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Pope Asks Do We Live Under Law or As Children of God?

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In his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said we should ask ourselves if we are still living “under the Law” or if we understand that, having become children of God, we are called to live in love.

Pope Francis was explaining St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians at a General Audience, focusing on St Paul’s understanding of the role of the Law for Christians.

St Paul, he said, “has taught us that the ‘children of the promise,’ – that is, all of us, justified by Jesus Christ – are no longer bound by the Law, but are called to the demanding life-style of the freedom of the Gospel.”

He explained that for St Paul, the acceptance of faith is the turning point both for salvation history as a whole and in our own personal stories. At the heart of faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus, “which Paul preached in order to inspire faith in the Son of God, the source of salvation.”

So, he said, for Christians, there is a period “before becoming believers” and “after receiving the faith”; and there is, therefore, “a ‘before’ and ‘after’ with regard to the Law itself.”

In the period before receiving the faith, being “under the Law” has a negative sense, “as if one is watched and locked up, a kind of preventative custody.” This period, he said, “is perpetuated as long as one lives in sin.”

Law as teacher and guardian

The Law, said Pope Francis, makes us aware of what it means to transgress the law and also makes people aware of their own sin. In a certain sense, it ends up “stimulating the transgression.”

But he went on to explain, using St Paul’s image of the Law as a pedagogue, that while the Law had a “restrictive” function, it also served to protect and support the people of Israel, “it had educated them, disciplined them, and supported them in their weakness.”

So, the Pope said, the Law also had a positive function, that was nonetheless limited in time: when children become adults, they no longer need a guardian. Likewise, “once one has come to faith, the Law exhausts its propaedeutic value and must give way to another authority.”

Considering the role of the law

However, he said, the law still exists and is still important. Pope Francis said the role of the law “deserves to be considered carefully so we do not give way to misunderstandings and take false steps.”

And so, he said, “it is good for us to ask ourselves if we still live in the period in which we need the Law, or if, instead, we are fully aware of having received the grace of becoming children of God so as to live in love.”

It is a good question, he said, and added a second: “Do I despise the Commandments?” He also gave an answer: “No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.”

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Pope Francis Visits Hungary, Slovakia

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The papal plane that departed from Rome at 6.09am local time, is taking Pope Francis to Budapest, where he is scheduled to land at 7,45am for the first leg of his journey.

Here he will meet with authorities before presiding over the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in the Hungarian capital’s Heroes Square.

He is scheduled to spend about 7 hours in the country before taking a short flight to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on Sunday afternoon.

That leg of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey will last until Wednesday.

One highlight of his visit to Slovakia wil be the celebration of Mass at the National Shrine of Šaštin, on the feast day of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Patron saint of Slovakia.

Pope Francis’ pilgrimage, said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin in an interview with Vatican News on the eve of the journey, is a way of entrusting “to Her all those who find themselves in situations of fragility, of vulnerability, of suffering, including physical suffering, as he has been going through in this period, especially taking into account the situation brought on by the pandemic.”

four dimensions of the visit

Presenting the visit to journalists at a briefing in the Vatican, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said the visit can be seen as a pilgrimage with four dimensions: a spiritual dimension centered on the Eucharist; an ecumenical dimension when he meets leaders of the other Christian churches and recalls the shared Christian heritage in Hungary and Slovakia that is linked to saints, Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized these peoples; an interreligious dimension represented by the meetings with leaders of the Jewish community in both capital cities; and a missionary dimension during which the Pope will evoke the heroic witness of faith and martyrdom given by Hungarian and Slovak Catholics who suffered persecution under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

 

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Official Image For World Meeting Of Families Released

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The Vatican said on Sunday that it has released the official image for the upcoming World Meeting of Families.

The eagerly awaited 10th World Meeting of Families will take place in Rome from June 22 to 26 June 2022, after the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sacramental love between a man and a woman is a reflection of the indissoluble love and unity between Christ and the Church: Jesus sheds His blood for Her.”

This is the meaning behind the official image of the Tenth World Meeting of Families.

