Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Happy Easter!

31 MARCH 2013

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell - to the abyss of separation from God - this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7).

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.

Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’" (Ps 117:1-2).

* * *Dear Brothers and Sisters, to you who have come from all over the world to this Square at the heart of Christianity, and to you linked by modern technology, I repeat my greeting: Happy Easter!

Bear in your families and in your countries the message of joy, hope and peace which every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed.

May the risen Lord, the conqueror of sin and death, be a support to you all, especially to the weakest and neediest. Thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith. A thought and a special thank-you for the beautiful flowers, which come from the Netherlands. To all of you I affectionately say again: may the risen Christ guide all of you and the whole of humanity on the paths of justice, love and peace.

In Pictures: Easter with the Pope of the people

Call for peace: Pope Francis used his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing to call for peace
Call for peace: Pope Francis used his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing to call for peace
End to conflicts: In his first Easter speech, Francis called for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, an end to the civil war in Syria, and political solutions to conflicts in several African countries
End to conflicts: In his first Easter speech, Francis called for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, an end to the civil war in Syria, and political solutions to conflicts in several African countries
'Guardians of creation': The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina condemned the 'iniquitous exploitation of natural resources' and urged everyone to be 'guardians' of creation
'Guardians of creation': The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina condemned the 'iniquitous exploitation of natural resources' and urged everyone to be 'guardians' of creation
Pope Francis on Easter Sunday
Pope Francis delivers his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica
Message: Francis said the message of Easter is that faith can help people transform their lives by letting 'those desert places in our hearts bloom'

Faithful: Pope Francis waves to the thousands of faithful in St Peter's Square after celebrating the Easter mass
Faithful: Pope Francis waves to the thousands of faithful in St Peter's Square after celebrating the Easter mass
Football fan: Pope Francis holds a San Lorenzo's shirt, the Buenos Aires football team, handed to him at the end of the Easter mass
Football fan: Pope Francis holds a San Lorenzo's shirt, the Buenos Aires football team, handed to him at the end of the Easter mass
Caring: Pope Francis hugs a child during the Easter Sunday celebrations
Caring: Pope Francis hugs a child during the Easter Sunday celebrations
Blessed: Pope Francis hugs a child after celebrating his first Easter Mass
Blessed: Pope Francis hugs a child after celebrating his first Easter Mass
Crowds: Pope Francis (centre) waves to the crowd from the Popemobile in St Peter's Square today
Crowds: Pope Francis (centre) waves to the crowd from the Popemobile in St Peter's Square today
Dialogue: Pope Francis speaks to the faithful in St Peter's Square
Dialogue: Pope Francis speaks to the faithful in St Peter's Square
Laughter: Pope Francis greets the faithful prior to his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica
Laughter: Pope Francis greets the faithful prior to his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Happened on the Cross

The sin of our first parent destroyed,

hell plundered,

resurrection bestowed, 

the power given us to despise the things of this world, 
even death itself, 

the road back to the former blessedness made smooth, 

the gates of paradise opened, 

our nature nature seated at the right hand of God, 

and we made children and heirs of God.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A few drops of blood renew the whole world

Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a cross, the sun made dark and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its creator. 

The temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from his side: the one as from a man, the other as from what was above man; the earth shaken, the rocks shattered because of the rock; the dead risen to bear witness to the final and universal resurrection of the dead. 

The happenings at the sepulcher and after the sepulcher, who can fittingly recount them? Yet no one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet does for the milk: joining us and binding us together.

by Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329-389)

By the cross all these things have been set aright...

By the cross all these things have been set aright...

It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us, 
a raising up of those who lie fallen, 
a support for those who stand, 
a staff for the infirm, 
a crook for the shepherded, 
a guide for the wandering, 
a perfecting of the advanced, 
salvation for soul and body, 
a deflector of all evils, 
a cause of all goods, 
a destruction of sin, 
a plant of resurrection, 
and a tree of eternal life.

[excerpted from Orthodox Faith 4]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vatican releases Pope's schedule for Holy Week

It is the most awaited times in Christendom. The celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Holy Week. For the first time, Pope Francis will spend it in Rome.

