Maronite Patriarch Along With Six Other Cardinals To Catholic Education

Pope Francis on Saturday November 30, confirmed Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani as secretary, and appointed seven cardinals as members of the dicastery.

The seven cardinals include: Béchara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch; Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo; John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi; Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York; John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong; Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila; and Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. 

He also appointed the following archbishops as members of the dicastery: Beniamino Stella, prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy; Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago de Chile; Marek Jędraszewski of Łódź; and Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, secretary for seminaries for the Congregation for the Clergy.

The Pope confirmed the following cardinals as members of the dicastery: Antonio María Rouco Varela, Christoph Schönborn, Audrys Juozas Bačkis, Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, José da Cruz Policarpo, Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Josip Bozanić, Péter Erdő, Marc Ouellet, Jean-Pierre Ricard, Oswald Gracias, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Reinhard Marx, Thomas Christopher Collins, Willem Jacobus Eijk, Leonardo Sandri, Gianfranco Ravasi, Fernando Filoni, João Braz de Aviz, and Edwin Frederick O'Brien. 

He also confirmed the following archbishops as members of the dicastery: Alfredo Horacio Zecca, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and Charles Morerod.

Pope Francis Gives Maronite Patriarch a new Appointment

On Saturday, November 30, 2013, Pope Francis Appointed Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Beshara Peter Rahi as member in the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vatican for five years. The main activities of this congregation are to spread the principles of Catholic education and apply it in the Catholic schools, universities and seminaries. 

This congregation has the power to authorize the establishment of canonic universities and institutes, to organize its laws and regulations, and to preserve the Catholic doctrinal education within such centres, and to promote collaboration and communication between them.

Cardinal Al Rahi is also member in several congregations, among them the Council for Oriental Churches, the Papal Council for Media, the Papal Council for Expatriates and others.

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, November 27, 2013

During his Wednesday general audience in a freezing cold St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke about the way our Christian faith helps us understand death and brings us the hope of Resurrection. If we remain close to God in our lives, especially in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, he said, “we need not fear death but rather welcome it as the door to heaven and to the joy of eternal life.”
Below is a summary of Pope Francis’ words, read by an assistant in English at his Wednesday general audience: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the resurrection of the body”. Christian faith illumines the mystery of death and brings the hope of the resurrection. Death challenges all of us: apart from belief in God and a vision of life as something greater than earthly existence, death appears as wholly tragic; we misunderstand it, fear and deny it. Yet human beings were made for something greater; we yearn for the infinite, the eternal. Christ’s resurrection not only offers us the certainty of life beyond death, it also shows us the true meaning of death. We die as we live: if our lives were lived in loving union with God, we will be able to abandon ourselves serenely and confidently into his hands at the moment of our death. Our Lord frequently tells us to be watchful, knowing that our life in this world is a preparation for the life to come. If we remain close to him, especially through charity to the poor and solidarity with those in need, we need not fear death, but rather welcome it as the door to heaven and to the joy of eternal life.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, the Philippines and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace! 

Watch the video:

Pope Francis' Homily and Sunday Angelus Message on the Closing of the Year of the Faith. November 24, 2013

Unprecedented moment...Pope Francis holds Saint Peter's remains while
 the faithful pray the Creed

Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on Sunday to mark the Solemnity of Christ the King and close the Year of Faith proclaimed by his predecessor, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. Below, is the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long. 

I offer a cordial greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price. With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord. 

The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ as the centre of creation, the centre of his people and the centre of history. 

1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20). 
This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. When this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves. 

2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them. Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny. 

3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of the human race and of every man and woman. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel. 

While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. 

Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom! Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. 

Angelus Prayer
Then after the mass, Pope Francis dedicated the Sunday Angelus to persecuted and suffering Christians around the world. He prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square to close the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. In brief remarks before the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis greeted the pilgrims who had come from all around the world to take part in the celebrations. 

