Pope Francis' Angelus Message and Homily During Sunday Mass on September 29, 2013

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday morning in St Peter's Square to mark the International Day for Catechists organised by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization in the context of the Year of Faith. The dangers of complacency and the need for catechists to have the core and essence of the Gospel at the center of their lives and work were the themes of the Holy Father's remarks. Below, please find the official English translation of the Holy Father's homily.

1. “Woe to the complacent in Zion, to those who feel secure … lying upon beds of ivory!” (Am 6:1,4). They eat, they drink, they sing, they play and they care nothing about other people’s troubles.
These are harsh words which the prophet Amos speaks, yet they warn us about a danger that all of us face. What is it that this messenger of God denounces; what does he want his contemporaries, and ourselves, to realize? The danger of complacency, comfort, worldliness in our lifestyles and in our hearts, of making our well-being the most important thing in our lives. This was the case of the rich man in the Gospel, who dressed in fine garments and daily indulged in sumptuous banquets; this was what was important for him. And the poor man at his doorstep who had nothing to relieve his hunger? That was none of his business, it didn’t concern him. Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the center of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings. The rich man in the Gospel has no name, he is simply “a rich man”. Material things, his possessions, are his face; he has nothing else.

Let’s try to think: How does something like this happen? How do some people, perhaps ourselves included, end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face? This is what happens when we no longer remember God. If we don’t think about God, everything ends up being about “me” and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. When we no longer remember God, we too become unreal, we too become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face! Those who run after nothing become nothing – as another great prophet Jeremiah, observed (cf. Jer 2:5). We are made in God’s image and likeness, not that of material objects, not that of idols!

2. So, as I look out at you, I think: Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others. This is something beautiful: to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honour, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God’s work, God’s fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history: “My soul magnifies the Lord … For he has looked on the lowliness of his servant … His mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk 1:46, 48, 50).

This canticle of Mary also contains the remembrance of her personal history, God’s history with her, her own experience of faith. And this is true too for each one of us and for every Christian: faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us. Faith is remembrance of his word which warms our heart, and of his saving work which gives life, purifies us, cares for and nourishes us. A catechist is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity.

Saint Paul recommends one thing in particular to his disciple and co-worker Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, whom I proclaim and for whom I suffer (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-9). The Apostle can say this because he too remembered Christ, who called him when he was persecuting Christians, who touched him and transformed him by his grace.

The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others. This is not easy! It engages our entire existence! What is the Catechism itself, if not the memory of God, the memory of his works in history and his drawing near to us in Christ present in his word, in the sacraments, in his Church, in his love? Dear catechists, I ask you: Are we in fact the memory of God? Are we really like sentinels who awaken in others the memory of God which warms the heart?

3. “Woe to the complacent in Zion!”. What must we do in order not to be “complacent” – people who find their security in themselves and in material things – but men and woman of the memory of God? In the second reading, Saint Paul, once more writing to Timothy, gives some indications which can also be guideposts for us in our work as catechists: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11).

Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbour; if they are men and women of faith who truly trust in God and put their security in him; if they are men and women of charity, love, who see others as brothers and sisters; if they are men and women of “hypomoné”, endurance and perseverance, able to face difficulties, trials and failures with serenity and hope in the Lord; if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy.

Let us ask the Lord that we may all be men and women who keep the memory of God alive in ourselves, and are able to awaken it in the hearts of others. Amen.

After Mass, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered. In his brief remarks, the Holy Father thanked the scores of thousands of catechists who came from all around the world to participate in the two-day catechetical conference sponsored by the same Pontifical Council, and make pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. Pope Francis also had special greetings for His Beatitude, Youhanna X, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. The Pope said that the Patriarch’s presence offers an invitation to all the Christian faithful everywhere to renew their prayers for peace in Syria and throughout the entire Mideast region. Below, is the translation of the Holy Father’s remarks before the Angelus prayer.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I would like to greet you all and thank you for your participation, especially the catechists come from so many parts of the world.

A special greeting to my brother, His Beatitude Youhanna X, greek orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. His presence invites us to pray once again for peace in Syria and the Middle East.

