the signs of the times.

He said it is also a time for peaceful and unbiased confrontation which requires the opening of mind and heart, and he urged those present never to tire of the practice of listening and sharing with the men and women of today.

“In this time of great challenges, which require devoted creative fidelity and passionate research, listening and sharing are more than ever necessary if we want our lives to be fully meaningful to ourselves and to the people we meet” he said.

Pope Francis then told the Sisters that to this end it is necessary to maintain a climate of discernment, to recognize what belongs to the Spirit and what is contrary to it. 

He said that a world of possibilities is open before us and that “the culture in which we are immersed presents them all as valid and good, but if we do not want to fall victim to the culture of zapping and sometimes to a culture of death”, we must always be discerning and never tire of asking the Lord “What do you want me to do?”

The Chapter, the Pope said, is also a time in which to renew our docility towards the Spirit that animates prophecy. This, he said, is an indispensable value for consecrated life which itself is a special form of participation in the prophetic mission of Christ. 

“As consecrated women, you live the prophecy of joy, that joy that comes from your encounter with Christ through a life of personal and communal prayer” he said, as well as in a joyful life of fraternity within the community and in your embrace of Christ’s flesh when you minister to the poor.

Joy, the Pope said, is a beautiful reality in the lives of many consecrated persons, but it is also a great challenge for all of us because joy must be of the authentic kind, never self-referential or self-satisfied.

“This joy, Francis continued, which fills your hearts and shows on your faces will lead you to go out to the peripheries and participate in the joy of the Church that is evangelization, convinced that Jesus is the Good News and is joy for all. This joy distances you from the cancer of resignation, the fruit of sloth that withers the soul”.

Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging the Sisters to be prophets of hope with eyes turned to the future, and to let themselves be guided by the Spirit in order to continue to do great things.

Trusting in Christian hope and in the strength it gives you, he said: “fortify your vocation of morning sentinels in order to announce the coming of the dawn: Wake up the world, light up the future”.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope to Egypt’s priests and religious: be sowers of hope and dialogue



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday told Egypt’s priests, religious and seminarians to be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue, despite the many difficulties they face.

The pope’s words came during his final encounter, a prayer service at the seminary in Cairo at the end of his two day visit to the North African nation.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:



Pope Francis began by thanking and encouraging the leaders of this tiny Catholic community for their daily witness “amid many challenges and often few consolations”.

The Catholic Coptic Church, the largest of seven different rites, counts less than 200.000 members, or less than half a percent of the population. The Pope said despite the many negative and despairing voices, priests and religious there are called to be a positive force within society.

Resist temptations

Pope Francis then urged the Catholic leaders to resist the many temptations they encounter, beginning with the desire to be led, rather than to lead the Church. A pastor, he said, is creative and always “share the caress of consolation, even when he is brokenhearted”.

The Pope also warned against the temptation of complain, to gossip, to compare oneself to others and to harden one’s heart, presuming to be served, rather than to serve others.

Coptic Catholic identity

Finally he urged them to avoid the temptations of individualism and losing their sense of direction. Your identity, he told them, “is to be Copts – rooted in your noble and ancient origins – and to be Catholics – part of the one and universal Church”.

Treasure of monastic life

Pope Francis concluded by recalling the great treasure of monastic life which has enriched the Church in Egypt since the first centuries. He urged today’s priests and religious to follow the examples of St Paul the Hermit, St Anthony, the Desert Fathers, and all monks and nuns who by their lives have been “salt and light” for the whole of society, especially for the poorest and those most in need.

Please see below the full address of Pope Francis to Priests, Religious and Seminarians at Saint Leo the Great Patriarchal Seminary, Maadi

Your Beatitudes,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            As-salamu alaykum!   Peace be with you!

            “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in him!  Christ is forever victorious over death, let us rejoice in him!”

            I am happy to be with you in this house of formation for priests, which represents the heart of the Catholic Church in Egypt.  I am pleased to greet you, the priests and consecrated men and women of the small Catholic flock in Egypt, as the “leaven” which God is preparing for this blessed land, so that, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, his Kingdom may increase in this place (cf. Mt 13:13).

            I wish first of all to thank you for your witness and for the good that you do every day amid many challenges and often few consolations.   I want to encourage you!  Do not be afraid of the burdens of your daily service and the difficult circumstances some of you must endure.  We venerate the Holy Cross, the instrument and sign of our salvation.  When we flee the Cross, we flee the resurrection!

            “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32).

            This, then, demands believing, witnessing to the truth, sowing and cultivating without waiting for the harvest.  In fact, we reap the fruits of so many others, whether consecrated or not, who have generously worked in the Lord’s vineyard.  Your history is filled with such people!