He also had special greetings for the Ukrainian community, which is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor - the great famine provoked by the Soviet Union, in which many millions of people perished. Pope Francis also expressed gratitude to missionaries who throughout the history of the Church have taken the Good News to the ends of the Earth. Below, is the translation of Pope Francis' remarks.

Before concluding this celebration, I wish to greet all the pilgrims, families, Church groups, movements and associations, who have come from many countries. Greetings also go to the participants of the National Congress of Mercy; I also greet the Ukrainian community, which is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, the "great hunger" caused by the Soviet regime, which caused millions victims.

On this day, our gratitude goes to the missionaries who, over the centuries, have proclaimed the Gospel and spread the seed of faith in many parts of the world, among them Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan missionary, whose 300th birthday we are marking this Sunday.

I would not like to conclude without a word of thanks to all those who worked so hard during this Year of Faith: to Archbishop Rino Fisichella [President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization], who guided this journey. I heartily thank him and all his co-workers. Many thanks! 

Now let us pray the Angelus together. With this prayer, we invoke the protection of Mary, especially for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because of their faith.

Watch the video:

Maronite Patriarch Celebrates Lebanese Independence Day in Rome

Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi has celebrated Lebanese Independence Day in Rome, Italy during a ceremony hosted by the Lebanese Ambassador to Italy and with the participation of the Italian Speaker of the Senate, the Army Commander and the secretary of State representing the Italian Government. Also were present Patriarchs and Heads of Catholic Oriental Churches as well as several Arab and foreign countries Ambassadors to Italy.

During his speech, Cardinal Al Rahi congratulated the Lebanese President and people on this day, remembering the Patriotic role of Patriarch Elias Al Hoayek in 1920 prior to the announcement of the State of Greater Lebanon, as well as the important role played by Patriarch Antoine Arida in 1943 in the declaration of the independence of Lebanon and the end of the french Mandate.

The Maronite Patriarch also relayed Pope Francis' salute to all Lebanese people as the holy father was holding the day before an assembly with the Heads of the Catholic Churches about the Middle East and Christians. Cardinal Al Rahi added that Lebanon will be celebrating a dear occasion in 7 years, in 2020 which will commemorate the declaration of the State of greater Lebanon and its independence.

He also called for parliamentary elections with a new electoral law as well as presidential elections on next spring and the formation of a new Government. The Patriarch concluded by recalling the importance of Lebanon in the region and its strong ties with the Vatican and Italy.

Pope Francis Meets with Patriarchs and Heads of Middle East Catholic Churches

Pope Francis appealed for universal respect of the basic right to religious liberty on Thursday, especially in lands where Christian communities constitute struggling minorities. The call came in the second of two related addresses to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of Eastern Churches, who are in Rome this week for the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and to the full body of participants in the Assembly. In his remarks to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops, the Holy Father thanked his brothers for their visit, saying their coming together gives him the opportunity to renew his esteem for the spiritual patrimony of Eastern Christianity.

Citing the words of his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the post-Synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in medio oriente (nn. 39-40), Pope Francis said, “[You are] watchful guardians of communion and servants of Ecclesial unity,” adding, “that union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome’.” Pope Francis went on to say, “In order that our witness be credible, we are called ever to seek justice, mercy, faith, charity, patience and meekness.”

The Holy Father also delivered a separate address to all the participants in the Congregation’s Plenary Assembly, which is looking at the Eastern Churches a half century on from the II Vatican Ecumenical Council. Pope Francis spoke of his joy at the new growth and flowering of the Churches that spent long decades of oppression under Communist regimes, and also of the perseverance of the Churches in the Middle East, which often live as “little flocks” in areas signed by hostility and conflict. Pope Francis’ thoughts turned in a particular way, “To that blessed land in which Christ lived, died and rose again. “Every Catholic,” he said, “owes a debt of gratitude to the Churches living [there].” The Pope specifically mentioned the plight of Christians in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, saying that there and elsewhere throughout the region there is often too much cause for weeping. 

