No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis: Jesus calls us to set our sights on heaven

May 7, 2023 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli on May 7, 2023. / Vatican Media

CNA Staff, May 7, 2023 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday warned against the danger of living life without a sense of purpose or a destination to set our course by, reminding the faithful that Jesus is “our compass for reaching heaven,” our true home.

Speaking to pilgrims gathered on a sunny day in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Regina Caeli, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus consoles his disciples before his ascension, telling them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

“Jesus sees the disciples’ distress, their fear of being abandoned, just as it happens to us when we are forced to be separated from someone we care for. And so, he says: ‘I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am you may be also,” the pope said.

“Jesus uses the familiar image of home, the place of relationships and intimacy. In the Father’s house — he says to his friends, and to each one of us — there is space for you, you are welcome, you will always be received with the warmth of an embrace, and I am in Heaven to prepare a place for you!”

Pope Francis said that keeping in mind “where life is headed” is the way to get through the experiences of “fatigue, bewilderment, and even failure.”

When we lose sight of what makes “life worth living for,” he said, we “compress our life into the present,” the pope said. We merely seek maximum enjoyment and “end up living day by day, without purpose, without a goal.”

“Our homeland, instead, is in heaven; let us not forget the greatness and the beauty of our destination!” he urged.

Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli on May 7, 2023. Vatican Media
Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli on May 7, 2023. Vatican Media

But if we know the goal, we also have to know how to get there, the pope continued. When we face problems or when there is the “sensation that evil is stronger,” we ask, like Thomas, “What should I do?”

The pope responded: “Let us listen to Jesus’ answer: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ … He is the way and therefore faith in him is not a ‘package of ideas’ in which to believe, but rather a road to be traveled, a journey to undertake.”

“He is the way that leads to unfailing happiness,” the pope said, and imitating him is “the compass for reaching heaven: loving Jesus, the way, becoming signs of his love on earth.”

“Let us not be overwhelmed by the present,” the pope said. “Let us look up, to heaven, let us remember the goal, let us think that we are called to eternity, to the encounter with God.”

The pope then led the traditional Easter midday prayer, the Regina Caeli, in Latin.

After the prayer, the Holy Father noted two beatifications that happened on Saturday, one in Spain and one in Uruguay.

The first bishop of Uruguay, Bishop Jacinto Vera, was beatified in Montevideo. The bishop, who died in 1881, “witnessed to the gospel with powerful missionary ideals in the very difficult times of civil war,” the pope noted.

In Spain, Conchita Barrecheguren was beatified. Her full name was María de la Concepción del Perpetuo Socorro, but she was known as Conchita (the nickname for those named after the Immaculate Conception). The pope recalled how she “was bedridden for a long time and was able to face her illness with a lot of courage and strength.” She died in her early 20s, in 1927.

Members of the Meter Association, an organization that works to combat the abuse of minors, wave flags and a banner in St. Peter's Square on May 7, 2023. Vatican Media
Members of the Meter Association, an organization that works to combat the abuse of minors, wave flags and a banner in St. Peter’s Square on May 7, 2023. Vatican Media

The pope also greeted a number of the faithful who were in the Square. Among those he welcome were members of the Meter Association who were dressed in bright yellow clothing and were accompanied by their founder, Father Fortunato di Noto. This association works to combat the abuse of minors. The pope noted that they were marking a remembrance day for victims. He encouraged them in their work and thanked them, reminding them that Jesus meets them in the young people they assist. I “accompany you with my prayers,” he said.

The pope also had a special hello for members of the Swiss Guard with their friends and family members, who participated in Saturday’s swearing-in ceremony.

There were 23 recruits sworn in on May 6, the tradition day of the initiation ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the sacrifice of 147 Swiss guards who died during the Sack of Rome in 1527 as they protected Pope Clement VII.

Finally, the pope noted the May 8 feast of Our Lady of Pompeii.

“In this sanctuary where we pray for peace, and especially in this month of May, we pray the rosary asking Our Blessed Mother for the gift of peace, especially for the people in Ukraine.”

He expressed his wish that leaders of countries “would listen to the desire of the people — who continue to suffer, and who desire and long for peace.”

The shrine in Pompeii — just a few minutes from the city that was famously destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. — is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and was renovated in the late 1800s.

The history of the shrine is a testament to God’s practice of choosing the weak and bringing good out of evil. The shrine was renovated by Bartolo Longo, who had joined a sect during his time as a student and became a satanic priest. He publicly ridiculed Christianity, until eventually a friend introduced him to a saintly Dominican priest, and he converted. Longo, who became a mystic devoted to the rosary, died in 1926.


