April 24, 2014

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- THE POPE RECEIVES THE PRIME MINISTER OF ALBANIA

- STATEMENT OF THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE

- BUDDHISTS AND CHRISTIANS: TOGETHER FOSTERING FRATERNITY

- POPE FRANCIS: DO NOT SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD

- POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

- CARDINAL OUEDRAOGO TAKES POSSESSION OF HIS TITULAR CHURCH

- AUDIENCES

- OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

- HOLY WEEK:

- CHRISM MASS: ANOINTED WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS

- MASS “IN CENA DOMINI” AT THE DON GNOCCHI CENTRE

- VIA CRUCIS: A GLORIOUS CROSS LIKE DAWN FOLLOWING A LONG NIGHT

- HOLY SATURDAY: RETURN TO THE PLACE OF THE FIRST CALL

- EASTER SUNDAY: LOVE LETS HOPE FLOURISH IN THE DESERT

- EASTER MONDAY: MARIA, MOTHER OF HOPE

THE POPE RECEIVES THE PRIME MINISTER OF ALBANIA

Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the prime minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the Parties remarked upon the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Albania, and focused on themes of common interest regarding the relations between the ecclesial and civil communities, including interreligious dialogue and the contribution of the Church to the common good of Albanian society.

Attention then turned to the principal regional issues and Albania’s progress towards full integration within the European Union.

STATEMENT OF THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE

Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – This morning the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., issued the following statement:

“Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral relationships. Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities, no information is to be expected from the Holy See Press Office. That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion. Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences”.

BUDDHISTS AND CHRISTIANS: TOGETHER FOSTERING FRATERNITY

Vatican City, April 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, have signed the message that this dicastery sends each year to followers of Buddhism on the festival of Vesakh.

Vesakh is the principal Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May; therefore, the date on which Vesakh is celebrated varies from year to year and from country to country. On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism.

This year's message is entitled: “Buddhists and Christians: Together Fostering Fraternity”. Extensive extracts from the text are published below:

“Our cordial greetings this year are inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace 2014, entitled Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace. There, Pope Francis observes that 'fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace.

Your religious tradition inspires the conviction that friendly relations, dialogue, the sharing of gifts, and the respectful and harmonious exchange of views lead to attitudes of kindness and love which in turn generate authentic and fraternal relationships. You are also convinced that the root of all evil is the ignorance and misunderstanding born of greed and hatred, which in turn destroy the bonds of fraternity. Unfortunately, 'daily acts of selfishness, which are at the root of so many wars and so much injustice', prevent us from seeing others 'as beings made for reciprocity, for communion and self-giving'.

As Buddhists and Christians, we live in a world all too often torn apart by oppression, selfishness, tribalism, ethnic rivalry, violence and religious fundamentalism, a world where the 'other' is treated as an inferior, a non-person, or someone to be feared and eliminated if possible. Yet, we are called, in a spirit of cooperation with other pilgrims and with people of good will, to respect and to defend our shared humanity in a variety of socio-economic, political and religious contexts. Drawing upon our different religious convictions, we are called especially to be outspoken in denouncing all those social ills which damage fraternity; to be healers who enable others to grow in selfless generosity, and to be reconcilers who break down the walls of division and foster genuine brotherhood between individuals and groups in society.

Our world today is witnessing a growing sense of our common humanity and a global quest for a more just, peaceful and fraternal world. But the fulfilment of these hopes depends on a recognition of universal values. We hope that interreligious dialogue will contribute, in the recognition of the fundamental principles of universal ethics, to fostering a renewed and deepened sense of unity and fraternity among all the members of the human family. Indeed, 'each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths to dialogue and not by constructing new walls! Let us dialogue and meet each other in order to establish a culture of dialogue in the world, a culture of encounter!'.

To build a world of fraternity, it is vitally important that we join forces to educate people, particularly the young, to seek fraternity, to live in fraternity and to dare to build fraternity. We pray that your celebration of Vesakh will be an occasion to rediscover and promote fraternity anew, especially in our divided societies”.

POPE FRANCIS: DO NOT SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD

Vatican City, April 2014 (VIS) – “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”. With this question Pope Francis began his first catechesis following Holy Week, on the feast of St. George, the Holy Father's name day. He continued, “How often we look for life among dead things, things that cannot give life, that are here today and gone tomorrow!”.