“The Bishop of Rome will not rest,” he said, “so long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and displaced persons.” He went on to say, “Today, along with the pastors of the Churches of the East, we make an appeal: that the right of all [people] to a decent life and to freely profess their faith be respected.”

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pope Francis on Wednesday called on priests to be servants of the Sacrament of Forgiveness. Speaking to the the faithful during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said the Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives, calling us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension. 

He said that we receive forgiveness through priests who are the servants of this sacrament, and that they must recognise - he said - that they too are are in need of forgiveness and healing and thus they must excercise their ministry in humilty and mercy. 

Below, are Pope Francis' remarks to English speaking pilgrims, read out in English by an assistant:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today I would like to speak again on the forgiveness of sins by reflecting on the power of the keys, which is a biblical symbol of the mission Jesus entrusted to the Apostles. First and foremost, we recall that the source of the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit, whom the Risen Jesus bestowed upon the Apostles. Hence, he made the Church the guardian of the keys, of this power. 

The Church, however, is not the master of forgiveness, but its servant. The Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives and calls us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension. We receive forgiveness through the priest. Through his ministry, God has given us a brother to bring us forgiveness in the name of the Church. Priests, who are the servants of this sacrament, must recognize that they also are in need of forgiveness and healing, and so they must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy. Let us then remember always that God never tires of forgiving us. Let us truly value this sacrament and rejoice in the gift of pardon and healing that comes to us through the ministry of priests.

At the end of the General audience, Pope Francis recalled that tomorrow, November 21, is the date upon which we celebrate “Pro Orantibus Day” marking the liturgical feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Temple.

The day is dedicated to those who belong to contemplative religious orders, and the Pope said “It's a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work".

"Let us give thanks to the Lord - he added – for their testimonies of cloistered life” and he urged the faithful to lend their spiritual and material support to these brothers and sisters of ours “so that they can carry out their important mission". Tomorrow afternoon Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a Camaldolese monastery of cloistered nuns on the Aventine Hill where he will celebrate Vespers. 

And the Pope went on to remind those present that November 22 is the date upon which the International Year of Family Farming will be inaugurated. The initiative promoted by the United Nations and other organizations aims to become a tool to stimulate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based farmer families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families.

Commending the initiative, Pope Francis said that "it highlights the countless benefits that family farming contributes to economic growth, to social solidarity, to respect for creation and to the moral fibre of the entire community”.

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on November 17, 2013

At his Angelus address Pope Francis warned the faithful not to be taken in by false saviours or leaders in our world who seek to influence the minds of people, especially the young. He also urged solidarity with the many Christians undergoing persecution throughout the world, praising their courage and testimony. The Pope’s Angelus reflections were taken from this Sunday’s gospel reading where Jesus warns his disciples of the future trials and tribulations they will face along with the false prophets they will encounter en route. The Pope said the two main messages contained here are: “Firstly, do not be taken in by false messiahs and don’t be paralysed by fear . Secondly, live this time of waiting as a time of witness and perseverance.”

He told the faithful that this message from Jesus is just as valid in our present time and encourages us to show "discernment. " “Nowadays,” he continued, “there are many false saviours who try to substitute Jesus, leaders in this world, fake saints and personalities who wish to influence the hearts and minds of people, especially the young.” But Jesus warns us, said the Pope: “Don’t follow them.” At the same time, Jesus also helps us not to be afraid when faced with "wars, revolutions and natural disasters."

Quoting from Christ’s warning to his disciples about “the painful trials and persecutions” facing Christians , the Pope said these trials are an opportunity for witness and stressed they should not cause us to move away from the Lord. Let us spare a thought, he continued, for "our many Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution because of their faith. There are so many of them. Maybe, many more than in the early centuries.” “We admire their courage and testimony.”

In his address after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted that Sunday was the World Day in memory of the Victims of Road Accidents and urged drivers to be prudent and respect the rules, saying this helps to protect both the driver and other road users. He concluded by holding up a small box containing 59 threaded beads of the rosary and urging those in the crowd to collect a box from the volunteers distributing it as they left St. Peter’s Square. The Pope described it as “a spiritual medicine,” saying it helps “our souls” and helps “to spread love, forgiveness and fraternity.”

