Pope Francis: This Lent, seek the only ‘well’ that satisfies – Christ

 Woman Of The Well Painting - Woman Of The Well by Glenda Stevens
Of course, we already know him, but perhaps we have not yet met him in person, and we have not yet recognized him as our Savior.”
Before leading the Angelus, the Pope spoke to a crowd of around 40,000 people in St. Peter’s Square about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well as recounted in the fourth chapter of John.
Asking for a drink of water, Jesus, a Jew, begins a dialogue with the woman, the Pope said. She asks why he would deign to ask something of her, a Samaritan. Jesus answers her that he alone can give her “living water, water that satisfies every thirst.”
At first, she thinks it is a type of temporal water that would mean she no longer has to go to the well to draw water. “But Jesus speaks of a different water.”
We are, in some ways, like this woman, he said. “Her thirst for affection and a full life was not satisfied” by the world – in this case, by her five husbands. “We know who Jesus is, but maybe we have not met him in person, talking with him, and we have not yet recognized him as our Savior.”
“This time of Lent is a good time to approach him, meet him in prayer in a heart to heart conversation, see his face in the face of a brother or sister suffering,” Francis explained.
By approaching the Lord in prayer and strengthening our personal relationship with him, he said, “we can renew in us the grace of Baptism, quench our thirst at the source of the Word of God and his Holy Spirit; and so discover the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and peace tools in everyday life.”
After the Angelus, the Pope prayed for Peru, which, because of heaving rains in the last few days, has been hit by floods and mudslides, resulting in the deaths of 72 people, BBC News reports.
“I want to assure my closeness to the dear people of Peru, hit hard by devastating floods. I pray for the victims and for those engaged in relief operations,” he said.
The worst floods the country has seen in 30 years, the capital city of Lima has been without water since Monday, services only now being restored, and more than 800 towns and cities have declared a state of emergency, according to BBC News.
Pope Francis also drew attention to the beatification Saturday of Blessed Josef Mayr-Nusser in Bolzano, Italy, who was martyred for his refusal to join the Nazis in faithfulness to the Gospel.
“For his great moral and spiritual stature, he is a model for the lay faithful, especially for dads,” Francis said, “that today we remember with great affection, though the liturgical feast of St. Joseph, their patron.”
Because March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph – also Father’s Day in Italy – Pope Francis concluded with a special greeting for all fathers, asking for a round of applause from the crowd…..
Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-this-lent-seek-the-only-well-that-satisfies-christ-25963/

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Pope Francis: the Cross is the gate of salvation

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St Peter's square during the Sunday Angelus prayer, on March 12, 2017 - AFP

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St Peter’s square during the Sunday Angelus prayer, on March 12, 2017 – AFP

 

12/03/2017 12:44

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Lent.In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the 17th chapter of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, and that recounted the Transfiguration of Our Lord.
“Transfigured on Mt. Tabor,” said Pope Francis, “Jesus desired to show His glory to His disciples, not to keep them from going through the Cross, but to show them to where He was carrying the
Cross.
Click below to hear our report
“Whoever dies with Christ, with Christ shall rise again,” said Pope Francis, “those who struggle with Him, with Him shall triumph.”
“The Cross is the gate of the Resurrection,” he said.The Holy Father went on to say that the message of hope, which the Cross contains, is one that constantly calls us to be strong in our lives. “The Christian Cross is not something to hang in the house ‘to tie the room together’ [It. suppellettile di casa] or an ornament to wear, but a call to that love, with which Jesus sacrificed Himself to save humanity from sin and evil.”
“In this Lenten season,” said Pope Francis, “let us contemplate devoutly the image of the Crucified Lord: it is the symbol of the Christian faith; it is the symbol of Jesus, who died and rose for us. Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey, that we might understand more and more [perfectly] the gravity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us – all of us.”

….
Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/03/12/pope_francis_the_cross_is_the_gate_

Saint John Paul II bane of demons

Image result for pope john paul II and mary

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Father Amorth also was the exorcist for the Diocese of Rome during St. John Paul II’s pontificate so he has firsthand knowledge of at least three exorcisms that the pontiff performed in his private chapel. The demons are recorded as having a special indignation when his memory is invoked because St. John Paul “ruined their plans.” Father Amorth believes the reason for this is linked to Fatima and to the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by St. John Paul March 25, 1984.

 

This pivotal moment in human history was, sadly, and quite against the wishes of Heaven, about half a century late in coming to its fulfilment – with dire consequences for the world. This is what I wrote about it in:

 

The Five First Saturdays Of Our Lady of Fatima

https://www.academia.edu/3689879/The_Five_First_Saturdays_Of_Our_Lady_of_Fatima

 

The Consecration of Russia
We recall that on July 13th of 1917, Our Lady of the Rosary had made this promise:
“I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace …. If not ….”.
In June of 1929, Our Lady came and told [Sister] Lucia:
“The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the Consecration of Russia to My Heart, promising to save it by this means”.
In a letter to her confessor, dated May 29, 1930, Sr. Lucia had explained that Our Lord had made her feel his Divine presence in the depth of her heart and had urged her to ask the Holy Father for the approval for the reparative devotion of the first Saturdays. These are the words of the seer, as found in her Memoirs (# 404):
“If I am not mistaken, the good Lord promises to put an end to the persecution in Russia if the Holy Father deigns to make a solemn and public act of reparation and consecration of Russia to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and orders all the bishops of the Catholic world to do the same. The Holy Father must also promise to approve and recommend the reparative devotion already indicated for the cease of this persecution”.
Later, through an interior communication, Our Lord complained to Sr. Lucia that the consecration of Russia had not been made:
“They did not heed to My request. They will repent like the king of France and will make it, but it will be too late. Russia will already have spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer” ….
Our Lord’s reference here to “the king of France” is an allusion to the promise that He had made to Louis XIV through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Our Lord had promised to give the king a life of grace and eternal glory, as well as victory over his enemies, if he would consecrate himself to the Sacred Heart, let It reign in his palace, paint It on his banners, and have It engraved on his coat of arms. In 1792, after Louis XVI had been imprisoned in the Tower of the Temple, this Divine request still had not been heeded. The king then made the vow to consecrate himself, his family and his kingdom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus if he regained his freedom, the crown, and royal power. It was too late; the king left prison only for his execution.
Lucia, writing again to her spiritual director on January 21, 1935, stated that:
“Our Lord was quite displeased because His request had not been carried out” (ibid.).
In a further letter to him, dated May 18, 1936, she told him of the following fascinating exchange with Our Lord in the subject:
“… I have spoken to Our Lord inwardly about the subject, and not too long ago I asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making that consecration”.
“Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so as subsequently to extend the devotion to it and place it alongside devotion to My Sacred Heart”.

