Young Adults of St Francis

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PASTORAL VISIT TO THE DIOCESES OF
CAMPOBASSO-BOIANO
AND
ISERNIA-VENAFRO

MEETING WITH THE DETAINEES

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS

 Local penitentiary (Isernia)
Saturday, 5 July 2014

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon,

I thank you for your welcome. And I thank you for your witness of hope, which I heard in the words of your representative. Even in the Governor’s greeting this word struck me: hope. This is the challenge, as I was saying two weeks ago at the prison of Castrovillari: the challenge is social reintegration. And for this, you need an itinerary, a route, whether outside, in the prison, in society, whether inside oneself, in the conscience and in the heart.

To make the journey of reintegration, which all of us must do. Everyone. All of us make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and undertake the journey of reintegration, in order not to make any more. Some make this journey at home, in their own work; others, like you, in a penitentiary. But everyone, everyone…. Whoever says he does not need to make a journey of reintegration is a liar! All of us make mistakes in life and all of us, too, are sinners. And when we go to ask the Lord for forgiveness for our sins, for our mistakes, He always forgives us, He never tires of forgiving. He tells us: “Turn your back on this path, this is not the right one for you”. And He helps us. And this is reintegration, the journey that we all have to make.

What is important is not to stand still. We all know that when water stands still it stagnates. There’s a saying in Spanish that says: “Standing water is the first to go bad”. Do not stand still. We all have to walk, to take a step every day, with the Lord’s help. God is Father, he is mercy, he always loves us. If we seek Him, He welcomes us and forgives us. As I said, He never tires of forgiving. This is the motto of this visit: “God doesn’t tire of forgiving”. He makes us rise and fully restores our dignity. God has a memory, He is not forgetful. God does not forget us, He always remembers. There is a passage in the Bible, from the prophet Isaiah, which says: Even should a mother forget her child — which is impossible — I will never forget you (cf. Is 49:15). And this is true: God thinks about me, God remembers me. I am in God’s memory.

And with this trust, we can walk, day by day. And with this steadfast love which accompanies us, hope will not let us down. With this love hope will never let us down: a steadfast love to go forward with the Lord. Some consider taking a path of punishment, of misdeeds, of sins and just to suffer, suffer, suffer…. It is true, it is true we suffer. As your fellow inmate said, here you suffer. There is suffering inside and also outside, when one sees that one’s own conscience is tainted, sullied, one wants to change it. That suffering which purifies, that fire which purifies gold, is a hope-filled suffering. There is a beautiful thing, when the Lord forgives us he doesn’t say: “I forgive you, get on with it!”. No, He forgives us, he takes us by the hand and he helps us to go forward on this journey of reintegration, in our own personal life and also in social life. He does this with all of us. To think that punishment alone corrects the inner order of a person only through “beating” — I don’t know if it’s said like this — that it is corrected only by punishment, this is not God, this is mistaken. Some people think: “No, no, more severe punishment is needed, more years, more!”. This solves nothing, nothing! To cage people because — pardon the word — for the mere fact that if he is inside we are safe, this serves nothing, it does not help us. The most important thing is what God does for us: he takes us by the hand and helps us to go forward. And this is called hope! And with this hope, with this trust it is possible to walk day by day. And with this steadfast love, which accompanies us, hope never lets us down, truly.

I thank you for the welcome. And I would like to say… this comes to mind now, because I always feel it, even when, every 15 days I phone a prison in Buenos Aires, where there are young people and we talk a little on the ’phone. I’ll tell you something personal. When I meet with one of you, who is in jail, who is moving toward reintegration, but who is imprisoned, I sincerely wonder: why him and not me? I feel this way. It’s a mystery. But beginning with this feeling, with this feeling I accompany you.

Let us pray together to Our Lady, our Mother, that she help us and accompany us. She is Mother. Hail Mary….

And please pray for me! Pray for me!

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POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

St. Peter’s Square
Sunday, 6 July 2014

Video

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When Jesus says this, he has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized…. These people always followed him to hear his word — a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope! — and even just to touch a hem of his garment. Jesus himself sought out these tired, worn out crowds like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:35-36), and he sought them out to proclaim to them the Kingdom of God and to heal many of them in body and spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: “Come to me”, and he promises them relief and rest.