من وحي الروح القدس
عن الأيام الأخيرة كما ترد في الكتاب المقدس

تتردد في الكتاب المقدس عبارة "الروح يقول" وهنا نتوقف لنتأمل فيما يوحى لنا من ذلك. ما معنى أن الروح يتكلم؟ اذا كان الروح القدس يتكلم فذلك يعني أن الروح شخصية وأقنوم وليس مجرد طاقة أو قوة كما يعلّم بعض المضللين. وأن كان الروح القدس يتكلم فمعنى ذلك أن الله يتكلم. وعندما يتكلم الله فمن الضروري أن نفتح أذاننا وقلوبنا لئلا نؤخذ على حين غره.

يقول أشعيا النبي في فاتحة نبوأته: "إسمعي أيتها السموات وأصغي أيتها الأرض لأن الرب يتكلم" (أش 1 : 2). وان قوله "ولكن الروح يقول صريحاً" معناه أن الروح يتكلم بوضوح. ولماذا يتكلم بوضوح؟ لأنه يريدنا أن نعي ما يقوله لكي نستعد قبل فوات الفرصة.

ولكن عما يتكلم الروح؟ إن روح الله يتكلم عن المستقبل. فالروح القدس هو الله وإلا كيف يعرف المستقبل؟ وان كان روح الله ينبئنا بالمستقبلات فلا حاجه بنا إلى السحرة والعرافين وقارئي الكف والفنجان لكي يطلعونا على الآتيات، فالعرافة والسحر واستحضار الأرواح والتنجيم وسواها إنما هي من روح غير روح الله. إنها من إبليس والأرواح الشريرة، وكل من يستعملها أو يلجأ إليها لا يعرف الله إلا بالكلام واللسان .

يتكلم الروح القدس في مواضيع اخرى من كلمة الله عن أمور هامة جدا.ً إنه يتكلم عن أزمنة أخيرة وعسيرة وشريرة، ولكن الروح يقول صريحا أنه في الأزمنة الأخيرة، يرتد قوم عن الايمان. فما هو المقصود بالأزمنة الأخيرة؟ وجواب السؤال ممكن اكتشافه بمقارنه آيات الكتاب المقدس التي تتحدث عن نفس الموضوع. بولس الرسول في (2 ثيمو 3 : 2) يورد عبارة "الأزمنة الآخيرة" وفي رسالته الثانية إلى تيموثاوس يستعمل عبارة "الأيام الأخيرة" وهي نفس العبارة التي يستعملها كاتب الرسالة إلى العبرانين "الله بعدما كلم الآباء بالأنبياء قديماً بأنواع وطرق كثيرة كلمنا نحن في هذه الأيام الأخيرة بابنه." والرسول بولس استخدم في الإصحاح الأول من رسالته عبارة "الزمان الأخير" متحدثاً عن رجوع الرب يسوع ثانية إلى العالم. وفي موعظته الشهيرة في يوم حلول الروح القدس على التلاميذ اقتبس قول يوئيل النبي على النحو التالي : "يقول الله ويكون في الأيام الأخيرة إني أسكب من روحي على كل بشر" (اع 2 : 16). وقصد الأيام الأخيرة التي كان احدها يوم حلول الروح القدس على التلاميذ.

ويقول الرسول بطرس (2 بط 3 : 3) أنه سيأتي في آخر الأيام قوم مستهزئون في حين يقول يهوذا أنه في الزمان الأخير سيكون قوم مستهزئون  (يه 18). أما الرسول يوحنا فيتحدث عن الساعة الأخيرة والانبياء الذين سبقوا المسيح استخدموا اقوالاً مماثله للإشارة إلى الفقرة نفسها من التاريخ البشري.

