Tag Archives: pope francis

Pope celebrates Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis on Thursday, 2 Feb 2017, celebrated Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in St Peter’s Basilica here. Members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life participated in the Liturgy.

The Mass also commemorates the World Day for Consecrated Life. On this day, the Church celebrates and prays for those who have consecrated their lives to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. The World Day for Consecrated Life was established in 1997 by Pope John Paul II; 2017 marks the twenty-first annual observance of the Day.

The liturgical feast chosen for the commemoration celebrates the presentation of the newborn Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary forty days after His birth, in accordance with the law of the Old Testament. The feast is also known as “Candlemas” on account of the blessing of candles and the procession that takes place at the beginning of the Mass.

The candles blessed during the Liturgy thus symbolise both Christ, who is the Light of the World; and the lives of consecrated women and men who are called to reflect the light of Christ for all peoples.

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the “hymn of hope” pronounced by Simeon and Anna when they saw the Saviour appearing in the Temple. We, too, the Pope said, “have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders… We would do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day, and once more encounter what originally set our hearts on fire.”

But he also warned of a “temptation” that can make the consecrated life barren: the temptation of “survival,” which urges us to protect ourselves at the expense of our dreams. “The temptation of survival,” Pope Francis said, “makes us forget grace.”

The Holy Father reminded consecrated women and men, that they are called to put themselves “with Jesus in the midst of His people.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the exhortation: “Let us accompany Jesus as He goes forth to meet His people, to be in the midst of His people.”

This year’s celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life has a particular significance, being devoted to thanksgiving and prayer for the gift of vocations, especially in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the theme: “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” The Synod is expected to meet in October 2018. – vatican radio

Pope gives his recipe for perseverance in the consecrated life

File photo:  A section of the group photo of the participants taken at the Consecrated Life Year Symposium, 16 Sept 2015, Majodi Centre Plentong.

ROME – Pope Francis gave religious men and women his recipe for keeping their vocation as fresh as it was the first day they received it.

It happened during a meeting with the Vatican head in charge of religious life Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz on 30 Jan 2017. They met in Rome to talk about the faithfulness and perseverance not only of consecrated people, but also of those who have left.

The Pope acknowledged his concern for the perseverance of those who give their lives to God and detailed in an important speech the factors that help make it grow.

“There are many factors that condition faithfulness in this change of era, and not only an era of changes, in which it is difficult to make serious and definitive commitments,” he said.

The pope mentioned several factors that make it difficult to be faithful for those who choose to give their lives to God.

The first, he said,  is the social context. In particular, “the culture of the provisional” that leads many to always look for “side doors” that open to other possibilities in life, but leave existence empty of meaning.

Another problem, he continued,  is when the person judges everything “according to a self-realisation that often has nothing to do with the values of the Gospel.”

The Pope lamented how the generous wishes of young people are sometimes drowned by “the quest for success at any price, easy money and easy pleasure.”

The last challenge, he said,  are the religious men and women who are “anti-examples” and make their own faithfulness and that of others to consecrated life more difficult.

The Pope said that they are the ones who are led by routine, tiredness, the weight of structural management, internal divisions, the search for power, authority as authoritarianism, and authority that permits everything.

However, the pope also offered solutions to those who are going through natural crises. In addition to deepening one’s personal relationship with God, he proposed taking care of brotherhood within the Order.

The Pope’s recipe includes common prayer, meditation on the Bible, participation in the Mass, Confession, dialogue and sincere communication, fraternal correction, mercy with the brother or sister who sins, and shared responsibilities. – romereports

Local Carmelite Family celebrates canonisation of Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity



KOTA KINABALU – The local Carmelite Family–Carmelite nuns (OCD) and Secular Carmelites (OCDS) celebrated the canonisation of Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity with a thanksgiving Mass on 17 Oct 2016.

Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass, concelebrated with Fr Rayner Bisius, at the Carmelite Monastery Chapel here.  In his homily, the prelate touched on the special readings and on a brief biography of the new saint.

The simple celebration ended with a breakfast prepared by the Carmelite Seculars for all.

Born Elisabeth Catez on 18 July 1880 in France, she was a gifted pianist with a forceful temper.   Elizabeth sacrificed her music for the “music of silence” when she entered Carmel. Her mystical teaching are encapsulated in the two Retreats she wrote,  as well as her celebrated “Prayer to the Trinity” which reflects its author’s absorption in “The Three” as she termed them, and her love of adoration, silence, peace, conformity to Christ and surrender to the Holy Spirit. So expressive is this “Prayer” that it is also included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Dying of Addison’s disease on 9 Nov 1906, Blessed Elizabeth’s last words were “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life.”