No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis: ‘Tell Jesus everything’

April 23, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
Pope Francis prayed the Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square on April 23, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2023 / 05:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis recommended making an examination of conscience at the end of each day as a way to invite Jesus into the joys and struggles of daily life.

“Indeed, for us to it is important to reread our history together with Jesus: the story of our life, of a certain period, of our days, with its disappointments and hopes,” the pope said April 23.

“There is a good way of doing this, and today I would like to propose it to you: it consists of dedicating time, every evening, to a brief examination of conscience,” he said. “What happened inside of me today? That is the question. It means rereading the day with Jesus.”

Pope Francis addressed around 30,000 people during the Regina Caeli in St. Peter's Square on April 23, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis addressed around 30,000 people during the Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square on April 23, 2023. Vatican Media

Pope Francis addressed a crowd of around 30,000 people on Sunday from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

After his brief message, he prayed the Regina Caeli, a Latin antiphon honoring the Virgin Mary which is usually prayed during the Easter Season.

Francis said making an examination of conscience is a way of “rereading my day, opening the heart, bringing to him people, choices, fears, falls, hopes, and all of the things that took place; to learn gradually to look at things with different eyes, with his eyes and not only our own.”

A nightly examination of conscience is also sometimes known as a daily examen, a part of the spirituality developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The pope spoke about the spiritual practice in the context of the Gospel passage for the Third Sunday of Easter, which recounts Jesus’ appearance to two of his disciples while they were walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus.

Pope Francis addressed around 30,000 people during the Regina Caeli in St. Peter's Square on April 23, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis addressed around 30,000 people during the Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square on April 23, 2023. Vatican Media

At first, the disciples did not recognize the resurrected Lord, who asked them to explain what had happened to make them so sad.

Jesus, the pope said, “wants to listen to their account. Then, while they are walking, he helps them reinterpret the facts in a different way, in the light of prophecy, in the light of the Word of God.”

“We too, like those disciples, faced with what happens to us, can find ourselves lost in the face of these events, alone and uncertain, with many questions and worries, disappointments, many things,” he explained.

“Today’s Gospel invites us to tell Jesus everything,” he continued, “sincerely, without worrying about bothering him — he listens — without fear of saying something wrong, without being ashamed of our struggle to understand.”

Pope Francis explained that the Lord is happy when we open ourselves to him, because he wants to accompany us, and to make our hearts burn within us, like happened with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

By making an examen, we are able to reread our day and life in the light of Christ’s love, he said.

“Even that which seems wearisome and unsuccessful,” he explained, “can appear in another light: a difficult cross to embrace, the decision to forgive an offense, a lost opportunity, the toil of work, the sincerity that comes at a price, and the trials of family life can appear to us in a new light, the light of the Crucified and Risen, who knows how to turn every fall into a step forward.”

But, he added, we have to drop our defenses and leave space for Jesus.

“We can begin today, to dedicate this evening a moment of prayer during which we ask ourselves: how was my day?” he said.

“What joys, what sadnesses, what monotonies, how was it, what happened?” are some of the questions we can ask ourselves, he said, together with “what were its pearls, possibly hidden, to be thankful for? Was there a little love in what I did? And what are the falls, the sadness, the doubts and fears to bring to Jesus so that he can open new ways to me, to lift me up and encourage me?”

“May Mary, wise Virgin, help us to recognize Jesus who walks with us and to reread, ‘reread’ is the word, every day of our life in front of him,” he said.


No Picture
News Briefs

The Catholic Church celebrates Easter Monday under the title ‘Monday of the Angel’

April 10, 2023 Catholic News Agency 2
Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection / / Alexander Ivanov

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 10, 2023 / 05:00 am (CNA).

On Easter Monday, the Catholic Church celebrates what’s called “Monday of the Angel.” In many countries in Europe and South America, this day, also known as “Little Easter,” is a national holiday.

In a Vatican Radio recording in 1994, Pope John Paul II gave an explanation for Monday of the Angel:

“Why is it called that?” the pope asked, highlighting the need for an angel to call out from the depths of the grave: “He is risen.”

These words “were very difficult to proclaim, to express, for a person,” John Paul II said. “Also, the women that were at the tomb encountered it empty but couldn’t tell ‘he had risen’; they only affirmed that the tomb was empty. The angel said more: “He is not here, he has risen.”

The Gospel of St. Matthew puts it this way: “Then the angel said to the women in reply, ‘Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you” (Mt 28:5-7).

