Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of catechetical reflections on the Creed, focusing this week on the Communion of Saints. In the English-language synthesis of the Holy Father’s remarks read out following the main catechesis in Italian, Pope Francis writes, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the Communion of Saints is a communion “in holy things” and “among holy persons” (No. 948).

The Holy Father’s remarks go on to say that the Communion of Saints is the deepest reality of the Church, because in Christ, through Baptism, we are made sharers in the communion of life and love which is the Blessed Trinity. As such, we are united to one another in the Body of Christ. Through this fraternal communion we draw nearer to God and we are called to support one another spiritually. The communion of saints does not only embrace the Church on earth; it also embraces all who have died in Christ, the souls in purgatory and the saints in heaven.

Pope Francis’s remarks go on to say that that we experience this solidarity between heaven and earth in our intercessory prayer and in the feasts of All Saints and All Souls which we shall soon celebrate. “As we rejoice in this great mystery,” his remarks conclude, “let us ask the Lord to draw us ever closer to Him and to all our brothers and sisters in the Church.”

Pope Francis appealed for peace in Iraq.The Holy Father made his appeal at the close of his weekly General Audience, before greeting Iraqi civil authorities and representatives of the various religious groups which, said Pope Francis, “constitute the richness of the country.” The Iraqi delegation was accompanied by the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter religious Dialogue, Card. Jean-Louis Tauran. 

Pope Francis said, “I invite you all to pray for the dear nation of Iraq, unfortunately affected daily by tragic episodes of violence, in order that Iraq might find the way that leads to reconciliation, peace, unity and stability.” At least a dozen incidents claimed scores of lives in Iraq this past weekend - the latest in a wave of deadly violence that has been on the rise since April of this year.

Pope Francis' Sunday Homily and Angelus Message on October 27, 2013

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday, October 27th, 2013, to mark the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time and the World Family Day at the close of the 21st Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which met in Rome this past week to reflect on the theme of living the joy of the Faith. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the Christian family as an institution that prays, keeps faith, and experiences joy. 

Over 100 thousand people were in St Peter’s Square on Sunday morning under a late October sky that was at first overcast and threatening before giving way during the course of Mass to brilliant sunshine. In his homily, Pope Francis challenged families to pray together:. “It is,” he said, “a matter of humility: of realizing that we need God.” The Holy Father went on to call families to lives of Christian witness, asking them to model their lives on St the example of St. Paul, who kept the faith by sharing it. “ Christian families are missionary families,” said Pope Francis, “in their everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a reflection on the joy of living as a Christian family. He said, “The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.” He went on to say, “That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society.”

After Mass, before reciting the Angelus with the gathered faithful, the Holy Father paused before an icon of the Holy Family that was placed on the steps of the Basilica, and recited a prayer composed for the occasion: “Holy Family of Nazareth,” he prayed, “reawaken in our society the awareness of the sacred and inviolable character of the family, an inestimable and irreplaceable good. Let every family be a welcoming place of goodness and peace for children and the elderly, for the sick and lonely, for the poor and needy.”

Below, is the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

1. First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, and he judges others from his pedestal. The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words. His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs. Here is a man who realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness. 

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God. It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family? Some of you do, I know. But so many people say to me: How can we? Prayer is something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace… Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector! And we need simplicity! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is something all of you can do. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And praying for one another!

2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith. The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). But how did he keep the faith? Not in a strong box! Nor did he hide it underground, like the lazy servant. Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race. He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands. He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine. That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly. Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families, in their everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!

3. There is one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy. In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2). The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace. What is the reason for this gladness? It is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil. As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well... True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth! The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!

Holy Gospel on the Eighth Sunday of the Cross

Letter to the Romans 12:9-21. 
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:31-46. 
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ 

Monthly Message of the Virgin Mary To The World on October 25, 2013 From Medjugorje

“Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will – and then you will find joy and peace in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pope Francis said the Church is like Mary who brings Jesus and is not a shop or a humanitarian agency. Speaking at his Wednesday general audience, the Pope said a Church which does not bring Jesus is a dead Church. 

At his general audience Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the model of the Church and reflected on how "Mary is a model of faith and charity for the Church." He said "Mary’s life was centered on Christ, the incarnation of God’s infinite Love." 

She teaches us to live a life of faith by her obedience to God’s will and by her unfailing devotion to Jesus and his work. As a model of Charity, the Pope continued, “Mary wishes to bring all of us to the great gift that is Jesus with his love, his peace and his joy.” 

"The Church," he said, “is not a shop, or a humanitarian agency, or an NGO, the Church’s mandate is to bring Christ and the gospel” to everyone. The Church brings Jesus and his love and "if the Church were not to bring Jesus it would be a dead Church." 

Turning to our responsibilities as Christians, Pope Francis asked what is the nature of the love we bring to others. “Is it the love of Jesus who shares, who pardons and who accompanies us” or is it “a weak love" that "looks for favors in return?” “A love based on self-interest?” Our love towards others must be a free love. As he has done in the past, the Pope warned the faithful against gossip and “speaking ill of our brothers and sisters in our dealings with those in our community” or in our parish. 