This invitation of Jesus reaches to our day, and extends to the many brothers and sisters oppressed by life’s precarious conditions, by existential and difficult situations and at times lacking valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also on the outskirts of the richest countries, there are so many weary people, worn out under the unbearable weight of neglect and indifference. Indifference: human indifference causes the needy so much pain! And worse, the indifference of Christians! On the fringes of society so many men and women are tried by indigence, but also by dissatisfaction with life and by frustration. So many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits human beings, imposing on them an unbearable “yoke”, which the few privileged do not want to bear. To each of these children of the Father in heaven, Jesus repeats: “Come to me, all of you”. But he also says it to those who have everything, but whose heart is empty and without God. Even to them, Jesus addresses this invitation: “Come to me”. Jesus’ invitation is for everyone. But especially for those who suffer the most.

Jesus promises to give rest to everyone, but he also gives us an invitation, which is like a commandment: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The “yoke” of the Lord consists in taking on the burden of others with fraternal love. Once Christ’s comfort and rest is received, we are called in turn to become rest and comfort for our brothers and sisters, with a docile and humble attitude, in imitation of the Teacher. Docility and humility of heart help us not only to take on the burden of others, but also to keep our personal views, our judgments, our criticism or our indifference from weighing on them.

Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who welcomes under her mantle all the tired and worn out people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can offer relief for so many in need of help, of tenderness, of hope.


After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, I cordially greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims!

I would like to specially and warmly greet the good people of Molise, who welcomed me yesterday in their beautiful land and also in their heart. It was a warm, hearty welcome: I will never forget it! Thank you very much.

Please, don’t forget to pray for me: I pray for you too.

To all I wish a happy Sunday. Have a good lunch. Arrivederci!

HOLY MASS IN THE CHAPEL OF THE DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE
WITH A GROUP OF CLERGY SEX ABUSE VICTIMS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Monday, 7 July 2014

 

The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having travelled so far to come here.

For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking and others the same… and they set about to sustain that gaze.

And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin. This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair. Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction. Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide. The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church. To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow. Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out. He looks out upon one of his own torturers, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep. Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God. Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.

I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church. There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea (cf. Mt 18:6).

By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation. I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy. The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross. To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God. The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

I am grateful for this meeting. And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: “You know that I love you”; and hear him say: “go back and feed my sheep” – and I would add – “let no wolf enter the sheepfold”.

MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
MEXICO/HOLY SEE COLLOQUIUM
ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT

(MEXICO CITY, 14 JULY 2014)

 

I would like to extend my greetings to the organizers, the relators and the participants in the “Coloquio México Santa Sede sobre movilidad humana y desarrollo”.

Globalization is a phenomenon which calls us to question particularly one of its principle manifestations, namely: emigration. It is one of the “signs” of the time we live in and which brings us back to the words of Jesus: “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Lk 12:57). Notwithstanding the great flow of migrants present on all the Continents and in nearly all Countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or like a specific and sporadic fact, while it has become a characteristic component and a challenge to our societies.

It is a phenomenon which holds great promise together with many challenges. Many people who are forced into emigration suffer and often die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be subjected to racist attitudes and xenophobia.

Faced with this situation, I repeat what I stated in the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization — all typical of a ‘throwaway culture’ — towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world”.

Furthermore, I am keen to call attention to the tens of thousands of children who emigrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape from poverty and violence: this is a class of migrants who, from Central America and from Mexico, cross the border with the United States of America in extreme conditions, in search of a hope that that most of the time is in vain. They increase day by day. Such a humanitarian emergency demands, first of all, urgent intervention, such that these minors are received and protected. Such measures, however, will not suffice, where they are not accompanied by information policies concerning the dangers of such a journey and, above all, which foster development in their Countries of origin. Finally, to face this challenge, it is necessary to draw the attention of the entire International Community in order that new forms of legal and safe migration be adopted.

I wish full success to the praiseworthy initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Mexico in organizing a colloquium of study and reflection on the great challenge of emigration, and to each of the participants I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 July 2014

 

FRANCIS

STATEMENT BY H.E. ARCHBISHOP SILVANO M. TOMASI
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IN GENEVA

Geneva
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem

Mr. President,

As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering. Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralyzed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future, lies in recognizing our common humanity.

In his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end.(1) “For the good of all,” he said, “there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”(2) The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve.

The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive at a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. “Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole,” adds Pope Francis, “and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.” It becomes a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust.

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See reiterates its view that violence never pays. Violence will only lead to more suffering, devastation and death, and will prevent peace from becoming a reality. The strategy of violence can be contagious and become uncontrollable. To combat violence and its detrimental consequences we must avoid becoming accustomed to killing. At a time where brutality is common and human rights violations are ubiquitous, we must not become indifferent but respond positively in order to attenuate the conflict which concerns us all.

The media should report in a fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters.(3)

Thank you, Mr. President.