Angels are servants and messengers of God. As purely spiritual beings, they have intellects and wills. They are personal and immortal. They surpass all visible beings in their perfection.

Christ himself gives testimony to the angels when he said: “The angels in Heaven always see the face of my father who is in Heaven!” (Mt 18:10).

Christ is the center of the universe and angels belong to him. Even more so, because he made them messengers of his plan of salvation: an angel announced his conception to the Blessed Mother at the Annunciation and an angel proclaimed his Resurrection to Mary Magdalene.

From Easter Monday until the end of Easter at Pentecost, the Church prays the Regina Caeli instead of the Angelus at the noon hour.

On Monday of the Angel in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said the text of the Regina Caeli “is like a new ‘Annunciation’ to Mary, this time not made by an angel but by us Christians who invite the Mother to rejoice because her Son, whom she carried in her womb, is risen as he promised.”

He continued: “Indeed, ‘rejoice’ was the first word that the heavenly messenger addressed to the Virgin in Nazareth. And this is what it meant: Rejoice, Mary, because the Son of God is about to become man within you. Now, after the drama of the Passion, a new invitation to rejoice rings out: ‘Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia, quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia’ — Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Rejoice because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia!”

Regina Caeli (English)

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

R. For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.

V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.

R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

V. Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Regina Caeli (Latin)

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.

R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.

V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.

R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

V. Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen. 

This article was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news parter. It was translated and adapted by Jeanette De Melo at the National Catholic Register on March 4, 2021, and updated April 6, 2023.


No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis: Ask the Lord for the gift of peace

May 22, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis greets a crowd of an estimated 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for his Regina Caeli address on May 22, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 22, 2022 / 07:33 am (CNA).

In his Sunday Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper in the Gospel reading from John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Speaking to an estimated 25,000 pilgrims gathered on a bright day in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, the pope noted that Jesus also makes a point to add, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27).

“What is this peace that the world does not know and the Lord gives us?” Pope Francis asked.

“This peace is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus. It is the presence of God in us, it is God’s ‘power of peace,'” he explained. “It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who loosens rigidity and extinguishes the temptations to attack others. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries.

“It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out anew because we cannot do this with our own strength. And it is with Him, with the Holy Spirit, that we become men and women of peace,” Pope Francis said.

“This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us,” he added. “For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.”

Pilgrims at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022. In his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis spoke about the peace of Christ. Vatican Media
Pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square in Rome on May 22, 2022. In his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis spoke about the peace of Christ. Vatican Media

Pope Francis said, “Let us learn to say every day: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’ This is a beautiful prayer. Shall we say it together? ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’”

Again encouraging the crowd to pray with him, he said, “I didn’t hear it well. One more time: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’”

Focusing on the context of Gospel reading, Pope Francis observed that Jesus’ words to his apostles are “a sort of testament.”

The pope said, “Jesus bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene,” referring to Judas’ unfolding betrayal and Peter’s imminent denial that he even knows Jesus.

“The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches,” Pope Francis said. “Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end.”

He continued, “There is a proverb that says you die the way you have lived. In effect, the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace, a peace that comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust.”

In so doing, “Jesus demonstrates that meekness is possible,” the pope observed.

“He incarnated it specifically in the most difficult moment, and he wants us to behave that way too, since we too are heirs of his peace,” he said. “He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons. The witness of peace.”

Pope Francis invited all disciples of Jesus to reflect on whether they behave in this way.

“Do we ease tensions, and defuse conflicts? Are we too at odds with someone, always ready to react, explode, or do we know how to respond nonviolently, do we know how to respond with peaceful actions? How do I react?” he asked.

“Certainly, this meekness is not easy,” while adding ,“How difficult it is, at every level, to defuse conflicts!” 

Jesus understands this. He knows “that we need help, that we need a gift,” the pope explained.

“Peace, which is our obligation, is first of all a gift of God.”

Pope Francis said that “no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace.”

“The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace,” he said. 

Pilgrims gather at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022, for Pope Francis' Regina Caeli address. Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather at St. Peter’s Square in Rome on May 22, 2022, for Pope Francis’ Regina Caeli address. Vatican Media

Pope Francis invited the crowd to pray with him, “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.” He added, “And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.”

After praying the Regina Caeli at noon, Pope Francis commented on the beatification in Lyon, France, later on Sunday of Pauline Marie Jericot, who founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith for the support of the missions in the early 19th century. The pope called her “a courageous woman, attentive to the changes taking place at the time, and had a universal vision regarding the Church’s mission.”