He concluded by urging those present to maintain "a constant relationship and profound friendship with Jesus" and not just remember him "when we have problems and need his help." 

Below is the full English language text summarizing his catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: 
In our continuing catechesis on the Church, we now look to the Virgin Mary who, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, is “the model of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 63). As a daughter of Israel, Mary responded in faith to God’s call and became the Mother of his Son. She teaches us to live a life of faith by her obedience to God’s will and by her unfailing devotion to Jesus and his work. Mary also models the Church’s charity, born of faith, which brings the joy and peace of Christ’s presence to others and to our world. Finally, Mary models the Church’s union with Christ through her constant prayer and participation in the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection. 
As Mother of the Church, may Mary, by her prayers, bring us ever closer to the Lord, open our hearts to share his transforming and redeeming love, and inspire us to put our firm faith in God’s word, trusting in his goodness and his gracious plan for us and for our world.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, India, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Guam, Canada and the United States. In a particular way I welcome the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, with cordial good wishes for their meetings in these days. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace! 

!سألتُ الحياة ماذا تريدين من الإنسان
بقلم الأب جورج كيروز

قبل أن تجيبني، توقّفت لبرهة، فأصابَ لهذا التوقف المفاجئ اختلالٌ في الوجود: بهتَ لونَ الزهر، وبدأ بالذّبولِ قبلَ الأوان. ثم غمر القمر ظلامٌ دامس، وكأنه يغظّ في سبات عميق لم يسبق له مثيل. أما الشمس فبعدَ أن كانت مصدرا للنور الذي يبعث في الكون والكائنات الدفء والنشاط، تلحفت هي الأخرى برداءٍ داكن، كأنها في حداد. ماذا بعد؟ لقد اكتنف الشجر يباس يلامسُ الجفاف الدهري الساري على أديم الصحاري.
وبسبب التوقف اللحظي للحياة، تابع الجمودُ مسيرة اجتياحِه حتى غمر الكائنات الحية، فكادت أن تكون غيرَ موجودة.
ولكن ما لفت نظري أنه خلال ما شهدتُ من الأعراض التي نتجتْ عن توقف الحياة، أني لا زلتُ أتنفس وأتحرك. ثم أحسستُ وكأنه ينبض في كياني عالم لم أكنْ على علمٍ به من قبل، وكأن كلَّ شيء متوقفٌ على وجودي أنا! وأثناء انصرافي إلى التأمل بما يجري في عالمي الداخلي، قاطعني سؤال الحياة: هل تعلم لم حدثَ كل هذا؟ ثم أطلقتْ عليّ اسماً آخر غير اسمي كإنسان، قائلة لي: أنت رديفي، أنت مثيلي. فهل تعلم يا مثيلي لمَ حدث هذا، وبأن هناك ما هو أخطرُ من توقفي عن الوجود في الطبيعة وفي الإنسان؟
وبينما أنا أجيبُها شعرتُ بطائفةٍ من البرودة تنسابُ إلى باطني، وبشق النفس أجبتُها: لم أفهم حقيقة ما جري، إن هذه الأحداث جديدة علي. فما كان منها إلا أن صفعتني، وكأن استخفّت بجوابي ثم أردفت تقول: أتعلم أن ما هو أخطر بكثير من توقف الحياة؟
هو إعفاء قلبِك من أن يحب، ويديك من أن تعطيا وتصافحا، ورجليكَ من أن تُسارعا إلى حملِ رسالة السلام أينما تحلّ. هذه العناصر مُجتمعةً هي "أنت"، وأنت أتعلم من أنت؟ أنتَ مُستودعُ الحياة، فهكذا أرادك مَنْ سكبَ فيكَ ملءَ الحياة، لأنك صورتُه ومثلُه

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on October 20, 2013

In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the need to “pray always, without growing weary.” Starting from the parable of the widow in the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father said we must “cry out to the Lord day and night” – not because God does not know our needs, or doesn’t listen to us, but because the daily struggle against evil requires “patience and resistance.” “There is a struggle to carry on every day,” he said, “but God is our ally, faith in Him is our strength, and prayer is the expression of this faith.”

But Pope Francis also recalled the words of Jesus at the end of the Gospel: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:8). “If the faith goes out, if prayer ends,” the Pope said, we end up waking in darkness, and losing the way on the journey of life.”

After the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled World Mission Sunday, celebrated throughout the Church on the second to last Sunday of October. He thanked all those who support the missions through their prayers and concrete help. On this day, the Pope said, we are especially close to all missionaries, men and women, who quietly give their lives to spread the Gospel message. 

The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the people of the Philippines, especially the victims of the recent earthquake. He invited everyone to pray for the Philippines, which has been struck by numerous disasters in recent days. 