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Pope Francis canonised her along with four other Blesseds yesterday Oct 16 at the Vatican.  They were Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, a Spanish bishop known for his devotion to eucharistic adoration; Guillaume-Nicolas-Louis Leclerq, a Christian Brother martyred during the September Massacres in Paris after refusing to swear allegiance to the new government following the French Revolution; Lodovico Pavoni, the Italian founder of the Sons of Mary Immaculate, now commonly known as the Pavonians; and Alfonso Maria Fusco, an Italian priest who founded the Congregation of the Baptistine Sisters of the Nazarene.




Pope Francis: Gossip is the devil’s weapon against the Church

gossip-copyVATICAN CITY – Church unity is endangered especially by certain tactics of division favoured by the devil himself, Pope Francis told bishops of mission territories on Friday.

“Division is the weapon the devil employs most to destroy the Church from within,” the Pope said on 9 Sept 2016.

“He has two weapons, but the main one is division: the other is money. The devil enters through our pockets and destroys with the tongue, with idle chatter that divides, and the habit of gossiping is a habit of ‘terrorism’.”

“The gossip is a ‘terrorist’ who throws a grenade – chatter – in order to destroy,” he added. “Please, fight against division, because it is one of the weapons that the devil uses to destroy the local Church and the universal Church.”

The Pope addressed his remarks to the participants in a seminar for bishops of mission territories which was held in Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

Among Pope Francis’ other concerns were ethnic divisions in missionary territories. These “must not penetrate into the Christian communities to the point of prevailing over their own good.”

“These are challenges that are difficult to resolve, but with the grace of God, prayer, penance, it can be done,” the Roman Pontiff continued. “The Church is called to place herself above tribal and cultural connotations and the bishop, the visible principle of unity, has the task of ceaselessly building up the particular Church in the communion of all her members.”

The Pope exhorted the bishops “to care for the flock and to go in search of sheep, especially those that are far away or lost.”

For Pope Francis, the bishops must seek out new ways of proclaiming the gospel and reaching out to people. They must work “to help those who have received the gift of baptism to grow in faith, so that believers, even those who are lukewarm or not practising, may discover anew the joy of faith and evangelising fruitfulness.”

He encouraged the bishops “to encounter those sheep that do not yet belong to Christ’s fold.”

Evangelism has an essential connection to proclaiming the Gospel “to those who do not know Jesus Christ or have always rejected him,” he added.

Lay Catholics should be encouraged to collaborate in mission work.

“Many lay faithful, immersed in a world marked by contradictions and injustices, are willing to seek the Lord and to bear witness to Him. It is up to the bishop, first and foremost, to encourage, accompany and stimulate all the attempts and all efforts made to keep hope and faith alive.”

“Care for the people God has entrusted to you, care for priests, care for seminarians. This is your task,” the Pope told the bishops.

He encouraged them to be particularly involved in priestly formation and with their priests.

“Do not forget that for the bishop, the closest of the close is the priest. Every priest must be aware of the closeness of his bishop,” he said. “When a bishop receives a telephone call from a priest, or a letter, he must answer immediately, immediately! The same day, if possible. But that closeness must begin in the seminary, in formation, and continue.”

According to Pope Francis, bishops have the mission to “observe carefully the problems and practical questions of the society to be evangelised.” These require that bishops “tend towards the fullness of maturity in Christ.”

Through their witness, spiritual and intellectual maturity, and pastoral charity, he asked, “may Christ’s charity and the Church’s care for all mankind shine ever more brightly in you.” – CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis: Don’t use God to defend your own interests

francisVATICAN CITY – On Wednesday, Pope Francis warned against making Jesus into the person we want him to be, and thus creating obstacles to a true relationship with Christ and his mercy.

“The admonition of Jesus is always present: even today man constructs images of God that prevent him from enjoying his real presence,” the Pope said during the general audience on 7 Sept 2016.

“Some carve out a ‘do it yourself’ faith that reduces God in the limited space of their own desires and their own beliefs. But this faith is not conversion to the Lord that is revealed, in fact, it prevents him from arousing our life and our conscience.”

In his catechesis, Pope Francis named several different ways in which people create false images of God, such as those who invoke his name in defense of their own interests, or in the interest of hatred and violence, or those who deny Christ’s divinity, considering him just a good ethical teacher and leader.

“For still others God is just a psychological refuge,” Francis said, “where he is reassurance in difficult times: it is a faith turned in on itself, impervious to the power of merciful love of Jesus which pushes brothers.”

Pope Francis also mentioned those who he said “stifle faith” by making it entirely about their personal, intimate relationship with Jesus while ignoring the missionary aspect of the Church, “capable of transforming the world and history.”

Continuing his theme of discussing mercy, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between the justice John the Baptist expected the Messiah to wield and the mercy which Jesus actually practiced, a mercy which was the manifestation of God’s justice.