“But, my God, the Holy Father will not believe me, unless You move him with a special inspiration”.

“The Holy Father. Pray very much for the Holy Father! He will do it, but it will be late. Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia, who has been entrusted to it” ….
Sr. Lucia wrote a further interesting letter to her spiritual director on August 18, 1940. Here is part of it:
“I suppose it pleases Our Lord that there is someone who is concerned about His Vicar on earth fulfilling His wishes. But the Holy Father will not comply with them now. He doubts they are real, and explicably so. Our good Lord could show clearly through some prodigy that it is He who is asking, but He takes this opportunity to punish the world with His justice for so many crimes and to prepare it for a more complete return to Him. The proof that He gives us is the special protection the Immaculate Heart of Mary affords Portugal in view of the consecration made to it [i.e. the 1931 consecration made by the Portuguese bishops]” ….

 

[End of quotes]

Over a period of about four decades, various popes would try to fulfil Heaven’s urgent request. I discussed this in the following section:
Attempts to Achieve the Collegial Consecration
During 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and in 1952 he consecrated Russia to her Heart. Whilst, undoubtedly, these were valuable spiritual acts, they did not fulfil Our Lady’s conditions, because – as Bishop Alberto Cosme do Amaral has noted (1989 “Youth for Fatima” conference) – the Holy Father had made these consecrations alone as Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.

 

In 1964 Pope Paul VI, when speaking to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, renewed Pope Pius XII’s consecration of the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart. This was in the presence of the world’s more than 2,000 bishops. Again, however, the Pope made the consecration by himself, and not in union with the world’s bishops.
On the 13th of May, 1982, at Fatima, Pope John Paul II made a valiant attempt at the collegial Consecration when he renewed Pope Pius XII’s consecrations of the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart. However, when the most reverend Sante Portalupi, the Papal Nuncio to Portugal, visited Sr. Lucia at that time, she told him that the Consecration made by John Paul II, like that of Pius XII, was not according to the request of Our Lady, as it was not with all the bishops of the world, each on the same day in a “collegial” Act of Consecration. (Taken from SOUL magazine, Jan-Feb, 1985, p. 9). It was reported that many bishops did not receive the Holy Father’s letter in time to join him in the act.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II made another consecration. In preparation for it, the Holy Father sent a letter to all the bishops of the world asking them to join him in the collegial Consecration of the world as a renewal of the two acts of consecration made by Pope Pius XII. “Implicit therefore”, according to Bishop Amaral, “was the consecration of Russia” (op. cit., ibid.) Bishop Amaral’s further explanation of this Consecration is an important one:
“Not only was it to be a renewal of Pius XII’s two consecrations … but the very words of Pope John Paul II mentioned those peoples ‘most in need’. Likewise, during the actual consecration by Pope John Paul II there were a few moments of pausing during which it was not clear what the Holy Father said. I thanked the Pope later for consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Pope added ‘and Russia’.”

 

Bishop Amaral then explained that:

 

“A moral totality of the world’s bishops joined the Pope in this collegial consecration, including Eastern Orthodox bishops”.
For many years now, Fatima devotées have been waiting and praying, and even sacrificing, for this consecration to come about. Some may – and in fact do – find it hard now to accept that it has happened. It seems almost too good to be true. But, on the other hand, is it in fact so difficult to accept that the collegial consecration had been carried out as requested? When John Paul II wrote to all the bishops of the world as to what he was going to do on March 25th, 1984, and what he wanted all the bishops to do with him, he specifically stated that he was going to repeat the twofold consecrations of Pope Pius XII; the one of the whole world of 1942 and the one of Russia of 1952.

We may perhaps draw another analogy here.

Fr. William Most, when discussing the Theology of the Mass in his excellent book on the Second Vatican Council, Vatican II Marian Council, has this to say about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being the renewal of Calvary:
“If the renewal is twofold (i.e. offered up by Christ and by His Mystical Body the Church) … then would it not be strange if the original, which the renewal repeats, did not have a similar twofold structure? Really, if the renewal were twofold, and the original not, then the renewal would be partly false. It would no repeat fully what it should repeat”.
We may reverse this logical reasoning with regard to the Consecration of 1984 as follows:

 