The Pope explained that these words help us “when we close ourselves within any form of selfishness or complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by earthly powers and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbour; when we place our trust in worldly vanities, in money, in success”, and he commented that for us, as for Thomas and Mary Magdalene, “it is not easy to open oneself to Jesus; it is not obvious to accept he life of the Risen Christ and His presence among us”.

“This question helps us resist the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward into the future. … Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? You, who close in on yourself after a failure or who no longer have the strength to pray? You who feel alone, abandoned by friends, and perhaps even by God? You who have lost hope or you who feel imprisoned by your sins? You who aspire to beauty, spiritual perfection, justice, peace?”.

“We need to hear ourselves repeat and remind each other of the angel’s admonition”, concluded the Holy Father, “since it helps us to emerge from our moments of sadness and opens up horizons of joy and hope. That hope that removes stones from graves and encourages us to proclaim the Good News, capable of generating new life for others. … Let us not seek among those many tombs that promise everything and give nothing!”.

POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

Vatican City, 23 April 2014 (VIS) – Following today's general audience, the Holy Father launched an appeal for the workers of the Lucchini steelworks in Piombino, which closed down a few days ago causing mass layoffs. Pope Francis urged them not to despair, remarking that “when human hopes are extinguished, the divine hope that never disappoints always remains alive”. He appealed to those in positions of responsibility to use all their creativity and generosity “to reignite hope in the hearts of our brothers and sisters and in the hearts of all those who have been left jobless as a result of waste and the economic crisis. Please, open your eyes and don’t stand there with your arms crossed!”

CARDINAL OUEDRAOGO TAKES POSSESSION OF HIS TITULAR CHURCH

Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that on Sunday, 27 April, at 6 p.m., Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo, archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, will take possession of the title of St. Mary the Consoler at Tiburtino (Via de Casal Bertone, 80).

AUDIENCES

Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Fourteen prelates of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Jabulani Adatus Nxumalo of Bloemfontaine;

- Bishop Jan de Groef of Bethlehem;

- Bishop Edward Gabriele Risi of Keimoes-Upington;

- Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley;

- Bishop Peter John Holiday of Kroonstad;

- Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town;

- Bishop Michael Wusternberg of Aliwal;

- Bishop Adam Leszek Musialek of De Aar;

- Bishop Francisco Fortunato De Gouveia of Oudtshoorn;

- Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu of Port Elizabeth;

- Bishop Dabula Anton Mpako of Queenstown;

- Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, with his auxiliary Bishop Barry Alexander Anthony Wood;

- Bishop Thomas Graham Rose of Dundee.

- Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon, South Korea.

- Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 24 April 2014 (VIS) – On Friday 18 the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Rev. Dom Umberto Beda Paluzzi, O.S.B., from the pastoral care of the territorial abbey of Montevergine in Italy, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

On Thursday, 17 April, the Holy Father:

- appointed Rev. Jose Augusto Traquina Maria as auxiliary of the patriarchate of Lisbon (area 3,735, population 2,237,000, Catholics 1,871,000, priests 551, permanent deacons 86, religious 1,516), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Alcobaca, Portugal in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Portuguese Catholic University. He has held a number of pastoral roles, including canon of the Cathedral of Lisbon, vicar, coordinator of the permanent secretariat of the diocesan presbyteral council, and spiritual director.

- appointed Jose Trinidad Fernandez Angulo as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Caracas (area 991, population 4,644,000, Catholics 3,960,000, priests 490, permanent deacons 9, religious 1,597), Venezuela. The bishop-elect was born in Merida, Venezuela in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has held a number of pastoral roles, including director of studies, deputy director of various seminaries, and professor.

- Rev. Can. Francisco Jose Villas-Boas Senra de Faria Coelho, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Braga (area 2,857, population 964,800, Catholics 886,700, priests 465, permanent deacons 12, religious 676), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Mozambique in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He studied theology and philosophy, and holds a licentiate in history of the Church from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. In 2008 he was awarded a doctorate from the Phoenix International University in the U.S.A. During his pastoral ministry he has served as a professor of theology, spiritual director, canon of the Cathedral, parish priest and religious assistant.