I greet the pilgrims who have come from Assisi on horseback, as well as the Italian Alpine Club, on the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de Nicaragua, recordando que los pastores y fieles de esa querida Nación celebran con alegría el centenario de la fundación canónica de la Provincia eclesiástica. [I greet with affection the pilgrims from Nicaragua, recalling that the pastors and the faithful of that beloved nation are celebrating with joy the hundredth anniversary of the canonical foundation of their Ecclesiastical Province.]

With joy we recall that yesterday, in Croatia, Miroslav Bulešić, a diocesan priest, who was martyred in 1947, was beatified. We praise the Lord, who gives the defenseless the strength to offer the ultimate witness.

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Holy Gospel on the Fourth Sunday of the Cross

Letter to the Philippians 3:17-21, 4:1. 
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 24:23-31. 
If anyone says to you, "Look! Here is the Messiah!" or "There he is!" do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, "Look! He is in the wilderness", do not go out. If they say, "Look! He is in the inner rooms", do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. ‘Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see "the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven" with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Pope Francis Meets Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Youhanna X Yazigi

The pain and suffering of Christians in Syria was at the heart of a meeting that Pope Francis had on Friday with Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi, head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. On Sunday the Patriarch will attend Mass in St Peter’s Square, celebrated by the Pope to mark the Day of Catechists. He’s also due to meet with Italy’s foreign minister and attend the St Egidio international, interfaith conference which opens at the weekend.

In his encounter with the Holy Father, the Patriarch spoke about the difficulties facing the Christian community in Syria and the surrounding region. He also talked about the plight of his own brother who was kidnapped last April, together with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo. The two leaders also shared their hopes for progress on the journey towards full Christian unity.

Then, answering journalists questions, Patriarch Yazigi said:
"First of all I’d like to express my deep, heartfelt love to my dear brother in Christ….I bear in my heart all the pain of our people in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Middle East, and we consider the attitude of His Holiness towards our people, our Church in the Middle East, in Syria and Lebanon especially to push, to find solutions, to establish a peace through dialogue, not in war ..

[Pope’s day of prayer and fasting for peace] It was very important I think, and in fact all our people participated that day, all together, in praying for Syria, for the Middle East, for peace in all the world, and it was a very important message to all the world, and I think to all the governments – not the simple people, but to the states and to the governments, to find a solution through peace.

[Kidnapped brother] Unfortunately we hope and we pray, and we try on all levels – with the governments, with different people – to find a solution to this story, and we hope, but till now we don’t have unfortunately any official or sure information about our two brothers....we hope they’re still alive...

[Who’s responsible?] They haven’t given us any sure answer till now – a lot of stories, a lot of promises, but not any results unfortunately.

[Did you talk about this with the Pope?] Yes, absolutely. We discussed a lot of topics and subjects. First of all I expressed all my brotherly love to His Holiness personally, and all my love of our Churches, the Antiochian Orthodox Church – as you know always in history we’ve had a good relationship and cooperation with the Catholic Church, with Vatican City. ....And we talked about our progression towards unity, Christian unity as you know, dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. We try, we want to do what we can do, all together – this is the desire of His Holiness, and our desire. And about this political situation, about the presence of Christians in the Middle East – it’s a very important issue now, because a lot of our people are leaving Syria or Lebanon for other countries, and we cannot accept the Middle East without the face of Christ.

[Will there be a solution to the conflict now there’s been an agreement on chemical weapons?] We hope, and we ask all the governments to help us and to push all the countries to help Syria to find a solution through dialogue, and especially Russia and the States, and Europe maybe – they have a very big and important role, and we hope to help in this way

[Hard-line Islamic presence after conflict?] About Islam, you know, we have very good relationships with the Muslim people, in general in all his area. We live together, we have the same history, the same future – we’re like one family, this is the truth. But now we see in our countries a new spirit of extremism from some groups, Islamic groups, and we all refuse that – and the Muslim people, they refuse this extremist Islamic spirit.

[Can religious leaders help?] Absolutely. And we all – the Imams in Syria and Lebanon for example, and the bishops, the priests – we are all together. And we try with our people – with the Christians, with the Muslims – to do what we can do to have a calm life, and peace.