“If the original is twofold (i. e. consisting of two separate previous consecrations) then would it not be strange if the repeat, which claims to repeat the original, did not have a similar twofold structure? Really, if the original were twofold, and the repeat not, the latter would be manifestly false …etc”.
But what is being claimed by Church authorities in the case of this 1984 Act of Consecration is that the 1952 Act of Consecration of Russia is being repeated. This was made known to all the bishops. And by making it thus known to them, the Holy Father was fully expressing his explicit intention with regard to Russia’s being included, even had Russia not received a mention!
Fr. M. Coelho, in his article “The Problem of the Consecration Again” (Fatima Family Messenger, Oct-Dec, 1989) had added some further important points on the subject. After noting that Lucia had believed “the request of Our Lady was not perfectly accomplished” in the case of the earlier Consecration, that of 1982, Fr. Coelho went on to add that, with regard to the Consecration of 1984:
“Now, in fact, both the Bishop of Fatima and the Holy Father are convinced that the consecration Our Lady asked for is perfectly made. The main reason is the following. Nobody can prove that the words Our Lady used, asked for a consecration of Russia alone; Russia is a part of the world. If the world is consecrated, Russia becomes consecrated”. ….
Fr. Coelho then proceeded to make a significant theological point: that it is ultimately the Church – not the seers – who interprets apparitions.
“Theologically the problem is clearer. The apparitions and their messages are charisms, i.e. acts of the Holy Spirit. Their interpretation – to be correct – has to be also an act of the Holy Spirit. He is the Soul of the Church. So, the only interpretation is that of the Church and not that of the seers. Usually the charism of seers consists only in receiving and telling the Church what they saw and heard. Reliable people who recently saw Sister Lucia told me Sister Lucia now says that the request of Our Lady is accomplished”.

And we can see already some effects. Many things began changing after 1984” ….
[Comment: Such as the dramatic fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989].

 

We turn now to the actual words spoken by Sr. Lucia on the subject of the 1984 Consecration, its outcome, and the response of the world’s bishops to it. The following quotations of Sr. Lucia are taken from the article, “Sister Lucia says: ‘God will keep His Word’” (in Fatima Family Messenger, pp. 9-11), by Maria do Fetal Neves Rosa, who is a relative of Sr. Lucia and her friend of 40 years. When the author put to Sr. Lucia this point:
“You know some bishops did not unite with the Holy Father in the Consecration?” Sr. Lucia replied:
“The responsibility was theirs. Because of them God did not refuse to accept the Consecration which as made [in 1984] as the one having been requested …. The request for the Consecration was always an appeal for union. The Mystical Body of Christ [the Church] must be united! The members of the same Body are united!” (Ibid).

 

Then her interviewer pressed Sr. Lucia to be perhaps even more specific as to whether or not the Consecration requested by Our Lady had been achieved, saying:

 

“People would like very much to know that you, Lucia, are saying that the Consecration has now been made and accepted by God”; to which Sr. Lucia gave the following reply:
“His Excellency, the Bishop of Leiria, was here. He asked me and I told him, ‘Yes. Now it was made’.”

The Apostolic Nuncio has been here recently and asked me, ‘Is Russia now consecrated?’ ‘Yes. Now it is’, I answered. The Nuncio then said, ‘Now we wait for the miracle’.

I answered, ‘God will keep His word’.” ….

[End of quotes]

 

My view, no doubt shared by others, that the 1984 Consecration was a most decisive event in the history of humanity – an event of cosmic proportions, in fact – is also the view, most unhappily received apparently, by exorcised demons. For I have just read this review (http://catholicphilly.com/2017/02/us-world-news/culture/late-exorcists-words-lift-the-veil-on-the-demonic-satan/):

 

Late exorcist’s words lift the veil on the demonic, Satan

….

By Allan F. Wright • Catholic News Service • Posted February 24, 2017

 

 

“An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels”
by Father Gabriele Amorth with Stefano Stimamiglio.

Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2016).

145 pp., $14.95.

 

The world-renowned exorcist, Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth, who died this past September, has left his wisdom and experience in dealing with evil forces through this lucid and insightful compendium gleaned from interviews published in Credere magazine over the past few years.

Father Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists and performed tens of thousands of exorcisms in his life. He is refreshingly direct throughout the book and doesn’t mince words when it comes to the reality of the demonic, evil spirits and Satan.

In addition, his writing conveys a sense of comfort and hope for those suffering from physical and spiritual ailments such as possession, vexation, obsession and infestation, all believed to stem from demonic forces.

Father Amorth attributes the rise on demonic activity to the decline in faith in God. “When faith in God declines, idolatry and irrationality increase; man must then look elsewhere for answers to his meaningful questions,” he writes. The principle of total and complete liberty apart from God and the denial of truth itself are indeed seductive in appearance but ultimately fail to satisfy the “desires of the human heart.”

Young people in particular, he states, “are easily deluded and are attracted to these ‘seductions’ which has been the desire of Satan since the beginning.” Extreme danger arises when these demonic spirits are invited into a person’s life and Father Amorth goes into detail on specific cases he has personally encountered.

While we are all victims of seductions or temptations, not everyone is a victim of what the late priest calls an “extraordinary action of Satan.” Nor are extraordinary actions of Satan or evil spirits the fault of those who are victim of these attacks, he affirms.

However, there are an incredible amount of people who declare their allegiance to Satan, the “father of lies.” The casting of spells and “infestations of the demonic” are in fact a reality and chronicled in this book.

In chapter three, “The Cult of Satan and Its Manifestations,” topics such as spiritism, Satanism, occultism, wizards, fortunetellers, magic, piercings, tattoos and satanic music are addressed.

He states that the three rules of Satanism are: “You may do all you wish, no one has the right to command you, and you are the god of yourself.” One doesn’t need to be exposed to the satanic heavy metal band Slayer to see those three elements alive and operating in our culture.

Although “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic” is profoundly disquieting, Father Amorth reminds readers of God’s victory over Satan and the tools for growing in holiness and fighting evil provided by the church in the sacraments, sacramentals and prayer. God loves us as a father and desires to protect us.