           Although there are many reasons to be discouraged, amid many prophets of destruction and condemnation, and so many negative and despairing voices, may you be a positive force, salt and light for this society.  Like the engine of a train, may you be the driving force leading all towards their destination.  May you be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue and harmony.

            This will be possible if consecrated men and women do not give in to the temptations they daily encounter along their way.  I would like to highlight some of the greatest of these temptations.

1. The temptation to let ourselves be led, rather than to lead.  The Good Shepherd has the responsibility of guiding the sheep (cf. Jn 10:3-4), of bringing them to fresh pastures and springs of flowing water (cf. Ps 23).  He cannot let himself be dragged down by disappointment and pessimism: “What can I do?”  He is always full of initiative and creativity, like a spring that flows even in the midst of drought.  He always shares the caress of consolation even when he is broken-hearted.  He is a father when his children show him gratitude, but especially when they prove ungrateful (cf. Lk 15:11-32).  Our faithfulness to the Lord must never depend on human gratitude: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:4, 6, 18).

2.  The temptation to complain constantly.  It is easy to always complain about others, about the shortcomings of superiors, about the state of the Church and society, about the lack of possibilities…  But consecrated persons, though the Spirit’s anointing, are those who turn every obstacle into an opportunity, and not every difficulty into an excuse!  The person who is always complaining is really someone who doesn’t want to work.  It was for this reason that the Lord said to the pastors: “Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Heb 12:12; cf. Is 35:3).

3.  The temptation to gossip and envy.  It is a great danger when consecrated persons, instead of helping the little ones to grow and to rejoice in the successes of their brothers and sisters, allow themselves to be dominated by envy and to hurt others through gossip.  When, instead of striving to grow, they start to destroy those who are growing; instead of following their good example, they judge them and belittle their value.  Envy is a cancer that destroys the body in no time: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mk 3:24-25).  In fact, “through the devil’s envy death entered the world” (Wis 2:24).  Gossip is its means and its weapon.  

4.  The temptation to compare ourselves to others.  Enrichment is found in the diversity and uniqueness of each one of us.  Comparing ourselves with those better off often leads to grudges; comparing ourselves with those worse off often leads to pride and laziness.  Those who are always comparing themselves with others end up paralyzed.  May we learn from Saints Peter and Paul to experience the diversity of qualities, charisms and opinions through willingness to listen and docility to the Holy Spirit.

5.  The temptation to become like Pharaoh, that is to harden our hearts and close them off to the Lord and our brothers and sisters.  Here the temptation is to think that we are better than others, and to lord it over them out of pride; to presume to be served rather than to serve.  It is a temptation that, from the very beginning, was present among the disciples, who – as the Gospel tells us – “on the way argued with one another who was the greatest” (Mk 9:34).  The antidote to this poison is: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).

6.  The temptation to individualism.  As a well-known Egyptian saying goes: “Me, and after me, the flood!”  This is the temptation of selfish people: along the way, they lose sight of the goal and, rather than think of others, they are unashamed to think only of themselves, or even worse, to justify themselves.  The Church is the community of the faithful, the Body of Christ, where the salvation of one member is linked to the holiness of all (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-27; Lumen Gentium, 7.)  An individualist is a cause of scandal and of conflict.

7.  The temptation to keep walking without direction or destination.  Consecrated men and women can lose their identity and begin to be “neither fish nor fowl”.  They can live with a heart between God and worldliness.  They can forget their first love (cf. Rev 2:4).  Indeed, when they lose clear and solid identity, consecrated men and women end up walking aimlessly; instead of leading others, they scatter them.  Your identity as sons and daughters of the Church is to be Copts – rooted in your noble and ancient origins – and to be Catholics – part of the one and universal Church: like a tree that, the more deeply rooted it is in the earth, the higher it reaches to the heavens!

            Dear consecrated friends, resisting these temptations is not easy, but it is possible if we are grafted on to Jesus: “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (Jn 15:4).  The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we are alive and fruitful!  Only in this way can we preserve the wonder and the passion of our first encounter with God, and experience renewed excitement and gratitude in our life with God and in our mission.  The quality of our consecration depends on the quality of our spiritual life.

            Egypt has enriched the Church through the inestimable value of monastic life.  I urge you, therefore, to draw upon to the example of Saint Paul the Hermit, Saint Anthony, the holy Desert Fathers, and the countless monks and nuns who by their lives and example opened the gates of heaven to so many of our brothers and sisters.  You too can be salt and light, and thus an occasion of salvation for yourselves and for all others, believers and non-believers alike, and especially for those who are poor, those in need, the abandoned and discarded.

