Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pope: Sacrament of Confession is not a 'torture chamber'

.- During his daily Mass Pope Francis centered his homily on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, stressing that sin is an everyday struggle which requires accountability through “face-to-face” contact.

“Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, 'Lord, I am a sinner,' but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. 'I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.'”

The Pope offered his Oct. 25 reflections to those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha’s guesthouse, where he has chosen to reside.

Pope Francis opened his homily by reflecting that for many believing adults, the idea of confessing one's sins to a priest is either so unbearable that they completely avoid the Sacrament, or the process is so painful that the truth is transformed into a form of fiction.

Recalling St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Roman’s from the day’s readings, the Pope noted that the apostle did the opposite, confessing publicly that “good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh,” and that he doesn’t do the good that he wants, but only the evil which he hates.

The Pope stressed that it often happens in the life of faith that “when I want to do good, evil is close to me.”

“This is the struggle of Christians. It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle.”

Often, noted the pontiff, we seek to justify our sins by making excuses and saying that “we are all sinners,” and that this fight “is our struggle.”

“If we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness,” urged the Pope, “because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force.”

Pope Francis then emphasized that the most important element for Saint Paul in finding a way out of this justification was to confess his sin to the community, noting that “he doesn’t hide it,” and that the confession of one’s sins with humility is something which the Church requires of us all.

“Confess your sins to one another,” he said, repeating the words of Saint James, not to be noticed by others, but rather “to give glory to God” and to recognize that it is only him who can save.

This is why, stressed the Pope, we go to a “brother priest,” to confess, urging that when one confesses, it must be done with “concreteness.”

“Some say: ‘Ah, I confess to God.’ But it’s easy, it’s like confessing by email, no? God is far away, I say things and there’s no face-to-face, no eye-to-eye contact,” while “others (say)‘No, I go to confession,’ but they confess so many ethereal things, so many up-in-the-air things, that they don’t have anything concrete. And that’s the same as not doing it.”

Concreteness, honesty, and the genuine ability to be ashamed one’s mistakes are all qualities needed in order to be open to the forgiveness of God, as well as the deep awareness of his love, the Pope noted.

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis stressed that in the face of confession, we should have the attitude of a small child, because “when a child comes to confess, he never says something general.”

“‘But father, I did this and I did that to my aunt, another time I said this word’ and they say the word. But they are concrete, eh? They have that simplicity of the truth.”

Although “we always have the tendency to hide the reality of our failings,” the Pope noted that “there is something beautiful: when we confess our sins as they are in the presence of God, we always feel that grace of shame.”

“Being ashamed in the sight of God is a grace. It is a grace: ‘I am ashamed of myself.’”

When we think of this kind of shame, the Pope stressed, “We think of Peter when, after the miracle of Jesus on the lake, (he said) ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner.’”

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Sir 35:12-14, 16-18

The LORD is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.
Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.
The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,
nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.
The one who serves God willingly is heard;
his petition reaches the heavens.
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds,
judges justly and affirms the right,
and the Lord will not delay.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23

R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Reading 2 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18

Beloved:
I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. 
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
"Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --
greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Morning Prayer

Dearest Lord,
may I see you today
and every day
in the person of your sick,
and, while nursing them,
minister unto you.
Though you hide yourself
behind the unattractive disguise
of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable,
may I still recognize you, and say,
“Jesus, my patient,
how sweet it is to serve you.”

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Ex 17:8-13

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.
Moses, therefore, said to Joshua,
"Pick out certain men,
and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle.
I will be standing on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand."
So Joshua did as Moses told him:
he engaged Amalek in battle
after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,
Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest,
Amalek had the better of the fight.
Moses’hands, however, grew tired;
so they put a rock in place for him to sit on.
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other,
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people
with the edge of the sword.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (cf. 2) Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;
whence shall help come to me?
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
May he not suffer your foot to slip;
may he slumber not who guards you:
indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the guardian of Israel.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;
he is beside you at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your life.
The LORD will guard your coming and your going,
both now and forever.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Reading 2 2 Tm 3:14-4:2

Beloved:
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,
because you know from whom you learned it,
and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that one who belongs to God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

Gospel Lk 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Morning Prayer

Lord, we thank you
for having died on the cross for us.
Most fortunate is the person
who walks by the way of Calvary,
following Jesus our redeemer,
for if we suffer with Christ now,
we shall reign with Christ
in the glory of the Father.
Those who suffer tribulations,
suffering, persecutions,
and are despised for the love of God
are helping Jesus Christ carry his cross.
If they persevere, they will be
partakers of his glory in heaven.
Let us be glad when we are afflicted
and the cross is most heavy on our shoulders,
because then if we suffer
with the patience of Christ
we will begin to be his disciples.