[St Egidio, The Courage of Hope] We try to be with our people, and to give them some hope, to stay in their houses, in this land, in this Christian land. And I would like to thank St Egidio for their invitation, and it will be an occasion for me to say some words, maybe a message of our pain, in the Middle East, in Syria and Lebanon, especially to make this voice heard by all the world.

[Do you fear for yourself?] No. There is a danger, but for example I live now in the Patriarchate in Damascus, sometimes in Lebanon in our residence in Balamand, near Beirut, and our church is open, we have our liturgies, our services as usual. Except some areas absolutely where we have difficulties, in Aleppo, in Homs, in others.

Pope Francis Celebrates Mass with Maronite Patriarch in the Vatican

Shame before God; prayers to implore divine mercy and unreserved trust in the Lord. Pope Francis' reflection at the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Martae on the morning of Wednesday 25 September, was based on these. The Holy Father concelebrated with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and with Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites, together with a group of Maronite Bishops from Lebanon, Syria and the Holy Land as well as from various other countries on every continent.

In commenting on the Readings of the Liturgy (Ezra 9:5-9; Lk 9:1-6), the Pope said that the passage from the Book of Ezra in particular had reminded him of the Maronite bishops and, as usual he summed up his thoughts on three concepts. First of all Ezra's shame and embarrassment before God which was so acute that he could not raise his eyes to him. Shame and consternation are common to all of us, because of the sins we have committed that have brought us into bondage for serving idols that are not God.

Prayer is the second concept. Following the example of Ezra who falling upon his knees spread out his arms to God, beseeching him for mercy, we must do likewise in reparation for our innumerable sins. It is a prayer, the Pope said, which we should also raise to God for peace in Lebanon, in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Prayer, always and everywhere, he explained, is the road we must take in order to face difficult moments as well as the most dramatic trials and the darkness which at times engulf us in unforeseeable situations. To find our way out of all this, the Pontiff emphasized, it is necessary to pray ceaselessly.

Lastly, boundless trust in God who never abandons us. This was the third concept presented by the Holy Father. We may be certain, he said, that the Lord is with us, and therefore we must be persevering on our journey, thanks to hope which instils fortitude. The pastors' word will become reassuring to the faithful: the Lord will never abandon us.

After communion, Cardinal Béchara Raï expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father and a deeply cordial greeting on behalf of the participating bishops, of all Maronites and of the whole of Lebanon, confirming their faithfulness to Peter and to his Successor, “who sustains us on our all too often thorny path”. The Cardinal thanked the Pope in particular for the strong impetus he has given to the quest for peace: “His prayers and his exhortations for peace in Syria and in the Middle East have sown hope and comfort”.

Monthly Message of the Virgin Mary to the World From Medjugorje on September 25, 2013

“Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. May your relationship with prayer be a daily one. Prayer works miracles in you and through you, therefore, little children, may prayer be a joy for you. Then your relationship with life will be deeper and more open and you will comprehend that life is a gift for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday September 25, 2013

Pope Francis today said Christians must bear witness to God's plan for the unity, peace and reconciliation of the whole human family. The Pope was speaking as he greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors, gathered in St Peter's Square for his Wednesday general audience. Below is the English language text of his reflections, read along at the audience.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: in the Creed, we confess that the Church is “one”. When we consider the rich diversity of languages, cultures and peoples present in the Church throughout the world, we realize that this unity is a God-given gift, grounded in our common Baptism and our sharing in the Church’s one faith and sacramental life. Like a great family, we are united to all our brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever they may be. We might ask ourselves how much we appreciate and express in our daily lives, and particularly in our prayer, this reality of our unity and solidarity in the communion of the Church. The world needs our witness to God’s plan for the unity, reconciliation and peace of the whole human family. Let us ask the Lord to enable us, and Christians everywhere, to work to overcome our tensions and divisions, to strive, as Saint Paul bids us, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (cf. Eph 4:3), and to cherish the harmony which the same Spirit creates from the richness of our diversity.