            May the Holy Family protect and bless all of you, your country and its entire people.  With all my heart, I invoke God’s blessings on you, and through you I greet the faithful whom the Lord has entrusted to your care.  May he grant you the fruits of his Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).

            You are always in my heart and in my prayers.  Take heart and keep moving forward with the help of the Holy Spirit!  “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice in him!”  And please, don’t forget to pray for me!

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope at audience: Christian hope is born on Easter morning



(Vatican Radio) Our faith was born with the Risen Jesus on Easter morning. That was Pope Francis message at his General Audience on Wednesday as he continued his catechesis on the meaning of our Christian hope.

Listen to our report



Reflecting on the words of St Paul to the early Christian community in Corinth, the Pope said Jesus himself is our hope and his resurrection is the event that grounds our faith. Without it, he said, Christianity would be a mere human philosophy and Jesus would simply be another great religious figure.

Pope Francis said our belief is based on the testimony of those who encountered the risen Christ, from Saint Peter and the group of the twelve disciples, to Saint Paul, who was converted by his dramatic meeting with the Lord on the road to Damascus.  Following that encounter, Paul, who previously persecuted Christians, becomes instead an apostle of the faith.

Faith is a surprise, a grace

The Pope said that encountering Christ in faith is always a surprise; it is a grace given to those whose hearts are open.  It overturns our comfortable existence and opens us to an unexpected future, sowing life and light in place of death and sorrow.  Even though we are all sinners, he said, we too can go to the tomb, see the stone rolled away and realise that God has an unexpected future for each one of us.

Jesus lives in our midst

This is the reason for our Easter joy, the Pope said: in the risen Jesus, who dwells in our midst, we encounter the power of God’s love, which triumphs over death, bringing new life and undying hope. During this Easter season, he concluded, let us continue to cry from our hearts that Jesus is risen and lives among us here, today.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope tells Christians to be witnesses of life and hope



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday told the faithful not to remain trapped in the rubble of life, but to rise from the rubble and rebuild their lives with the help of God.

The Pope’s words came during the homily as he celebrated Mass for about 70 thousand people gathered in the central square of Italy’s northern town of Carpi.

His one-day visit to the Emilia Romagna region comes after a pair of deadly earthquakes five years ago and where extensive restoration efforts have been cited as exemplary.

Reaching out to those who lost loved ones and livelihoods during the 2012 quake, Pope Francis said God does not magically make bad things vanish, but He is close to those who suffer and faith has the power to transform that suffering.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading that tells of the resurrection of Lazarus, the Pope recalled that Jesus himself wept for the death of Lazarus, but “within the mystery of suffering in which rationality is shattered and crushed like flies against a glass pane” he said, “Jesus does not allow himself to be imprisoned by pessimism”.   

Before that sepulcher, he said, on the one hand there is sorrow, delusion, precariousness; on the other there is hope “that conquers death and evil”. “Jesus, he continued, did not offer a remedy to lengthen life, but proclaimed: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live’”.

Pope Francis said that we are called to decide on what side to stand, and either close ourselves in sadness or be open to hope.   

“There are those who remain buried in the rubble of life, and there are those, like you, who with the help of God rise from the rubble to rebuild” he said.

Francis invited the faithful to avoid the temptation to be imprisoned in hopelessness and self-commiseration, to not yield to the useless and inconclusive logic of fear and resignation.

“Jesus’ words to Lazarus are also meant for us: leave sadness and hopelessness behind; with Jesus hope is reborn and pain is transformed into peace. He is always there to help us rise” he said.

“Let us ask for the grace, the Pope concluded, to be witnesses of life and hope in a world that is thirsting for it.”

Before celebrating Mass the Pope visited the quake-damaged Duomo cathedral of Carpi, where he laid a bouquet of white flowers at the foot of a statue of the Madonna inside. After years of restoration, the cathedral reopened just last weekend.

During his daylong visit, Pope Francis is also scheduled to meet with families who lost loved ones in the quake, lunch with clergy and meet privately with priests, nuns and seminarians for an open discussion. 

The Emilia Romagna model of rebuilding after the magnitude 6.1 and 5.8 quakes that killed 28 people in 2012 has often been cited as exemplary. It included bringing together politicians, entrepreneurs and bishops to decide common priorities.

The papal visit is seen as a sign of gratitude for the rebuilding and as a sign of hope that rebuilding is possible for the people of central Italy, who suffered an earthquake in 2016 that killed nearly 300 people, displaced tens of thousands and wreaked extensive damage to homes, businesses, Churches and infrastructure.

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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