St. Paul of the Cross

Sunday, October 13, 2013

POPE FRANCIS TO WELCOME OUR LADY OF FATIMA TO ROME, BENEDICT XVI TO PRAY BEFORE STATUE

The big story this weekend at the Vatican and in Rome is the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal for a weekend dedicated to Mary in the framework of the Year of Faith. Very rarely in its almost one hundred-year history has the original statue ever left its shrine.
Almost immediately upon its arrival tomorrow morning at Fiumicino Airport, the statue will be brought to the Vatican by a helicopter of the Italian Air Force. It will then be accompanied by Vatican officials to the monastery where Benedict XVI lives so that he can pray before Our Lady.
At a press conference this morning to explain the Marian weekend, Archbishop Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization (which has been entrusted with the Year of Faith celebrations) said that at the beginning of the Year of Faith it was decided that it would be fundamental to retrace the history of our faith. For this reason, he said, Benedict XVI placed in the foreground the figure of Mary, who represents for believers the first response of complete and total faith, in which we fully abandon ourselves to God.
He highlighted the importance of the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, noting that “the statue never leaves the shrine, except in the case of entirely exceptional and extraordinary events. The last time was during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 when, on May 13, Blessed John Paul II carried out the act of consecration to the Virgin. … The date of October 13 was chosen as it recalls the final appearance of the Virgin to the three shepherd children in 1917.”
Here is the Marian weekend in a nutshell: Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, October 12 in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis will preside over a prayer on the occasion of the Marian Day that is part of the Year of Faith celebrations. He will do so in the presence of the original statute of Our Lady of Fatima that normally resides in the Portuguese shrine of the same name. The bullet that struck Blessed John Paul II in the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, is set into the crown of the statue. The following day, Sunday, Francis will celebrate Mass in the square at 10:30 a.m. The statue will be flown back to Portugal that afternoon.
And here are the details:
Transportation of the statue of our Lady of Fatima has been entrusted to the Italian Air Force upon request of the Holy See. The AF will use an HH139A helicopter. It is the Air Force that transports the Pope on all his Italian trips and to and from Castelgandolfo. They will pick the statue up in the morning at Fiumicino and bring it to the Vatican, then later to Divine Mercy shrine, then back to the Vatican Sunday morning for the papal Mass. These planes have very advanced technology, night vision goggles, etc., and can operate in bad weather. They are used in Italy in search and rescue missions.
Saturday morning there will be a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Peter and in the afternoon, Pope Francis' catechesis. St. Peter's Square will open to pilgrims at 2.30 p.m. At 3 p.m. there will be a moment of reflection, and at 4 p.m. there will be a procession of the Virgin around the square, ending at the obelisk. In accordance with tradition, pilgrims are asked to wave with white handkerchiefs as the statue of the Virgin of Fatima passes.
At 5 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the statue of the Virgin in front of the Basilica. The Marian celebration then starts, with the prayer structure being that of the Seven Sorrowful Stations of Mary. This is followed by the Pope's catechesis, blessing and a final song.
The booklet for the papal celebrations is on the Vatican web site (and you can follow ON EWTN!): http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2013/20131012-libretto-preghiera-mariana-anno-fede.pdf  
Evening events, including the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration will take place at the shrine of Divin Amore, Divine Love, just outside Rome. The diocese of Rome has organized the Divine Love events.
The statue of Our Lady arrives at 7 p.m. at the shrine by helicopter. A video message from Pope Francis will open the evening's program at about 7:15 and then, at 7:30, the Rosary is recited in a link with 10 shrines around the world: Nazareth - Lourdes - Czestochowa, Poland - Banneux, Belgium - Aparecida, Brazil - Akita, Japan - Nairobi, Kenya - Washington, USA - Vailankanny, India and Lujan, Argentina. Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini will lead the Rosary.
The evening prayer vigil starts at 10 p.m. and is entitled "With Mary, Throughout the Night." At 11:30 Eucharistic adoration starts with meditations from the lives of saints and with songs. Diverse ecclesial realities will take part. This will conclude at 5 a.m. with the celebration of Mass presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi. At the end of Mass the statue will be flown back to the Vatican and St. Peter's Square.
Sunday, the program calls for the Rosary to be recited by the faithful in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will start at 10:30. At the end of Mass, the Pope will carry out the act of consecration to the Virgin and say a heretofore unpublished prayer (perhaps one he wrote?!). The Angelus will conclude the Marian celebrations.
It is expected that over 150,000 pilgrims from all over the world will participate, with international representations from 48 countries.