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50 Acts of the Holy Spirit (Article in Arabic)

50 فعل يعمله الروح القدس 

1.    هو يبكت العالم على خطية وعلى بر وعلى دينونة (يوحنا 16 : 8).

2.    هو يرشدكم إلى جميع الحق (يو 16 : 13).

3.    هو يجددنا (يوحنا 3 : 5 – 8) (تيطس 3 : 5).

4.    هو يمجد ويشهد للمسيح ( يوحنا 15 : 26  ،  16 : 14).

5.    هو يكشف ما في المسيح وفينا (يوحنا 16 : 14 – 15).

6.    هو يقودنا (روميه 8 : 14  ،  متى 4 : 1  ،  لوقا 4 : 1).

7.    هو يقدسنا (2 تسالونيكي 2 : 13  ، 1 بطرس 1 : 2 ،  روميه 5 : 16).

8.    هو يقوينا ( لوقا 4 : 14 ، 24 : 49 ،  رومية 15 : 19 ،  اعمال 1 : 8).

9.    هو يملأنا (أفسس 5 : 18  ، أعمال 2 : 4  ،  4 : 8 ، 31  ، 9 : 17).

10. هو يعلمنا أن نصلي ( رومية 8 : 26 – 27 ، يهوذا 1 : 20).

11. هو يشهد لأرواحنا أننا أولاد الله ( روميه 8 : 16).

12. هو ينتج فينا ثمار تدل على عمله ووجوده (غلاطية 5 : 22 – 23).

13. هو يوزع المواهب الروحية ويظهرها حسب ارادته(1 كو 12 : 4 ، عب 2 : 4).

14. هو يمسحنا ويؤهلنا للخدمة (لوقا 4 : 18  ، اعمال 10 : 38).

15. هو يغسلنا ويجددنا (تيطس 3 : 5).

16. هو الذي يعطي رباط الاتحاد للجسد (افسس 4 : 3  ، 2 : 14 – 18).

17. هو ضماننا وعربون قيامتنا بالمستقبل (2 كورنثوس 1 : 22  ،  5 : 5).

18. هو ختمنا حتى يوم الفداء (افسس 1 : 13  ، 4 : 30).

19. هو اعتقنا من ناموس الخطية والموت (رومية 8 : 2).

20. هو يحي أجسادنا المائتة (رومية 8 : 11).

21. هو يفحص كل شيء حتى أعماق الله (1 كورنثوس 2 : 10).

22. هو يكشف ما قد اعطي لنا من الله  (1 كورنثوس 2 : 12).

23. هو يسكن فينا (رومية 8 : 9  ، 1 كو 3 : 16  ، 2 تيمو 1 : 14  ، يوحنا 14 : 17).

24. هو يتكلم لنا وفينا ومن خلالنا (1 كو 12 : 3  ، 1 تيمو 4 : 1  ، رؤيا 2 : 11  ، عب 3 : 7  ، متى 10 : 20  ، اع 2 : 4  ، 8 : 29  ، 10 : 19  ،  11 : 12  ،  13 : 2 ، 16 : 6،7)

25. هو الوكيل الذي به اعتمدنا إلى جسد المسيح الواحد (1 كو 12 : 13).

26. هو يجلب الحرية (2 كورنثوس 3 : 17).

27. هو يحولنا إلى صورة المسيح (2 كورنثوس 3 : 18).

28. هو يصرخ في قلوبنا "يا ابا الاب" (غلاطية 4 : 6).

29. هو يمكننا من الانتظار ( غلاطية 5 : 5).

30. هو يوفر لنا القوة مع المسيح (فلبي 1 : 19).

31. هو ضامن لنا الحياة الأبدية (غلاطية 6 : 8).

32. هو يتيح لنا الوصول الى الله الآب (افسس 2 : 18).

33. هو يجعلنا مسكنا لله (افسس  2 : 22).

34. هو يكشف سر الله لنا (افسس 3 : 5).

35. هو يقوي روحنا (افسس 3 : 16).

36. هو يمكننا من أن نطيع الحق (1 بط 1 : 22 ).

37. هو يشهد لنا أن يسوع يثبت فينا (1 يوحنا 3 : 24  ، 4 : 13).