On Holy Thursday, he will celebrate the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. Dozens of cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and priests will participate. During the mass, he will bless the oils that will be used all year for the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination of Priests, and Anointing of the Sick.

Later that same day, at 5:30PM, the Easter Triduum beings with the Mass of the Lord's Supper, which marks the first Mass in history, the Last Supper. The Pope, in a new and surprising move, opted to celebrate the Mass at the Casa del Marmo Juvenile Detention Center, just outside Rome, a place Benedict XVI had already visited. The Pope will wash the feet of a few of the teens.

On Good Friday, at 5PM he will mark the Passion of the Christ at St. Peter's Basilica.

A few hours later, at 9:15PM, he will travel to the Colosseum to lead the Way of the Cross, the 14 stations reenacting the sentencing to the burial of Jesus Christ. This year's meditations for each station were written by two young people from Lebanon, under the guidance of Lebanese patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai.

For Holy Saturday, Pope Francis will lead a procession at 8:30PM inside St. Peter's Basilica. It will take place in the dark, lit only by one candle at the altar, for the Easter Vigil.

On Sunday morning at 10:15, he will celebrate Easter Mass at St. Peter's Square to mark the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He will end the Holy Week activities by issuing his Urbi et Orbi blessing, his second one as Pope.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let us love one another during Holy Week

"Let us love one another during Holy Week":

Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ's redemptive grace and by living holy lives. The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating (on) holy Scripture. So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. As individuals and as families, reserve prime time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass' colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the "Hosannas" and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of the torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary's anguish as he hung three hours before he died.

We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read Scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears.

Let us take time this week to be present to someone who suffers. Sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven Scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the Holy Week services of the church, not just by attending, but also by preparing, by studying the readings, entering into the spirit, offering our services as ministers of the Word or Eucharist, decorating the church or preparing the environment for worship.

Let us sing, "Lord, have mercy," and "Hosanna." Let us praise the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, uniting with the suffering church throughout the world -- in Rome and Northern Ireland, in Syria and Lebanon, in South Africa and Angola, India and China, Nicaragua and El Salvador, in Washington and Jackson.

Let us break bread together; let us relive the holy and redemptive mystery. Let us do it in memory of him, acknowledging in faith his real presence upon our altars.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy with the needy, the alienated, the lonely, the sick and afflicted, the untouchable.

Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work.

We unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God's healing, God's forgiveness, God's unconditional love.

Let us be practical, reaching out across the boundaries of race and class and status to help somebody, to encourage and affirm somebody, offering to the young an incentive to learn and grow, offering to the downtrodden resources to help themselves.

May our fasting be the kind that saves and shares with the poor, that actually contacts the needy, that gives heart to heart, that touches and nourishes and heals.

During this Holy Week when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another.

The above text was by Sister Thea Bowman, a well-known educator, evangelist and gospel singer, died March 30, 1990, but the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration left behind a legacy that still resonates, including her reflection on Holy Week that was released shortly after her death.

Sister Bowman, who was from Canton, was nationally known for her work to advance the life of her fellow black Catholics in the church. She was 52 when she died of bone cancer. For that last two years of her life the disease forced her to spend most of her time in bed or a wheelchair. She was buried alongside her parents in Memphis, Tenn.

She drew capacity crowds wherever she went, giving lectures and workshops on black Catholic culture and life. She was also a liturgist, a writer on spirituality and an artist. At the time of her death she had been a consultant for intercultural awareness for the Jackson Diocese for about 20 years.

About three weeks before she died, from her bed she dictated a meditation on Holy Week in response to a request by Janna Avalon, editor of the Jackson diocesan newspaper, Mississippi Catholic. Avalon said it was probably the weakened nun's last public writing before her death. It was published in the paper's April 6, 1990, issue, just before Holy Week that year.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pope talks about 3 points during Palm Sunday

Pope Francis made his way through St. Peter's Square to celebrate the first Palm Sunday Mass of his pontificate.

To mark the beginning of Holy Week, Pope Francis blessed palm and olive branches on the obelisk that stands before the square. It's a symbol that honors Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.

During his homily, Pope Francis focused on three points: Joy, the Cross and Youth. On the first point he said true joy comes from Jesus, not from possessions.

“Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus! Don't let your hope to be taken from you.”