HOLY WEEK:

CHRISM MASS: ANOINTED WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS

Vatican City, 17 April 2014 (VIS) – At 9.30 this morning, in the Vatican Basilica, Pope Francis presided over the Holy Chrism Mass which is celebrated today, Holy Thursday, in all Cathedral Churches throughout the world. The Holy Father concelebrated with the Cardinals, Bishops and priests (diocesan and religious) present in Rome. During the Eucharistic celebration, the priests renewed the vows they made on the day of their ordination; the oils used for catechumens, to anoint the sick, and for confirmation were then blessed. Following the Gospel reading, the Pope pronounced the following homily:

“In the eternal 'today' of Holy Thursday, when Christ showed his love for us to the end, we recall the happy day of the institution of the priesthood, as well as the day of our own priestly ordination. The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God: that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.

Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be 'ours' and to be 'complete'. I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the 'Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones'. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more 'little' than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness. And in that littleness we find our joy. Joy in our littleness!

For me, there are three significant features of our priestly joy. It is a joy which anoints us (not one which 'greases' us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous), it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards – with those farthest away from us.

A joy which anoints us. In a word: it has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally. The signs of the ordination liturgy speak to us of the Church’s maternal desire to pass on and share with others all that the Lord has given us: the laying on of hands, the anointing with sacred chrism, the clothing with sacred vestments, the first consecration which immediately follows … Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest. We are anointed down to our very bones … and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.

An imperishable joy. The fullness of the Gift, which no one can take away or increase, is an unfailing source of joy: an imperishable joy which the Lord has promised no one can take from us. It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy remains ever timely: I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.

A missionary joy. I would like especially to share with you and to stress this third feature: priestly joy is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy. Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptising and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelising them.

And since this joy is one which only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock (for even in the silence of his prayer, the shepherd who worships the Father is with his sheep), it is a 'guarded joy', watched over by the flock itself. Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to 'guard' that joy; they are able to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy.

A 'guarded joy': one guarded by the flock but also guarded by three sisters who surround it, tend it and defend it: sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.

The joy of priests is a joy which is sister to poverty. The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He doesn’t need to try to create it for himself. We know that our people are very generous in thanking priests for their slightest blessing and especially for the sacraments. Many people, in speaking of the crisis of priestly identity, fail to realise that identity presupposes belonging. There is no identity – and consequently joy of life – without an active and unwavering sense of belonging to God’s faithful people. The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than 'exit' signs, signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you, for your people will make you feel and taste who you are, what your name is, what your identity is, and they will make you rejoice in that hundredfold which the Lord has promised to those who serve him. Unless you 'exit' from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful. Going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all 'immaculate' (would that by God’s grace we were!), for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church. Here fruitfulness is key. The spiritual children which the Lord gives each priest, the children he has baptised, the families he has blessed and helped on their way, the sick he has comforted, the young people he catechises and helps to grow, the poor he assists… all these are the 'Bride' whom he rejoices to treat as his supreme and only love and to whom he is constantly faithful. It is the living Church, with a first name and a last name, which the priest shepherds in his parish or in the mission entrusted to him. That mission brings him joy whenever he is faithful to it, whenever he does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock which the Lord has entrusted to him: Feed my sheep.

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to obedience. An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience: the parish to which I am sent, my ministerial assignments, my particular work … but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood. It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can, following the example of 'Our Lady of Promptness' who hastens to serve Elizabeth her kinswoman and is concerned for the kitchen of Cana when the wine runs out. The availability of her priests makes the Church a house with open doors, a refuge for sinners, a home for people living on the streets, a place of loving care for the sick, a camp for the young, a classroom for catechising children about to make their First Communion… Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen (ob-audire) and feels a loving mandate from Christ who sends him to relieve that need with mercy or to encourage those good desires with resourceful charity.

All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world: it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus, the one Good Shepherd who, with deep compassion for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd, wants to associate many others to his ministry, so as himself to remain with us and to work, in the person of his priests, for the good of his people.

On this Holy Thursday, I ask the Lord Jesus to enable many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.

On this Holy Thursday, I ask the Lord Jesus to preserve the joy sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world, to spend themselves fully in the midst of God's faithful people, rejoicing as they prepare their first homily, their first Mass, their first Baptism, their first confession… It is the joy of being able to share with wonder, and for the first time as God’s anointed, the treasure of the Gospel and to feel the faithful people anointing you again and in yet another way: by their requests, by bowing their heads for your blessing, by taking your hands, by bringing you their children, by pleading for their sick… Preserve, Lord, in your young priests the joy of going forth, of doing everything as if for the first time, the joy of spending their lives fully for you.