38. هو يشهد بان يسوع المسيح جاء في الجسد (1 يوحنا 4 : 2).

39. الروح والعروس يقولان تعال أيها الرب يسوع (رؤيا  22 : 17).

40. هو يسكب محبة الله في قلوبنا (رومية 5 : 5).

41. هو يشهد على الحقيقة في ضمائرنا (رومية 9 : 1).

42. هو يعلمنا ( 1 كو 2 : 13  ، يوحنا 14 : 26).

43. هو يعطينا الفرح (1 تس 1 : 6).

44. هو يتيح للبعض ليبشروا الانجيل (1 بط 1 : 12).

45. هو يحركنا (يسوقنا) (2 بط 1 : 21).

46. هو يعرف امور الله (1 كورنثوس 2 : 11).

47. هو يخرج الشياطين خارجاً (متى 12 : 28).

48. هو يذكرنا بكل شيء (يوحنا 14 : 26).

49. هو يعزينا ( اعمال 9 : 31).

50. هو الذي يؤهل البعض ليكونوا رعاة في الكنيسة ويرسل البعض للعمل خارجاً في زرع الكنيسة (اعمال 20 : 28  ،  13 : 2).

Pope Francis' Homily During Sunday Mass on September 22, 2013

The Pope on Sunday celebrated Holy Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. Below is the translation of the Holy Father’s homily at the Mass: 

The grace of our Lord be with you always.

Today is realised that desire that I announced in St. Peter's Square, before the summer, to be able to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria.

1. I come here to share with you the joys and hopes, efforts and commitments, ideals and aspirations of your island, and to confirm you in the Faith. Even here in Cagliari, as in the whole of Sardinia, there are difficulties — there are so many! — problems and concerns: I think, in particular, of the lack of work and its precariousness, and therefore the uncertainty for the future. Sardinia, your beautiful region, suffers many situations of poverty, exacerbated by its condition as an island. The loyal cooperation of everyone is necessary, with the commitment of institutional leaders — even in the Church — to ensure the fundamental rights of persons and families, and to grow more fraternal and united. To ensure the right to work, to bring home bread, bread earned by work! I am close to you, I remember you in prayer, and I encourage you to persevere in your witness of the human and Christian values so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this land and the people. Always keep alight the light of hope!

2. I come among you to place myself, with you, at the feet of the Madonna, who gives us his Son. I know that Mary, our Mother, is in your heart, as evidenced by the Shrine, where many generations of Sardinians have come - and continue to come! - To invoke the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria, the Great Patroness of the Island. Here you bring the joys and sufferings of this land, of its families, and even of those children who live far away, many of whom went away with great sorrow and nostalgia to find a job and a future for themselves and their loved ones. Today, all of us gathered here want to thank Mary because she is always close to us; we want to renew our trust in her, and our love for her. 

The first reading which we heard shows us Mary in prayer in the Upper Room together with the Apostles. Mary prays, prays together with the community of disciples, and teaches us to have full confidence in God, in His mercy. This is the power of prayer! We must not tire of knocking on the God’s door. Let us bring our whole life, every day, to the heart of God through Mary! Knock at the door of the heart of God. 

In the Gospel we grasp especially the last look of Jesus upon His Mother (cf. Jn 19:25-27). From the Cross Jesus looks at His Mother and entrusted the apostle John to her, saying, “This is your son.” In John we're all here, too, and Jesus’ look of love entrusts us to the maternal guardianship of the mother. Mary will have remembered another look of love, when she was a young girl: the gaze of God the Father, who had looked upon her humility, her littleness. Mary teaches us that God does not abandon us, [that God] can do great things even with our weakness. Let us have faith in Him! Let us knock at the door of His heart!

3. And the third thought: today I have come among you, indeed we have all come together, to meet the gaze of Mary, because there, there is something like a reflection of the gaze of the Father, which made her the Mother of God, and the look of the Son on the Cross, which made her our Mother. And with that gaze Mary is looking upon us today. We need her tender look, her maternal gaze that knows us better than anyone else, her gaze full of compassion and care. Mary, today we want to say to you: Mother, look upon us! Your gaze leads us to God, your look is a good gift from the Father, who awaits us at every turn of our journey; it is a gift from Jesus Christ on the Cross, who takes upon Himself our suffering, our struggles, our sin. And in order to meet this loving Father, today we say: Mother, look upon us! Let us all say it together: Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us!