Since Holy Week honors the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Pope went on to explain the second point of his homily: The Cross.

“I think of what Benedict XVI told cardinals: You are princes, but you are princes of a crucified King. This is the gift that Jesus gives to us all, on the throne of the Cross. The Cross of Christ embraces love. It never carries sadness, but rather joy. The same joy of salvation and of doing even just a small portion of what he did the day of His Crucifixion.”

For 28 years now, Palm Sunday also marks World Youth Day in Rome. So the Pope's third point, was quite fittingly: the youth. Pope Francis officially announced that he will be traveling to Brazil in late July to lead World Youth Day in Rio.

“Dear friends, I will walk along with you, and follow in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of Christ’s Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.”

The Pope improvised quite a bit during his Homily and he told all the young people that their role in the Church is key. He also said that with Christ, the heart never grows old.

“Young people should tell the world that it is good, joyful to follow Jesus, to walk along with Him and believe in His message. It is good to go beyond one's limits and existence to teach others about Jesus. Three words: joy, cross and youth.”

Towards the end, the Pope celebrated the Angelus in Latin before roughly 250,000 people.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Video of unprecedented Meeting of Popes

Pope Francis meets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Well said - Education of Children by Pope Francis

In the Bible, God presents himself as a teacher. “I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I myself took them by the arm,” it says. A believer is obliged to raise his children. Every man and every woman has a right to educate their children in their religious values. When a government deprives children of this formation, it can lead to cases like Nazism, when children were indoctrinated with values which were alien to the ones held by their parents. Totalitarianism tends to take over education to feather its own nest…

~ Pope Francis


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vatican releases official photograph of Pope Francis

From the Vatican news site Facebook page:

Dear friends, we show you the official photo of Pope Francis, with his signature. In the crucifix is the image of Jesus the “good shepherd”, carrying the sheep on his shoulders, with the flock following him.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pope's on the line.....

Get used to it. More than a few people might be hearing that in the months to come, according to Rocco:
Things will remain eventful… and as further evidence of how much Pope Francis is jamming into the shredder of Vatican protocol, the Catholic world might want to start getting used to a six-word phrase bound to stun many over the years to come – “The Pope is on the phone.”
Es verdad – beyond reaching out in the flesh, Jorge Bergoglio has spent a good part of his first week in white quietly burning up the lines to places and people he can’t immediately visit.
A practice mostly eschewed by his recent predecessors, PopeCalls look set to become a key element of Francis’ ability to keep personally close – and on the equally crucial governance side, duly appraised. 
Even before his first appearance at the balcony, the new pontiff placed a call to his predecessor at Castel Gandolfo, then another one last night on B16′s onomastico, St Joseph’s Day. Among others who’ve already been rung up include the Father-General of the Jesuits, while yesterday morning’s public watch party in Buenos Aires received a 3.30am call from Francis over the sound system before the Mass and, last night, the Pope dialed the hometown newsstand where he’d buy his morning paper to thank the family who owns it for their daily time together over the years and ask for their prayers.

Meet the three people Pope Francis wanted front and center

More than 130 official delegations were present during the Pope's Inaugural Mass. About 50 religious leaders were also there, sitting up close to the Pope. All these people will surely be part of the Vatican's official photo archive, but another group will most likely make it to thePope's personal family album. It's a group that's very special to Pope Francis. 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL -'Escuela de Vecinos' Educational Program, Director
“The Pope said people shouldn't come all the way from Argentina for the Mass, but in this case, I had to ignore his advice. I was in the elevator and I bumped into him. I said 'How should I refer to you now?' The Pope said, 'Call me Jorge, what else?' I started crying and he told me he wanted me to sit in the area set up for his family.”

José María del Corral is a teacher in Argentina. For 15 years he worked directly with Pope Francis, who back then was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The teacher launched an educational program called 'Escuela de Vecinos' which translates to 'School of Neighbors.' It brings together young people of different religions who attend either private of public schools. The goal is to improve society through education. 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL -'Escuela de Vecinos' Educational Program, Director
“We set up the first school, to teach kids about respecting others. That's the most important thing. It's part of our belief system, but it's also in the Jewish tradition, and the Talmud. The concept of respecting your neighbor. From these discussions the kids started talking about other issues youths deal with, like drugs, violence. So we talk about this and what they can do to change things.”