On this Thursday of the priesthood, I ask the Lord Jesus to confirm the priestly joy of those who have already ministered for some years. The joy which, without leaving their eyes, is also found on the shoulders of those who bear the burden of the ministry, those priests who, having experienced the labours of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves: 'get a second wind', as the athletes say. Lord, preserve the depth, wisdom and maturity of the joy felt by these older priests. May they be able to pray with Nehemiah: 'the joy of the Lord is my strength'.

Finally, on this Thursday of the priesthood, I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know, Lord, the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint”.

MASS “IN CENA DOMINI” AT THE DON GNOCCHI CENTRE

Vatican City, April 2014 (VIS) – At 5 p.m. the Holy Father left the Vatican for the St. Mary of Providence Centre of the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation, where at 5.30 p.m. he celebrated Holy Mass “in Cena Domini”, with which the Easter Triduum begins. This Maundy Thursday celebration includes the announcement of the commandment to love and the ritual washing of the feet, a gesture of love and humility. When the Holy Father was Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he used to celebrate this Mass in a hospital, a prison or a reception centre for the poor and marginalised, and likewise the Don Gnocchi Foundation is an institution dedicated to the care of people with all types of disabilities, both physical and mental.

The celebration took place in the church within the Centre, and the participants included the guests of the Centre accompanied by their relatives, as well as staff, volunteers, and directors. During the Mass, the Pope washed the feet of twelve disabled persons of various ages, ethnic origins and religious beliefs, representing the patients assisted in the 29 Don Gnocchi Foundation Centres present in Italy, and he briefly explained the meaning of this gesture.

“We have heard what Jesus did, at the Last Supper: it was a farewell gesture. It is the legacy He leaves us. He is God Who made Himself our servant. And this is the legacy He leaves us: you to must serve one another. He took this path for love: you too must love one another and be servants, in love. This is the legacy Jesus leaves us. And washing the feet is a symbolic gesture: the slaves used to to this, servants used to do this for those who came to eat, to lunch or to dine, because in those times the roads were made of earth and, entering the house, it was necessary to wash one's feet. And Jesus carried out this gesture, the task of a slave or a servant. He leaves this as an inheritance to us. We must serve one another. And therefore the Church, which today commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, during the ceremony also carries out this gesture of washing feet, which reminds us that we must serve each other. Now I too will perform this gesture, but let us all, in our hearts, think of others and think of the love that Jesus tells us we must have for others, and let us think of how we can serve them better, because this is what Jesus wants from us”.

VIA CRUCIS: A GLORIOUS CROSS LIKE DAWN FOLLOWING A LONG NIGHT

Vatican City, 18 April 2014 (VIS) – At 9.15 p.m. this evening, Good Friday, the Bishop of Rome presided at the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, service at the Colosseum, where thousands of faithful accompanied Christ's path to the Cross by the light of candles and torches. From the Palatine Hill the Holy Father listened to the reflections that accompanied each of the fourteen stations, dedicated this year to the economic crisis that afflicts many countries, to immigration, poverty, and the situation of women and the marginalised in today's world. The cross was carried to the various stations by a worker and a businessman, two immigrants, two homeless people, two detainees, two former drug addicts, two patients, two children, a family, two elderly people, two nuns, the Custodians of the Holy Land and, in the first and last stations, the Cardinal Archbishop of Rome, Agostino Vallini.

At the end the Pope addressed some unscripted remarks to the participants, affirming that “God placed on Jesus' Cross all the weight of our sins, all the injustice perpetrated by every Cain against his brother, all the bitterness of the betrayals of Judas and Peter, all the vanity of tyrants, all the arrogance of false friends. It was a heavy Cross, like the night of abandoned people, as heavy as the death of loved ones, heavy because it carried all the ugliness of evil. However it is also a glorious Cross, like the dawn after a long night, as it represents all of God's love, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals. In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy; He does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy”.

He continued, “Before the Cross of Christ, we see, we can almost touch with our hands how much we are eternally loved; before the Cross, we feel like 'children' and not 'things ' or objects, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus affirmed when he turned to Christ with this prayer: 'If it were not for you, O my Christ, I would feel as a finished creature. … O, our Jesus, guide us from the Cross to the Resurrection and teach us that evil will not have the last word, but rather love, mercy, and forgiveness. O Christ, teach us to exclaim anew, “Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him”'.