Pope Francis also greeted all the pilgrims present for the Angelus. Pope Francis had a special welcome for a group of young people who had taken part in a special “100 meter sprint for faith” organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture. The impromptu race track was set up along the Via della Conciliazione leading into Saint Peter’s Square, with the participants concluding their races in time to hear the Holy Father’s address. Pope Francis thanked them for “reminding us that the believer is an athlete of the spirit!”

As he concluded his remarks by greeting various groups from around the world, Pope Francis noted that Argentina today celebrates “Mother’s Day.” His “affectionate greeting to the mothers” of his native country was met with loud applause. 

Below is the translation of Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address: 

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. The main character is a widow who, forced to plead before a dishonest judge, manages to get him to grant her justice. And Jesus concludes, if the widow managed to convince that judge, do you think God will not hear us, if we pray to Him insistently? The expression used by Jesus is very strong: “Will not God then do justice for His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night?”

“To cry out day and night” to the Lord! This is a striking image of prayer. But we might ask, why does God want this. Doesn’t He already know our needs? What does it mean to “insist” with God?

And this is a good question, that leads us to deepen a very important aspect of the Faith: God invites us to pray with insistence, not because He doesn’t know what we need, or because He doesn’t listen to us. On the contrary, He always hears and knows all of us, with love. In our daily journey, especially in difficulties, in the fight against evil outside of ourselves and within us, the Lord is not far away, He is at our side; we fight with Him beside us, and our weapon is prayer, which makes us feel His presence alongside of us, His mercy, even His help. But the fight against evil is hard and long, it requires patience and resistance – like Moses, who had to hold up his arms so that his people could triumph (cf. Ex. 17:8-13). It is so: there is a struggle to carry on every day; but God is our ally, faith in Him is our strength, and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore, Jesus assures us of victory but in the end He asks “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:8). If the faith goes out, if prayer goes out, and we walk in the darkness, we will be lost on the journey of life. 

Let us learn, therefore, from the widow of the Gospel, and pray always without growing weary. This widow was good, she knew to fight for her children, and I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray, who never grow weary! Today let us remember, all of us, these women who with their behavior give us a true witness of faith, of courage, of a model of prayer. Let us remember them! Pray always, but not to convince the Lord by the strength of words! He knows better than we do what it is we need. And so persevering prayer is an expression of faith in a God Who calls us to fight along with Him, every day, every moment, to overcome evil with good. 

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Today is World Mission Day. What is the mission of the Church? To spread throughout the world the flame of faith that Jesus has lighted in the world: faith in God who is Father, Love, and Mercy. The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but that the sharing of the flame that heats up the soul. I thank all those who through prayer and concrete help sustain the work of the missions, in particular the solicitude of the Bishop of Rome for spread of the Gospel. On this Day, we are close to all men and women missionaries, who work without making noise, and who give their lives. [Missionaries] like the Italian Afra Martinelli, who worked for many years in Nigeria: one day she was killed in a robbery; everyone wept, Christians and Muslims. They really loved her! She announced the Gospel with her life, with the works she accomplished, a centre of instruction; in this way she spread the flame of faith, she fought the good fight. Let us think about this our sister, and greet her with applause, all of us! 

I think too of Stefano Sándor, who was beatified yesterday in Budapest. He was a lay Salesian, exemplary in service to young people, in the oratory and in professional instruction. When the Communist regime closed all the Catholic churches, he confronted the persecutions with courage, and was killed when he was 39 years old. Let us unite ourselves with the Salesian family and the Hungarian Church in giving thanks.

I want to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines who have been struck by a strong earthquake, and I invite you to pray for that dear Nation, which in recent days has suffered different calamities. 

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present, beginning with the young people who gave lift to the “100 metre spring for faith” event, which was organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture. Thank you for reminding us that the believer is an athlete of the spirit! Thank you so much!

I welcome with joy the faithful of the Dioceses of Bologna and of Cesena-Sarsina, led by Cardinal Caffarra and Bishop Regattieri; as well as those of Corrientes, Argentina, and of Maracaibo and Barinas in Venezuela. And today in Argentina, “Mother’s Day” is celebrated. I offer an affectionate greeting to the mothers of my land! 

I greet the prayer group “Raio de Luz” of Brazil; and the Fraternity of Secular Trinitarians.

There are many Italian parishes and associations, I can’t name them, but I greet all of you with affection and I thank you. 

Buona Domenica! Arrivederci, and Buon Pranzo!

Feast of Saint Artemius (Mar Shallita)

Icon of Saint Artemius the Martyr

Shalita, who is also known as Artemius, was born in the fourth century. He achieved high rank in the Roman army and was eventually given responsibility for the Roman troops stationed in Egypt. He remained a faithful Christian despite the danger of losing his position and even his life. He was summoned before the emperor in Antioch for having destroyed the temples and idols of the pagan gods. It is said that his body was taken to Constantinople by Arista, who was a deacon of the Church in Antioch. 

Cardinal Baronius inserted the name of St. Artemius in the Roman Martyrology, following the example of the Eastern church which had venerated him in spite of the fact that he was a supporter of the Arians. 