The work, entitled, “This Mystery is Great” (taken from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, 5:32), was painted by theologian and artist Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ,.

The image portrays the Wedding at Cana, with the bride and groom in the background on the left, covered by a veil. Jesus and Mary are seen united, at the moment when Mary tells her Son, “They have no more wine.”

In the foreground is the steward, with the face of St Paul as portrayed in classical iconography.

It is Saint Paul “who removes the veil with his hand, and referring to the wedding, exclaims, “This mystery is great; but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church!”.

Father Rupnik’s painting is the third official symbol to be published; along with the official prayer and logo, it serves as a pastoral tool for the preparation and journey of families toward the 2022 World Meeting.

The event is being organized by the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life along with the Diocese of Rome and will take place on the sixth anniversary of the encyclical Amoris laetitia and four years on from the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate.

The tenth World Meeting of Families follows an unprecedented formula, being presented as a “multi-centered and widespread” dimension.

Rome will be the main venue, but on the days of the worldwide Church event, each diocese will be able to promote a local meeting for its own families and communities. Every family in the world can be a protagonist.

In his video message last July 2 on the occasion of the presentation of the extraordinary form of the Meeting, Pope Francis emphasized that “everyone will be able to participate, even those who cannot come to Rome.”

The Holy Father urged diocesan communities, wherever possible, to plan initiatives based on the theme of the Meeting: “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness.”

“I ask you to be dynamic, active and creative in organising this with the families in harmony with what will be taking place in Rome,” Pope Francis said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to devote ourselves with enthusiasm to family ministry with spouses, families and pastors together.

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Jehovah’s Don’t Believe in Worldly Governments

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In July 2017, the Russian Supreme Court rejected an appeal of an earlier ruling sanctioning Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group.

As of now, Jehovah’s Witness gatherings and preaching are criminal offenses in Russia.

The Russian government also has the legal authority to liquidate any property held by Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization.

The Russian Supreme Court maintains that the country needs to be protected from disloyal religious fanatics.

There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses in 240 countries worldwide. Russia, with a population of more than 150 million, has a total of 117,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses – one Jehovah’s Witness per 850 people.

Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why would the Russian, or any, government consider them to be a threat?

The story of Jehovah’s Witnesses begins in the late 19th century near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a group of students studying the Bible.

The group was led by Charles Taze Russell, a religious seeker from a Presbyterian background.

These students understood “Jehovah,” a version of the Hebrew “Yaweh,” to be the name of God the Father himself.

Russell and his followers looked forward to Jesus Christ establishing a “millennium” or a thousand-year period of peace on Earth. This “Golden Age” would see the Earth transformed to its original purity, with a “righteous” social system that would not have poverty or inequality.

Russell died in 1916 without witnessing the return of Jesus Christ.

But his group endured and grew. The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was formally adopted in the 1930s.

Early Jehovah’s Witnesses believed 1914 to be the beginning of the end of worldly governments that would culminate with the Battle of Armageddon. Armageddon specifically refers to Mount Megiddo in Israel where some Christians believe the final conflict between good and evil will take place. Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, expected that the Battle of Armageddon would be worldwide with Jesus leading a “heavenly army” to defeat the enemies of God.

They also believed that after Armageddon, Jesus would rule the world from heaven with 144,000 “faithful Christians,” as specified in the Book of Revelation. Other faithful Christians would be reunited with dead loved ones and live on a renewed Earth.

Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have reinterpreted elements of this timeline and have abandoned setting specific dates for the return of Jesus Christ. But they still look forward to the Golden Age that Russell and his Bible students expected.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity. For most Christians, God is a union of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is distinct from God – not united as one person with him. The “Holy Spirit,” then, refers to God’s active power. Such doctrines distinguish Jehovah’s Witnesses from mainline Christian denominations, all of which hold that God is “triune” in nature.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have no political affiliations, and they renounce violence. However, they make an easy target for governments looking for internal enemies, as they refuse to bow down to government symbols. Many nationalists call them “enemies of the state.”

As a result, they have often suffered persecution throughout history in many parts of the world.

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