The reader will perhaps be surprised by the amount of demonic activity that Father Amorth records in a matter-of-fact manner and yet always with the confidence that God is stronger. He recalls invoking with much success Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Father Amorth also was the exorcist for the Diocese of Rome during St. John Paul II’s pontificate so he has firsthand knowledge of at least three exorcisms that the pontiff performed in his private chapel. The demons are recorded as having a special indignation when his memory is invoked because St. John Paul “ruined their plans.” Father Amorth believes the reason for this is linked to Fatima and to the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by St. John Paul March 25, 1984.

The book also relies on Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church for insights into heaven, hell, purgatory and the rite of exorcism itself. Father Amorth makes a solid case for the need for many more exorcists and even suggests that every seminarian be exposed to the work of exorcism as an essential course of study.

This compendium is a suitable witness to both the man and his struggle with evil.

 

Wright is an author and academic dean of evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson and resides in New Jersey.

 

Pope Francis celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass: Full Text

Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday Mass at Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome - REUTERS

Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday Mass at Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome – REUTERS

01/03/2017 17:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass for Ash Wednesday at the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine hill in Rome.In his homily, the Holy Father said Lent is a path that “leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children.”
Click here to see a report on the Pope’s Mass.

Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s homily:

“Return to me with all your heart… return to the Lord” (Jl 2:12, 13).  The prophet Joel makes this plea to the people in the Lord’s name.  No one should feel excluded: “Assemble the aged, gather the children, even infants at the breast, the bridegroom… and the bride” (v. 16).  All the faithful people are summoned to come and worship their God, “for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (v. 13).

We too want to take up this appeal; we want to return to the merciful heart of the Father.  In this season of grace that begins today, we once again turn our eyes to his mercy.  Lent is a path: it leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children.  Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life.  The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust.  True, yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his spirit of life upon each one of us, and still wants to do so.  He wants to keep giving us that breath of life that saves us from every other type of breath: the stifling asphyxia brought on by our selfishness, the stifling asphyxia generated by petty ambition and silent indifference – an asphyxia that smothers the spirit, narrows our horizons and slows the beating of our hearts.  The breath of God’s life saves us from this asphyxia that dampens our faith, cools our charity and strangles every hope. To experience Lent is to yearn for this breath of life that our Father unceasingly offers us amid the mire of our history.

The breath of God’s life sets us free from the asphyxia that so often we fail to notice, or become so used to that it seems normal, even when its effects are felt.  We think it is normal because we have grown so accustomed to breathing air in which hope has dissipated, the air of glumness and resignation, the stifling air of panic and hostility.

Lent is the time for saying no.  No to the spiritual asphyxia born of the pollution caused by indifference, by thinking that other people’s lives are not my concern, and by every attempt to trivialize life, especially the lives of those whose flesh is burdened by so much superficiality.  Lent means saying no to the toxic pollution of empty and meaningless words, of harsh and hasty criticism, of simplistic analyses that fail to grasp the complexity of problems, especially the problems of those who suffer the most.  Lent is the time to say no to the asphyxia of a prayer that soothes our conscience, of an almsgiving that leaves us self-satisfied, of a fasting that makes us feel good.  Lent is the time to say no to the asphyxia born of relationships that exclude, that try to find God while avoiding the wounds of Christ present in the wounds of his brothers and sisters: in a word, all those forms of spirituality that reduce the faith to a ghetto culture, a culture of exclusion.

Lent is a time for remembering.  It is the time to reflect and ask ourselves what we would be if God had closed his doors to us.  What would we be without his mercy that never tires of forgiving us and always gives us the chance to begin anew?  Lent is the time to ask ourselves where we would be without the help of so many people who in a thousand quiet ways have stretched out their hands and in very concrete ways given us hope and enabled us to make a new beginning.

Lent is the time to start breathing again.  It is the time to open our hearts to the breath of the One capable of turning our dust into humanity.  It is not the time to rend our garments before the evil all around us, but instead to make room in our life for all the good we are able to do.  It is a time to set aside everything that isolates us, encloses us and paralyzes us.  Lent is a time of compassion, when, with the Psalmist, we can say: “Restore to us the joy of your salvation, sustain in us a willing spirit”, so that by our lives we may declare your praise (cf. Ps 51:12.15), and our dust – by the power of your breath of life – may become a “dust of love”.

….
Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/03/01/pope_francis_celebrates_ash_wednesday_mass_full_text/1295847

Brown Scapular: Saved from sea – like Jonah

Image result for jonah and storm

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

“On seeing the urgency of the situation, the youth opened his shirt, took off his Scapular, and, making the Sign of the Cross with it over the raging waves, tossed it into the ocean. At that very moment, the wind calmed. Only one more wave washed the deck, bringing with it the Scapular which came to rest at the boy’s feet”.

 

Connection with Elijah

and Mount Carmel

 

Whilst Catholics are generally familiar with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the promises associated with wearing it faithfully, they, being Catholics, may not be over familiar with its Old Testament antecedents.

The Order of Carmelites tells of its origins in “Elijah and Mary”, at:

http://www.ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/elijah-mary

 

The Prophet Elijah

 

Elijah’s memory was kept alive especially on Mount Carmel where he challenged the people to stop hobbling first on one foot and then on the other but to choose who is God in Israel – Yahweh or Baal. According to the story, which can be found in the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, Elijah’s sacrifice was consumed by fire from heaven which proved to the people that Yahweh was the true God.

 

Elijah made himself available for God’s work and was sent into various situations to proclaim God’s word. Elijah undertook a long journey through the desert where he began to despair. He sat down under a bush and wished he were dead but God would not allow him to die and prodded him to continue his journey to Mount Horeb. When he arrived there, God became present to Elijah. God came not with the signs usual in the Old Testament of fire, earthquake and mighty wind but in the sound of a gentle breeze. Elijah was sent back to his people to carry out God’s will.