Artemius healing shrine was a great center of devotion at Constantinople. The Greek life printed in the Acta Sanctorum, which is based ultimately upon the Arian chronicler Philostorgius, states that the emperor Constantius II commissioned Artemius to convey the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Luke the Evangelist, from Achaia to Constantinople. Artemius accomplished his task and was rewarded with the appointment to the rank of dux Aegypti (360).

One year later Constantius was succeeded by his cousin Julian, who was a Pagan. The people of Alexandria accused Artemius of several atrocities, and Julian condemned him to death. Artemius was beheaded in 363 in the city of Antioch, where he had been recalled by Emperor Julian the Apostate for maladministration of his province. The charges stemmed from his persecution of pagans in Alexandria, and his use of troops in the seizure and despoliation of the Temple of Serapis instigated by George of Cappadocia. 

May the faithful prayers of Saint Shalita enlighten us. Amen. His feast day is October 20th.

Holy Gospel on the Seventh Sunday of the Cross

Saint Artemius (Mar Shallita), Martyr.

Letter to the Galatians 6:1-10. 
If anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:14-30. 
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, "Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, "Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, "Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours." But his master replied, "You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Catholic Church Statistics 2013

As every year, in view of World Mission Day, this year celebrated on Sunday, October 20, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world. The tables are taken from the latest edition of the “Church’s Book of Statistics” published regarding members of the Church, church structures, healthcare, welfare and education. Please note that variations, increase or decrease, emerging from our own comparison with last year's figures, are marked increase + or decrease – in brackets

World population
To 31 December 2011 the world population was 6,933,310,000 with an increase of 84,760,000 units compared with the previous year. Population growth was registered on every continent above all in Asia and Africa followed by America ; Europe and Oceania . Catholics On the same date Catholics in the world numbered 1,213,591,000 units with an overall increase of 17.920.000 more than the previous year. The increase affects all continents especially Africa ; America and Asia ; followed by Europe and Oceania .
The world percentage of Catholics increased by 0.04 %, settling at 17.50%. By continent: increases were registered in Africa ; Asia and Oceania , while decrease was shown in America and Europe . Persons and Catholics per priest This year the number of persons per priest in the world increased by 117 units, average 13,394. The distribution by continent: increase in America ; Europe and Oceania ; decrease in Africa ; Asia .
The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 36 units, average 2,936. There are increases on every continent except Asia: Africa ; America ; Asia ; Europe ; Oceania .

Ecclesiastical circumscriptions and mission stations 
The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions are 13 more than the previous year to 2,979 with new circumscriptions created in: Africa ; America ; Asia ; Europe ; Oceania . Mission stations with a resident priest number 1,782 and increases registered Africa ; in America and Europe . Decreases in Asia and Oceania . Mission Stations without a resident priest decreased in number by 2.229 units, to 131,453. Compared to the previous year, the only increase is registered in Asia ; whereas the number dropped in Africa ; America ; Europe and Oceania .

The total number of Bishops in the world increased by 28 units, to 5,132. Overall Diocesan Bishops increase in numbers, while Religious Bishops decrease: Diocesan bishops number 3,906 ; Religious Bishops number 1,226 . The increase in diocesan Bishops is registered on every continent: Africa ; America ; Asia ; Europe ; Oceania . The number of religious Bishops increased in Africa and Oceania ; whereas the number dropped in America ; Asia and Europe .

The total number of priests in the world increased by 1,182 units, to 413,418. The only continents which registered a decrease was again Europe and Oceania , whereas figures grew in Africa ; America and Asia . Diocesan priests increased by 1,337 units, reaching a total of 278,346 with increases in Africa ; America and Asia and a drop in Europe and Oceania . The number of Religious priests decreased by 155 units to a total 135,072. Increases were registered as in recent years in Africa ; Asia and Oceania , whereas numbers dropped in America and Europe .

Permanent Deacons
Permanent deacons in the world increased by 1,350 units to 40,914. The highest increase was registered again in America and in Europe , followed by Asia ; Oceania and Africa . Permanent Diocesan deacons in the world are 40,270, with an overall increase of 1.266 units. They increased on every continent: Africa ; America ; Asia ; Europe and Oceania .Religious permanent deacons number 644, increased by 84 units compared to the previous year, with increases in Africa ; Asia ; Europe and Oceania , the only decrease in America .

Men and women religious
The number of non-religious priests increased by 420 units to 55,085. Situation: increase in Africa and Asia . Decrease was registered in America ; Europe and Oceania . An overall decrease in the number of women religious , today 713,206, was registered by continent as follows: increase in Africa and Asia , decrease in America , Europe and Oceania .
Members of secular institutes, male and female Members of male secular institutes number 713 with an overall decrease of 34 units. At a continental level there is an increase only in Asia , decrease in Africa ; America and Europe ; and Oceania unvaried. The members of female secular institutes decreased again this year, by 1,489 units to a total of 24,564 members. The only increase in Africa ; a decrease in: America ; Asia ; Europe and Oceania .