أشعياء استعمل عبارة آخر الأيام (أش 2 : 2) ميخا النبي (4 : 1) حزقيال استخدم عبارة السنين الأخيرة (38 : 8) وأيضاً الأيام الأخيرة (حز 38 : 16) ودانيال استخدم وقت النهاية (11 : 35 ، 40) نهاية الأيام (1 : 18).

إن الأزمنة الاخيرة هي تلك الفترة من التاريخ التي تقع بين المجيء الأول ليسوع المسيح ومجيئه الثاني، أي المرحلة الممتدة بين المهد والمجد أو بين الفداء والقضاء. إن الأيام الأخيرة هي أيام لها آخر ولها نهاية. بهذا المعنى يتكلم بطرس الرسول قائلاً: إنما نهاية كل شيء قد اقتربت (1 بط 4 : 7). يقول "كل شيء" أي كل شيء أرضي دنيوي مادي بما في ذلك العوالم المحيطة بالأرض. ومعنى هذا أن العالم له نهاية والتاريخ له نهاية ويوم الشر له نهاية، لأن هيئة هذا العالم ستزول والرب يسوع قال ان "السماء والأرض تزولان" (متى 24).

والعهد الجديد يؤكد هذه الحقيقة في سفر الرؤيا حيث نقرأ عن الضربات التي ستحل بالأرض مع ما يحيط بها. وبنفس السفر نقرأ أن الله يقول "ها أنا اصنع كل شيء جديد" (رؤ 21 : 5) . فالخليقة الآن تئن وتتمخض منتظرة ساعة الفرج وسبب الأنين والمخاض هو اللعنة التي حلت بالأرض والخليقة جراء خطيئة الإنسان. وفي سفر الرؤيا الإصحاح العاشر "لا يكون زمان بعد"، أي أن الزمان على وشك الإنتهاء وبانتهاء الزمن تبدأ الأبدية.

 وهنا أنا أسألك اليوم أين ستكون أبديتك؟

أذكر أيها الإنسان أن العمر قصير مهما طال وان فرصة التوبة والخلاص محدودة وان روح الله لا يدين الإنسان إلى الأبد وان الرب لن يبطئ في قدومه وان الدينونة قريبة ورهيبة وان جهنم حقيقية حتى لو سخرت منها.

هل أنت مستعد لذلك اليوم؟  لتلك الساعة؟.
هل تبت عن خطاياك وآمنت بقلبك بالرب يسوع؟
هل اختبرت الولادة الجديدة بعمل الروح القدس ودم يسوع؟.
هل ستكون بين المؤمنين الحقيقين الذين سيخطفون من الأرض لملاقاة الرب ؟.

لا ننسى أن الاستعداد للمجيء الثاني يتوقف كلياً على الإيمان بعمل المجيء الأول. فكل ما عليك أن تعمله هو أن تعزم بكل قلبك على التوبة عن خطاياك وتضع ثقتك بعمل المسيح لأنه مات نيابة عنك. وأن تعزم أن تعيش حياة القداسة التي بدونها لن يرى أحد الرب. 

ولكن الروح يقول صريحاً أنه في الأزمنة الأخيرة يرتد قوم عن الايمان تابعين ارواحاً مضلة وتعاليم شياطين (1 تيمو 4 : 1).

By Anonymous Author

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pope Francis called on the faithful Wednesday to humbly ask forgiveness every time they sin. As part of his catechesis during this Wednesday's General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said, like Baptism, which washes away original sin and personal sin, the Sacrament of Confession can “open the door to a new life” as the merciful God “enters our lives.” The Pope invited Catholics to renew the grace of Baptism by going to Confession often and with a contrite heart: “The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”

Pope Francis also expressed great sadness over the tragic loss of innocent lives in the conflict in Syria, particularly the deaths this week of a number of school children in a Damascus suburb. He said in a written text: "I heard with deep sorrow that two days ago in Damascus, mortar fire killed several children and their bus driver as they were returning home from school. Other children were injured. Let us pray that these tragedies do not occur! In these days we are praying and uniting our forces to help our brothers and sisters struck by the typhoon in the Philippines. These are the true battles to fight. For life! Never for death!"