 

From Elijah, Carmelites learn to listen for the voice of God in the unexpected and in silence. We seek to allow the Word of God to shape our minds and our hearts so that the way we live and the things we do may be prophetic and therefore faithful to the memory of our father Elijah.

 

 

The Blessed Virgin Mary

 

The first hermits on Mount Carmel built a church in the middle of their cells. This was the centre of their lives where they converged each day to celebrate Mass together. This little church they named in honour of Our Lady. By this fact the first group of Carmelites took her as their patroness, promising her their faithful service and expecting her protection and favour. They were proud to bear the title of “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” and they defended this title with vigour when their right to it was challenged.

 

Mary consented to God’s will when she was asked to be the mother of the Saviour. She pondered on the events of her life and was able to see in them the hand of God at work. Mary did not become proud about her unique vocation but instead praised God for looking on her lowliness and doing great things in her. She was with Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry when, at the marriage feast at Cana, she made known to him the simple need, “They have no wine”. She was with him as he died and there she became the mother of all believers. At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles we find Mary gathered in the upper room praying with the other disciples waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For us Carmelites, Mary is a constant presence in our lives, guiding us and protecting us as we seek to follow Christ.

 

The brown scapular has for many centuries summed up the Carmelite’s relationship with Our Lady. The scapular is a piece of cloth based on the traditional Carmelite friar’s garb. Wearing the scapular is a sign of consecration to Mary, the Mother of God, and is a symbol showing that the person is putting on the virtues of Mary and is being protected by her. Mary symbolises for the Carmelite everything that we hope for – to enter into an intimate relationship with Christ, being totally open to God’s will and having our lives transformed by the Word of God. Carmelites have always thought of Mary as the Patroness of the Order, its Mother and Splendour. We seek to live in spiritual intimacy with her so that we can learn from her how to live as God’s children.

 

Elijah and Mary are inspirational figures for all Carmelites. They play a very important part in the life and spirituality of the Order which sees itself as belonging to Mary and looks to Elijah as our spiritual father.

[End of quote]

 

The importance of the Brown Scapular was emphasised in the most emphatic manner when it was presented as one of the stunning tableaux during the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917. And so we read at: http://unveilingtheapocalypse.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/our-lady-of-mt-carmel-visions-of-fatima.html

 

During the Miracle of the Sun, which took place at the Cova da Iria, Fatima, on 13th October, 1917, the three shepherd children saw something very different from the spectacular solar miracle witnessed by the rest of the vast crowd which had assembled there. While the spectators among the throngs saw the now famous dance of the Sun, the children had experienced a vision of the Holy Family, and Our Lady appeared to them in various forms – including that of Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. There was undoubtedly some hidden symbolism behind these visions, which may provide a key insight into exactly what was being communicated by the extraordinary occurrence of the Miracle of the Sun. The below excerpt is taken from Sr. Lucia’s Fourth Memoir, detailing what the children saw while the miraculous dance of the Sun was taking place:

 

We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria. Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak. “What do you want of me?” “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes”. “I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…” “Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.” Looking very sad, Our Lady said: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.” Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself. Here, Your Excellency, is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun. My aim was not to call attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse. After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmanent, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
(Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, pp172-173)

[End of quote]

 

Faithful wearers of the Brown Scapular down through the centuries can attest to – and many have so done – some extraordinary vases of protection from potential fatal situations.

Here is one such case, which must remind one of the prophet Jonah incident at sea:

http://fatimaforbeginners.org/index.php/faith/the-brown-scapular/127-testimony-of-the-brown-scapular

 

Saved from the Sea: In the late summer of the year 1845, the English ship, “King of the Ocean” found itself in the middle of a wild hurricane. As wind and sea mercilessly lashed the ship, a Protestant minister, together with his wife and children and other passengers, struggled to the deck to pray for mercy and forgiveness, as the end seemed at hand. Among the crew was a young Irishman, John McAuliffe. On seeing the urgency of the situation, the youth opened his shirt, took off his Scapular, and, making the Sign of the Cross with it over the raging waves, tossed it into the ocean. At that very moment, the wind calmed. Only one more wave washed the deck, bringing with it the Scapular which came to rest at the boy’s feet. All the while the minister (a Mr. Fisher) had been carefully observing McAuliffe’s actions and the miraculous effect of those actions. Upon questioning the young man, they were told about the Holy Virgin and Her Scapular. Mr. Fisher and his family were so impressed that they were determined to enter the Catholic Church as soon as possible (which they did after landing in Australia), and thereby enjoy the same protection of Our Lady’s Scapular. ….

 

“That they might not forget the works of God”

Image result for miracle sun 1917

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Fatima 1917-2017

 

“What always surprises me about this great miracle, perhaps the greatest miracle since the Resurrection, is how little it is known in the world at large. It should shake the very world itself. It should shake our governments; it should shake our media; it should shake our own souls”.

 

 

It befell the prophets of Israel to continue to remind the people of the great things that God the Almighty had done in the past on behalf of their ancestors, such as their miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage (the Exodus) – wonders that had become obscure, and even completely forgotten, with the passing of time. And so to praise God for them and to pass on that knowledge to their children.

Therefore we read in Psalm 77:3-8:

 

How great things have we heard and known, and our fathers have told us. They have not been hidden from their children, in another generation. Declaring the praises of the Lord, and his powers, and his wonders which he hath done. And he set up a testimony in Jacob: and made a law in Israel. How great things he commanded our fathers, that they should make the same known to their children. That another generation might know them. The children that should be born and should rise up, and declare them to their children. That they may put their hope in God and may not forget the works of God: and may seek his commandments. That they may not become like their fathers, a perverse and exasperating generation. A generation that set not their heart aright: and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

Undoubtedly, the ‘Exodus’ event of our own modern era – about which we, too, risk becoming blasé and forgetful – was Fatima, whose centenary we celebrate this year. Thankfully, however, we also have prophets to keep before our minds the wondrous works of the Lord – they are the popes, with Francis being no exception. He intends to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary this May of 2017, to commemorate the Fatima anniversary.