Lay missionaries and catechists
The number of lay missionaries in the world is 381,722 units, with an overall increase of 46,220 units. Numbers increase in: Africa ; America ; Asia .Europe . The only decrease is in Oceania .
Catechists in the world decreased by 35,393 units to a total of 3,125,235. Numbers grew in Africa and Oceania , but dropped in America ; Asia and Europe .

Major seminarians
The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious also increased this year, they are globally 1,626 more candidates for priesthood, who have thus reached a total of 120.616. Increases, as occured in previous years, in Africa and Asia and this year even in Oceania ; while even this year a decrease in America  and Europe .
Major diocesan seminarians number 72,277 and Religious major seminarians 48,339 . Diocesan seminarians increased in Africa ; Asia and Oceania , decreases are in Europe and America .Religious Seminarians increased in Africa ; America and Asia , while they decreased in Europe and Oceania .

Minor seminarians
The number of minor seminarians, diocesan and religious increased by 222 units to 102,530. Overall increase in Africa and Oceania and decreased in America ; Asia and Europe . Minor diocesan seminarians number 79,350 , whereas religious seminarians number 23,180 . The number of diocesan minor seminarians has decreased in Asia ; Europe , and Oceania , but have increased in Africa and America . Religious minor seminarians increased in number only in Oceania and decreased in Africa ; America ; Asia , and Europe .

Catholic schools and Education
In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 71,482 kindergartens with 6,720,545 pupils; 94,411 primary schools with 31,939,415 pupils; 43,777 secondary schools with 18,952,976 pupils. The Church also cares for 2,494,111 high school pupils, and 3,039,684 university students. Compared to the previous year there has been an increase concerning kindergartens and concerning pupils ; primary schools and pupils ; increase in secondary schools and pupils ; there is also an increase in secondary school pupils and a decrease concerning university students .

Catholic charity and healthcare centres
Charity and healthcare centres run in the world by the Church are 117,119 and include: 5,435 hospitals most of them in America and Africa ; 17,524 dispensaries mainly in Africa ; America and Asia ; 567 Care Homes for people with Leprosy mainly in Asia and Africa ; 15,784 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability mainly in Europe and America ; 10,534 orphanages , about one third in Asia ; 11,592 creches; 15,008 marriage counselling centres mainly in America and Europe ; 40,671 social rehabilitation centres and 4 other kinds of institutions.

Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
The ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to 14 October 2013 are 1,108 with an increase of 5 circumscriptions compared to the previous year . Most of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions are mainly in Africa and in Asia . Followed by America and Oceania .

One Third of Syrian Christians Are Now Refugees

Some 450,000 Syrian Christians have fled their homes or the country, according to the country’s Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch, almost a third of the pre-war population of 1.75 million.

Speaking in central London ahead of the launch of a new report into the persecuted Church, Patriarch Gregory III Laham gave a devastating picture of life for Syrians but said that neither he nor other Christians had “hate in their heart”, despite the suffering of the community.

The Syrian Patriarch said that three Christians in Maaloula, north of Damascus had been murdered after refusing to convert to Islam. The Aramaic-speaking village is still empty and controlled by Islamist rebels after they attacked in early September, but the Patriarch said that he was hopeful that they would return to the village before Christmas.

Despite fears about an Islamist takeover if the Assad regime fell, the patriarch said that the Christian community remained neutral and said that “reconciliation” was the only way forward: “I am willing to give my life”.

He said, however, that “both sides are willing to go to the bitter end”, and joked that they should wish for a “better end”. The patriarch also said that Pope Francis’s prayers for peace had helped to stop the western powers from bombing Damascus.

The Patriarch was in London as a guest of the charity Aid to the Church in Need, which will today launch its latest report, Persecuted and Forgotten? at the House of Lords.

The report claims that persecution of Christians is getting worse around the world, especially in majority Islamic and some authoritarian Marxist states.

One of the report’s authors, said: “The principal finding of the report is that in two thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, the problems have become arguably even worse. In fact the Church’s very survival in some parts – notably the Middle East – is now at stake.”

Pope Francis' weekly General Audience on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday in St Peter’s Square. His catechetical remarks focused on the Church’s Apostolic character and nature: through the chain of leadership from Peter and the 12 that has remained unbroken down to the present day and that shall remain unbroken until the end of time; through the Church’s care for and transmission of the whole teaching of Christ; through the Church’s accomplishment in history of the mission of teaching and baptizing all nations, with which Christ entrusted the Apostles and their successors. Below, please fin the English-language summary, which was read after the Holy Father delivered his main catechesis in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In the Creed, we profess in faith that the Church is “Apostolic”. We can understand this in three ways. First, the Church is apostolic because Jesus founded her upon the Apostles whom he chose and sent forth to continue his work; thus Saint Paul compares the Church to a temple which has the Apostles as its foundation and Christ as its cornerstone (Eph 2:19-20). The Church is also apostolic because she preserves and hands down the fullness of Christ’s teaching and the means of salvation which he instituted. Finally the Church is apostolic because she accomplishes in history the mission which Christ entrusted to the Apostles: making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them his commands (cf. Mt 28:19-20). May we come to appreciate and love the Church as the place where we encounter the Risen Lord, who sends us forth as his missionaries, inviting all whom we meet to know the truth of the Gospel, the joy of faith and the promise of eternal life proclaimed by the Apostles.