Pointing to the Gospel of Matthew, the Pope said Jesus responded to John the Baptist’s question of whether or not he was the Messiah with, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”

“The blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, regain their dignity and are no longer excluded for their disease, the dead return to life, while the poor have the good news,” Francis said. “And this becomes the summary action of Jesus, who in this way makes visible and tangible the act of God.”

“The message that the Church receives from this account of the life of Christ is very clear. God did not send his Son into the world to punish sinners, nor to destroy the wicked,” he continued. “They are instead addressed the invitation to conversion so that, seeing the signs of divine goodness, they can find their way back.”

The Pope concluded his catechesis by urging those present to not place themselves above the mercy of Christ by believing in a false image of the Messiah.

“We Christians believe in the God of Jesus Christ, and our desire is to grow in the living experience of the mystery of love,” he said. “We commit ourselves, therefore, to not place any obstacle in the way of the action of the merciful Father, but we ask the gift of a great faith to become ourselves signs and instruments of mercy.” – CNA/EWTN News

Calm down world – Pope Francis is doing fine after falling


CZESTOCHOWA, Poland – Nothing can stop Pope Francis from celebrating World Youth Day – not even falling during a televised Mass.

In his first major event at the 31st World Youth Day, the Pope missed a step during Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa on 28 July 2016. He was carrying a censer and was on his way to incense the Polish icon of the Virgin Mary.

Immediately, members of his security and the local clergy helped him up and readjusted his vestments. Thanks to their quick reaction and the Holy Father’s impressive strength, the 79 year-old Pope was able to continue with Mass and his other scheduled activities.

“The pope is fine,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told journalists after the fall.

Czestochowa Archbishop Waclaw Depo said Francis fell because he had closed his eyes and appeared to miss a step, ABC News reported.

“He is in good condition. He did not even complain at all. He never said a word,” Depo said. “Also the homily showed that the pope has strength and this strength he gets from the people.”

Despite having only one lung and sciatica, a condition causing pain in his lower back, the Pope continues to be in relatively good health and has presided over several long events, meetings and audiences during his papacy, including the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia last fall.

Several outlets reported the incident on Twitter.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Jasna Gora is considered one of the holiest sites in Poland, and houses the historic icon of the Black Madonna. The Mass on Thursday was being celebrated in honour of the 1050th anniversary of Poland becoming a Christian nation.

Hundreds of thousands of people filled the areas near the temple from early morning to attend Mass. Francis is the third pope to visit this shrine in the footsteps of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. – CNS Blog

Three words every couple should know, according to Pope Francis


KRAKOW, Poland – Married couples were the focus of Pope Francis’ second “balcony talk” in Poland on Thursday, 28 July 2016, receiving from him three words he has often said are key to a successful marriage.

“Sometimes they ask me how to make it so that the family always goes forward and overcomes difficulties,” the Pope said, adding that when this happens, “I suggest to them to practice three words.”

Speaking in his native Spanish, he said these words “can help to live married life because in married life there are difficulties,” adding that marriage is something we have to take care of, “because it’s forever.”

The three words are “permission, thanks, and forgiveness.”

Pope Francis was speaking at the end of his first full day in Poland, where he is spending July 27-31 for World Youth Day. Each night when he comes back to Krakow after the day’s activities, Francis is set to appear on the balcony of the local archbishop’s palace to address youth gathered below.

The tradition was begun by St John Paul II, who spoke to youth from the balcony every time he visited his homeland as Pope – had been Krakow’s archbishop from 1964 until his 1978 election as Bishop of Rome. It was continued by Benedict XVI when he visited Poland in 2006, and is now being carried on by Francis.

In the encounter Francis recounted the moving story of a young student who rediscovered his faith after leaving school to volunteer for WYD in designing the banners that currently line Krakow’s streets, but passed away from cancer before the event arrived. He praised the young man’s faith, and encouraged the youth gathered to spread the joy of their faith in Christ throughout the city.

In his speech from the balcony, he focused on married couples, explaining that whenever he sees a young couple is getting married or has just done so, “I tell them they are the ones who have courage, because it’s not easy to form a family.”

“It’s not easy to make a life commitment, it takes courage, and I congratulate them because they have courage,” he said, noting that the three words “permission, thanks, and forgiveness” come in handy every day of married life.

On the topic of permission, the Pope said to “always ask your spouse, the wife to the husband and the husband to the wife, ‘what do you think, what do you think if we do this?’” rather than just “running over” the other without getting their opinion.

He also stressed the need to be grateful, “because it’s the spouses who confer the sacrament of marriage, one to the other. And this sacramental relationship is maintained with this sentiment of gratitude, of thanks.”