Fellow Argentine, Sergio Sanchez was another personal guest of Pope Francis. He makes a living by collecting recyclable waste like paper, bottles and plastic. He then sells to recycling shops. On many occasions, Cardinal Bergoglio, celebrated Mass with these workers, in the poorest slums, to show support. 

SERGIO SANCHEZ -Excluded Workers Movement (Argentina) 
“I completely support the Pope. Every year he celebrates Mass with people who live by sewing clothes, picking up trash or even modern day slaves who are exploited constantly at work and excluded from society. He has always made it a point to celebrate Mass with them. I was able to personally congratulate him before he met with all the dignitaries and presidents. We're like family and that's how he greeted us-like family.”

The Pope's third guest was Ana Rosa, who is actually his cousin. She's a missionary sister who works in Thailand and obviously knows the Pope quite well. So among all the heads of state and dignitaries, there was one special row of guests, reserved for a teacher, a man who lives off of recycling and a nun.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope's Inauguration Mass: Protect and serve the poor, elderly...

Rome was bright and sunny this morning as thousands of people made their way to St. Peter's Square to celebrate the Pope's Inauguration Mass. Doors opened at about 6: 30 am and by then many were ready to get a good spot. 

The newly elected Pope passed through St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile, as people waved their flags and congratulated him. It was precisely during this journey that the Pope saw a disabled person among the thousands gathered there. He got out of the car, walked over and personally blessed him. 

Along with cardinals and patriarchs, the Pope then prayed a few minutes in silence, before the tomb of St. Peter. 

In the background the “Thou art Peter” song was being played as more than 150,000 people waited to celebrate Mass with the new Pope. Cardinal Deacon Jean Louis Tauran gave him the pallium, which is a religious stole with six red crosses. Then Cardinal Angelo Sodano gave the Pope his Fisherman's ring, which is emblematic of each Papacy. 

During the Homily, the Pope honored the works of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whom he congratulated for his feast day of St. Joseph. 

In his Homily the Pope said that the heart, the center of Catholicism is Christ. He then added that true power comes with service. He said St. Joseph is a perfect example of this. He looked over Mary, Jesus and the whole Church. 

POPE FRANCIS -“In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

Many heads of state attended the Mass. A total of 132 delegations from every corner of the world attended. The Pope called on them to respond to their public and social responsibilities. 

POPE FRANCIS - “Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

The Pope then added that one should not be afraid to combine firmness with kindness and tenderness. Once again he made a call to help those who need it most. 

POPE FRANCIS -“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.”

Before concluding his Homily, the Pope once again asked that Our Lady help him during his pontificate. He also prayed to St. Francis of Assisi. Just like the day he was elected Pope, he asked for all Christians to pray for him. 

With this ceremony, Pope Francis officially begins his pontificate as the first Latin American Pope of the Catholic Church.

The full text of today’s homily, from the Vatican:

In Pictures - Pope Francis inauguration mass

Pope Francis reads the gospel during his inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Official beginning: The inauguration Mass for Pope Francis is under way in St Peter's Square in Rome, marking the official start of his papacy.

Pope Francis stands at the steps of St. Peter's Basilica during his inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Beginning office as 266th pope: Before the Mass Pope Francis was presented with his papal pallium made of lambs' wool - symbolising his role as shepherd of his flock.

Tradition: Pope Francis receives the Fisherman's Ring, made of gold-plated silver. The pope's signet ring shows St. Peter as a fisherman and has the reigning pope's name inscribed around the border. It has been used since the 13th century as a seal for private letters.

Order of ceremony
Order of ceremony: Pope Francis took part in ceremonies within St. Peter's Basilica, before emerging once more in solemn procession to be seated before the massed crowds in the square.

Captive audience:
Captive audience: Francis then delivered his homily, in Italian. His sermon began by focusing on Joseph and his role as protector - of Mary, Jesus and the Church.

Spectacular sight
Spectacular sight: Cardinals line up in seats at Pope Francis' inaugural Mass. The Pope received the obedience of the cardinals, and the Mass formally began in Rome.

Order of service:
Order of service: Priests deliver communion under umbrellas to the faithful

Relaxed: Francis, who was elected by a secret conclave of cardinals last Wednesday, stopped frequently to greet the crowd.