I cordially greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the delegation from the NATO Defense College and the pilgrims from Norway. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Pope Francis' Sunday Homily on the Anniversary of the Virgin's Apparition at Fatima

The Pope celebrated mass in St Peter’s square this morning in honor of the Marian Day, an event organised as part of the Year of Faith on the anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima (13th of October 1917). 

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily in English translation.

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1). Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.

First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: remember Jesus Christ. If we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.

Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong.

And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.

The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realise that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”.

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.

Spiritual and Emotional Emptiness (Article in Arabic)

الفراغ الروحي والنفسي، كيف نملؤه

في إحدى الليالي جاء رجل إلى الرب يسوع وكان مثقلا بمتاعب نفسية شديدة وسأله كيف يمكنه أن يقيم علاقة شخصية مع الله؟ فأجابه يسوع الحق الحق أقول لك إن كان أحداً لا يولد من فوق، لا يقدر أن يرى ملكوت الله. فتحير الرجل، وكان اسمه نيقوديموس، من كلام المسيح وسأله كيف يمكن للإنسان أن يولد وهو شيخ؟ العله يقدر أن يدخل بطن أمه ثانيه ويولد؟ أجاب يسوع الحق الحق أقول لك إن كان أحداً لا يولد من الماء والروح لا يقدر أن يدخل ملكوت الله (يو 3 : 1 – 13).  ويشير سياق هذا الكلام بوضوح أن نيقوديموس كان في حاجة إلى معونة روحية ودعم معنوي.
يسوع و نيقوديموس

فمثلما يولد الانسان جسدياً ليدخل هذا العالم فانه لا بد أن يولد روحياً لكي يتمم ما عليه ليستعد للدخول للعالم الآتي. أن هذه القوة التي تصنع الولادة الروحية تتكون في الإنسان عندما يقبل يسوع المسيح رباً ومخلصاً، وتمده بالقوة الخارجية التي يحتاجها ليواجه أعباء مشاكله.

وعلى عكس ما يعتقد البعض فإن الرب يسوع لا يولد بطريقة اتوماتيكية في داخل الإنسان وإلا فما كانت هناك حاجة إلى هذا الميلاد الروحي، الرب يسوع خارج طبيعة الإنسان الروحية لأن الإنسان يولد خالياً من وجود الله في حياته وعن طريق الروح القدس وتعليم الإنجيل، يقرع الرب على باب الوعي الروحي قائلاً إن سمع أحد صوتي وفتح الباب ادخل واتعشى معه وهو معي (رؤ 3 : 20). ويدل وعد المسيح هذا على ان الأنسان الذي يدرك أن حياته خاليه من وجود الله وإنه متمرد على إراده الله يستطيع أن يدعوا المسيح إلى حياته. والرب يسوع لا يدخل إلى حياة أي شخص بالقوة ولكنه يدخل فقط عندما يدعوه هذا الشخص.

وعندئذ يحيا الإنسان روحياً وهذا يعطيه وعياً بوجود الله في حياته ويعطيه القوة لكي يتغلب على كل مشاكل الحياة ويحيا بقيادة الروح القدس التي بها يعرف كيف يتعامل مع العقل البشري.

الرب يسوع المسيح في الموعظة على الجبل يوضح كيف هي الطريق إلى الأبدية، "الطريق الواسع المؤدي إلى الهلاك والطريق الضيق المؤدي إلى الحياة." ونظراً لتزايد عدد التعساء من الناس في يومنا هذا أصبح من الواضح إن غالبية الناس يسيرون في الطريق الواسع المؤدي للهلاك، ليس فقط الهلاك الأبدي ولكن الهلاك النفسي والجسدي والعقلي أي هلاك الذات، وهذا هلاك مضاعف.

فالإنسان الذي يحيا حياة خاليه من الله يحصد القرارات التي اتخذتها الذات وليس الله. عندما يصل الإنسان سن المسؤولية ويصبح مدركاً للصواب والخطأ فإنه يتقدم للسير في الطريق الواسع المؤدي إلى الهلاك. وإذا توصل من خلال متاعبه العقلية والنفسية والجسدية إلى أن يدرك خلو حياته روحياً من الله فإنه قد يطلب العون الإلهي، وعند هذه النقطة من حياته يستطيع أن يقبل المسيح سيداً ومخلصاً شخصياً له. لأنه بالأيمان قد عرف حقيقة أن الرب يسوع المسيح قد جاء إلى العالم ليموت على الصليب من أجل خطاياه.