The third word, he noted, is forgiveness, which is “a very hard word to say.” In marriage, mistakes are always made, he said, noting that the important thing is to know how recognise one’s mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

This “does a lot of good,” Francis continued, urging families and engaged couples to “remember these three words, which will help you to a lot in married life: permission, thank you, and forgiveness.”

In marriage “there are always problems or discussions. It’s habitual and it happens that the husband and wife argue, raise their voice, fight,” he said, noting that “somethings the plates fly.”

“But don’t panic when this happens,” he said, and advised couples to never finish a day without making peace, “because the cold war the day after is very dangerous.”

A simple gesture is enough to make this peace, he said, tapping his face twice, adding that “when there is love, a gesture fixes everything.”

Pope Francis then invited the youth to pray for all the families who were present, for those who are married and those who are engaged, and led the crowd in praying a Hail Mary, each country in their own language. – CNA/EWTN News  

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill hold historic meeting

 @Servizio Fotografico - L'Osservatore Romano

@Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

HAVANA, Cuba – Christian brotherhood and unity were the focus of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill when they met on 12 Feb 2016  in Havana.

“We spoke as brothers,” Pope Francis said. “We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We spoke of our Churches.”

“We agreed that unity is created by journeying together,” he told a gathering of Catholic and Orthodox clergy and reporters after his meeting with the patriarch.

He characterised the Feb 12 conversation as open and authentic. It focused on “a series of initiatives that I believe are viable and can be realised.”  The Pope praised the patriarch’s humility, brotherhood, and deep desire for unity.

The first-ever meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of Moscow was held privately. Afterwards they signed a joint declaration that focused on several topics.

The declaration focused at length on anti-Christian persecution, especially  in the Middle East and North Africa. It lamented the hostilities in Ukraine. The declaration also voiced concern about the threat of secularism to religious freedom and the Christian roots of Europe.

Other topics of discussion included poverty, the crisis in the family, abortion and euthanasia. The Pope and the patriarch exhorted young Christians to live their faith in the world.

Patriarch Kirill characterised the private meeting as an open discussion “with full awareness of the responsibility of our Churches, for the future of Christianity, and for the future of human civilisation.”

He said the conversation “gave us the opportunity to understand and hear the positions of the other.”

“The results of this allow me to assure you that the two Churches will continue to work closely together with Christians in all the world, and with full responsibility to work together against war, so that human life can develop in the entire world.”

Their conversation also aimed to strengthen “the bases of personal and family morality” through “the participation of the Church in the life of modern human society, that glorifies the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Pope told Patriarch Kirill before their private meeting “we’re brothers. It’s clear that this is the will of God.”

At the close of their remarks, Pope Francis thanked Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Cardinal Kurt Koch and their teams who had worked to organise the meeting.  Metropolitan Hilarion heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s external church relations department, while Cardinal Koch heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“I do not wish to go forth from here without expressing my sense of gratitude for Cuba and for the Cuban people and for their president Raul Castro,” the Pope added. “I thank him for his acts of openness and readiness to give space for this, these talks of unity.”

He prayed: “Let all of this be done for the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and for the good of the holy people of God, under the protection of the Holy Mother of God.” – CNA/EWTN News

Dialogue and encounter with the peoples of Asia


On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29). But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and our fundamental point of reference, which guides us to our destination? Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians. We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways. I would like to point to three of these. One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth. Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10). In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem. Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree. An agreement to disagree… so as not to make waves… This sort of superficiality does us great harm.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart. […] – For full text on Pope Francis’ Evangelistic Intention for Feb 2016 @ www.apmej.net

Pauline Family brings Christmas joy to families

A section of the carollers singing in the home of one of the families visited.

A section of the carollers  in the home of one of the families visited.

KOTA KINABALU – The Pauline Family – Daughters of St Paul, Association of Pauline Cooperators, and friends – brought Christmas joy to around forty families living around Kota Kinabalu and Penampang through its Advent Family Visits on 2-23 Dec 2015.  This year’s activity was in line with the congregational response to Pope Francis’ plea: “We are already doing a lot, but perhaps we are called to do more … Let us open our eyes to the miseries of the world, to the wounds of countless brothers and sisters.  Let us listen to their cries for help and allow them to goad us into action.”

On the worldwide level, the General Government of the Daughters of St Paul has decided to give Caritas or another charitable organisation the Institute’s house in Torre Mondovi (Piedmont, Italy) to use for accommodating refugees.  The building consists of three floors and has about 20 rooms.

On the local level, the Sisters have decided to donate the proceeds of this year’s Advent Family Visits to this cause, in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy as well as that of their centenary of foundation (1915-2015), mindful of the pope’s exhortation: “Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of people who are fleeing the death provoked by war and hunger and who are ‘on the move’ toward the hope of new life, the Gospel is calling all of us to be a neighbour to the most needy and  most abandoned of his children.  It is calling us to give them concrete hope.”


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