Pope Francis continued: “May her example enkindle in everyone the desire to participate through prayer and charity in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.”

Pope Francis also noted that Sunday marked the beginning of “Laudato Si’ Week,” a weeklong reflection inspired by his 2015 encyclical on the environment. He called the observance an opportunity “to listen ever more attentively to the cry of the Earth which urges us to act together in taking care of our common home.”

Pope Francis also mentioned that May 24 marks the Feast day of Mary Help of Christians, who is “particularly dear to Catholics in China.”

He added that Mary Help of Christians is the patroness for Chinese Catholics and is located in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai in addition to many churches and homes throughout the country. 

“This happy occasion offers me the opportunity to assure them once again of my spiritual closeness” to believers in China, he said.

“I am attentively and actively following the often complex life and situations of the faithful and pastors, and I pray every day for them,” he said.

“I invite all of you to unite yourselves in this prayer so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, might live in effective communion with the universal Church, and might exercise its mission of proclaiming the Gospel to everyone, and thus offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society as well.”

Pope Francis also greeted participants in Italy’s annual pro-life demonstration, titled Scegliamo la vita, or in English, “Let’s Choose Life.”

“I thank you for your dedication in promoting life and defending conscientious objection, which there are often attempts to limit,” Pope Francis said.

“Sadly, in these last years, there has been a change in the common mentality, and today we are more and more led to think that life is a good at our complete disposal, that we can choose to manipulate, to give birth or take life as we please, as if it were the exclusive consequence of individual choice,” the pope said.

“Let us remember that life is a gift from God! It is always sacred and inviolable, and we cannot silence the voice of conscience,” he concluded.


No Picture
News Briefs

Mother’s Day: Pope Francis sends moms ‘Our prayer, affection, best wishes’

May 8, 2022 Catholic News Agency 4
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli on May 8, 2022. / Vatican Media

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 8, 2022 / 06:08 am (CNA).

Pope Francis asked the faithful to celebrate their mothers in a special way on Sunday, for Mother’s Day, and urged continued prayers for peace in Ukraine.

“Let us affectionately remember our mothers — a round of applause for our mothers — even those who are no longer with us down here, but who live in our hearts,” he said during his Regina Caeli address. “Our prayer, our affection, and our best wishes for all our mothers.”

The 85-year-old pontiff spoke to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome following the Regina Caeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season, on May 8. Thousands of faithful brightened the cloudy day with their banners and flags as they gathered to pray with the pontiff.

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on May 8, 2022. Vatican Media
Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on May 8, 2022. Vatican Media

During his address, Pope Francis also turned to Our Mother, Our Lady of Pompeii, to intervene in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Kneeling in spirit before the image of the Virgin, I entrust to her the ardent desire for peace of the many people in various parts of the world who suffer the senseless calamity of war,” he said. “In particular, I present the sufferings and tears of the Ukrainian people to the Holy Virgin.”

His comments come after he consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in March. 

Speaking from an open window looking out to the square, the pontiff called on Catholics to pray the rosary for peace, as he did during the Regina Caeli last week.

“Before the madness of war, please, let us continue to pray the Rosary for peace each day,” he said. “And let us pray for the leaders of nations, so that they might not lose the ‘pulse of the people’ who want peace and who know well that weapons never achieve it, never.”

Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for the Ukrainian people, recently expressed a desire to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, if the Russian president is willing. 

During his address, he greeted the Ukrainian refugees present, as well as the families hosting them. The United Nations estimates that nearly 6 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The pontiff also asked for prayers for the victims of an explosion at a hotel in Havana, Cuba. According to a CNN report, at least 32 people have died and 19 more are missing after an explosion Friday at the Hotel Saratoga. Authorities say the explosion may have been due to a gas leak.

Along with Mother’s Day, Pope Francis recognized Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

“May the Christian community on every continent pray to the Lord for the gift of vocations to the priesthood, to the consecrated life, to the choice of being a missionary, and to matrimony,” he said. “This is the day on which, because of our baptism, we all feel called to follow Jesus, to say yes to him, to imitate him so as to discover the joy of giving one’s life, of serving the Gospel joyfully and enthusiastically.”

He recognized one woman who lived out her vocation: Sister María Agustina Rivas Lopez. Pope Francis announced the beatification of the “heroic missionary” and martyr — perhaps better known as “Sister Aguchita” — on Saturday in San Ramon, Peru. A woman religious of the Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, she died for her faith in 1990. 

She “always remained near the poor, especially indigenous women and peasants, witnessing to the Gospel of justice and peace,” the pontiff remembered.