إن أعظم تعبير عن الحب عرفه العالم وسيظل يعرفه هو صليب يسوع المسيح، فعلى هذا الصليب مات إبن الله من أجل خطايا العالم كله. المسيح هو الله الظاهر في الجسد وقد ظل بلا خطيئة طيلة حياته على الأرض التي استمرت قرابة 33 عاماً. وقد حمل المسيح خطايا العالم كله، ومات لكي يتم به خلاص البشر. ولهذا قال الرب يسوع "أنا هو الطريق والحق والحياة ليس أحداً ياتي إلى الآب إلا بي" (يو 14 : 6). وبعد موت الرب يسوع أصبح صليبه جسرا لكي يتمن أولئك الذين يحيون في الطريق الواسع المؤدي الى الهلاك أن عيبروا من خلاله للحياة الرائعة مع المسيح.

Holy Gospel on the Sixth Sunday of the Cross

Letter to the Philippians 2:12-18. 
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:1-13. 
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves." And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us." But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you." Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Miracle of the Sun, Fatima 1917

As a Marian weekend takes place in the Vatican, in the context of the Year of Faith, the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be brought on Saturday 12th of October for the occasion. A statue with a precious crown which famously has the bullet with which Blessed John Paul II was shot at in Saint Peter’s Square encased in it. We may remember how the date of this attempt on his life took place on the 13th of May, the same date as that of the first apparition of Our Lady to the three Fatima shepherd children back in 1917. And how this Polish Pontiff believed it was through her intercession that his life had been spared on that occasion. Hence his symbolic gesture of encasing the bullet in the crown as a sign of thanksgiving for the grace received.

But on Saturday this statue is back in Saint Peter’s Square on another significant date regarding the Fatima apparitions : the 13th of October. The date when in 1917 Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children from the hamlet of Aljustrel for the final time, in what is known as ‘the miracle of the sun ‘ .

At the time the three children, Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, had predicted that a miracle would take place on that spot, at that particular time, “so that everyone would believe”, in a message which they had received from heaven.

The Bishop of Fatima of the day wrote in his Pastoral Letter on the Miracle: “thousands upon thousands of persons…saw all the manifestations of the sun…a phenomenon which no astronomical observatory registered and thus was not natural…persons of every category and social class, believers and unbelievers as well as journalists of the principal Portuguese newspapers..” 

Photo taken on October 13, 1917 in Fatima during the miracle of the sun

Following is the account given by Professor Almeida Garrett who happened to be present in Fatima on that great day...

"It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time

"The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.

"Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet...turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun's disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.

"During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color.

"Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible. "All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them. Finally, I must declare that never, before or after October 13 [1917], have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena."

Pope Francis' weekly General Audience on Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday. The Holy Father continued his catechetical reflections , focusing on the catholicity of the Church . The Pope also greeted pilgrims from several countries, including England, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and the United States. 

Below, is 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: In the Creed, we profess that the Church is “catholic”; in other words, she is universal. We can understand this catholicity in three ways. First, the Church is catholic because she proclaims the apostolic faith in its entirety; she is the place where we meet Christ in his sacraments and receive the spiritual gifts needed to grow in holiness together with our brothers and sisters. The Church is also catholic because her communion embraces the whole human race, and she is sent to bring to the entire world the joy of salvation and the truth of the Gospel. Finally, the Church is catholic because she reconciles the wonderful diversity of God’s gifts to build up his People in unity and harmony. Let us ask the Lord to make us more catholic – to enable us, like a great family, to grow together in faith and love, to draw others to Jesus in the communion of the Church, and to welcome the gifts and contributions of everyone, in order to create a joyful symphony of praise to God for his goodness, his grace, and his redemptive love.

I cordially greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the new students of the Pontifical Beda College. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace! 

True Religion Starts After Holy Mass (Article in Arabic)

خدمة القداس الحقيقية تبدأ عندما
نغادر الكنيسة

إن الرب يسوع في التجلي لم يلتفت إلى رجاء بطرس ليظلوا مستمرين في الصلاة على الجبل حين قال "جيد يا رب أن نكون هنا فان شئت نصنع هنا ثلاث مظال واحده لك وواحده لموسى وواحده لايليا" وفيما هو يتكلم إذا سحابة نيرة ظللتهم (متى 17)... ولكنه نزل إلى أسفل الوادي ليكمل شفاء المرضى.

ان الغرض من ارتفاعنا من خلال الصلاة والعبادة هو ان نتجلى مع الرب ثم ننزل الى وادي الحياة لننقل محبة الرب ونعمته.

يوجد جمال رائع في العباده ويوجد ابداع في الصلوات ويوجد تقليد وكرامة عظيمة في الممارسات ويوجد في بعض الكنائس هيبه كبيره في الملابس الكهنوتية والايقونات والبخور ولكن لا الملابس ولا الطقس ولا الالحان ولا الترانيم ولا.... تشكل بديلاً لتكريس قلوبنا وتقديس حياتنا ان لم يملك الرب على القلب فسوف تخفق العباده في ان تؤثر على جميع نواحي الحياة .