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Portugal in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions of Fatima.

The pope, who accepted the invitation made by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and the bishops of Portugal, “will go on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima from May 12-13,” the Vatican announced Dec. 17.

The pilgrimage will mark the anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which first began on May 13, 1917, when three shepherd children reported seeing the Virgin Mary.

The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Following the announcement, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, rector of the Fatima shrine told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese bishops’ conference, that the visit was a “cause for joy” for the shrine.

“For the shrine of Fatima, it is a great joy to receive this confirmation of Pope Francis’ visit,” he said. “We know that those days will be a pilgrimage marked by this festivity that, on the one hand is for the centennial of the apparitions and, on the other hand, marks the presence of the pope in our midst and a pope as beloved as Pope Francis,” Father Cabecinhas said.

While the Vatican confirmed the dates of the visit, the pope had already said that he intended to go.

“Certainly, as things presently stand, I will go to Portugal, and only to Fatima,” he told journalists during his return flight to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2.

Pope Francis will be the fourth pontiff to visit the Marian shrine, following the footsteps of Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who each paid homage different years to Mary on the anniversary of the first apparition May 13.

—-

http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2016/pope-francis-to-visit-fatima-in-may-17.cfm

 

“Now is the time of God’s favour”

 

Sadly, despite many notable exceptions, the vast majority of the world’s Catholics have – just like the ungrateful Israelites of old – failed to embed into their memories this unprecedented visitation from Heaven. Dr. Peter Chojnowski, in his August speech at the “Fatima: Only Way to World Peace” conference in Brazil, in 2007, thus marvelled regarding the October 13 Miracle of the Sun:

 

What always surprises me about this great miracle, perhaps the greatest miracle since the Resurrection, is how little it is known in the world at large. It should shake the very world itself. It should shake our governments; it should shake our media; it should shake our own souls.

And, yet, for how many does it have this profound effect? To quote the famous French rationalist and skeptic Renan, “Miracles do not take place where they ought to. A miracle in Paris before so many of the learned would put an end to so many doubts. But, alas, that never happens. No miracle ever took place before those who could discuss and make critical judgments on it.” To this challenge and doubt, we can offer the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917.

[End of quote]

 

This auspicious centenary year of 2017 affords us the perfect opportunity to make a new start.

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We must begin to, as in the words of Dr. Chojnowski, “shake our governments … shake our media … shake our own souls”. This last one ought, at least, to be within range of possibility. What do we intend to do personally in 2017 so as the better to imbibe the Fatima message? We yet have plenty of months left to do what Our Lady of the Rosary actually requested – sufficient enough motivation – the Communion of Reparation (Five First Saturdays), first announced in the July 13th apparition immediately following the horrific vision of Hell, of which the Exodus deliverance from the iron-smelting furnace (Deut. 4:20) was a metaphor.

 

Then Our Lady opened Her hands, as during the previous apparitions, and the light that was God streamed forth. In this light they were given, on this occasion, a vision of Hell so horrible and gruesome that the children shrieked aloud with fear. After showing them Hell Our Lady said to the children: “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will beak out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.

 

That promise (Her coming) was realised less than a decade later, in 1925

(http://www.salvemariaregina.info/FirstSaturdays.html)

 

The promise made by Our Lady to Lucia on July 13th, 1917, that there would be a future manifestation concerning the practice of the Five First Saturdays, was fulfilled on December 10th, 1925. Lucia was then a Postulant Sister in the Dorothean Convent at Tuy, Spain. On this occasion Our Lady appeared together with the Child Jesus, Who spoke first to Lucia:

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns which ungrateful men place therein at every moment, while there is no one who does an act of reparation to withdraw them for her”.

Our Lady then addressed Lucia as follows:

”Behold, my daughter, my Heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Give me consolation, you, at least; and make known on my behalf that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all who on the First Saturday of five consecutive months confess their sins, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart”.

 

Also, to honour Fatima, one might like to join a sound Marian organisation or prayer crusade of reparation, such as this one whose purpose is to gather “one million” rosaries this year http://www.fatima2017.world/

 

Our Lady said at Fatima:

“Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.”

 

Could Mary be getting a new title this year?

Image result for mary co-redemptrix

By Mary Rezac

Detroit, Mich., Jan 29, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this month, the International Marian Association submitted a request to Pope Francis, asking for the public recognition of the title of Mary as “Co-Redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer.”

