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Pope Francis Leads Holy Mass For Pentecost

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Pope Francis on Saturday, the eve of Pentecost, sent a message for the ecumenical Pentecost Vigil organized by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS), through the Commission for Christian Unity.

The mass was broadcast during the vigil from the Anglican Christ Church in Jerusalem, where the faithful from different Christian traditions were gathered.

Opening his message, the Pope expressed gratitude to the Anglican Church for its hospitality in making the broadcast possible, and in particular, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, for sharing “a beautiful reflection on the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope also acknowledged CHARIS for organizing the vigil as part of the mission he had entrusted to it to work for Christian unity, through its commission made up of Catholics and other believers from other Christian communities.

Significance of the occasion

Highlighting the significance of the “very special night”, Pope Francis reflected on Jerusalem – “the holy city for the children of Abraham”; and the upper room where the Holy Spirit, promised by Our Lord, descended “powerfully on Mary and the disciples, transforming their lives and the whole of history forever.”

“I am thinking of the Church of Saint James, the Mother Church, the first, the Church of believers in Jesus, the Messiah, all of them Jews,” the Pope said, adding that the Church has never disappeared from history and is still alive today.

The Pope also turned his thoughts to the following morning, when, in Jerusalem, “devout Jews from all nations, were ‘filled with wonder’ when they heard those Galileans speaking in their languages,” according to the account in the Acts of the Apostles.

See how they love each other

Continuing his reflection on the community of believers, Pope Francis recalled that no one was in need because they held everything in common, and the people said of them: “See how they love each other.” “Brotherly love defines them.

And the presence of the Spirit makes them comprehensible,” Pope Francis pointed out. Conversely, he lamented the sadness of when people say of Christians, “Look how they quarrel.”

“Can the world today say of Christians, ‘Look how they love each other’, or can it truthfully say ‘Look how they hate each other’ or ‘Look how they quarrel’? What has happened to us?” he asked.

The need for forgiveness

The Pope went on to impress upon everyone the need to ask forgiveness from God, as well as the need to forgive ourselves.

“We have sinned against God and against our brothers,” the Pope said. “We are divided; we have broken into a thousand pieces what God so lovingly, passionately and tenderly made.”

At the same time, the Pope pointed at “the plague” which he describes as “the effect not only of a virus, but also of the selfishness and greed that make the poor poorer and the rich richer.”

He also warned that “nature is reaching the limit of its possibilities as a result of humanity’s predatory action,” saying this is the same humanity “to whom God entrusted the care and fruitfulness of the earth.”

“If Christian unity in mutual love has always been necessary, today it is more urgent than ever,” he insisted.

A call to Christian witness

“Brothers and sisters, this night can be a prophecy; it can be the beginning of the witness that we Christians, together, must give to the world,” the Pope said.

We are thus, “to be witnesses of God’s love that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” so that “tonight thousands of Christians will raise the same prayer together, from the corners of the earth: come Holy Spirit, come Spirit of Love, and change the face of the earth, and change my heart.”

Pope Francis then urged everyone to “go out into the world and make reality and a testimony of the first Christian community: “See how they love each other.”

Changed to change the world

“Let us be changed by the Holy Spirit so that we can change the world. God is faithful, He never reneges on His promise,” he said.

Counting on God’s faithfulness, Pope Francis ended his message recalling the prophecy of Isaiah in the Bible: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many people shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths”. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and shall decide for many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:2-4).

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Religion

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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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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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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