On the journey, which is often difficult, we are not alone, we are so many, we are one people, and the gaze of Our Lady helps us to look around us in a brotherly manner. Let's look at ourselves in a more fraternal way! Mary teaches us to have that look that seeks to welcome, to guide, to protect. We learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary! There are people who we instinctively give less attention to, people who instead have most need of it: the most abandoned, the sick, those who have nothing to live on, those who do not know Jesus, young people who are in trouble, the young who can’t find work. We should not be afraid to go out and look at our brothers and sisters through the eyes of Our Lady, She invites us to be true brothers. And we do not allow anything or anyone to come between us and the gaze of the Madonna. Mother, look upon us! No one hide from it! Our childlike heart knows to defend it from so many windbags who promise illusions; from those who have a greedy look for easy life, from the promises of those who can’t fulfil them. They can’t steal Mary’s gaze from us, which is full of tenderness, which gives us strength, makes us united in solidarity among ourselves. Let us all say, “Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us!”

May Our Lady of Bonaria accompany you always in your life. 

Holy Gospel on the Third Sunday of the Cross

First Letter to the Corinthians 15:19-34. 
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 24:1-14. 
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Messiah!" and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

How Do You See God's Picture in Yourself? (Article in Arabic)

كيف تنظر الى صورة الله فيك؟

أن هذا سؤال غاية في الأهمية من حيث أننا خليقة الله التي فينا ومنا جعل هيكلا للروح الذي وهبنا إياه. إذا نحن أيضا علينا أن نرتقي لنكون أهلا بهذه النعمة ليتمجد فينا ومن خلال أعمالنا.

إن الخطأ الكبير الذي يرتكبه معظم الناس فيما يتعلق بنظرتهم إلى أنفسهم هو أنهم يسمحون لأراء الناس أن تؤثر على هذه النظرة ولكن على العكس تماماً فإن نظرة الشخص لنفسه هي التي تؤثر على نظرة الناس اليه. وما أن يفهم الشخص أنه هو الذي يخلق صورته العامة بين الناس عن طريق تصرفاته وعن طريق انطباعاته عن نفسه سيدرك أهمية قبول النفس الذي يحدد ما إذا كان سيتصرف بثقة أم تردد شديد، فالمؤكد أنه إذا كنت تفتقر إلى الثقة في نفسك فلن يثق فيك الآخرون.

هناك ثلاث أسباب وجيهه توضح لماذا يجب عليك أن لا تدع أراء الآخرين تؤثر فيك وفيما تفكره عن نفسك :

1.    يجب أن تقبل نفسك كما يقيمها الله لا كما يقيمها الآخرون.
2.    لا تستطيع أن تحكم دائماً على نظرة الناس لك من خلال مظهرهم أو تصرفاتهم وذلك لأن تركيزهم قد يكون منصباً على شيء آخر تماماً.
3.    إن ما يفتقده الناس فيك هو في الغالب انعكاس لما تتصوره أنت عن نفسك شخصياً  فإذا شعرت بالنقص سيظهر ذلك عليك وبالتالي سينظر اليك الآخرون على أنك كذلك.

ليباركنا الرب ويمنحنا نعمة الثقة بالنفس لنكون جديرين من خلال أعمالنا أن ندعى أبناء الله.

By Anonymous Author

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on September 15, 2013

The mercy of God was at the heart of Pope Francis’ Angelus address on a rainy Sunday in Rome. Speaking from the papal apartments above St Peter’s Square, the Pope, taking his inspiration from the Gospel of Luke said that Chapter 15 contains three parables of mercy, those of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the story of the prodigal son.

He said that all three parables speak of the joy of God, which is the joy of forgiving. The Holy Father went on to say that this Gospel shows Christianity at work, adding that mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the "cancer" that is the sin, evil, moral, and spiritual. 