Below, is Pope Francis' remarks to English speaking pilgrims, read out in English by an assistant:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today I would like to continue our catechesis on the Creed by turning to the Sacrament of Baptism. Each Sunday when making our Profession of Faith, we pray: I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Let us look at each of these words. I confess – This solemn declaration highlights the importance of Baptism and affirms our identity as children of God. In the Sacrament, our faith is also linked to the remission of sins. When we confess our sins, we renew and strengthen our Baptismal identity. Baptism, then, is the point of departure for a lifelong journey of conversion sustained by the Sacrament of Penance. One Baptism – The word Baptism literally means immersion. Through the Sacrament, we are immersed spiritually in the death of Jesus Christ and we rise with him as a new creation. Regenerated by water and the Holy Spirit, we are illuminated by grace which dispels the darkness of sin. For the forgiveness of sins – Baptism forgives original sin and personal sin. The door to a new life is opened and the mercy of God enters our lives. But human weakness remains. The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on November 10, 2013

During the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis focused on Sunday’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus tackled the Sadducees, those who denied that there could be a resurrection. The Sadducees, Pope Francis said, put the following question to Jesus, in an attempt to ridicule the belief in resurrection: “A woman has had seven husbands, who died one after the other. Now at the resurrection, whose wife will that woman be?” First of all, the Pope said, Jesus explains that life after death has different parameters from our life on earth: eternal life is a different life, in a dimension where, among other things, matrimony will no longer exist. The risen, Jesus says, will be like angels, and they will live in a different state of being, which we cannot achieve or even imagine right now.

But then, Pope Francis continued, Jesus counterattacks, so to speak: He finds proof of the resurrection in the episode of Moses and the burning bush, where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. The name of God, Pope Francis explained, is tied to the names of the men and women to whom He ties Himself, and this tie is stronger than death. This is why Jesus affirms: “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to Him” (Luke 20:38). And the most important tie is with Jesus: He is the Alliance, He is the Life and the Resurrection, because with His crucified love He defeated death. In Jesus, the Pope said, God gives us eternal life: He gives it to everyone, and everyone, thanks to Him, can hope to live a life even more real than this one. The life that God has in store for us is not simply a better version of this one: it goes beyond our imagination, because God continually surprises us with His love and mercy.

Therefore, Pope Francis explained, what will happen is exactly the opposite of what the Sadducees expected. This life cannot be the standard for eternity: it is eternity, on the contrary, that illuminates our life on earth, and gives each of us hope. If we only look through human eyes, the Pope continued, we tend to say that the path of man goes from life towards death. But Jesus turns this perspective on its head, and affirms that our pilgrimage goes from death towards a fuller life. So, the Pope concluded, death is behind us, not in front of us. In front of us is the God of the living, the definitive defeat of sin and death, the start of a new time of joy and endless light. But already on this earth – in prayers, in Sacraments, in fraternity – we encounter Jesus and his love, and so we can get a small taste of the risen life. 

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Holy Gospel on the Sunday of the Renewal of the Church

Letter to the Hebrews 9:11-15. 
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 10:22-42. 
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’ The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, "I said, you are gods"? If those to whom the word of God came were called "gods" and the scripture cannot be annulled can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, "I am God’s Son"? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, November 06, 2013

At his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of catechetical reflections on the Creed, focusing again this week on the Communion of Saints. The Pope also remarked that the Church cannot grow through detachment, but through love. In his continuing catechesis on the Creed, Pope Francis turned this attention again this week to the “the communion of saints” which he said was a communion not only of persons, but also of spiritual goods. 

Through our sharing in those goods, the Pope continued, we grow in communion with Christ and with the Church. He then focused on what he called “these three spiritual treasures: the sacraments, charisms and charity. In the sacraments, the Pope explained “we encounter Christ in all his saving power, we are confirmed in the joy of faith, and sent forth to share with others the joy of salvation.” In off the cuff remarks in Italian, the Holy Father also underlined how important it is to take communion, and the importance of baptizing children early because he said “this is the presence of Jesus Christ in us, who helps us.”