The 10 page document was submitted by the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association, a group of more than 100 theologians, bishops, priests, religious, and lay leaders from over 20 countries dedicated to the “full truth and love of Mary, Mother of Jesus.” It comes during the 100th year anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.
The significance of the request, if it were to receive approval, is that the faithful would be given further clarity on Mary’s unique role in cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Mariology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, told EWTN News.
“I think many people sense the spread of evil in the world and see the importance of highlighting Mary’s role as spiritual Mother,” Dr. Fastiggi said in e-mail comments.
“A papal statement on Marian coredemption would deepen our understanding of Mary’s role as the New Eve who collaborates with her Son, the New Adam, ‘in giving back supernatural life to souls,’” he added, referring to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium.
The title can be traced back to the 10th century, when some Marian litanies included the title of Mary as Redemptrix, along with her son. It was a development of the idea of Mary as the “New Eve,” a Marian title that has been used since the 2nd century. The prefix of “co-” was added by the 15th century, to clarify that Mary was not the Redeemer, but rather someone who uniquely cooperated in the work of redemption.
“The Co-Redemptrix title never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer, as to do so would constitute both heresy and blasphemy,” the Association stated in a press release announcing the request.
“The Co-Redemptrix title is meaningless without Jesus the Redeemer, and in itself focuses upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. Mary Co-Redemptrix proclaims to the world that suffering is redemptive when united to the sufferings of Christ.”
After the prefix was added, title continued to catch on, so much so that the 17th century considered the “golden age” of the title of Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Still, it didn’t receive magisterial recognition until 1908, when the Sacred Congregation for Rites used it in a decree elevating the rank of the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Since then, it has been referenced multiple times by the Magisterium, including during the second Vatican council, which ultimately decided against any formal recognition of the title in the document Lumen Gentium.
“The term, however was not rejected because it was false. In the praenotanda or explanatory note that accompanied the first Marian schema of 1962, we are told that, ‘Certain terms and expressions used by Roman Pontiffs have been omitted, which, although most true in themselves (in se verissima), may be difficult for the separated brethren (as in the case of the Protestants) to understand,’” Dr. Fastiggi explained.
“The Council, therefore, recognized the importance of further development and clarification on certain points of Marian doctrine. A papal statement on Marian co-redemption would provide greater clarity on Mary’s unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace.  It would also open the way for many graces in the life of the Church.”
Popes often grant formal papal recognition to help deepen the theological understanding of the faithful, such as when Bl. Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary as “Mother of the Church” in 1964.
“The invocation of Mary under various titles like ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Help of Christians’ reinforces Mary’s role in the mystery of salvation,” Dr. Fastiggi noted.
Unfortunately, Dr. Fastiggi said, many Catholics are unaware of the recognition that the title “Co-Redemptrix” has already received so much informal recognition from the magisterium.
“Some are even under the impression that we are not allowed to call Mary ‘Co-Redemptrix’—even though two popes, namely Pius XI (3 times) and St. John Paul II (at least 6 times), have publicly referred to Mary as ‘Co-Redemptrix,’” he said.
And while there are concerns that the title could further confuse Protestants and others who disagree with Catholic teaching on Mary, Dr. Fastiggi believes a formal recognition of the title would actually help with further clarification.
“A formal papal statement would also serve the cause of ecumenism because it would help other Christians know that the Catholic Church clearly distinguishes between the saving work of Christ as the one Savior and Mediator (1 Tim 2: 5–6) and the Blessed Mother’s secondary, dependent but utterly unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace,” he said.
In a press release announcing the request, the International Marian Association said: “We believe that a public acknowledgement of Mary’s true and continuous role with Jesus in the saving work of Redemption would justly celebrate the role of humanity in God’s saving plan; foster greater devotion to the Mother of God; and lead to the release of historic graces through an even more powerful exercise of Our Lady’s maternal roles of intercession for the Church and for all humanity today.”
While the request could lead to a new Marian dogma, Dr. Fastiggi said the Association would likely be happy with any form of formal papal recognition of the title.
“The members of Association realize that it’s up to the Holy Spirit to guide the Holy Father with regard to this petition. In this regard, prayer and trust are essential,” he said.
“We trust in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, and the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our spiritual Mother. May God’s will be done.”

….
Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/could-mary-be-getting-a-new-title-this-year-44675/

 

 

Jesus continues to heal the sick

 Image result for Jesus healing sick

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

‘Go back and report to John [the Baptist] what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me’.

Matthew 11:4-6

 

 

With these words, based on his actions, Jesus assured the imprisoned John the Baptist, and John’s disciples, that He was indeed ‘the One who was to come’, the Messiah.

And his healing work has not ceased to this day.

For example, at the grotto of Lourdes in France. Thus we read in the article, “Is there a God?”, of the scientifically inexplicable healings there: http://www.is-there-a-god.info/life/lourdes/

 

 

Healings at Lourdes

 

This page in brief

 

Apparent divine healings are a challenge to our natural way of thinking. Are the stories true? Is the evidence reliable? Are the explanations we are given true? Do they prove God exists and heals, or is that only for the gullible?

This is a brief summary of the apparent miracles at Lourdes, how they have been investigated and the conclusions of a medical commission, which found many apparent miracles had insufficient evidence to justify acceptance, but a small number seem to have no other explanation.

 

A world-famous place of healing

Lourdes is a village in southern France, close to the Pyrenees mountains and the Spanish border. Many healing miracles are reputed to have occurred there since 1858, when a 14 year old girl claimed to have ‘seen’ a beautiful lady that Roman Catholics believe was the mother of Jesus. Of the estimated 200 million people who have sought a cure there, millions claim to have been healed.

Where possible, people claiming healing are examined on the spot by a medical bureau, and the information is reviewed by an international commission of medical specialists, independent of the Catholic Church and including sceptics. To be regarded as authentic, claims have to satisfy four requirements:

 

  • the illness and cure was well documented,
  • the illness was serious and was unable to be effectively treated,
  • the symptoms disappeared within hours, and
  • the healing lasted for sufficient time to ensure the ‘cure’ was not just a temporary remission (e.g. in the case of leukemia, 10 years is required).

The miracles

 

Most claims lack sufficient evidence to be verified, but 68 miracles have passed this stringent checking and have been proclaimed as authentic, while several thousand other remarkable cures have been documented. Some examples of claimed healings include:

 

  • Margerie Paulette, 22 years old, cured of tubercular meningitis in 1929.
  • Mademoiselle Dulot, cured of stomach and liver cancer in 1925.
  • Louise Jamain, cured in 1937 of tubercular peritonitis.
  • Jeanne Fretel, cured in 1949 of tubercular peritonitis.
  • Rose Martin, cured of cancer of the uterus in 1947.
  • Vittorio Micheli, cured of a malignant tumour of the hip in 1963.
  • Serge Francois, cured of a herniated disc in 2002.The stories of a few other ‘approved miracles’ are outlined below at Some stories.