_________________________________________________

1) Address of Pope Francis in Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

2) Ibid.

3) Words of Pope Francis, Vatican Gardens, 8 June 2014.

 

LENTEN MESSAGE
OF OUR HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
2014

He became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich

(cf. 2 Cor
8:9)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean for us today?

1. Christ’s grace

First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: “though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …”. Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus “worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says “that by his poverty you might become rich“. This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8), that he is “heir of all things” (Heb 1:2).

So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25ff ). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us. Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus’ wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him. Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his “yoke which is easy”, he asks us to be enriched by his “poverty which is rich” and his “richness which is poor”, to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother (cf. Rom 8:29).

It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.

2. Our witness

We might think that this “way” of poverty was Jesus’ way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case. In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor. God’s wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ.

In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual. Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.

No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person – is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.

The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.

From the Vatican, 26 December 2013
Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr

 

FRANCISCUS

POPE FRANCIS

MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

Resist temptation

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

(by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 8, 21 February 2014)

Temptation presents itself to us in subtle ways, infecting the whole environment that surrounds us and always causes us to look for justifications. In the end it causes us to fall into sin, and encloses us in a cage from which it is difficult to escape. To resist temptation it is necessary to listen to the Word of God, because “he is waiting for us”, and he always gives us confidence and opens new horizons before us. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, 18 February.

The Pope took the opportunity to reflect on the liturgy of the day, particularly on the Letter of St James (12-18) in which the apostle, “after having spoken to us yesterday of patience… speaks to us today of resistance; the resistance to temptation. He explains how each person is tempted by his own passions, which attract and seduce him. Then the passions conceive and create sin, and once that sin is committed, it brings forth death”.

But where does temptation come from? How does it act within us? To answer these questions, the Pope again referred to the passage from the Letter of St James. “The Apostle”, he said, “tells us that sin does not come from God but from our passions, from our inner weaknesses, from the wounds that original sin has left within us. That is where temptation comes from”. He then pointed out the characteristics of temptation, which “grow and are contagious”.

Initially, temptation “begins in a soothing way”, but “then it grows. Jesus himself spoke about this when he told the parable of the seeds and the weeds (Mt 13: 24-30). The seeds grew, but the weeds planted by the enemy also grew. This is how temptation grows, it grows and grows. If one does not stop it, then it occupies everything”, and that is when infection occurs. Temptation grows, the Pope said, “and it hates solitude”; it will try to spread to another to have company. This is how it accumulates people, spreading to others”. The third feature is justification; “we justify ourselves in order to feel fine with ourselves”.

The Pope noted how temptation has always justified itself, “since the first original sin” when Adam blames Eve for convincing him to eat the forbidden fruit. Through this growth, infection and justification, it “locks us in a place where you cannot easily escape”. To explain this, the Pope referred to the Gospel of Mark (8:14,21): “This is what happened to the Apostles who were in the boat: they had forgotten to bring bread” and began to blame each other and discuss who had made the mistake of forgetting it. “Jesus looked at them, and I think”, the Pope said, “that he smiled as he watched them. And he said to them: do you remember the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod? Take heed, beware!”. Yet they “did not understand anything, because they were so caught up in blame that they did not have room for anything else, they did not have light to understand the Word of God”.

The same happens “when we fall into temptation. We do not hear the Word of God and we do not understand. Jesus had to remind them of the multiplication of the loaves, to help them to get out of the mindset that they were in”. The Holy Father explained that this happens because temptation closes every horizon “and in this way leads us to sin”. When we are being tempted, “only the Word of God, the Word of Jesus, can save us. Listening to his Word opens horizons”, because “he is always ready to help us escape from temptations. Jesus is great because not only does he help us to get out of temptation, but he also gives us more faith”.

Pope Francis then referred to a passage from the Gospel of Luke (22:31-32), He recounted the conversation between Jesus and Peter in which “the Lord tells Peter that the devil wants to sift him like wheat”. At the same time, Jesus tells him that he has prayed for him and gives him a new mission: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brethren”. Therefore, the Holy Father said, Jesus not only expects to help us escape temptation but he also trusts us. This is a great strength”, because “he always opens up new horizons” while, through temptation, the devil “closes and develops environments which cause you to fight” and “seek justification for accusing others”.

“Let us not be ensnared by temptation” the Holy Father said. You can only escape temptation through “listening to the Word of Jesus”. He concluded his homily with the words: “Let us ask the Lord to always say to us, in times of temptation, as he did with the disciples, with patience: Stop. Do not worry. Lift up your eyes, look to the horizon. Do not close yourself in, move forward. His Word will save us from falling into sin in moments of temptation”.


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