Blessing from new leader:
Blessing from Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives in Saint Peter's Square.

Bustling scene: Crowds fill Saint Peter's Square - police ensured they were out in force to make sure crushes did not occur in the sea of people hoping to catch a glimpse of the new Pope
Bustling scene: Crowds fill Saint Peter's Square - police ensured they were out in force to make sure crushes did not occur in the sea of people hoping to catch a glimpse of the new Pope.

Fresh start:
Pope's inauguration Mass today.

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass
Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives through the heaving crowd.
Holy meeting: Although the new leader of the Catholic Church smiled widely as he picked up a child offered to him, the baby was not quite so cheerful
Holy meeting: Although Pope Francis smiled widely as he picked up a child offered to him, the baby was not quite so cheerful.

Caring touch:
Caring touch: Pope Francis got out jeep to bless a disabled man in a wheelchair in the crowd
Attraction: The crowd may be the biggest in Rome since more than 1.5 million people came to the city for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011
Attraction: The crowd may be the biggest in Rome since more than 1.5 million people came to the city for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011

Monday, March 18, 2013

He reportedly greeted every single parishioner

He reportedly greeted every single parishioner before wading into the crowd of tourists, seemingly wanting to greet every single person in Rome.

Word from Rome: Update #7

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope's first Angelus: God never gets tired of forgiving.

On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated his first Angelus. With thousands of cheering pilgrims, he reflected on the Gospel, emphasizing that God never gets tired of forgiving, but rather it's people who get tired of asking for forgiveness. The Pope also talked about a book Cardinal Walter Kapser wrote, which focuses on mercy. 

POPE FRANCIS - “Recently, I read a book authored by Cardinal Kasper, who is a great theologian. It deals with mercy and it has helped me quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to publicize the writings of my cardinals. God understands us. He waits for us. He doesn't get tired of forgiving us, if we repent and go to him with a truly open heart.”

This time around the Pope only spoke in Italian. Usually a greeting and summary is given in about eight languages. He gave an improvised farewell at the end, which got much applause.

POPE FRANCIS -“Never forget this: The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we, who get tired of asking for forgiveness. Have a great Sunday and a great lunch!”

From flags to cheers, St. Peter's Square was quite full. The Vatican says at least 150,000 people gathered in the Square and along surrounding streets to hear the Angelus of the first Latin American Pope.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Christ is the heart of the Church, without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist”

(Vatican Radio) Addressing the media as “dear friends”, Pope Francis spoke of how the role of mass media continues to grow and how it is indispensible for telling the stories of contemporary society. The Pope thanked the media for the service they have rendered over these past days, jokingly remarking on how hard the media has been working. He spoke about the complexity of recounting historical events like the election of a pope and of how important it is to present such an event in the light of Faith. “The Church” – he said – “does not respond to an earthly logic” and can be difficult to communicate effectively because “the nature of the Church is spiritual, not political”. This is the only perspective in which the work of the Church can be presented, said Pope Francis.

“Christ”, he continued, “is the centre, not the Successor of Peter…Christ is the reference point at the heart of the Church, without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist”. The protagonist of all these events, said the Pope, is the Holy Spirit: “it was He who inspired the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church, it was He who inspired the choice of the Cardinals”. It is important to keep this in mind, he added, as we try to interpret the events of the past few days.

Pope Francis then reflected on what he called the “trinity of communication: Truth, Goodness and Beauty”. “We are not called to communicate ourselves, but this trinity…the Church exists to communicate Truth, Goodness and Beauty”.

The Pope then departed from his prepared speech to recount why he chose the name “Francis”. Some people, he said, still don’t understand whether he named himself after Francis Xavier or Francis De Sales or St Francis of Assisi. He described how, during the conclave, he was seated beside the Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paolo and Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a close friend of his. “When the matter became dangerous” – said Pope Francis – “he comforted me”. And when the votes were being counted and it was clear the Pope had been elected, the Cardinals began to applaud and Cardinal Hummes “embraced me and kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor’…and that struck me…the poor…Immediately I thought of St Francis of Assisi…Francis was a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.” That, said Pope Francis, is how the name came to mind. “How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor” – he added. 