The Holy Father continuing on this theme went on to stress how vital it is we go to confession. He also added, we should not be afraid of the priest scolding us because it is Jesus we meet in the sacrament of reconciliation and he forgives us. Focusing on the second spiritual treasure, charisms, Pope Francis said that through the variety of charisms, the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit, we help to build up the Church in unity, holiness and service. 

Then moving on to the third spiritual treasure, charity, the Pope said that those who do not have this virtue, do not serve the Church. On the subject of Charity, the Holy Father speaking in Italian, asked the faithful in St Peter’s Square to pray as an act of goodness, for a little girl aged one and a half who he met before the Audience. The Pope told them she was very sick. Let us pray, he said for this beautiful little girl. In his concluding his remarks, Pope Francis said “we are here for one another”. The Church cannot grow if people are detached, cold and bad humoured. The Church, he added can only grow through love. Following his catechesis, the Holy Father greeted English speaking pilgrims who had come from as far away as the United States and Australia.

Below is the translation of Pope Francis' Remarks:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the communion of saints” as a communion not only of persons but also of spiritual goods. Through our sharing in those goods, we grow in communion with Christ and with the members of his body, the Church. Today let us consider three of these spiritual treasures: the sacraments, charisms and charity. In the sacraments, we encounter Christ in all his saving power, are confirmed in the joy of faith, and sent forth to share with others the joy of salvation. Through the variety of charisms, the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit, we help to build up the Church in unity, holiness and service. In charity, all these spiritual gifts find their fulfillment; everything is ordered to our growth in God’s love. Let us ask the Lord to increase our communion in these spiritual goods, so that we can live ever more fully our Christian vocation in union with him and as joyful signs of his saving love, present and at work in our midst.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Japan and the United States. In a special way I greet the priests from England celebrating the anniversaries of their ordination. I also thank the choirs present for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace! 

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on November 03, 2013

At his Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel account of the conversion of Zacchaeus. The Holy Father recalled that Zacchaeus, a man “short in stature,” because he was a publican “was a lost sheep, despised, ‘excommunicated’ . . . a friend of the hated Roman occupiers, a thief and an exploiter.”

Nonetheless, although he was far away from Jesus, he climbed a tree in order to be able to see the Master as He passed by. Although it seemed ridiculous, the Pope said, “this exterior act expressed the interior act of a man who sought to bring himself beyond the crowd to come into contact with Jesus.” Although Zacchaeus himself probably did not recognize the significance of his action, Jesus, when He passed by, called Zacchaeus by name. “This man of short stature, rejected by all and far from Jesus, was like one lost in anonymity; but Jesus calls him, and his name has a significance full of allusions: Zacchaeus, in fact, means ‘God remembers’.”

Jesus, calling Zaccahaeus and going to his house, is criticised by the people of Jericho. Why, the Pope asked, with so many good people in Jericho, did Jesus go to the house of that publican? It was precisely because Zacchaeus was ‘lost.’ “There is no occupation or social condition,” Pope Francis said, “no sin or crime of any kind, that could erase from the memory and the heart of God even one of His children.” God is a Father, always keeping a watchful and loving vigil “to see reborn in the hearts of the child the desire to return home. And when He recognizes that desire, even simply stated, He is immediately close by, and with His forgiveness He makes the path of conversion and return easier.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us also call upon the name Jesus!” Pope Francis said, concluding his Angelus address. “In the depths of the heart, let us listen to His voice that says to us: ‘Today I must stay at your house,’ that is in your life. And let us welcome Him with joy: He can change us, can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, He can liberate us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love.”

Holy Gospel on Sunday of the Consecration of the Church

Letter to the Hebrews 9:1-12. 
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail. Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties; but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper, but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right. But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 16:13-20. 
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Holy Gospel on the Feast of All Saints

Letter to the Hebrews 12:18-24. 
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 5:1-12. 
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.