A Prayer for Today

Lord, God of peace,
who has created humanity,
the object of your kindness,
to be close to you in glory,
we bless you and we thank you
because you have sent us
your beloved son, Jesus,
making him the mystery of the passover,
the architect of all salvation,
the source of all peace,
the bond of true brotherhood.
We thank you for the desire,
the efforts, the realizations
which your spirit of peace
has roused in our day:
to replace hatred with love,
diffidence with understanding,
unconcern with care.
Open yet more our hearts
to the needs of all our brothers and sisters,
so that we may be better able
to build a true peace.
Remember, Father of mercy,
all who are in pain,
who suffer and die
in the cause of a more just world.
For the people of every race, of every tongue–
may your kingdom come:
your kingdom of justice, of peace, of love;
and may the earth be filled with your glory. Amen.

Pope Paul VI

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 5:14-17

Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of Elisha, the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child,
and he was clean of his leprosy.

Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said,
"Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.
Please accept a gift from your servant."

Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;"
and despite Naaman's urging, he still refused.
Naaman said: "If you will not accept,
please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth,
for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice
to any other god except to the LORD."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

R. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands:
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Reading 2 2 Tm 2:8-13

Beloved:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, 
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.

Gospel Lk 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
"Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
And when he saw them, he said,
"Go show yourselves to the priests."
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
"Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
Then he said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
"Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved:
I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. 
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control. 
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.

Gospel Lk 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied,
"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

"Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?
Would he not rather say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished'?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, 'We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

Morning Prayer

Lord, who enkindled in the heart of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher
the flame of ardent charity
and a great desire to cooperate
in the mission of the Church as a teacher,
grant us that same active love,
so that, in responding to the needs of the world today,
we may lead our brothers and sisters
to the blessedness of eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Roman Missal, 3rd edition

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pope: we must 'undress' ourselves of worldliness like St. Francis

ASSISI, ITALY, October 4 (CNA/EWTN News) .- On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis said that Christians should follow the example of the great saint by stripping themselves of a spirit of worldliness.

“All of us must undress ourselves from this worldliness: the spirit contrary to the spirit of the beatitudes, the spirit contrary to the spirit of Jesus,” he said Oct. 4 to a group of bishops and poor individuals gathered in Assisi.

The Pope's speech, which diverged from his prepared remarks, was one of several given during his day-long pilgrimage to St. Francis' hometown.

“When Francis, here, made this gesture of undressing, he was a young man: he didn't have strength. It was the power of God that drove him to do this,” said the Pope, who spoke from the place where St. Francis is said to have disrobed in an act of solidarity with the poor and total reliance on God.

St. Francis' gesture was a visible reminder of Jesus own willingness to “undress” himself: “he became a servant, he wanted to be humbled.”

“And if we want to be Christians, there is no other way,” the Pope stated. “We must undress ourselves today from a very serious danger that threatens each person in the Church: the danger of worldliness.”

There are some who want to “make Christianity 'a little more human,' without the Cross,” he noted. But that is a kind of “bakery Christianity” in which everything is beautiful and sweet like a cake.

“That is not real Christianity,” he underscored.

True Christianity embraces the cross because it is the way of Christ. “Jesus himself said one can´t serve two masters. Either serve God or serve money.”

“Money,” the Pope said, indicates “the whole spirit of worldliness: money, vanity, pride, that path.” Worldliness “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride,” he continued. “And that is an idol, it's not God.”

“It is truly ridiculous that a Christian, a true Christian...wants to go along the path of worldliness,” the pontiff insisted. “It is a homicidal attitude. Spiritual worldliness kills. It kills the soul, it kills the person. It kills the Church.”

Christians cannot be unconcerned about those in the world who suffer in situations of poverty or other difficulties, the Pope emphasized.

Earlier that morning he had visited with the disabled and sick children of Assisi, noting that similarly to how Jesus is hidden in the Eucharist, he “is hidden in these young people, in these children.”

“The Christian adores Jesus, the Christian seeks Jesus, the Christian knows to recognize the wounds of Jesus” that are visible in those who suffer with illness and disabilities, Pope Francis went on.

This reality is a “source of hope,” because when Jesus rose from the dead, he kept the scars from his wounds. “We care for the wounds of Jesus here, and from heaven He shows us his scars and says to all of us, every one, 'I am waiting for you!'”

Pope Francis was accompanied on his pilgrimage to Assisi by the group of eight cardinals chosen to help consider a reformation of the Roman Curia. The Pope's itinerary includes visits to many of the city's sacred sights including the tombs of St. Francis and St. Clare.

Morning Prayer

God all powerful, eternal,
righteous and merciful,
help us to do for your sake
all that we know of your will,
and to will always what pleases you,
so that inwardly purified,
enlightened and kindled
by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
we may follow in the footprints
of your well-beloved Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
 

- St. Francis of Assisi

Prayer

Lord God, I come from dust and to dust I shall return. You, however, existed before all time, and every creature takes its being from you. ...