The Pope then continued his account of the name choice by saying how some had suggested he take the name Pope Adrian, because of his association with reforming the Church. And in reference to the fact that he is a Jesuit, the Pope added how others said he should call himself Clement XV to get back at Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773…

Pope Francis concluded his encounter with representatives of mass media from all round the world by extending his best wishes to them, their work and their families.

He imparted his apostolic blessing, however, in silence – out of respect, he said, for the fact that “not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe.” “I respect the conscience of each one of you”, he said, “knowing that each one of you is a Child of God.

May God bless you”.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Pope kisses the hand of Vietnamese Cardinal Pham Minh Man.

Today, Pope Francis had his official greeting with Cardinals. He had a brief speech prepared, but he frequently stopped adding spontaneous and improvised comments. This is the style that's marking the beginning of Pope Francis' pontificate. The Pontiff actually stumbled after greeting Cardinal Angelo Sodano, but he reacted quickly and recovered his balance. 

He thanked the Cardinals for the all the conversations they had leading up to the Conclave and especially the day when he was elected Pope in the Sistine Chapel. He said the Holy Spirit has a role that can't be denied. 

POPE FRANCIS  -“It's interesting and it makes me think that it's the Holy Spirit that makes a difference in the Church. The Paraclete seems to be an apostle of Babel, yet it unites all these differences, not by equating them, but by harmonizing them.” 

Once again, the new Pope thanked Benedict XVI for his pontificate and his teachings. Addressing the Cardinals as 'brothers,' he told them that Cardinal Mejía had suffered a stroke. 

POPE FRANCIS -“Dear Brothers, let's show courage. Half of us are in our golden years. But old age is the source of wisdom. Elders carry the wisdom that comes with life. It reminds me of Simon and Anna in the Temple, who because of their age were able to recognize Jesus clearly. Let's pass on this wisdom to the young. Just like good wine, improves with time, so does wisdom. Let's pass this on to other generations.” 

The Pope personally greeted the Cardinals, once again showing what seemed to be a warm personality with the College of Cardinals. He smiled quite often and made others laugh as well. 

He seemed so at ease, that he immediately wore a bracelet that says 'I believe in God' that was given to him as a gift by South African Cardinal Napier. The Pope also kissed the hand of Vietnamese Cardinal Pham Minh Man.

Yes, that's Pope Francis on the subway

Here is a photo of Pope Francis riding the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina, certainly makes a good ad for public transportation, but more importantly it shows the humility of our dear pope.  

Who’s that guy with the white hat?

We are Not sure who shot this, but evidently one of the cardinals on the bus yesterday made good use of his cell phone to snap the memorable occasion that Cardinal Dolan described yesterday.

N.B. He didn’t even sit in the front row. Or take a window seat.

H/O -

The Election of Pope Francis

A special video production commemorating the election of Pope Francis.


A journey of love: Pope Francis

The following is the Vatican’s official English translation of Pope Francis’ speech “Urbi et Orbi” delivered in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Wednesday night.

Brothers and sisters, good evening!

You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one... but here we are... I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you! And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him. (Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be... )

And now, we take up this journey- Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity. It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first first I ask a favor of you- before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me- the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer- your prayer over me.

Now I will give the Blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will. (Blessing)

Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well! — AP

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Round 2: Still no Pope. Black Smoke comes out of Sistine Chapel

There is still no Pope. After Wednesday's morning voting round, cardinals have not yet reached a consensus on who the next Pope should be. Thousands of people were waiting in St. Peter's Square, hoping to see white smoke emerge from the roof of the Sixtine Chapel. 

As expected, at roughly 11.38 Rome time, smoke came out of the famous chimney, as the world watched on. 

The black smoke emerged for about seven minutes, confirming that none of the 115 cardinals have received at least two thirds of the vote. 