أليس هو الذي قال ليس كل من يقول يا رب يا رب يدخل ملكوت السموات بل الذي يفعل ارادة أبي الذي في السموات (متى 7) انها اكذوبة ان نعبد الرب بشفاهنا وليس بحياتنا إنها مراءاة، ولم يدن الرب يسوع خطية اكثر من الرياء "يا مراؤون حسناً تنبأ عنكم اشعياء قائلاً هذا الشعب يقترب الي بفمه ويكرمني بشفتيه وأما قلبه فمبتعد عني" (متى 15).

يقول الرب يسوع إذا ذهبت الى الكنيسة وتذكرت هنالك فجأة أن لأخيك شيئاً عليك فاترك الكنيسة في الحال وأذهب أولاً واصطلح مع أخيك وتعال قدم قربانك (متى 5) خذ الرب معك  وأنت في الكنيسة وخارج الكنيسة من خلال علاقاتك اليومية مع الناس دع الرب يصالحك مع أخيك مع زوجك مع زوجتك مع .... هذه هي العباده الحقيقية وان ما هو  أقل من ذلك يعتبر مضحكة وتقليد باطل.

ما هي الديانة ؟ يقول القديس يعقوب الديانة الطاهرة النقية عند الله الآب هي هذه: افتقاد اليتامى والأرامل في ضيقهم (يع 1) العبادة التي تبدأ وتنتهي داخل الكنيسه هي تسبيح للرب في الكنيسة وإن لم  تجد تعبيراً عن اعمال المحبة تكون هذه العبادة اكذوبة.

يقول أحد الآباء ان الاختبار الحقيقي للتدين هو الحياة وان كنت تريدني ان أعرف من تعبد دعني اراك في متجرك في مصنعك دعني أسمع مديحاً عنك في عملك في حارتك دعني أعرف كيف تؤجر منازلك وكيف تحصل على أموالك وكيف تحتفظ وتتصرف فيها.

إن الامتحان الحقيقي لتدينك ليست هي كلمات يسوع التي تكررها ولكنها هي حياتك اليومية اعمالك وليست أقوالك .

الله معنا خارج الكنيسة تماماً كما هو معنا داخلها نحن نمارس الديانة ليس فقط بما نفعله داخل الكنيسة ولكن ما نفعله خارج الكنيسة كيف تتكلم وبأي طريقة نعامل أزواجنا كيف نعامل زوجاتنا أولادنا وكيف نتعامل مع من يعملون تحت أمرتنا ومع أقل واحد من إخواتنا الاصاغر المريض، المسجون، العريان، الجائع والمهجور ، المداس تحت الأقدام.

في أحد الآحاد تقابل شخص متأخر عن الكينسة مع شخص آخر يغادرها وسأله هل انتهت خدمة القداس؟

فسمع الإجابة التالية : بحسب ما سمعناه اليوم وتعلمناه في كنائس

    إن خدمة القداس تبدأ عندما نغادر الكنيسة.

By Anonymous Author. 

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on October 06, 2013

Pope Francis took a moment of silent prayer on Sunday during his Angelus address for the victims of the tragic shipwreck off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. More than a hundred people are confirmed dead and hundreds more are missing after a ship carrying African migrants sank on Thursday. 

Speaking to the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s square, the Holy Father began his address by acknowledging what a gift it was to make his first visit to Assisi on the feast of Saint Francis on October 4, and gave thanks for the warm welcome he received there.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the day, the Pope spoke on the power of faith, inviting the crowds in the square to repeat several times after him: “Lord, increase our faith!” He spoke of those who are simple and humble, or who are experiencing difficulties in their lives, who nonetheless are able to do great things, and maintain a certain serenity, because of their faith. 

Pope Francis recalled how the month of October is dedicated in a particular way to missionaries, especially those who proclaim the Gospel despite great obstacles. He said, however, that each and every one of us, “in our own lives, every day, can give witness to Christ, with the strength of God, the strength of faith.”

This strength is attained through prayer. “Prayer is the breath of faith,” the Pope said. In a relationship where there is trust and love, he continued, there needs to be dialogue. “Prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God.”

The Holy Father said the month of October is also the month of the Rosary, noting how it is the tradition on the first Sunday of this month to pray to the Madonna of Pompeii, the blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary. Pope Francis said that the Rosary is “a school of prayer,” and “a school of faith!”

Following the recitation of the Angleus prayer, Pope Francis spoke of Rolando Rivi, a 14 year old seminarian martyred for the faith in 1945, who was declared Blessed on Saturday in Modena. The Pope spoke of how this young man is a great example for the youth of today. “He knew where he had to go… knew the love of Jesus in his heart, and gave his life for Him.”  Pope Francis concluded his post-Angelus address by wishing everyone a good Sunday, and a good lunch.

Holy Gospel on the Fifth Sunday of the Cross

First Letter to the Thessalonians 5:1-11. 
Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to 
Saint Matthew 24:45-51. 
‘Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, "My master is delayed", and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.