“And in the end, all together, let us recall the sick, let us think of all those people abandoned beneath the weight of the Cross, so that they might find in the trial of the Cross the strength of hope, of the hope of the Resurrection and the love of God”.

HOLY SATURDAY: RETURN TO THE PLACE OF THE FIRST CALL

Vatican City, 19 April 2014 (VIS) – The solemn Easter Vigil began at 8.30 this evening in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis presided over the rites, which began with the blessing of the with a blessing of the new fire in the church atrium followed by the procession to the altar with the lit Paschal candle, the singing of the “Exsultet” and the Liturgy of the Word. During the ceremony, the Holy Father administered the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) to ten catechumens from Italy, Belarus, Senegal, Lebanon, France and Vietnam.

The full text of his homily is published below:

“The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty. A mighty angel says to them: 'Do not be afraid!' and orders them to go and tell the disciples: 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee'. The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: 'Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me'. 'Do not be afraid', 'do not fear': these are words that encourage us to open our hearts to receive the message.

After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness. The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: 'Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me'. 'Do not fear' and 'go to Galilee'.

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him.

To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory, fearlessly: 'do not be afraid'. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.

For each of us, too, there is a 'Galilee' at the origin of our journey with Jesus. 'To go to Galilee' means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also another 'Galilee', a more existential 'Galilee': the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. To return there means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realise that he loved me.

Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? I need to remind myself, to go back and remember. Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Seek and you will find it! There the Lord is waiting for you. Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy. Do not be afraid, do not fear, return to Galilee!

The Gospel is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth. Go back to Galilee, without fear!

'Galilee of the Gentiles'! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter… Let us be on our way!”.

EASTER SUNDAY: LOVE LETS HOPE FLOURISH IN THE DESERT

Vatican City, 20 April 2014 (VIS) – At 10.15 today, Easter Sunday, the Holy Father Francis celebrated the solemn Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord in St. Peter's Square, which was adorned with 35,000 plants and flowers (tulips, narcissus and hyacinths), offered by Dutch florists. During the celebration, which began with the "Resurrexit" rite – the opening of an icon of the Risen Lord, placed next to the papal altar – was attended by more than 150,000 faithful from all around the world. The Pope did not pronounce a homily but following Mass he delivered an Easter message and imparted his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

At midday, from the central balcony of the Vatican basilica, the Pope addressed the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and all those following the event on radio or television, and made an appeal for those affected by the Ebola virus outbreak in various African countries, and for peace in Syria, Iraq, Venezuela and Ukraine, for an end to the clashes in the Central African Republic, Nigerian and South Sudan, and for the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He then imparted his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, to the city and the world.

“A happy and holy Easter!” said the Bishop of Rome. “The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: 'Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay'.

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: 'Come and see!' In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… 'Come and see!': Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenceless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres!

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace! 'Christus surrexit, venite et videte!' Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!”.

EASTER MONDAY: MARIA, MOTHER OF HOPE

Vatican City, 21 April 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, on “Monday of the Angel”, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli – the prayer that substitutes the Angelus at Easter time – with the thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Francis wished all present a happy Easter, commenting that the prevalent sentiment in the Gospel readings of the Resurrection is “joy filled with wonder … a joy that comes from within”, and that through the liturgy we relive the state of mind of the disciples upon receiving the news from the women.

“May this experience, imprinted in the Gospel, become imprinted in our hearts and shine through in our lives”, he continued. Those who have this experience, he explained, "become witnesses of the Resurrection, because in a sense, he himself is risen, she herself is risen. Thus they are able to bring a 'ray' of light of the Risen Lord to different situations: to happy ones, making them even more beautiful and preserving them from selfishness; and to painful ones, bringing serenity and hope”.

The Pope advised rereading the chapters of the Gospel that recount the Resurrection and also thinking of “the joy of Mary, the Mother of Jesus”. “Mary's heart, after passing through the experience of the death and resurrection of her Son, seen through the eyes of faith as the supreme expression of God's love, became a source of peace, comfort, hope, mercy. All the prerogatives of our Mother come from this: from her participation in the Paschal mystery of Jesus. ... From Friday to Sunday morning, she did not lose hope: we contemplated as a mother both sorrowful and full of hope. She, the Mother of all the disciples, the Mother of the Church, is the Mother of hope. We ask her, the silent witness of Jesus' death and resurrection, to lead us in the joy of Easter”, concluded Pope Francis.

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