 

Doubts and questions

 

These miracles which have passed the medical commission’s strict criteria are apparently sufficiently well documented to meet any reasonable requirement for evidence. If we are willing to be convinced by evidence, then the evidence is there that in each of these cases, something very unusual happened.

Many atheists and rationalists are quite sure that miracles cannot occur, and thus may not be willing or able to be convinced by any evidence. Therefore they probably will not be convinced here, and will look for natural explanations or, despite the evidence, question the truth of the stories.

Protestant christians may also be sceptical that God would heal via the Virgin Mary, and in a place where they may believe superstition is prevalent. But again, how can they explain the evidence?

Some stories

Jean-Pierre Bely

 

Jean-Pierre Bely was paralysed with multiple sclerosis, and was classified by the French health system as a total invalid when he went to Lourdes in 1987. He received ‘the anointing of the sick’, and when he returned home he was able to walk. Subsequently, virtually all traces of the illness disappeared. Patrick Fontanaud, an agnostic physician who looked after Bely, said there is no scientific explanation for what occurred.

Gabriel Gargam

 

Gabriel Gargam was severely injured in a railway accident in 1900, in which he was almost crushed to death and was paralysed from the waist down by a crushed spine. A court ordered the railway to pay him compensation because he was a human wreck who would henceforth need at least two persons to care for him. His condition continued to deteriorate. He was not a religious person, but his mother persuaded him to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes, very weak, fed via a tube and lapsing into unconsciousness. But at Lourdes his paralysis disappeared and he was able to walk, although still very thin and weak. Within a short time, he was eating normally, able to resume work and he lived to 83.

 

Serge Perrin

 

Serge Perrin began to suffer neurological problems in 1964 at age 35, and was subsequently diagnosed with thrombosis in the left carotid artery, for which surgery was nor recommended. He visited Lourdes in 1969 as his condition worsened, but there was no improvement. His deterioration continued until 1970, when he was almost blind and unable to care for himself alone. At his wife’s insistence, he visited Lourdes as second time and received the anointing of the sick. By that afternoon, he could walk without the aid of a walking stick and could see without using spectacles. He returned home, fully cured, as was confirmed by a serious of medical tests.

 

References

 

 

Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2017

The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.
1. The other person is a gift
The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.
The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means “God helps”. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.
2. Sin blinds us
The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).
The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.
The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).
The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.
Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).
3. The Word is a gift
The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).
We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.
The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.
The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).
The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.
Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in is word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.
….

‘You are great, O Lord! I love you so much, for you have given this gift. You saved me, you created me.’

God is glorious. Worthy of all praise.

Pope Francis at Mass: be open, receptive to God’s gifts

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning. In remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the theme of Christian freedom, saying that the follower of Christ is a “slave” – but of love, not of duty, and urging the faithful not to hide in the “rigidity” of the Commandments.
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The Pope took the Responsorial Psalm, 103 (104) as his starting point: a “song of praise” to God for His wonders. “The Father,” said Pope Francis, “works to make this wonder of creation and with His Son to accomplish this wonder of re-creation.” Pope Francis also recalled an episode in which a child asked him what God was doing before He created the world: “He was loving,” was the response.
Open your heart, do not take refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments
Why then did God create the world? “Simply to share His fullness,” Francis said. “To have someone to whom [to give] and with whom to share His fullness.” In the re-creation, God sends His Son to “set things right” – to make “the ugly one handsome, of the mistake a true [cast], of the villain a good guy”:
“When Jesus says: ‘The Father is always at work: I, too, am always at work,’ the teachers of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him for this. Why? Because they could not receive the things of God as a gift! Only as Justice: ‘These are the Commandments: but they are few, let’s make more. And instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid, have sought refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments, which they had multiplied up to 500 or more … They did not know how to receive the gift – and the gift is only received with freedom – and these rigid characters were afraid of the freedom that God gives us: they were afraid of love.”The Christian is a slave of love, not of duty

The Pope went on to note that it was after that, that the Gospels tell us, “They wanted to kill Jesus.” To this, he added, “Because he said that the Father made this wonder as a gift:  receive the gift of the Father!”:
“And that is why today we have praised the Father: ‘You are great, O Lord! I love you so much, for you have given this gift. You saved me, you created me.’ And this is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the joy of the Christian life. And not the closed, sad  prayer of the person who never knew how to receive a gift because he is afraid of freedom that always carries with it a gift. Such a one knows only how to do duty, but closed duty. Slaves of duty, but not love:  when you become a slave of love, you are free! It is a beautiful bondage that, but such men did not understand that.”

Ask how we receive the gift of redemption and forgiveness of God

Here, then, are the “two wonders of the Lord,” he went on to say: “the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, the re-creation.” The he asked, “How do I receive this gift that God has given me – creation? And if I receive it as a gift, do I love creation, do I care for the created order?” The reason, he stressed, is that it is a gift:
“How do I receive the redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, the making of me a son with His Son? Lovingly, tenderly, with freedom? Or do I hide in the rigidity of the closed Commandments, that are more and more “safe” – with emphasis on the scare-quotes – but that do not give joy, because they does not make you free. Each of us ought to ask himself wonder how he is experiencing these two wonders: the wonder of creation and even greater wonder of re-creation. May the Lord make us understand this great thing and make us understand what He was doing before creating the world: He was loving. Let us understand His love for us, and may we say – as we said today: ‘Lord, you are great! Thank you, thank you!’ Let us go forward

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Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/02/06/pope_francis_at_mass_be_open,_receptive_to_gods_gifts/1290724