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Friday, 15 September 2017

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Pope at Mass: 'Cross of Christ is mystery of love'
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated his first daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday following the summer break, reflecting on the Cross of Christ as the mystery of love. Listen to Devin Watkins' report: On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Pope Francis during his homily at daily Mass preached on the "mystery of love" that is the Cross of Christ and warned against two spiritual temptations related to it. The first temptation, he said, is to think of Christ without a cross or to reduce him a "spiritual teacher". The second, he said, is to think of a cross without Christ or to remove all hope in a type of "spiritual masochism". Pope Francis said the Liturgy speaks of the Cross as a noble and faithful tree, pointing out that it is not always easy to understand the Cross. "We advance in the mystery of love only through contemplation," he said. Mystery of the Cross In the day's Gospel, Jesus explains the Cross to Nicodemus with the verbs "to go up" and "to come down". "Jesus comes down from Heaven to raise all of us up to Heaven. This is the mystery of the Cross," he said. In the First Reading, St. Paul says that Jesus "humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." "Jesus' descent is to the lowest point, even unto humiliation. He emptied himself for love, and because of this God exalted him and made him go up. Only if we succeed in understanding this complete descent can we understand the salvation which this mystery of love offers us." Two temptations Pope Francis pointed out that true understanding is not easy, because there is always the temptation to aim for one goal instead of the other. St. Paul rebukes the Galatians for "giving in to the temptation not to enter the mystery of love but to explain it". As the serpent had bewitched Eve and had poisoned the Israelites in the desert, Pope Francis said the Galatians were bewitched "by the illusion of a Christ without a cross and a cross without Christ." "A Christ without a cross is not the Lord: he is a teacher, nothing else. This is perhaps what Nicodemus, without realizing it, was seeking. It is one of the temptations. Yes, Jesus: 'What a good teacher', but… without the cross, [only] Jesus. Who bewitched you with this image? Paul is angry. Jesus Christ is presented but not as crucified. The other temptation is a cross without Christ, that is, the anguish of remaining down, depressed by the weight of sin and without hope. This is a type of spiritual masochism: only the cross, without hope and without Christ." Mystery of love Pope Francis said the Cross without a Christ would be a "mystery of tragedy", like a pagan tragedy. "The Cross is a mystery of love; the Cross is faithful; the Cross is noble. Today we should take a minute to ask ourselves these questions. Is Christ crucified a mystery of love? Do I follow Jesus without a cross: a spiritual teacher who fills me with consolation and good counsel? Do I follow a cross without Jesus, without complaining, with this masochism of the spirit? Do I let myself be carried by this mystery of lowering, that is, of total emptying and lifting up of the Lord?" Pope Francis concluded with the wish that the Lord grant His grace, not just to understand, but to enter into this mystery of love "with the heart, mind, and body. Totally." (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis urges new Bishops to cultivate discernment
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday urged Bishops to cultivate what he called an "attitude of listening" and to avoid being "imprisoned by nostalgia." Addressing Catholic Bishops from across the globe who have been appointed during the past year, the Pope focused on the need for discernment.      The Bishops have just completed an annual training programme organized by the Congregation for Bishops.    "Authentic discernment," the Pope said, "although definitive at every step, is always an open and necessary process, and can be completed and enriched". Insisting that discernment "can't be reduced to repeating formulas" Francis  pointed out that it is, in fact, an "antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions aren't valid everywhere."  You must  have the courage  to ask yourself whether yesterday's proposals are still evangelically valid, the Pope said to the new Bishops, highlighting the importance for all pastors to not be stuck in the margins but to have the capacity of "evaluating God's times."     Saying that the gift of discernment cannot be taken for granted, he described it as the primary condition upon which to draw as the Bishops strive to "discern the paths of God" for the salvation of those entrusted to them. The practice recommended by the Pope for achieving the right kind of balance in personal and ecclesiastical behavior is that of deep and regular prayer. He also pointed out that discernment is not a private exercise by an individual priest, but an activity that unfolds in a community. "The Bishop is not the 'self-sufficient father-patron' and still less the frightened and isolated 'solitary pastor" he said. Those to be consulted in the attempt to reach the right decisions, he continued, are the bishops' own brother Bishops, their priests and the lay faithful. Real people in concrete situations, he explained, wish to "draw from the treasure of the Church what's most useful for the 'today' of their salvation". And insisting on the need for all clergy to always keep contact with ordinary people he warned that without such an exchange "the faith of the most cultivated can degenerate into indifference, and that of the humblest into superstition." Pope Francis also called on bishops to be attentive to the "the culture of religiosity of the people" noting that popular piety is often the "foundation of a people's self-understanding," and that discernment has to enter into dialogue with it. "Remember that God was already present in your diocese before you got there" he told the new Bishops, "and he'll still be there when you leave". (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope contemplates Our Lady of Sorrows at Santa Marta Mass
Pope Francis' homily at the Mass in the Casa Santa Marta this morning focused on the figure of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast day the Church celebrates on September 15th. Contemplating the Mother of Jesus We need to contemplate the Mother of Jesus, said the Pope, we need to contemplate "this sign of contradiction, because Jesus is victorious, but upon the Cross". This is a contradiction, he said, that we can't understand. "It takes faith to understand it, at least to come close (to understanding) this mystery". The first disciple Mary knew and lived her whole life with a pierced heart. "She followed Jesus and heard the people's comments, sometimes for Him, sometimes against. But she was always right behind her Son. That's why we call her the first disciple". It was Mary's concern, continued Pope Francis, that brought about this "sign of contradiction" in her heart. At the foot of the Cross She was there at the end, in silence, at the foot of the Cross, watching her Son. Perhaps she heard comments like: "Look, there's the Mother of one of the three criminals". But, said the Pope, she "showed her face for her Son". "Behold your children" Pope Francis said he was offering these few and simple words to help us contemplate this mystery in silence. In this moment, beneath the Cross, Mary gave birth to the Church and to all of us: "Woman", says her Son, 'behold your children". He doesn't say "Mother", he says "Woman". This strong and courageous Woman was there to say: "This is my Son. I do not deny Him". A call to contemplation More than a call to reflection, said Pope Francis, today's Gospel is a call to contemplation. "May the Holy Spirit", he concluded, "be the one to tell each one of us that which we need (to hear)".    (from Vatican Radio)...
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