Continuing on the theme forgiveness, Pope Francis said that Jesus “is all mercy , all love is God made man.” Each of us, he said “ is the lost sheep, the lost coin , and each of us is the son who has wasted their freedom following false idols, the illusions of happiness, and lost everything.” But God, the Holy Father underlined, “does not forget us, the Father never abandons us. God respects our freedom, but remains faithful . And when we return to Him, he welcomes us as children, into his house, because he never stops, not even for a moment, to expect us, with love.” 

But the Pope also warned against judging others and judging God because we think he should punish sinners. Instead, said Pope Francis we should forgive and show mercy. If we live according to the rule “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, he noted we will never overcome the spiral of evil.”

Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Holy Father recalled Blessed José Gabriel Brochero, who was beatified on Saturday in Argentina. Pope Francis said Bless José was a priest who was driven by the love of Christ, a man who devoted himself entirely to his flock , He was, the Pope added with the people, and at the end he was blind and the leper, but full of joy , the joy of the Good Shepherd.

Daily Gospel on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Glorious Cross.

First Letter to the Corinthians 1:18-25. 
The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 12:20-32. 
Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday. The Holy Father continued his catechetical reflections on the Church, focusing on the image of the Church as Mother. The Pope also greeted pilgrims from several countries, including England, Wales, Kenya, Malta and the United States. Below, please find the full text of the official English-language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis, as well as his words of greeting to English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: today I wish to continue our catechesis on the Church by reflecting on an image used by the early Fathers and the Second Vatican Council: the Church as our Mother. By reflecting on the human experience of maternity, we understand that the Church is like our own Mothers. First, like our Mothers, the Church gives us the gift of life. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are reborn as children of God and receive his life. While faith is a personal act, we also recognize that faith comes to us through others – our families and communities who teach us how to believe. Second, like our Mothers, the Church nourishes us, helps us to grow, teaches us the path to follow, and accompanies us in life, especially in our illnesses and sufferings, through the Sacraments and the Word of God. Third, it is also our mission to go forth and share in the maternity of the Church by bringing others to a life of faith. And so we ask ourselves, do we love the Church as our Mother, who helps us to grow as Christians? And how do we go beyond ourselves in order to bring Christ to others? As faithful children, let us bring the light of Christ to the ends of the earth.

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Malta, Kenya and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City increase your love for Christ and his Church, our Mother. God bless you all!

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on September 08, 2013

Pope Francis has urged everyone to keep praying for peace in the Middle East, saying the search for peace is a long one that requires patience and perseverance. Speaking during his Angelus address, the Pope also condemned the proliferation of wars and conflicts and questioned whether they were wars about problems or commercial wars to sell arms on the black market. His remarks came just hours after thousands of people attended a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday evening as part of the events for the special day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the world that was called by the Pope and was marked by people across the globe in different ways. 

Below is the English translation of Pope Francis’ post-Angelus appeal:

I would like to thank everyone who, in various ways, joined in the Vigil of Prayer and Fasting yesterday evening. I thank the many people who united the offering of their sufferings. I express my gratitude to the civil authorities, as well as to the members of other Christian communities and of other religions, and to men and women of good will who have undertaken, on this occasion, periods of prayer, fasting and reflection.

But the task remains: we move forward with prayer and works of peace. I invite you to continue to pray so that the violence and devastation in Syria may cease immediately and that a renewed effort be undertaken to achieve a just solution to this fratricidal conflict. Let us pray also for other countries in the Middle East, in particular for Lebanon, that it may find its hoped-for stability and continue to be a model of peaceful co-existence; for Iraq, that sectarian violence may give way to reconciliation; and that the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians may proceed with determination and courage. Finally, let us pray for Egypt, that all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, may commit themselves to build up together a society dedicated to the good of the whole population. The search for peace is long and demands patience and perseverance! Let us keep praying for this!