The next so called 'fumata' will be seen late in the afternoon. If a Pope is elected, white smoke will emerge at around 16. 30. If not, the results of the next voting round will be seen at around 19. 00

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fr. Robert Barron: Conclave Update #1

Father Barron and Jack Thornton have landed in the Eternal City, preparing to report for NBCNews and MSNBC on the upcoming conclave. In this video, Father Barron shares the Word From Rome regarding who is to be the successor of Peter and next shepherd of the Catholic Church.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Conclave? There’s An App For That

Verbum has released a free app with some nifty content for the conclave. The features of Conclave break down this way:
Live Video: Right now, it’s the video of the last Press Office conference, but I imagine this will include live streams as they’re available.
News: Relevant feeds from Zenit, Catholic Answers, National Catholic Register, John Allen, Jimmy Aiken, CNS, CNA, and Catholic Culture.
Twitter: The #conclave and #pope hashtags are tracked. (Since this is Twitter, that means you’ll also get the constant yawps of ignorance for hateful little trolls trying to pass themselves off as enlightened.
Bios: This combines New Advent’s tracking data on the papabile with Vatican Press Office bios of all the Cardinals. I would like to have to links to John Allen’s pieces here as well, but you can find them in the news feed.
Resources: This is a good set of links to Verbum resources and Vatican data on conclaves for the last thousand years, Jimmy Akin videos, a bible, and other good stuff.

Go grab it now! All the kids will be talking about it Monday morning and you don’t want to be left out.

How to Know Who the Pope is Faster Than (almost) Everyone Else “When the smoke goes up, you’ll know what’s going on.”

You can choose to be notified by email, text message, or both. This being run by FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) which I have respect for and no concerns.

While I will be watching for the news rather closely, I do have to work and I could even be in a meeting. Once the Habamus Papum alert goes out I want to be able to have time to get home and celebrate with my family.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Conclave set to begin Tuesday, March 12

Vatican Spokesperson Federico Lombardi announced the start of the conclave is set for Tuesday, March 12. It will be 12 days after Benedict XVI's resignation went into effect.

The remaining of the 115 papal electors arrived in Rome Thursday, soon after, deciding on the date to begin voting for the next Pope.

On Monday night, cardinal electors will have to move in to Domus Santa Marta. On Tuesday morning, all cardinals will celebrate the Pro Elegendo Papa mass, inside St. Peter's Basilica. Soon after, the voting age cardinals will have lunch at Santa Marta. Once finished, they will file inside the Sistine Chapel for the start of the voting process.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cardinal Tauran in charge of pronouncing "Habemus Papam"

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is 69 years old. He was born in Bordeaux and was ordained at the age 26. Twenty years later, he began working at the Vatican as a minister of foreign affairs. 

His career has quite a trajectory. As Vatican diplomat, he held an important role as a mediator during the Iraq war. In 2003, he was appointed to oversee the Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Library. 

Today he heads the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and his key responsibility is to foster the relationship, with other religions, especially with the Muslim world. 

Cardinal Deacon
Archive October 9, 2007
“We need to talk with one another. It is necessary to discover the values we have in common in order to make this world a better place. Religion has to be what fosters peace not strife.”

As Cardinal Deacon, he has an important role after the conclave comes to a close. If he is not elected Pope, he has to go out to the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to tell the world that a Pope has been elected. He will announce those two awaited and historic words of: “Habemus Papam.”

Well Said: Lent and Fasting

Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our "ego", to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).

Pope Benedict XVI

A look at the ballot boxes that will be used in the Conclave

These are the three ballot boxes that will be used as cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel and elect the next Pope. 

They will write a name, fold the piece of paper in half and place it on this tray before dropping into one of these ballot boxes. Once the votes are counted, they will be placed on this second ballot box. 

The third box, with a lock, is used for cardinals electors who are sick and perhaps cannot make it to the conclave. In that case, the sick cardinal places his vote inside the ballot box. Two authorized people, will take it to the Sistine Chapel, where it will be opened with this key. 

These ballot boxes were made during the pontificate of John Paul II, and they actually follow the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis.' They were used in the 2005 conclave when Benedict XVI was elected. Now they will be used to elect the successor of St. Peter.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Well Said : The Feminine - Pope Benedict XVI

"It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stand at the heart of the Christian religion."

by Pope Benedict XVI

Well said “The most urgent matter in the Church today is the question of faith"

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco - Archbishop of Genova (Italy)

“The most urgent matter in the Church today is the question of faith, not of the one's that do not have faith, but of the one's that have it. The Pope knows that only a convinced, joyous, coherent and operative faith, is able to en- kindle the hearts, purify culture and inspire society towards a transcendental and complete humanism.”