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Holy Gospel on the Feast of the Birth of Our Lady the Virgin Mary. September 08.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:1-6. 
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 8:16-21. 
‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’ Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’

Maronites to Observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting for the Syrian People

Maronites in Lebanon and all over the World will be marking on Saturday, September 07 a day of fasting and prayer and a holy vigil as called for by Pope Francis, for Syrian people and Syria. The monthly communiqué of the Maronite Bishops held in Diman treasured the Pope's appeal and instructed all Maronite parishes, monasteries and religious centers to organize this day of prayer and fasting and to arrange for a holy vigil in the evening, in participation with Pope Francis who will be observing with the faithful a Holy Vigil at Saint Peter's square in the Vatican, beginning from 7:00 pm till midnight.

This day of prayer and fasting comes at the eve of the birthday of Virgin Mary and it has a symbolic meaning as to why Pope Francis has chosen such date to call upon the Universal church and the whole World to pray for peace in Syria and in the Middle East. Mary is the queen of peace and on her birthday she is known to grant abundant graces upon those who ask for it. Christians around the world will be asking through her intercession today for mercy and peace on behalf of the innocent souls that are being killed, tortured and devastated everyday in Syria.

This appeal from Pope Francis has found a lot of support among political leaders, who found it to be a very noble and humble gesture and probably the best gift one can offer today to the Syrian population, amid the current international tensions where interests and divisions are reigning. 

Holy Gospel on the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel

Letter to the Colossians 2:16-23.
Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint Matthew 18:1-5.10.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday September 04, 2013

On the first general audience held by Pope Francis at Saint Peter's square after the summer break, the Pope renewed his appeal for peace in Syria and throughout the world on Wednesday, once again inviting Christians of every denomination, believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will to take part in the worldwide fast and vigil of prayer and penance for peace, which he has called for September 7th, the vigil of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, whom we venerate as Queen of Peace. First announced at the Sunday Angelus at the start of the week, many local Churches have already organized their own initiatives to mark the day. The Holy Father especially urged the faithful of Rome and pilgrims to the city to participate in the prayer vigil to be held in St. Peter's Square starting at 7 PM Rome Time and continuing until midnight. The Holy Father concluded, “May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!”

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ appeal:

This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter's Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!

Unusual Message From the Virgin Mary to Non Believers on September 02, 2013 From Medjugorje

"Dear children, I love you all. All of you, all of my children, all of you are in my heart. All of you have my motherly love, and I desire to lead all of you to come to know God's joy. This is why I am calling you. I need humble apostles who, with an open heart, will accept the Word of God and help others to comprehend the meaning of their life along side God's word. To be able to do this my children, through prayer and fasting, you must learn to listen with the heart and to learn to keep submitting yourselves. You must learn to keep rejecting everything that distances you from God's word and to yearn only for that which draws you closer to it. Do not be afraid. I am here. You are not alone. I am imploring the Holy Spirit to renew and strengthen you. I am imploring the Holy Spirit that, as you help others, you too may be healed. I am imploring Him that, through Him, you may be God's children and my apostles." 

Then with great concern Our Lady said: 

"For the sake of Jesus, for the sake of my Son, love those whom He has called and long for the blessing only from the hands which He has consecrated. Do not permit evil to come to reign. Anew I repeat – only along side your shepherds will my heart triumph. Do not permit evil to separate you from your shepherds. Thank you." 

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on September 01, 2013

Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the entire Mideast region, and throughout the whole world to be held this coming Saturday, September 7th, 2013. Speaking ahead of the traditional Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square this Sunday, Pope Francis said, “On [Saturday] the 7th of September, here [in St Peter’s Square], from 7 PM until midnight, we will gather together in prayer, in a spirit of penitence, to ask from God this great gift [of peace] for the beloved Syrian nation and for all the situations of conflict and violence in the world.” The Holy Father also invited non-Catholic Christians and non-Christian believers to participate in ways they feel are appropriate. “Never again war!” said Pope Francis. “We want a peaceful world,” he said, “we want to be men and women of peace.”

Pope Francis also issued a forceful condemnation of the use of chemical weapons. “There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions – [judgments] from which there is no escaping.” He called on all parties to conflicts to pursue negotiations, and urged the international community to take concrete steps to end conflicts, especially the war in Syria. “Humanity needs to see gestures of peace,” said Pope Francis, “and to hear words of hope and of peace.”

Below is the full text of the Pope's message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigor I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid. What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity! I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace. To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mat, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

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